As faculty at UC Davis, we were appalled to read a half-page paid advertisement by right-wing activist David Horowitz in The Aggie on Thursday. The ad was full of the most blatantly racist and anti-Arab language, wildly inaccurate statements and hysterical accusations. The title, accusing Palestinians’ opposition to Israel as based on “a genocidal lie,” was in itself incendiary and shocking.
Denying that Palestine and the Palestinian people do exist in effect justifies policies of annihilation and dispossession. It is rabid statements like this that are, in fact, based on lies and distortions of historical facts, and that provide racist justification for ethnic cleansing and genocidal violence. In the post-9/11 era, Arab, Palestinian and Muslim American students are consistently profiled and targeted by racial constructions of “terrorists” in the U.S. In Israel, illegal settlements, home demolitions, road closures, checkpoints and the illegal wall continue to displace Palestinians and violate their basic human rights. Given this climate, this ad only serves to make Palestinian and Arab students feel more unsafe.
We are also deeply troubled that this ad was placed during Palestine Awareness Week and do not think this timing is coincidental. While off-campus groups may be able to buy space to publish hateful rhetoric targeting a particular group based on their race, under the cover of freedom of speech, this does not make it any less offensive to the campus community. We find it disturbing that anti-Arab racism and Islam-phobia is implicitly sanctioned by such hateful speech.
Furthermore, we have been very disturbed to note a pattern of problematic and often racist articles and op-eds about Arab and Muslim students appearing in The Aggie over the past several weeks and months. For example, in this very issue, The Aggie also published a lengthy op-ed by Matan Shelomi of Aggies for Israel calling the Law Student Association’s decision not to condemn the criminalization of the Irvine 11’s protest “a victory for free speech.”
This is deeply ironic, given that the UC students who engaged in that protest at UC Irvine were, in fact, exercising their rights to free speech and yet were met with exceptional demonization and harsh punishment from the university and, later, unprecedented criminal charges from the Orange County District Attorney’s office. In fact, 17 UCD Law School faculty have opposed the prosecution of the Irvine 11 (http://www.irvine11.com/supporters-and-allies/#UCDF).
We also note that while The Aggie did include a large photograph in this issue of the mock wall erected by Students for Justice in Palestine, the writer of the brief article accompanying the image chose not to report on any of the facts that SJP was trying to share with the campus (that the wall is deemed illegal by international law and is actually built inside Palestinian territory, or that 63 years refers to the founding of the state of Israel in Palestine in 1948). When is it that students at UC Davis will be allowed to know historical facts and details about Israel-Palestine?
We hope that this is the last of such racist and biased publishing and writing in The Aggie.
Marisol de la Cadena, Anthropology
Caren Kaplan, American Studies
Sunaina Maira, Asian American Studies
Susette Min, Asian American Studies
Eric Smoodin, American Studies