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February 02, 1990 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-02

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OPINION

Page 4

Friday, February 2, 1990

Last words from the

Opinion

The Michigan Daily
Editors

by Betsy Esch and Amy Harmon
For the past year as editors of the Opin-
ion Page we've been attacked and criticized
by a long list of people and organizations
including University President Duderstadt,
his assistant Shirley Clarkston, the Chair
of the Economics Department, the Chair
of the Communications Department, the
Chair of the Board for Student Publica-
tions, a group of Sociology professors,
the director of Hillel, the Conservative
Coalition, pro-Zionist student groups, the
Michigan Review, and countless individ-
ual students. Some of our critics have
simply expressed a difference of opinion
while others have maintained that we have
"gone too fa, that our political positions
are "too extreme,"that we alienate rather
than educate and that it is we who have
stifled debate by saying things that might
potentially offend people. Though these
criticisms have come loudly and often, we
have taken a position which is rooted in
anti-racist principles and the belief in self-*
determination for all people.
These principles have taken many forms
and have shaped our approach to the Uni-
versity administration, to student ac-
tivism, to U.S. foreign policy, to the me-
dia and to the belief in an independent stu-
dent press. We have spoken from the per-
spective of students, of activists, of inter-
nationalists and of writers. More often
than not, such principles have received
tremendous criticism, with particilar re-
gard to our stance that Zionism is an ille-
gitimate and unacceptable, basis for a state.
The sentiment that the Daily was "anti-
Semitic" because it took a principled stand
supporting self-determination for Pales-
tinians culminated in a protest of the
Daily on February 22, 1989. Attended by
over 200 supporters of Israel, the protest
began a long campaign against the Daily
which was to take many forms.
The Washtenaw Jewish News ran a
cover story just after the protest entitled

"What's Wrong With the Michigan
Daily?" and stated, "The center of the con-
cern is the opinion page, which has be-
come increasingly anti-Zionist and anti-
Semitic." Comments from students who
had participated in a discussion with edi-
tors from the Daily wrote their recommen-
dations in an "open forum" in the same is-
sue.
Their comments included remarks like,
"we are prepared to bring major student
pressure to bear on the Daily... the only
effective response for readers is to continue
to write letters to the editor, and to the
University administration to voice their
unhappiness with the paper's present poli-
cies ...I am also hopeful that the Washte-
naw County Jewish community will con-
tinue to monitor the situation and respond
whenever necessary. Until then, the battle
many Jewish students are fighting against
the Daily will not end..."
Not long after this a press conference
was held by "concerned Jewish students"
claiming that in spite of their attempts to
dialogue with the Daily, the Opinion Page
was still entrenched in its old attitudes and
this could only indicate one thing: that the
Daily didn't care about the collective con-
cerns expressed by these students.
Yet in spite of these claims that the
Opinion Page was responsible for distort-
ing the dialogue around the state of Israel
and unfairly representing the history, some
fundamental questions were never raised or
answered by those who claimed to be on
the side of honest and open debate.
Referring specifically to some of the
comments made by the students who par-
ticipated in the forum, we have several
questions..'
Why should it be the sole responsibility
of the Jewish community to "monitor" the
discussion? Why should we not look with
equal sincerity to the Palestinian commu-
nity to "monitor" the discussion? Cer-
tainly it has a collective emotional and

