Concordia Paper Charges Murder Without Proof
By: Mike Fegelman September 26, 2007
Dear HonestReporting Canada subscriber:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University this week was a stark reminder that anti-Israel propaganda is alive and well on North America’s university campuses. This month marks five years since violent pro-Palestinian activists stormed Montreal’s Concordia University and forced the cancellation of a speech by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The “Conflict at Concordia,” as it’s been dubbed, proved to be a violent tipping point: within a couple of years, campuses across Canada were on the front lines of a global front to de-legitimize the state of Israel. With weekly protests, boycott and divestment campaigns, and an annual “Israeli apartheid week“ that falsely portrays the Jewish state as an “apartheid regime,” Canadian campuses are focal points for anti-Israel incitement.
At the official level, Concordia joined the ranks of over 23 Canadian academic institutions including McGill and the Université de Montréal in repudiating the proposed academic boycott of Israeli universities by the UK’s University and College Union. Yet at the student level, activists are exploiting campus media to promote virulent anti-Israel propaganda. This October and November, Concordia’s Hall Building is playing host to the screening of anti-Israel films including “Raised To Be Heroes,” “Occupation 101,” and “The Iron Wall.”
The Link’s Unproven Claims
The week of September 17, Concordia’s student newspaper, The Link, featured a column by opinion writer Barnabe Geisweiller entitled “Living with Terrorists,” which accused Israeli soldiers of summary execution and abuse – without providing any evidence:
“Since I have been here I have seen Israel invade on an almost daily basis… Three times so far they have dragged a man out onto the street and executed him — no arrest, no court hearing, just a bullet.”
“The Israeli soldiers came into my friend’s home some weeks ago. They made him sit with his hands above his head along with his entire family. One soldier went behind him and broke his back with the butt of his gun.“
Like other news organizations — whether independent, campus-based, commercial, or state-funded — the Link must adhere to basic journalistic principles of fairness, accuracy and integrity. Before printing Geisweiller’s accusations of murder, The Link’s editors had a professional obligation to substantiate them. Evidently, they did not.
HonestReporting Canada contacted Link editors requesting documentation to confirm Geisweiller’s charges. However, neither Mr. Geisweiller nor The Link provided any credible documentation to confirm that these incidents actually occurred.
In response to HonestReporting Canada’s request, The Link’s editor-in-chief, Giuseppe Valiante, forwarded a series of hyperlinks to 18 articles that never once referenced the incidents in question. After wading through pages of text, we found no names, dates or other specifics that would verify Geisweiller’s claims. When we confronted Mr. Valiante with his failure to substantiate his columnist’s dubious murder allegations, he did not respond. We have yet to hear back from him.
What You Can Do Now
Ask the Link to retract Geisweiller’s unsubstantiated claims, apologize on the record, and reprimand the writer. Send letters to The Link’s editor-in-chief Giuseppe Valiante at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference Barnabe Geisweiller’s column “Living with Terrorists.”
Pointers for contacting the media: State your position clearly in your own words, remain rational and polite, and contact us at email@example.com to tell us you took action. If you are a Concordia student, please state that in your letter. To be considered for publication, letters should include sender’s name and contact information for verification purposes.