PMWATCH - April 17, 2003 -- Yet another brave rare American columnist
standing up for the truth about the plight of Palestinians has been fired
from his post by weak-kneed editors unable and unwilling to stand up to
the relentless anti-Palestinian Macarthytes that continue to choke the
already very smothered discourse about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
here in the United States.
The latest victim, Julio Noboa of the San Antonio Express, has stood
firmly on the side of truth and has courageously spoken up when the vast
majority of his colleagues have kept silent, lest their comfortable,
cushy columnist spot be yanked from them. And so, now he is made to pay
the price for daring to speak his conscience.
Below is his latest column explaining what happened. [Palestine Media Watch]:
More progressive voices are needed
By Julio Noboa
San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted : 04/06/2003 12:00 AM
Dear readers, friends and allies:
During my nine years as a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, I
have covered a wide variety of topics related to issues of justice, peace
and equity, especially as they impact people of color here and abroad. My
column, I've been recently informed, has been discontinued.
It was just over a year ago that a heated controversy erupted over my
columns, mostly those critical of U.S. and Israeli policy toward
Palestinians. A prominent rabbi accused me of anti-semitism and
disparaged my writings in a sermon, demanding I be terminated for, among
other reasons, suggesting that certain constituencies have more media
power than others in our nation.
At that time, the Express-News to their credit, refused to terminate my
column, citing not only freedom of the press, but also explaining that to
do so would prove that constituency does indeed have more media power.
Now, as a response to my last two articles, "Jenin survivors ending the
silence" (March 1); and "Israel gets billions while Americans tighten
belts" (March 15), the editors confronted me with the charge that I
relied too heavily on one source.
That, according to them, is grounds for terminating my column. It's
important to note that there were few or no questions regarding the truth
or the facts as I presented them, nor about the credibility of the source
itself. Neither were there any charges of plagiarism.
In response I submitted copies to the editors of the various sources I
had consulted for both articles, including the Christian Science Monitor,
the Washington Times, Human Rights Watch, the U.N. Report on Jenin, as
well as The Independent, a respected British newspaper.
For the Jenin column, I deliberately relied more heavily on an article in
the Independent, an April 25 piece by two British journalists, Justin
Huggler and Phil Reeves, who had been writing from within Jerusalem and
Jenin. They were the most direct source on the scene.
Nevertheless, I also consulted and submitted to the editors the other
above mentioned sources which verified much of what the Independent said.
It was obvious from the very beginning that someone had marked in yellow,
entire sections of my column and of that Independent article, and had
given both to the editors in an effort to discredit me.
Thus, within those long marked sections, I underlined for the editors
only the specific words and few phrases in my column taken from that
source to demonstrate that what I had utilized were simply the facts, the
numbers, the dates, the details of the events surrounding the Israeli
incursion into Jenin last year.
Despite my best efforts, the editors decided to discontinue my column.
Many of you are already familiar with my writings and realize that the
progressive perspectives I bring are rarely expressed in this, the only
newspaper in town.
In fact, barely 11 percent of all the columns I have written over the
past three years even deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
This means that one of the few progressive views on a whole variety of
topics including the war on Iraq, Latino issues and educational concerns,
among others, will no longer be available to Express-News readers.
This is more profoundly an issue of free expression and political