historical connection to the creation of the
state of Israel. Why can those who claim
to be interested in dialogue - which we
assume to mean honest exchange -
choose not to recognize that such ex-
change must be with the Palestine Libera-
tion Organization and those who support
it, as they are the sole legitimate represen-
tatives of the Palestinians?
Why can debate only occur within a
specific framework, which defines Zion-
ism as inextricably linked to Judaism, de-
fines Jewish critics of such a framework
"self-hating" and defines Palestinians as
terrorists or supporters of terrorism? And
why, if honest dialogue is what is desired,
should limits be placed on one of the only
institutions on the campus where such dia-
logue has been encouraged?
The inevitable response to these ques-
tions is that real debate and real questions
are not what the organized supporters of
Israel are interested in. If it were, the
premise of the debate would not be "the
Opinion Page is anti-Semitic" or "what's
wrong with the Daily?" but would instead
focus on the good the Opinion Page has
done as it has brought Palestinians to the
center of the discussion an1 supported their
place in the dialogue as subject rather than
object.
Benjamin Ben-Baruch in his piece,
"Organized Zionist groups control debate"
writes, "The campaign against the Daily
seems to have several goals: 1) to rally
and mobilize. Jewish students to remain
"loyal" and "faithful" to the political pro-
gram, and ideology of the American Jew-
ish institutions;2) to demarcate and articu-
late the boundaries of what it means to be
"loyal" and "faithful"; 3) to restrict debate
on campus within non-threatening parame-
ters; 4) to discredit and demobilize politi-
cal and intellectual opposition.
All of this has not occurred in a histori-
cal vacuum. When Amy Harmon had a
brick thrown through her bedroom window
it came as no surprise that it was signed in
the same way the fascist Stern Gang used
to sign their documents, as "Fighters For
the Freedom of Israel." And when the
Daily was broken into and spray-painted
with the slogans "Jew haters will pay" and
"Long live Israel" such a historical context
could not be overlooked.
The violence with which Palestinians
and supporters of Palestinian self-determi-
nation have been met on this campus and
others is indicative of the way racism has
shaped all of our thinking. From paid ad-
vertisements in the Wayne State Univer-
sity paper on Palestinian Independence
Day warning students that all Palestinians
are terrorists to B'nai Brith letters warning
parents of the Arab money which is pour-
ing into campuses the scare tactics used
have their foundations in racism. And
throughout all of this, we have been la-
belled anti-Semitic because we have dared
to push the limits which have been im-
posed on us by a history which has always
denied Palestinians any legitimacy or dig-
nity.
When the Daily refused to change its ed-
itorial policy (editorials are voted on by
Daily members who attend weekly meet-
ings to discuss the content of the leftsides)
to suit Hillel and the other pro-Zionist
student groups who sponsored the protest,
pressure was applied through a different fo-
rum - the Board for Student Publica-
tions.
The Board is a body of students, faculty
and professional journalists which over-
sees the Daily and is accountable to the

Regents. According to Regent's Bylaw
13.11 the Board "shall have full authority
with respect to the assets, budget, and fi-
nancial affairs of the [student publica-
tions]. In all other matters the Board shall
act in an advisory capacity." Though the
Board has agreed not to intervene in the
Daily's editorial policies, it obviously
wields great influence over all aspects of
the Daily's production through its eco-
nomic control of the paper.
At the Board's March meeting, Board
Chair Professor Amnon Rosenthal invited
the members of Hillel who had demanded a
change in the Daily's editorial stance on
Palestine to a Board meeting to express
their views. At that time, Rosenthal was
also a member of Hillel's Board of Direc-
tors. He did not choose to make this
known to the other Board members or the
Daily staffers who he was clearly trying to
influence by inviting members of Hillel to
speak, and he has since then consistently
refused to respond to Daily staffers and
other Board members' assertions that he
has a conflict of interest and should not be
in a position of such influence over the
Daily.
Whether in order to limit the Daily's
criticisms of Israel or simply to consoli-
date administrative control over a poten-
tially dangerously independent student
newspaper, Rosenthal has managed to
stack the Board with people who have a
demonstrated antagonism for the Daily. He
admitted to the Daily's Editor-in-Chief
that he personally recruited Professors
Raymond Tanter and Ned Gramlick to join
the Board because they were hostile to the
Opinion Page. Tanter has threatened to sue
the Daily if it allowed an investigative
story about him to be printed, and Gram-
lick was furious when the Daily printed an
anonymous letter from several Economics
graduate students asserting that there was a
"climate of fear" stifling leftist dissent in
the Econ. Dept.
In December, all the current editors of
the Daily, the Ensian and the Gargoyle
sent a memo to the Board members re-
questing that Tanter "be removed from the
Board because of the obvious conflict of
interest... Tanter's threatened lawsuit indi-
cates he does not have the Daily's or the
student publications' best financial interest
in mind." Despite this, or perhaps because
of it, Rosenthal has refused to have a
Board meeting for the last three months.
In addition, he has continued to challenge
the credentials of the student representa-
tives to the Board, leaving Daily staffers
with no representation by their peers.
MSA recently appointed Alan Woronoff,
also a member of Hillel and one of the or-
ganizers of the February protest, to the
Board. Perhaps now that Rosenthal has a
student ally who has publicly acknowl-
edged that he wanted to get on the Board in
order to change the Daily's editorial pol-
icy, he will allow the Board to meet.
The Daily's masthead which proudly
proclaims "Ninety-nine years of editorial
freedom," is not entirely an accurate
statement. The Daily is accountable to the
Board, and the Board is accountable to the
Regents. In September 1988, when a
Daily editor was arrested for protesting at
Duderstadt's presidential inauguration, Re-
gent Philip Power, University President
Duderstadt and Rosenthal met to discuss
the possibility of closing down the Daily
for a few days. And after the February
protest of the Daily, Duderstadt issued a
letter pleading for "reason tolerance and ci-
vility," and another one expressing his

