Sun Editors did not allow a rebuttal
Note added November 2003:
The fact is that 11 Yale Friends of Israel Members who are also members of "Yale Students for Democracy" (pro war list of 2003) unsubscribed from that List immediately after the article appeared but even after deducting those fully 51 others were shared on the two lists: one in support of war on Iraq and one in support of Israel's war on Palestine. I do have the vidence on this.
Letters Sent to the NY Sun by me and Stan.
29 May 2003
The New York Sun
105 Chambers Street, 2nd Fl
New York, NY 10007
Via fax: 212-571-9836
Subject: Breach of Journalistic integrity at the Sun
Dear Editors and leaders at the New York Sun:
Please read this material below to the end (note points at the end). Just to add two other points not mentioned in Heller's notes:
1) The author of the article, James Kirchick, is not only a member of the Yale Friends of Israel but also of "Yale Students for Democracy" (he is doing a Summer internship at the NY Sun). I think full disclosure of these affiliations to his NY Sun editors and readers would have been not only appropriate and honest, but in this case essential.
2) In my correspondence with Yale Peace list, I was using my private email address and not Yale email address or indicating my professional position at Yale. The "reporter" knew that and chose not to mention it.
I received many threatening emails and phone calls after your article appeared from misled readers who gathered from your article that I "hate Jews." I demand that the Sun print a apology within four days covering the relevant points stated above and below giving full disclosure of Mr. Kirchick's affiliations (also on the front page). I also ask for your written response via fax and mail.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
From Stanley Heller of New Haven, posted to Yale Peace List
A full front page article attacked Mazin Qumsiyeh in The New York Sun yesterday (See below. It’s a new paper with a small circulation, some 20,000, but the article could be used to hurt Mazin professionally at Yale as it alleges all sorts of improprieties.) I’ll start with my letter to The Sun, the Sun article and some very detailed criticisms of the Sun article that may be of use to you. Please send your letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I stare at a May 27 report from international volunteers about a 16 year old youth was shot to death in Tulkarem as he walked home from school. They watched as Israeli soldiers denied his ambulance passage. Minutes later another 16 year old was shot in the head with live ammunition. In the face of this horror The Sun is writing about .... an "Uproar" at Yale by students whose knickers are in knot because an American-Palestinian listed Jewish names in an email.
Let me tell you as an old Yalie still in touch with political currents, Yale was not in an uproar during the last week of the term. The same people shriek "anti-Semitism" at Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh who always attack him, the Yale Friends of Israel. The issue of his printing of email addresses is a non-starter. One (non-Jewish) student complained. Some on the YFI group are offended that they’re assumed to be pro-Iraq war. That's a delightful surprise given the group's total embrace of the Israel's current militarist outlook. The idea that Qumsiyeh sent out a "controversial" (does that now mean "prejudiced"?) email when he pointed out Jewish American neo-cons have huge clout in Bush’s war councils is ridiculous. The same fact is openly reported in the Israeli press. By the way you don’t mention that your reporter, James Kirchick, is fresh from the Yale campus and a member of the Yale Friends of Israel listserve. He’s hardly able to give an objective account of this non-affair.
As an American-Jew who works closely with Prof. Qumsiyeh on human rights issues, I can attest to his fair mindedness, and his total lack of ethnic prejudice. We work together in a group (the Middle East Crisis Committee) that routinely condemns not only the suicide bombings, but the groups that organize it. Let the Yale Friends of Israel mention even one time that they criticized any action by any Israeli solider or settler, even the bulldozing to death of American Rachel Corrie two months ago.
Yale in an Uproar as Professor Accuses Jewish Students
By JAMES KIRCHICK Special to the Sun
An e-mail sent by a Yale professor naming Jewish students from an Israel advocacy group as a "pro-war cabal" has caused an uproar at the elite Ivy League university. Students charge that listing the Jewish names was anti-Semitic; many claim they are outspoken opponents of the war against Iraq. "Just to insinuate that people who espouse pro-Israel views at Yale are automatically complicit in promoting the war is ridiculous and offensive," said Nelson Moussazadeh, co-president of Yale Friends of Israel. The e-mail, sent Saturday by an associate professor of genetics, Mazin Qumsiyeh, to the several hundred members of Yale’s anti-war Coalition for Peace, contained the names of 64 students, nearly all of them Jews.
