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Letter to the Editor: Letters criticizing antisemitic undertones should not be written by non-Jewish individuals

By Bella Brannon

Feb. 13, 2024 12:33 a.m.

This post was updated Feb. 15 at 7:55 p.m.

Dear Editor:

I was disheartened to read Tajvir Singh’s recent letter criticizing a previous letter that brought attention to the antisemitic undertones of a Jan. 16 article by the Daily Bruin titled “Documents reveal details behind planning process of Bruins for Israel rally.”

Let’s be clear: Only Jewish people can authentically define what is and isn’t antisemitic.

The Daily Bruin’s Jan. 16 article searches for a scandal that does not exist by making skin-deep claims about the policies one of the largest Jewish groups on campus. Although the piece focused on Jewish groups – including Hillel at UCLA and Bruins for Israel – the Daily Bruin opted to include the voices of non-Jewish students, allowing them to speak on behalf of a community they are not part of.

True investigative journalism is led by evidence, not agenda.

To solely investigate economic conspiracies against Jewish groups is, at best, prejudice against Jewish groups and, at worst, a callback to ancient antisemitic tropes about Jews and money that have propelled violence against Jewish people for centuries. Instead of addressing these criticisms, Singh dismisses the valid qualms of the author of the letter and creates a false boogeyman of censorship.

If a student told another minority group that their experiences were not valid, people would be rightfully up in arms. Only Black people get to define anti-Black racism. Only queer people get to define homophobia. Why are we allowing a non-Jewish student to demean the experiences of the Jewish community? That approach is certainly not in favor of an “exchange of ideas on all issues.”

Further, Singh claims that expressing legitimate concerns about journalism stifles free speech. On the contrary, dismissing someone’s free speech in the name of free speech is what truly stifles freedom of expression. Criticism, scrutiny and listening to the first-hand experiences of communities are essential components of healthy discourse. Expressing concerns about journalistic integrity isn’t censorship but an attempt to uphold principles of transparency and honor.

Free speech does not mean freedom from accountability.

Sincerely,

Bella Brannon

Bella Brannon is a third-year public affairs student and editor in chief of Ha’AM, UCLA’s Jewish Student Magazine.

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