Web Site Supporter Fails to Identify Own Bias

Christopher Cantor is a member of Students for Justice in Palestine and UC Divestment Campaign. Respond at [email protected].

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David Singer, co-chair of the Israel Action Committee, gave his endorsement to the Campus Watch Web site in your letters section on Tuesday ("Letters to the Editor: Web Site Necessary to Combat Anti-Israel Bias," Sept. 24). Campus Watch gathers and publishes information on professors who they consider to be politically biased against the United States and its allies, and Israel in particular.

Mr. Singer's basic premise is that "if we pretend there is no bias (on campus), the only people we are hurting are ourselves." He likes Campus Watch because he thinks it exposes bias, and he believes that we students "have an obligation to expose bias wherever it lies."

There is indeed bias on this campus; all kinds of bias. The Campus Watch Web site, however, is unlikely to profile professors who are biased in favor of Israel or other U.S. allies. So Campus Watch does not really concern itself with "exposing bias wherever it lies." Moreover, the unequal enforcement of its stated mission reveals a strong underlying bias at Campus Watch itself.

Now let's deal with Mr. Singer's particular allegations of bias on campus, and let's be very clear about one thing: Nothing is bias just because Mr. Singer says it is. To expose bias, one must demonstrate that judgment is being passed in a prejudiced way. Mr. Singer's letter offers us no insight into the reasoning or underlying motives of individuals that would indicate that his allegations against them are true.

In addition to this glaring lack of substance, Mr. Singer's letter glosses over his own bias. The Israel Action Committee's Web site refers to itself as "UC Berkeley's pro-Israel group." If Mr. Singer believes being "anti-Israel" indicates some kind of bias, then being pro-Israel means he is biased as well. And if Mr. Singer is ready to admit that he himself is biased, then perhaps he should refrain from staking out a principled stand against bias on the "other side."

There is a real issue hidden in all of this. There are clear differences of opinion on this campus, with plenty of representation on all sides. If Mr. Singer and the Israel Action Committee find that they hear only "one side" debating the issue and informing students about Israel and Palestine, is it because "their side" prefers to avoid the debate altogether? On the other hand, if Mr. Singer truly wants to expose bias-including his own-then he should participate in the debate instead of wasting his energy trying to get students to ignore the people he doesn't like.


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