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Letter to the Editor: Labeling informational journalism antisemitic harms public discourse, free speech

By Tajvir Singh

Feb. 6, 2024 11:51 p.m.

Dear Editor:

I wish to point out the issues in promoting the recent letter responding to the Daily Bruin’s article about the Bruins for Israel rally. In the letter, Paula Tavrow believes the importance of the event and its planning is overstated, and that the Daily Bruin’s headline promotes antisemitic tropes.

Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that the planning and execution of a significant campus event like the Bruins for Israel rally are of legitimate interest to the student body. With a substantial turnout, notable speakers and a campus-wide march, the event drew considerable attention. Therefore, a detailed examination of its planning, including the associated costs, is reasonable journalism. The article includes insights from Dan Gold, executive director of Hillel at UCLA, providing context for the expenditures and offering organizers an opportunity to explain their budget.

As for the accusation of antisemitism, it’s essential to emphasize that attributing malicious intent to a publication without concrete evidence is poisonous to public discourse. Upholding the principles of free speech is crucial on a university campus, where diverse perspectives should be encouraged. Accusing the Daily Bruin of forwarding antisemitic tropes based on the article’s prominence and subheadline is not warranted. Such accusations legitimize censorship of opinions contrary to the pro-Israel narrative. If the article is considered antisemitic, then it gives a justification to powerful entities and organizations to label any amount of pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist speech as such.

Secondly, it chills speech and deters those from voicing opinions that may run contrary to the pro-Israel narrative. Individuals may express concern from voicing their own opinions out of fear of institutional backlash and being labeled an anti-Semite. This applies to speech everywhere – clubs, campus and even between friends.

Upholding the principles of free speech and fostering diverse perspectives should be paramount on a university campus. Labeling an article as antisemitic stifles open discourse and deters individuals from expressing their views. To maintain our values of free speech, we must reject this approach in favor of open dialogue and an exchange of ideas on all issues.

Sincerely,

Tajvir Singh

Tajvir Singh is a third-year political science student.

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