Monday, February 17

Submission: Advertisements should be subject to ethical questions


Editor's note:

As a newspaper, we are put in a difficult position when advertisements are brought to us that may support views that some readers do not agree with. However, the Daily Bruin is committed to allowing freedom of expression within our pages. In cases when advertisements are potentially controversial, our policy is to review the specific ads closely before publication to check for factual accuracy. The final decision of publication is at the discretion of The Bruin's editor.

In the case of the Aug. 26 advertisement bought by Facts & Logic About the Middle East, no Daily Bruin editors were asked to review it before it was published due to miscommunication with the advertising department.

Jillian Beck
Editor in chief

By Lizzy Naameh

Last week, the Daily Bruin published an advertisement submitted and paid for by an organization called FLAME (Facts & Logic About the Middle East) about the 65th anniversary of the state of Israel – and it really bothered me. Before I go any further, I should clarify that it was not this simple celebration of nationhood that bothered me. Everyone has the right to celebrate their heritage and their country. What upset me was that the advertisement claimed as “factual” some very offensive and arguably racist claims about the historical evolution of the Israeli state, while simultaneously slandering Arab communities.

As a Middle Eastern woman, I was outraged by blanket statements that called Arabs “implacable enemies” who are “singlemindedly fixated on (Israel’s) annihilation.” Statements like these singularly pathologize Middle Eastern people as hyper-militarized Muslim monsters and produce negative stereotypes with broad and deleterious effects on the community. The advertisement goes on to say that one of the most pressing issues currently facing Israel is “(t)he disparity between the Jewish majority and the one million Arab citizens who are not yet entirely accepting of their country.”

I could not handle the hypocrisy. Really? What about the country that is not even close to accepting its Arab citizens? What about the state-sanctioned violence inflicted upon the Palestinian people living both under Israeli occupation and within Israel’s borders? And what of the continued expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements that the U.N. earlier this year described as a “creeping annexation” of territory that clearly violates international law?

So, while this FLAME organization claims to publish “facts regarding developments in the Middle East” and to expose “false propaganda that might harm the interests of the U.S. and its allies,” it is actually producing propaganda itself through inconsistent, biased and prejudiced rhetoric. This is not only harmful to the Arab communities referenced in the article, but also detrimental to campus conversation on important political issues.

In “Culture and Imperialism,” Edward Said once claimed that “the struggle over geography … is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.” The rhetoric, symbols and categories constructed in epistemic space are also used in the subjugation and control of the material bodies and lands of colonized peoples, reinscribing violence and discrimination in concrete ways. These types of essentializing, othering narratives, such as those produced in the FLAME advertisement, have real political implications and often are the basis of actual policy- and decision-making among governments. They are the surface justifications for wars on terror, wars on drugs and other endless and senseless wars of ideology. They are the reason why my mom pleaded with me to wear my Catholic cross in the years following 9/11 so that I would not be harassed and called “terrorist” at school, and why so many of my Middle Eastern and South Asian friends were attacked anyway.

With this in mind, we must remain critical about our own role, as students and scholars, in perpetuating false information and incomplete narratives, especially when these “pseudo-knowledges” target particular communities and become normalized and legitimated in our collective imagination. We have to be critical of the way we are implicated in the political agendas of others when we unquestioningly advertise and publish on behalf of lobby organizations that have the resources to access and infiltrate our most credible institutions of knowledge with defamatory racist stereotypes. And we have to be critical of our silence in the face of these occurrences. Because when we buy into these narratives, it impacts the way we think, the way we behave, the policies we enact, and ultimately, the way people are treated on the ground.

The more immediate message here is that the Daily Bruin is recognized as a legitimate producer and circulator of knowledge – it is one of the country’s leading college newspapers, after all. But with this privilege comes responsibility. While advertising remains essential to the funding model of print newspapers, sacrificing the integrity of the Daily Bruin in order to secure cash from bigoted advertisers is in no way acceptable. There are larger ethical questions to consider.

I don’t know if the Daily Bruin has procedures to ensure ethical and moral advertising, but it should take a closer look at the content it publishes. It should be concerned with the sociopolitical implications of granting racist discourses a venue for expression within its pages.