According to Mr. Qumsiyeh’s e-mail, the group "subscribes to the same Straussian theology that the no-cons (sic) around Bush have been pushing (Wolfowitz, Perle, Wurmser, Kristol, Feith). I think you will find the list informative. Note that there is significant overlap of this list with the ‘Yale Friends of Israel’ list serve."
The e-mail went on to state that the list was that of the Yale College Students for Democracy, which supported the war in Iraq. The "Straussian philosophy’’ reference was to Leo Strauss, the late University of Chicago political philosopher credited with inspiring the so-called neo-conservative’ movement. In fact, all of the students named are on the Yale Friends of Israel list, said Mr. Moussazadeh, the YFI co-president. Not all are members of YCSD.
"I don’t like being misrepresented, regardless of my political opinions,’’ said Zvika Krieger, a student spokesman for YFI. "I was advertised as being part of a group I’m not part of.’’ Mr. Moussazadeh is one of only two students able to access YFI’s list. He claims that Mr. Qumsiyeh’s action is "violating people’s privacy," and he believes the professor obtained the list improperly.
When reached by phone, Mr. Qumsiyeh refused to comment beyond what he had written in his previous e-mails. Mr. Qumsiyeh is an outspoken critic of the Jewish state and speaks and writes frequently on the subject of the Middle East. This is not the first time that he has sent out a controversial e-mail. In late April, Mr. Qumsiyeh issued a mass e-mail that linked to an article containing a list of "Prominent Jews in the Media."
In a January 24, 2003, column for the Yale Herald, Qumsiyeh wrote that "…Hitler thought highly of Zionists and Zionists regularly collaborated with the Nazis." When the Yale Political Union hosted a speech by an Israeli military officer in January of 2001, Mr. Qumsiyeh staged a walkout with about 10 other people.
He is a co-founder of the New Haven based Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, which advocates for the "right of return" of the Palestinian Arabs into Israel proper. The professor is also involved with the Yale Coalition for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Yale Divest from Israel Campaign, which advocates that Yale disinvest all financial holdings in Israeli companies or companies that conduct business in Israel.
After an outcry by those Jewish students who were wrongly listed as being members of the campus pro-war in Iraq group, Mr. Qumsiyeh backtracked and stated that he had confused the e-mail lists of the two organizations. Writing the students whom he listed in his original e-mail, Mr. Qumsiyeh stated, "In my message listing your e-mail addresses, I obviously made a mistake. For this, I am sorry."
Mr. Qumsiyeh claimed that he obtained the individual e-mail addresses of the students when an e-mail he sent to both groups came back as undeliverable, but contained names of the individuals. Matthew Louchheim, a Yale senior from Los Angeles, said Mr. Qumsiyeh’s sending a list of supposed pro-war students "smacks of McCarthyism."
- Qumsiyeh did not "accuse Jewish students". He stated what a group of students thought, many of those students were not Jewish. In fact, he had thought there was "overlap with Yale Friends of Israel" (itself is not all Jewish).
- Stating that " Students charge that listing the Jewish names was anti-Semitic" is misleading and inaccurate. The reporter should have stated which students claimed as such. If so any student who stated so would be liable to a defamation suit since there was nothing anti-Semitic about this incident.
- The reporter, James Kirchick is openly known as a member of the Yale Friends of Israel list. This should have been stated. This would have alerted the readers that this reporter is biased.
- There was no outcry of Jewish students. Qumsiyeh's apology was sent after a non-Jewish student on the Yale peace list asked if it was appropriate to send such a list.
- As for the insinuation of a (similar) "controversial" email, that is nonsence. The other email was no more controversial than millions of emails sent out by many people about the links of neo-conservatives and Israeli apologists in the media.
- The Sun used a picture of Dr. Qumsiyeh without permission of the copyright holder and with misrepresentation of what the picture was about. It was in fact a picture of him at a protest not at Yale but in front of ADL offices in New Haven and it was because ADL (like the Sun now) has attempted to stifle free speech by labeling and harassing people. Something they accused Dr. Qumsiyeh of.
- Dr. Qumsiyeh and many peace activists are subjected to regular attempts to silencing and intimidation and even coercion. . Floods of spam emails, viruses and even death threats are common to those who try to tell the truth about what’s happening with Palestinians. Whatever breach of email etiquette Mazin may have made is insignificant compared the repeated attempts at sabotage against him and other human rights activists.
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