Targum, RUSA: get your facts straight
When the Rutgers University Student Assembly decided during the election season to neither endorse nor oppose the ward campaign, it claimed that it does not take political sides. Yet last week, when RUSA reaffirmed the cherished meal-swipe program belonged to the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, it may have made one of the largest political statements at the University in the past decade. This program, meant to unite the student body, has instead torn us apart and has further compromised relations between supporters of both Israeli and Palestinian causes.
While members of the PCRF claim that their organization has no political ties, the mere name "Palestine" is politically oriented. While supporters of Palestinian causes constantly claim a love for this hypothetical nation, when push comes to shove there is no such thing as "Palestine." How does one free a hypothetical dream? It seems as if supporters of Palestinian causes don't actually care about Palestinians; rather, they care solely about hurting Israel. Jordan was part of the British Mandate of Palestine, and to this day the vast majority of Jordan is Palestinian. Where are the calls of apartheid against the Jordanian government? There are over 59 Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East, and not one resides in Israel. Why have these refugees of over 60 years not been assimilated into Syria, Jordan and Lebanon? Do Arabs care that little about their own people? Or are they so focused on removing the measly 6 million Jews that live on a tiny sliver of land smaller than New Jersey that they just push their own people aside?
This decision by RUSA is clearly political. It has enraged students at the University and those that support this piece of legislation are either delusional or have clearly been given false information. If the PCRF had any intention of actually supporting Palestinian children, they would donate all of their money to the Israeli government, the number one contributors to Palestinian medical, food and humanitarian aid. But for some reason, I doubt those at the PCRF would dare take such a course of action and will probably refuse to believe this fact.
Why did RUSA not steer clear of controversy? Millions of American children do not receive proper medical attention, go to sleep hungry at night and are homeless. Right here in New Brunswick, hundreds of families go to sleep hungry and cold every night and children are sick and cannot afford proper health care. Why can't something be done to help our community instead of an organization whose founder, Stephen Sosebee, admitted in an editorial for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in September 1998 that his organization had ties to the Holy Land Foundation, a group where two founders are all currently serving long sentences in U.S. prisons for funneling more than $12 million to Hamas? It is the largest transfer of wealth from the United States to a terrorist organization in the history of our nation.
While I would personally be ashamed of any individual who decided to donate to the PCRF, a public, federally funded institution like the University should not contribute to a group with such questionable ties. What is even more disturbing is the faulty reporting that The Daily Targum contributed in delivering this news story. On Nov. 23, a reporter for the Targum story "Meal program decision ignites burning debate" used false information in formulating her piece. The author interviewed Avi Scher, a RUSA member and the man responsible for bringing the PCRF's questionable ties to the attention of RUSA. In the report, the author claimed that Scher used a radical Web site and Sosebee's personal blog in developing his accusation. In reality, Scher used a published Washington, D.C.-based journal and Mediamonitors.net, which published a journal of Sosebee's written while he was living in Ramallah. Concurrently, the author fictitiously created a quote for Scher when she claimed that Scher said these false Web sites "shows that Sosebee is biased and his organization is political."
It is one thing to confuse the Web sites mentioned at a RUSA meeting, even though both the PCRF and Scher handed out fliers with facts; it is another thing to create a quote for an individual and is an extreme breach of journalistic integrity. Libel is a serious matter, and the Targum should not allow false reports to be conducted from their newsroom. The author has not only jeopardized the integrity of her name but the name of the Targum. How can students trust a newspaper that prints erroneous facts and prints inaccurate quotes? If this is the first time it has happened, I trust the Targum will take proper actions in disciplining those involved and make sure that it never happens again. But as students, how are we supposed to believe that this is the first or last time an incident like this has occurred or will occur?
It may be too late for RUSA to overturn its decision, but the Targum must make sure that sham reporting never happens again. As students, we need viable news sources and credible reporting in order to formulate our own personal opinions. It should also be noted that under no circumstances are students obligated to sign-away meal-swipes. It is a shame that we cannot choose which charity receives our donation, but it is more important to make sure that those with severe political affiliations and agendas do not receive a check with a signature from the University.
Aaron Marcus is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. His column, "Marcus My Words," runs on alternative Mondays.