Naameh is a fourth-year international development studies student and the Undergraduate Students Association Council general representative 3.

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  • Irony?

    Hmm… Lizzy Naameh is against propaganda, yet is completely for censoring free speech? I don’t necessarily agree with some of what FLAME has written in it’s advertisement, but I do find it ironic that even as Lizzy writes an opinion piece about how “this article is factually incorrect” her statement in and of itself is propaganda as well.

    Just because somebody doesn’t agree with something, they can’t label it propaganda — it’s not like Lizzy has a magic fortune ball either.

    • AGREED

      I agree!! Seriously lizzy? For you to go ahead and make claims about Israel without providing factual evidence? You don’t say that’s propaganda? well maybe that’s why this is written in the OPINION section anyway.

    • clarity

      Free speech is only guaranteed protection against government, not newspapers. Slander and libel, on the other hand…

  • enofrapuni

    Why do Arabs living in Israel overwhelmingly consider themselves more free than Arabs living in the surrounding Arab nations?

    • serious question

      Why do you think this justifies the destruction of Palestinian homes and the crushing isolation of the Gaza Strip?

      • enofrapuni

        My post: “Why do Arabs living in Israel overwhelmingly consider themselves more free than Arabs living in the surrounding Arab nations?”
        Where did I mention anything remotely like your comment?
        Typical liberal, don’t answer the question and in turn ask something like “Did you stop beating your wife?”

        Do you care to offer an answer as to why Arabs living in Israel feel that they are more free than those living in Arab nations?

        • serious question

          What does your question have to do with journalist ethics (the overall topic of this article)? When you graduate high school and realize resorting to name-calling is childish, we can discuss non-factual statements, straw-man arguments, and logical fallacies.

          • enofrapuni

            As you continue to ask straw man questions and refuse to answer mine by throwing another shiny object.
            It seems journalists ethics would require that both sides of a story be given.
            As for name calling, you are a liberal. That is not name calling, that is declaring what you are.

  • http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/ rdsathene

    Thank you Ms. Naameh for having the courage to speak against FLAME’s horribly racist advertisement. For those of us educated and enlightened enough to understand that hate speech is not tantamount to free speech, the idea that reactionary groups are allowed to place ads advocating for ethnocentrism and oppression is very unsettling. As a UCLA student I would like to think that our campus paper celebrates and respects the diversity on our campus. I hope in the future the editors take care not to run any more ads from fringe and reactionary organizations whose only intention is to flame hatred and ethnic strife.

    • Arafat

      rdsathene,

      You are apparently as confused as Ms. Naameh.

      For both of your sake, Islam is not a race it is a religion. I wish you would quit confusing the debate by referring to Islam as something it is not.

      The main reason Islam is anything but a race is because of its aggressive Jihadist practice. Specifically within 300 years of Mohammed’s birth Muslim Jihadists had violently conquered all of the Middle East, all of North Africa, huge sections of Asia, Spain and southern France, Sicily, etc…

      In doing so the Jihadists forcibly converted white people, black people, yellow people and every shade in between. I really wish you, and others, would stop referring Islam as a race and implying that is is a poor, bereft race of people playing on our sense of pity. I find this disingenuous and despicable. Particularly so when Islam is responsible for more pain and suffering inflicted upon others than any other religious group and by many fold.

      • Trayvon Martin Luther

        “Islam is responsible for more pain and suffering inflicted upon others than any other religious group and by many fold.”

        You really think Islam has been more detrimental to the world than Christianity? The crusades, witch hunts, religious persecution, and most of Europe’s wars from the 16th-18th century, not to mention the diseases, death, and destruction brought about by “Christian” colonialism- the effects of which still harm the world today. I don’t pretend to know the exact numbers to compare the two, but I wouldn’t be so quick to limit this religious scorn to Islam. The spread of religion is rarely a peaceful affair.

