October 19, 2018 | ° F

Transparency imperative at the Targum


Commentary


As Rutgers students, we need to let it be known that the Daily Targum Board of Trustees does not represent us. Some readers may be wondering who the members on Board of Trustees are, and that is a huge part of the problem. Why is this group, a group that is not mentioned anywhere on the Targum website, exercising control over what can and can’t be published in the Targum? Why do they operate with zero transparency and without any apparent accountability from the student body? The Daily Targum is a student newspaper, founded by students for students. We fund the Targum. Without the $10.75 addition to our term bill we pay each semester, the school newspaper could not continue. Why, then, is the Targum not being independently run by the students, but rather being controlled by an enigmatic group we know virtually nothing about?

The topic that the Board of Trustees has elected to censor is the Israel-Palestine conflict. They’ve decided this is a topic our student voices are not needed for. Perhaps in the future, they will decide our opinions about other controversial topics are not worth publishing, but for the time being, we’ve lost the right to discuss Israel and Palestine in our own newspaper. The Opinions section, no less, is a place where we should be allowed to express ourselves.

They took this authoritative stance after a problematic student commentary with anti-Semitic undertones was published. Interestingly, the article had absolutely nothing to do with Israel or Palestine. It was just a false accusation against Hillel that questioned the organization’s funding. The Board of Trustees now demands that any articles that pertain to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must pass through them for approval in order to be published: a move that allows them to hand-select certain opinions to be published while rejecting others. Supposedly, this move is intended to combat anti-Semitism. My question is, how does preventing students from engaging in a dialogue about Israel and Palestine stop anti-Semitism? Is it anti-Semitic to disagree with Israeli policies? Where is the connection between open dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and anti-Jewish bigotry? Does giving students a space to express how they feel about Saudi Arabia promote Islamophobia? Would an open discussion about the realities that go on in Burma promote anti-Buddhist sentiments? No — of course not. Branding criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitism” is inherently anti-Semitic because it assumes that Jews are a monolithic group. Jews have a tremendous variety of opinions ranging across the entire spectrum of political thought: from the extreme right all the way to anarchism and everything in between. Criticism of an Israeli policy does not, in any way, point a finger at the Jewish people as a whole and it would be bigoted to say that it does. The Board of Trustees’ reasoning for censoring this particular discussion is severely flawed. And more importantly, their authority over us is illegitimate and must be challenged.

So what gives this mysterious, unaccountable group the right to make this call? This is not their newspaper — it’s ours. We need to stand up to censorship and let the Board of Trustees know that they don’t speak for us. Supposedly, their only job is to be an advisory board for the student editors of the paper. Well apparently, that’s a lie, because they’re now exercising power over what the student editors can and can’t publish. Unfortunately, it’s hard to say exactly what the board’s job is because that information is kept secret from us. We don’t have access to their names. We don’t know who they are or what they do, and yet they’re telling us what we can and can’t say in our own paper. That’s an insult to the entire student body of Rutgers. The board wants us to step aside and let the “adults” run the newspaper, because they don’t believe that we students are competent enough to do it ourselves. I say we take our Targum back.

John Lisowski is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in chemistry.


By John Lisowski

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