concern about the Daily's alleged anti-
Semitism - the implication being that
we'd better shape up or face the conse-
quences. (Duderstadt did not, however, see
fit to comment on the degree of civility on
campus when the Daily was vandalized or
when the rock was thrown through Amy's
bedroom window).
Another growing threat to the Daily's
independence is the Board's secretary and
director of Student Publications Building,
Nancy McGlothlin. McGlothlin is em-
ployed by the University, not by the stu-
dent publications, although her salary of
$44,500 is taken from the funds generated
by the student publications. McGlothlin's
influence over the Daily's finances and edi-
torial policies is growing at an alarming
rate. Last month, she decided to cut off the
Daily's work-study program because a
staffer who was receiving work study
funds refused to sign an incomplete policy
manual of editorial rules. This staffer was
one of the few people of color working at
the Daily and one of the few who had chal-
lenged McGlothlin's authority by refusing
to sign a manual the staff had not ap-
proved.
McGlothlin has frequently used any
power at her disposal to intimidate the
Daily. In September she "discovered" that
a Daily editor had used Daily telephones
and computers to communicate with other
computers long-distance. This cost ap-
proximately $200. McGlothlin used this
fact as a pretext for turning the Daily edi-
tor over to the police.
McGlothlin has also developed a rela-
tionship with the FBI such that she admits
that in the last six years she has let the
FBI into the Daily's offices. The pretext
for this is that the FBI would like to ex-
amine old Daily issues to do security
checks on FBI employees; yet, the Daily
is available on microfiche in the graduate
library. When a Daily editor attempted to
interview the FBI about what FBI busi-
ness was in the building, McGlothlin ver-
bally and physically attempted to prevent
the editor from doing so.
An examination of her harassment of ed-
itors and staff makes sense in light of her
previous attempt to name herself publisher
of the Daily. So far, the Board of Student
Publications has refused to give McGloth-
lin such editorial control of the paper.
Pressure from pro-Zionist groups and
from the University administration has so
far failed to stop the Opinion Page from
trying to expand the debate on campus, na-
tional and international issues beyond the
narrow context in which theyare typically
defined. We hope that the Daily will con-
tinue to strive for total independence and
will remain free from constraints on its ed-
itorial freedom.
Betsy Esch and Amy Harmon were the
Opinion Page Editors from January 1989
January1990. Good luck to David
Schwartz, the next Opinion Page Editor.
LIBERATION
NOW!

Events in January
One month in world history

1. Paraguay
The leadership changes from Stroesner to
Rodriguez, from the continent's number
orke drug-runner to number two.
2. Colombia
U.S. aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy ar-
rives offshore. President Barco first
learns of this from a newspaper, and is
understandably upset. A savvy business-
man, he suggests that if the U.S. market
dried up, the drug producers could be
put out business - without force of
arms.
3. Panama
Bringing Noriega to trial in the U.S.,
Bush leaves democracy behind in the
form of Endara, one of the country's
yyealthiest citizens and an avowed ad-
mirer of Hitler.
4. Nicaragua
Contras kill a nun and the U.S. press
finds a way to blame the Sandinistas.
U.S.-backed oppostion candidates are
trading home appliances for votes in the
upcoming elections, but the Sandinistas
wvill win anyway.
5. Haiti
Showing that he is a true heir to the Du-
valiers, Gen. Prosper Avril declares mar-
tial law for a week in the poorest country
in the hemisphere. His tontons macoutes
security police sweep the land, jailing
end expelling opposition leaders and
killing a popular radio satirist. Bush has
said that Gen. Avril represents the best
hype for democracy in the region and
backs him accordingly.
6. Washington D.C.
While the Marion Barry set-up domi-
nates the headlines, grinding poverty
takes its toll in the streets. The infant
mortality rate among the city's Blacks is
higher than Jamaica's, and there are more
deaths per thousand than anywhere in the
world except Sri Lanka.
7. New York
The state Supreme Court upholds the
right to beg.
8. Michigan
While Michael Moore's film Roger and
Me, which shows how plant closings
have devastated the city of Flint, is
drawing crowds across the country,
Chrysler closes the Jefferson Avenue
Assembly Plant, the last auto plant in
Detroit.
9. Michigan
Law-and-order Gov. James Blanchard
announces plans to have the National
Guard bulldoze suspected crack houses in
Detroit. Mayor Coleman Young, who
prowls the city in one of his two quarter-
million dollar armored cars with a com-
plement of 18 Uzi-toting bodyguards,
says he approves. Though state crime
rates are down, the number of prisoners

