This article is in response to the Letter to the Editor by Talia Segal, third-year BMED, published in Volume 108, Issue 22 of the Technique regarding an article in Volume 108, Issue 21 of the newspaper highlighting an event held by the Muslim Students Association (MSA).
I want to begin by highlighting the importance of journalism ethics and integrity when it comes to writing and editing articles.
As the News Editor for the Technique, I do not take my responsibility as a member of the Editorial Board lightly and strive to create a section that is unbiased, factual and representative of the student body at the Institute.
Segal’s criticism of the “Tech MSA holds event on Palestinian awareness” article begins with a disapproval of the conflict’s timeline as mentioned in the initial article. However, the information regarding the establishment of the State of Israel in 1947 serving as the catalyst for the formal initiation of the conflict can be verified by the timeline published in the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent and nonpartisan nonprofit organization focused on U.S. foreign policy and international relations.
Additionally, Segal was critical of the initial article because it failed to outline the genesis of the Israel-Palestine conflict as it relates to the War of Independence in 1948, the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The article was never meant to serve as a historic recollection of the conflict; the intention behind the article was to highlight an event held by the MSA as part of a semester-wide initiative.
The article’s lede mentioned the Suez Crisis in 1956, along with the Oslo Accords, and therefore, was merely serving to contextualize the content of the article as it relates to the long-standing social and political turmoil in the region.
Segal’s second point of criticism relates to my omission of Israeli casualties, along with the rise of antisemitism in the West. Firstly, my article was meant to recount the information covered in the MSA’s “In the Shadows” lecture series, and many of the statistics covered in the article were directly pulled from the event’s slideshow and verified.
Furthermore, one of the only statistics mentioned in the initial article pertain to the alleged human rights violations that occur under the force of administrative detention as carried out by theIsrael Defense Forces.
While writing the article, I was extremely sensitive about what statistics I was outlining and whether they were relevant to the content of the article.
I mentioned no statistics on casualties on neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli side of the conflict because I didn’t want the lived experiences of these groups to be reduced down to the dogma of “oppression Olympics.”
Segal’s letter outlining Israeli casualties at the hands of Hamas and the western rise in antisemitic rhetoric, without any mention of Palestinian oppression and the increasing presence of western Islamophobia is disingenuous at best and malicious at worst. However, to Segal’s point, a cursory glimpse of the data available on the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) makes it abundantly clear as to which group is disproportionately impacted by the violence in the region.
According to OCHA, between 2008 and 2023, there have been a total of 6,226 recorded Palestinian fatalities and 144,963 recorded Palestinian injuries.
Conversely, within the same time period, there have been a total of 289 recorded Israeli fatalities and 6,118 recorded Israeli injuries.
More detailed information on the parameters of this data and its collection process can be found at ochaopt.org/data/casualties.
Finally, Segal’s last point of contention is the article’s criticism of the working definition of antisemitism as established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
I want to emphasize that this criticism is not my own; any opinions mentioned in an article in the News Section of the Technique are included only if they are offered by a party in any of the interviews conducted by the writer in preparation for a particular article.
Under the first amendment enshrined within the United States Constitution, the MSA is well within its rights to criticize a largely disputed guideline set forth by the IHRA, and the characterization of this guideline as a “working definition” means that it is open to interpretation.
Despite all of this, I am always conscious of including multiple viewpoints and interviews within an article of this nature in order to avoid political bias and alienating groups on campus.
Due to this consideration, I repeatedly reached out to Hillel at Tech, a primarily Jewish student organization, for an interview.
I had hoped to highlight the voice of Hillel within the article to create a multifaceted understanding of the IHRA definition and how its interpretation varies across differing groups.
Despite my repeated efforts, Hillel did not respond back to my requests for comment in time for publication of the initial article.
All this is to say that the “Tech MSA holds event on Palestinian awareness” article was merely meant to highlight MSA’s “In the Shadows” series, along with shedding light on their efforts to support the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.
Its purpose was not to offer commentary on what is and isn’t antisemitic or Islamophobic, nor was it to create a reductive understanding of the oppression faced by Israeli and Palestinian civilians inundated by the inescapable realities of war.