Tuesday, February 7th | 17 Shevat 5783

January 23, 2023 11:21 am

University of Michigan Newspaper Whitewashes ‘Intifada’ March Where Students Called for ‘One Solution’

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Flag at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Photo: Corey Seeman.

“Intifada, intifada! Long live the intifada,” was the cry that rang out over a megaphone as crowds of students — some wearing keffiyehs to cover their faces — marched through the University of Michigan campus in protest at a visit by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Others were heard chanting the well-known clarion call for Israel’s destruction and replacement by a Palestinian state emptied of Jews: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

One protester at the front of the demonstration held aloft a sign that read: “There is only one solution!” The phrasing — an obvious reference to the Nazi plan for the extermination of Europe’s Jews known as the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” — was clearly designed as a warning to Jewish students.

Yet, this was how the University of Michigan’s student newspaper, the Michigan Daily, summarized the chilling scenes on the college’s Ann Arbor grounds in a piece entitled, “Fifty Palestinian flags rose upon Kamala Harris’s arrival”:

University of Michigan students, led by a Students Allied for Freedom and Equality initiative, gathered in protest of Vice President Kamala Harris’s arrival at the University on Thursday. Protestors assembled in front of Hill Auditorium and marched towards Rackham Auditorium — the site of Harris’s speech — waving Palestinian flags and voicing chants that challenged the Biden-Harris administration’s unwavering support for the state of Israel.

‘Not another nickel! Not another dime!

‘No more money for Israel’s crimes!’”

Either the article’s author, Maryam Shafie-Khorassani, did not attend the demonstration, or she chose to sanitize the violent calls that characterized it. Either way, it is an alarming example of poor journalism from a student publication that prides itself on its commitment to “impartiality, fairness and the complete truth.”

Unfortunately, this is not even the worst aspect of the piece.

The article proceeds to suggest Israel is somehow guilty of environmental warfare by rooting up “native, time-honored Palestinian olive trees” to make space for “exported pine trees, Israeli settlements and the infamous Apartheid wall,” all of which Shafie-Khorassani claims is “threatening biodiversity and fragmenting ecosystems.”

Aside from the demonstrably false apartheid libel, which, frankly, has no place in what is ostensibly a news report rather than an opinion piece, the claim that Israel is committing ecological crimes is absurd.

First, the allegation that Israel is maliciously digging up Palestinian olive trees is ridiculous. Israel, like every single other country in the world, must sometimes dig up land to make space for other structures.

The so-called “Apartheid wall” is a security fence built in response to a wave of Palestinian terror attacks emanating from the West Bank, which significantly reduced said violence.

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that Israel is actually the only country in the world that ended the 20th century with more trees than existed on the land 100 years previously. Since 1900, approximately 250 million saplings have been planted, with around 8.5 percent of Israel’s land covered in trees compared to just two percent in 1948.

Second, Shafie-Khorassani conveniently forgets the real environmental war that is being waged in Israel, which is the ecological terrorism caused by hundreds of thousands of tires that have been burned over the years by Palestinian protestors in the West Bank and pose one of the gravest health hazards imaginable.

However, the most egregious of distortions in the article is the patently untrue assertion that Israel is repeatedly bombarding Gaza:

Surrounded by a 65-kilometer iron wall, Palestinians in Gaza stand helpless in the face of Israeli bombardment through airstrikes and violent warfare that sometimes includes chemical weapons such as depleted uranium and white phosphorus — which both have long-standing repercussions on environmental pollution.

The suggestion that the IDF deploys “chemical weapons such as depleted uranium and white phosphorus” is one of the most shameless lies imaginable.

Israel has not deployed white phosphorus in Gaza for almost a decade. In addition, when the substance was in use, only small amounts were contained in shells to be used as smokescreens to shield troop movement against attacks from Hamas terrorists.

And depleted uranium has not been used in Gaza at all; an investigation by the United Nations — a frequent critic of Israel — found that claims the IDF had used the substance during the 2006 offensive against Hezbollah were false.

Lastly, the Michigan Daily should really reconsider its own newspaper bylaws, which are utterly redundant in light of this article.

One such bylaw tells journalists they must “distinguish between advocacy and news reporting,” while “analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.”

Considering the litany of lies that Shafie-Khorassani passed off as genuine news reportage, the rule has not so much been bent as totally smashed into pieces.

The protest at the University of Michigan was a shameful parade of threatening and antisemitic behavior on a campus of some 6,500 Jewish students, performed under the guise of pro-Palestinian activism.

The article covering the disturbing demonstration is a journalistic crime.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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