By Terence Zhao
This Monday, the Review again assumed its role as Stanford’s instigator-in-chief by publishing a wildly sensationalist article insinuating that our Stanford tuition dollars are funding Hamas, the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood that governs the Gaza Strip.
Its argument — as is often the case with its more clickbait-y, sensationalist pieces — leaves much to be desired.
Before we go any further, I must first make an important point regarding the nature of Hamas. In the article, the Review calls Hamas “a genocidal terrorist organization” that is “evil, pure and simple,” as if that assertion is an unchallenged and well-accepted fact when it is decidedly not. Whether Hamas is a terrorist organization is not at all settled, but rather a matter of ongoing debate.
For example, the EU does not recognize it as such, and neither does Turkey, America’s largest ally in the Middle East. The U.S. government does consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization, but this is, after all, the same government that once put civil rights leader John Lewis on the no-fly list and still doesn’t recognize the KKK as a terrorist organization. The point being, the classification “terrorist” itself is not particularly meaningful — what really matters is what these organizations we talk about actually do. And when it comes to Hamas, yes, it has committed a great deal of atrocities that no one ought to overlook. But, it also operates hospitals, schools and welfare programs. Hamas’s record, much like the rest of the world, is not black and white, and it’s extremely irresponsible of the Review, a publication supposedly dedicated to “[promote] independent thought,” to simply ignore all nuance and, in comically childish fashion, label Hamas as “pure evil.” It is important that we talk about Hamas, including its atrocities. But, to simply label it the equivalent of the devil incarnate and then proceed to categorically dismiss any organization with any ties to it howsoever “sickening” is not only absurd, but massively counterproductive to creating actual dialogue.
But, more importantly, the allegation that Stanford’s branch of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is somehow financially tied to Hamas is comically false and demonstrably so by the facts presented by the Review’s own article. The Review’s proof that SJP funds Hamas is essentially the following: The SJP receives funding from American Muslims for Palestine, a group that, according to the article, has members who were previously part of a now-defunct organization that once donated funds to Hamas.
The first time I read through this argument, I could only react to the tenuousness of it all. But, upon closer examination, I realized that nowhere in this entire narrative that the Review itself wrote shows the SJP giving the money to anyone at all. At best, this narrative accuses that SJP has received money from organizations that are potentially affiliated with Hamas. Even with the most generous interpretation imaginable, nothing in this article’s narrative (provided by the Review as its best reasoning in support of their position) even remotely proves the insane, sensationalistic argument that SJP — much less your Stanford tuition dollars — are in any way being used to fund Hamas.
The thing that truly shocks me is that, as I said multiple times already, all of this is based strictly on the Review’s article itself. I did not do any outside research or even click on any of the article’s external links to corroborate the Review’s sources, information and assertions. I gave the article the most generous reading possible by simply taking the Review’s word for it. And yet, its argument still has a logical hole so big that its Trump-loving funder could drive his motorcade through it.
In putting out an article with conclusions that are not even supported by its own facts, the Review has hit a new low. For starters, this article is the epitome of shoddy journalism. By sanctioning its publication, the Review is just once again proving that it is more interested in stirring up controversy with sensationalist clickbait than doing what it claims to do: “Promote debate about campus and national issues that are otherwise not represented by traditional publications.” And that’s quite a shame because Stanford, as a liberal bastion, does need strong and independent voices, but the Review just isn’t doing right by its own mission statement.
But more importantly, the level of misrepresentation and slander against SJP in this article makes it, frankly, borderline libel. Unfortunately, this will likely not be the last time the Review tries to defame pro-Palestine groups on campus. I can only hope that the next time it does it, it’ll have some facts to back it up.
Contact Terence Zhao at zhaoy ‘at’ stanford.edu.