12. Poland
Strikes break out at five coal mines after
Solidarity announces it is backing the
government's IMF-approved restructur-
ing plan. The strikers refuse to let Soli-
darity leaders into the mines, saying the
union has sold workers down the river.
13. Romania
Protestors rally and raid government of-
fices when the National Salvation Front,
which .includes members of Ceausescu's
old cabinet, announces that it will run as
a party in spring elections it is organiz-
ing.
14. Turkey
On January 13, Turkey begins a month-
long damming-up of the Euphrates,
which flows into Syria and provides elec-
tical power there. Turkey accuses Syria
of supporting Kurd separatists, 28 of
whom were killed in a November,
pogrom conducted bythe Turkish mili-
tary. Turkey is the fourth-ranking recip-
ient of U.S. aid.
15. Somalia
The human rights group Africa Watch
releases a report entitled, ,'Somalia: A
Government at War with its Own Peo-
ple," which says that 50,000 civilians
have been killed by U.S.-backed army
and security forces in the last 19 months.
16. Mozambique
The World Bank announces aid cuts as it
diverts funds to Eastern Europe. Per
capita income is $150 a year, among the
lowest in the world, as the country is
ravaged by South African-backed Renamo
terrorists, who have killed some 900,000
and forced 750,000 to flee their homes.
17. South Africa
Despite continuing martial law, no po-
litical prisoners being released, the ban-
ning of opposition parties, and the whole
structure of oppression of Blacks by
whites being left in place, De Klerk is
being praised for reforming apartheid
away by contemplating the release of
Nelson Mandela.
18. Yemen
North and South Yemen give amnesty to
all political prisoners and begin work on
a unity constitution.
19. Kashmir
The ill-thought partitioning of the Bri-
tish raj forty years ago left Muslim
Kashmir under Indian rule, a time-bomb
that has now gone off. Opposing self-de-
termination, the Indian governemt calls
a curfew and fires on peaceful demonstra-
tors, killing scores..
20. Punjab
A series of general strike days called by
Sikh students paralyze the province. The
students demand the release of political
prisoners before May elections. The gov-

I

22. Azerbaijan
Militant Azerbaijani nationalists join
forces with a local communist party
that's tired of being a satellite of Moscow
in trying to purge the region of Armeni-
ans and to secede. The threat of the sec-
ond brings in the Red Army.
23. Burma
The military government bars oppostion
candidate Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi from
elections which were called after last
year's pro-democracy protests.

24. Hong Kong
Britain vows to continue

repatriating all

refugees (so-called boat people) when
they arrive, although it will not take
holders of British passports into the
U.K. after China takes control of Hong
Kong. Most of the refugees are from In-
donesia - not Vietnam.

liantly," but it turns out to be a hoax.
The Khmers are fighting the Viet-
namese-installed government. Depending
on how you count, the war is 15, 19, or
25 years old - the longest-running of
the century. This after-effect of French
colonialism and U.S. destabilization has
killed 2.5 million.

on the island of Bougainville, where an
Australian-owned copper and gold mine
is threatened. The Australians have not
paid the $12 billion in copensation they
owe on the mine.
27. El Salvador
The military is found responsible for the
murder of six Jesuit priests, their cook,
and her daughter; Congress responds by
continuing to provide $1.5 million in
aid a day.

25. Cambodia 26. Papua New Guinea
The Khmer Rouge claims the second The governemt announces an all-out mil-
city, Battambang, is "burning bril- itary offensive to put down secessionists

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