        • Arafat

          The spread of Christianity has been accompanied with unimaginable suffering but there is a profound difference.
          When Christians hurt others it is a sin. Christians may rationalize their sins and attempt to argue that they’re done as part of a greater good, but to no avail. If they hurt others in their attempt at “showing then the light” then they are sinning.
          For Islam and Muslims it is the opposite. Mohammed (in contrast to Jesus) reveled in torturing those who refused conversion to Islam. The Quran, Hadiths and Sunna (Islam’s holy books) are replete with admonitions to Muslims to do whatever they want (including killing, raping and torturing) to ensure non-Muslims convert.

  • Arafat

    In another story the
    Western media (and Lizzy) apparently refuses to cover, any Palestinian who dares to
    criticize Hamas or the Palestinian Authority risks being arrested or summoned
    for interrogation.

    Palestinian journalists are
    now hoping to bring this to the attention of President Barack Obama when he
    meets with President Mahmoud Abbas next month.

    The journalists say they
    want United States and the rest of the world to know that the crackdown on
    freedom of expression in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip is designed to hide
    the fact that Palestinians are governed by two repressive regimes that have no
    respect for human rights and democracy.

  • Arafat

    The following two quotes come from the March 19th edition of the Palestinian Authority Daily.

    …………….

    “Had Hitler won, Nazism would be an honor that people would
    be competing to belong to, and not a disgrace punishable by law.”

    ………………

    “Churchill and Roosevelt were alcoholics, and in their youth
    were questioned more than once about brawls they started in bars, while Hitler
    hated alcohol and was not addicted to it. He used to go to sleep early and wake
    up early, and was very organized. These facts have been turned upside down as
    well, and Satan has been dressed with angels’ wings.”
    ………………..

    I wonder if Lizzy ever says one a word – one single word – about Palestinian Hitler-speak?

  • just saiyan

    Can’t we all just agree that the Israeli government is doing abhorrent things to Palestinian families in the name of national security? And that militant groups who represent political extremists within the general Arab population are doing equally abhorrent things?

    • super saiyan

      I can definitely agree…

  • Tru

    Typical commenters, missing the point of the article. Ethics of journalism. While the writer clearly had an opinion about the remarks FLAME made, the point is, is it ok for the newspaper to run such an advertisement that states such claims, which obviously upsets parts of the UCLA community? It’s an advertisement in a newspaper, not an article in the Op/Ed section. If the Daily Bruin wants to keep it classy, at least stick with American Apparel ads. I can at least stomach that nonsense than the blatant lack of compassion they did by engaging in a marketing venture with FLAME.

    • yup

      You definitely wrote the most relevant comment down here. Good job.

  • Jason Smith

    GO USAC GR3!!! AND EVERYONE STFU WITH THE RACISM AND HATE…YALL ARE JADED BEC THIS WOMYN SPEAKS. STFU AND TAKE THE WORD!

    also, how about putting your names? people are so much more bold on the internet. It’s laughable! *cackles*

    • Arafat

      Jason, Did you graduate grade school?

      “cackles” to ya.

      • Jason Smith

        I graduate from UCLA and now I’m at NYU Tisch for my Masters. let’s chat about art and public policy…or we can talk about you and I getting together 😉

        what’s your first and last name? Mine is Jason Smith. does it sound anglo-saxon enough for ya, Arafat? Is that your real name?

        random question: how many skies are there in the sky? only one or many?

        • Arafat

          Gosh, Jason, you’re a Zen master too!
          I am the walrus. Koo, koo, ka-choo.

    • Have you graduated yet Jason??

      my name says it all..

      seriously grow up you 6th year

  • Jim

    Unfortunately the first amendment covers false information as well. You may disagree, but freedom of the press is freedom of the press.

  • Roni H Manyevitch

    I would suggest you actually go to Israel before claiming that Arabs are not accepted there. Arab Israelis and Jews in live together in a neighborly fashion and Arab Israelis are afforded more freedoms than in any Arab country. If you want to support the fact that Muslims have interests other than tearing down Israel, you can start by ending your support of the Israel Boycott on your own campus. I hope people as oblivious as you clearly are do not continue to poison UCLA.
    Your brain should be subject to ethical questions…