Yesterday, The Daily did something unfathomable. As a publication by and for Stanford students, The Daily has great responsibility when reporting on students — especially when, like now, tensions on campus are running high. So it is especially concerning that yesterday The Daily published an article with unverified information accusing a Jewish student of assaulting one Palestinian, one “visibly Arab” and one hijab-wearing student on Oct. 15. The supposed assault occurred in White Plaza as the three students were taking down signs with pictures, names and ages of some of the over 200 Israeli civilians who were kidnapped by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization. The article and its title make it sound like ripping off posters with pictures of Hamas hostages is business as usual, implying that it is an honorable thing to do.
In a statement to The Daily, the accused student testified that, “I simply asked them to stop destroying the posters. There was no altercation and I absolutely did NOT touch anyone. I have a witness who can verify that. This is a totally false and groundless accusation.” The article refers to a video that “depicts the suspect yelling ‘Shut the fuck up’ to an alleged victim before the students walked away from each other.” But, The Daily does not allege that the video has proof of physical violence. There is no evidence of physical assault. Though The Daily article made sure to note everything as ‘alleged,’ their quote from a Department of Public Safety spokesperson was definitive, making it seem like the assault did happen.
Yesterday’s outrageous Daily article was not an aberration. Last Wednesday, The Daily published an alternative account of the antisemitic behavior of Ameer Hassan Loggins, a lecturer in Stanford’s mandatory course for frosh. As reported in a New York Times opinion, “A lecturer in one class that day asked Jewish students to raise their hands, then took one of the Jewish student’s belongings and told him to stand apart from everyone else, saying that was what the Israelis did to the Palestinians.” Another student reported: “he turned to an Israeli student and asked how many Jews died in the Holocaust. When that student said six million, the teacher replied, many more millions died in colonization, which is what he said Israel was doing to the Palestinians. He then asked all of the students to say where they were from and depending on the answer, he told them whether they were colonized or colonizer. When a student said, ‘Israeli,’ he called the student a colonizer.”
In sharp contrast to the Times’ article on the issue, the account published in The Daily appears to be written solely to defend Loggins’s actions. The Daily article goes to great lengths to paint Loggins’s actions as over exaggerated, implicitly accusing Jewish students of dishonesty. Two Stanford Israel Association board members spoke with the students who were targeted by Loggins and communicated the pain and discomfort that Loggins caused them. Rather than taking these expressions of the Jewish students’ experiences seriously, the article immediately proceeds to cite non-Jewish students, inappropriately calling into question the Jewish students’ experiences. For example, The Daily quotes a student who said, “as a class we all really loved having him as a professor.” Similarly, a student is quoted saying, “It was to be funny, [Loggins] was laughing.” The Jewish students who reported Loggins to the University clearly didn’t agree.
Per journalistic best practices, reporters should obtain as much relevant information as possible. The Daily does feature the testimony of students in the class, but they are neither Jewish nor Israeli. Since when is it acceptable for bystanders to tell victims how they’re supposed to feel? Such journalistic incompetence is unacceptable.
Ironically, at the same time The Daily minimized Jewish accounts of antisemitism, it also published “Hundreds call for University action in protest for Palestine,” which failed to mention what is easily interpreted as a direct call during the rally to take up arms against fellow Stanford students: “On college campuses, including this one, … People’s resistance is met through doxing, harassment and intimidation campaigns which endanger Palestinian life. What is there left to do but to take up arms?”
Journalists have power. Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack which killed 1,400 Israeli civilians and took over 200 hostages, Jewish and Israeli students have been targeted on the basis of their identities. They continue to encounter slogans calling for the destruction of their country and the concomitant genocide of their people chalked on the ground. Jewish and Israeli students have had to sit and listen as neighbors, classmates and friends justify the brutal slaughter of their friends and family. The Daily contributes to this campus climate, and must acknowledge that irresponsible and one-sided reporting impacts Jewish students.
We condemn what is in our view The Daily’s repeated indifference to assaults on Jews and its promotion of libelous and antisemitic accounts.
The Stanford Israel Association
This article was written by Andrei Mandelshtam, co-president, and other members of the Stanford Israel Association.