Objectivity: a construction, inexistent when covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Transparency - perhaps the next best thing - also remarkably absent from the relative discourse. Let me continue this column with an attempt of the latter. I'm Palestinian. I believe that the Palestinians are unfairly and unfavorably represented in nearly all general aspects of American government and society. Furthermore, reporting of the conflict is disproportionately biased in favor of the state of Israel.
I hope that helps. I hope you appreciate it too. I'm sure I've ruined any future prospects for employment with Fox News or for membership in SAFI. I'm trying to hold my tears back...
Many groups call for objectivity when reporting on subjects relating to the Middle East, yet few call for transparency. One particular organization covering this topic is CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. It is a media-watch group that claims to be "devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East." The balance on their website is not so noticeable.
One would be hard-pressed to find criticisms by CAMERA concerning bias against Palestinians in the media. I could not find a single instance while browsing their site, even while checking publications known for their slander against Arabs like the New York Sun and the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, according to CAMERA, the only problem with Middle East coverage in the media regards anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli or anti-American reporting.
One of the cofounders of CAMERA, Dr. Charles Jacobs, also happens to be president of the David Project. The website of the David Project claims to promote a "fair and honest understanding of the conflict in the Middle East," but it is a Zionist organization, one that promotes a pro-Israeli perspective on the situation. Contrary to their claims, the members of the David Project have little interest in fairness and honesty; instead, they wish to promote their agenda. They do, however, advance token overtures to Arabs, but as a smokescreen, covering the explicit blame that they place on the Arab world for the conflict.
Another organization, Campus Watch, which frequently uses CAMERA material, is endorsing a film that the David Project produced and helped create. Daniel Pipes founded Campus Watch. He is a proponent of a bill that would cut funding to schools considered promoters of "anti-American" or "anti-Israeli" perspectives. He keeps a running tab on a number of professors whom he opposes, and he is frequently described by academics as a McCarthyite.
The film, entitled Columbia Unbecoming, attacks Columbia professors in the Middle East and Asian Language and Cultures department for apparent biases against Israel and America. Columbia Unbecoming asserts that a number of professors in the program promote their position using methods like intimidation. It has prompted a symposium at the University.
As both sides argue against each other, one must notice the antagonizing party. They are a bunch of Zionists who are critical of the department at Columbia! Natan Sharansky, Martin Kramer and Alan Dershowitz, the three featured speakers at the symposium are all unabashed Zionists who obstinately argue that ideas like a bi-national state, promoting equal status for both Palestinians and Jews, are tacit examples of anti-Semitism. Dershowitz, a Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, ostensibly argues that he is interested in a fair solution to the problem, though he is often regarded as anti-Arab. Ironically, the topics of the event include academic freedom, integrity and objectivity. That's like creating a committee to debate bipartisan politics made up entirely of Democrats.
To be fair, their goal is ostensibly altruistic (though inherently ethnocentric and exclusive). There are problems with bias in American institutions. They exist on both sides, but the extent to which one sees bias for the Palestinians is overwhelmingly shadowed by the bias against them and convincingly surpassed by a partiality for Israel (right, remember my claim for transparency earlier).
While it is true that scholars are less susceptible to Israeli bias, most of America is not. The rest of the country, unfortunately, is trying to penetrate the academic world to teach it about objectivity through non-academic institutions that aim to protect governments - not people. CAMERA, Campus Watch and the David Project are all non-academic entities that are working to influence the academic curricula while pandering to Israel. These organizations currently operate under the guise of objectivity, something that they clearly do not exhibit. As students, we must watch for organizations like these and demand transparency.