Letter to the Editor 4/3/14

Although I practice law these days, at one time, I was an editor of my high school paper, and during my freshman year at Vassar,  I  was  a  reporter  for  The  Miscellany  News. In  those “journalism  days,”  I  learned  that  articles  are  supposed  to  be inclusive  and  report  what  actually  happened—not  merely  an author’s “angle.”  With that in mind, I was disappointed to read the recent feature article, “IS trip sparks tension, debate on VC campus,”  Perhaps  both  the  article’s  author  and  the  editors assumed  that,  because  they  described  it  as  a “feature”  article, this gave them license to omit important factual details, thereby painting an  inaccurate  picture  of  what  took  place. But  neither responsible  journalism  nor  responsibility  in  life  indulges  the creation of an inaccurate picture by means of omission, as did the recent article.

The article purported to describe the March 3 public forum held by the Committee on Inclusion and Excellence (“inclusion” is an ironic title  under the  circumstances) to discuss the then­ upcoming International Studies trip to the Middle East.  Although Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) reaction was described—including SJP’s accusation that it was being targeted because of its protests—remarkably, the article made no mention of the bullying  of  pro­Israel  students  who  attended  the  forum.  One might conclude that the authors innocently overlooked the issue, i.e., that perhaps the bullying of pro­Israel students at the forum was insignificant, but that is not credible in view of the fact that such  bullying  received  widespread  coverage  in  news publications and in articles in Commentary, the Jerusalem Post, Professor  Jill  Schneiderman’s  blog  and  the  reputed  anti­Israel blog Mondoweiss (described by some as a pro­BDS website ). Such “selective” journalism failed to transmit an accurate picture  of  what  happened  at  the  forum,  and  it  can  only  be described, most charitably, as shoddy.  Otherwise, even worse, it  served  as  a  vehicle  for  promulgating  an  undisclosed—but obvious—agenda.  Either way, it is unbefitting of Vassar.

 

—Jane Cohen Bergner, Esq. 1964

13 Comments

  1. Bullying committed. Yes. Students of Color complained of bullying
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    http://mondoweiss.net/2014/03/ululating-israelpalestine-conflict.html/comment-page-1
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    “Kiese Laymon, an African-American writer and English professor, led the meeting, saying he wanted a dialogue about activism–“not to be guided by cardboard notions of civility.” Laymon seemed frankly on the SJP side. He stated his concern that students depicted as bullying, intimidating, and threatening were chiefly students of color; also that the trip’s character had the effect of excluding students of Muslim and Arabic background.”
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    “Kiese Laymon echoed her. He likened the trip to the school sponsoring a trip to Mississippi that black students couldn’t join. Those students have the right to say this professor is bullying me and intimidating me, he said.”
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    Is Ms Jane Cohen Bergner still concerned that it was actually the students of color who complained of bullying ?

    • Raj overlooked the words of Philip Weiss, the author of the article he quotes from the anti-Israel mondoweiss blog:
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      I was at the March 3 meeting that so upset Schneiderman, and it was truly unsettling. Over 200 students and faculty jammed a large room of the College Center, and torrents of anger ripped through the gathering. Most of them were directed at Israel or its supporters. Two or three times people shouted at one another. Several said they felt bullied. Schneiderman and another leader of the trip, Rachel Friedman, an associate professor of Greek and Roman studies, looked shocked.
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      I guess Raj missed the main point noted by Philip Weiss.

      • The only time the article attributes bullying specifically to a group are the quotes pointed out me. When Philip Weiss states “Several said they felt bullied” – Several who ?
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        Also if Ms Jane Berger claims she was this super duper journalist and then omits specific complaints of bullying by colored students. Then is that journalism.

  2. I said nothing in my letter to the editor about students of color. Perhaps Raj’s reading skills are as poor as his/her grammar and undisciplined writing. Beyond this, nothing that Raj says is worth my time or comment..

    • “the article made no mention of the bullying of pro­Israel students……….. such bullying received widespread coverage in news publications and in articles in Commentary, the Jerusalem Post, Professor Jill Schneiderman’s blog and the reputed anti­Israel blog Mondoweiss (described by some as a pro­BDS website ).”

      The only bullying mentioned in the Modnoweiss article referenced by you, were those from students of color. Not proIsrael students as u claim.

    • Jane, you hit the nail on the end. The Miscellany News has been lying by omission in many of their features. It is time that we restore the dignity and courage that befits Vassar.

  3. Learn to READ. Laymon expressed concern that the student who were DEPICTED AS BULLYING were students of color, not that students of color were bullied.

  4. ” The atmosphere was more intimidating to pro-Israel speakers than pro-Palestinian speakers. ”

    The leader of the meeting, Kiese Laymon “seemed frankly on the SJP side.”

    “e stated his concern that students depicted as bullying, intimidating, and threatening were chiefly students of color; also that the trip’s character had the effect of excluding students of Muslim and Arabic background.”

    Which is a lie, by the way. Israel does not exclude Muslims or Arabs from entrance the way, say, Saudi Arabia openly excludes Jews.

    One student, a J Street representative, said:

    “My Israel identity is important to me. It is super intimidating to walk into the College Center and feel that that identity is questioned. It’s really difficult to come to terms with hearing that a place you call your homeland shouldn’t exist… I’m not saying SJP makes those claims, but a lot of Jewish students feel that way.”

    • Now that you can’t pretend any more that the Mondoweiss article stated that proIsraeli students claimed they were bullied, it’s onto the next “claim”.
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      Of course Israel ethnically profiles/excludes Muslim Americans. Don’t pretend so just because they don’t have a explicitly state law. Everyone knows it happens

      • “Now that you can’t pretend any more that the Mondoweiss article stated that proIsraeli students claimed they were bullied, it’s onto the next “claim”.”

        Like many BDS proponents, when you’re shown that you’re obviously incorrect, you act like you didn’t make a mistake. The piece clearly says that the atmosphere was more intimidating to pro-Israel students. The conclusion is clear. You support this brand of bullying, which is why you refuse to acknowledge it. BDS is like a cult, and this is how cult members behave.

        “Of course Israel ethnically profiles/excludes Muslim Americans. ”

        Don’t change the subject. The claim was that Arabs and Muslims could not participate in the trip, not that Arabs and Muslims are profiled. That’s false. America profiles Arabs and Muslims as well. That doesn’t mean that they cannot visit this country.

        • Comment edited: Again. In that article the word bullied, when attributed to a certain group, was attributed to students of color.
          Why this continuous song and dance from you to pretend otherwise. Although not unexpected.

          • I’m through discussing this issue with someone who obviously wishes to appear non-literate.

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