How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Dear Honest Reporting Member,

Dear HonestReporting Member,

Every summer, thousands of college students work part-time jobs, backpack around the world, or attend summer school. This year, a handful decided to spend their summer in the Middle East, as guests of anti-Israel organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee and the Christian Peacemaker Teams. Some of their negative reports are now finding their way into the mainstream media.

  1. The Houston Chronicle printed an account from Steven Salaita, a doctoral candidate from the University of Oklahoma at Norman, whose trip was sponsored by the AFSC’s Fellowship of Reconciliation Peacebuilders. The August 14 column, “Let Americans learn Palestinian side of the story”was replete with accusations of Israeli “apartheid” and justification for Arab terrorism.
  2. The same day, Kathryn Kingsbury filed a virulent anti-Israel broadside, “Brutal Israeli terrorism subsidized by U.S.,” published in the Madison (Wisconsin) Capital Times. Her 2-week visit was sponsored by the Christian Peacemaker Teams, and she claimed that “Israel’s ongoing policy of harassing, impoverishing, torturing and killing Palestinian civilians [is] an effort to force them to flee their homeland.”
  3. Wendy Pearlman is a Harvard doctoral candidate who lived in the Palestinian town of Bir Zeit. Her numerous anti-Israel activities include a column for The Washington Post, “West Bank Checkpoint” (June 30, 2001), where she charges that Israel is “deliberately tormenting a captive civilian population,” and that “Israel employs warlike violence that drives people to terrorism.”

In November, The Washington Post published a letter from Pearlman complaining about the Post’s reference to Gilo as a “Jewish neighborhood on Jerusalem’s southern fringe.” Pearlmen insisted that “Gilo is an Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory.” She also objected to the Post’s reference to Gilo as “a target for Palestinian gunmen,” charging instead that “The Israeli army has laid siege to the Palestinian town of Beit Jala.”

Pearlman has a long record of anti-Israel activity. According to the Brown University Alumni magazine, she and a friend “recently met with the U.S. ambassador in Egypt to express their support for the Palestinian people and to deliver a letter, signed by 150 Americans in Egypt, addressed to then-president Clinton demanding a more just policy in the Middle East. They urge all Brown friends to take a stand against the use of heavy artillery against an unarmed civilian population.”

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If you have recently visited Israel and found your experiences different from those described above, please write a column or letter to the editor of your local paper. If you are a student who just returned from a tour or program in Israel, prepare an article now for your university newspaper’s first edition of the year.

If you believe these summer vacation articles are biased, write to:

The Houston Chronicle – hci@chron.com
801 Texas Avenue, Houston, Texas, 77002

Or write to the author directly at: ssalaita@hotmail.com

The Capital Times – tctvoice@madison.com
P.O. Box 8060, Madison, WI 53708-8060

The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, cut-and-paste the following sample letter.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

HonestReporting.com

========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ============

To the Editor of the Houston Chronicle:

Steven Salaita’s column, “Let Americans learn Palestinian side of the story” (August 14) was replete with anti-Israel fabrications and went so far as to present a justification for Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

Salaita lists several factors, including the “continued occupation of Palestinian land,” as causes for Palestinian violence against Israel. I find it difficult to accept that any factor is justification for barbarous terrorist bombings of restaurants filled with women and children. Salaita is unable to express even one word of regret for the Israeli babies and children blown apart by terrorist bombs or bludgeoned to death by Palestinian murderers.

While Salaita justifies Palestinian violence, he conveniently fails to mention that in signing the Oslo Accords, Arafat pledged to renounce violence and to take all disagreements to the negotiating table.

Salaita’s “Peacebuilders Delegation” is clearly a fraud. I am surprised that the Chronicle bought the bait.

==========

To the Editor of the Capital Times:

Kathryn Kingsbury supposedly traveled to the Middle East as part of a “Christian Peacemaker Team” (“Brutal Israeli terrorism subsidized by U.S.,” August 14), but her misrepresentation of Palestinian violence makes it clear that this trip was more about attacking Israel than about building peace.

Kingsbury claims that the Palestinians have a “lively peace movement.” Where? Only in Israel is there an organization called “Peace Now.” Only in Israel is there freedom of speech without fear of vigilante (or government-sponsored) retribution. Only in Israel do national leaders express regret and sorrow over the inadvertent death of innocents.

Kingsbury ignores incitement in Palestinian textbooks and on official Palestinian television. She ignores the Palestinian celebrations that took place when a terrorist blew up an Israeli pizzeria, killing women and children. And in attacking Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian lands, Kingsbury ignores the fact that 97 percent of Palestinians in the territories live under the full military and civil rule of the Palestinian Authority, and that Israel’s Prime Minister Barak offered virtually all of the Palestinian territories last July. It wasn’t enough for Arafat.

Kingsbury’s “Peacemaker Team” is clearly a fraud. I am surprised that the Times bought the bait.

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