Mission impossible

Infuriated at the way the Detroit News’ editorial page is portraying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some Arab-American businesses owners are saying they might stop selling the paper. Most of the ire is directed at editorial page editor Nolan Finley, whose writings promote “bigotry and hatred” against Arabs, according to Imad Hamad, Midwest director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Hamad says that he and other Arab-American leaders have met several times in past months with Finley and other editorial board members.

They’re not trying to get Finley to change his views. That, says Hamad, would be “mission impossible.”

“We are asking that they simply present a point of view in a civil fashion so that you are not attacking a culture and faith,” he explains.

“The Palestinians have been made to look like the evil perpetrators against the Israelis,” says Nasser Beydoun, American-Arab Chamber of Commerce executive director. Beydoun cites a March 17 editorial in which Finley criticizes Palestinian terrorists for purposely targeting Israeli children.

Finley told News Hits that editorials are not intended to be objective, but neither are they meant to be derogatory.

“We have never been insulting,” says Finley. “We have given the Arab-American community equal time on the op-ed page. We know there are two sides here. Our position has been one side of the issue.”

Publisher Mark Silverman says his paper has had the same position on Israel and Palestine for the past quarter-century.

“The News in general has supported Israel’s right to exist; at the same time we believe there is a right and need for a Palestinian state,” says Silverman.

Silverman also has met with Arab-American leaders in past months, which helped quell the outrage.

But the firestorm was re-ignited earlier this month when the News ran a syndicated editorial cartoon depicting Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia lecturing Bush on Middle-East violence while handing a child some cash and instructing him “to go blow up something.”

“It promotes the image that Arabs in general are filthy rich and all they care about is financing terrorism,” says Hamad.

Finley disagrees. “The cartoon dealt with an issue in the news and that was the serious accusation that the same time the Saudis brokered peace, they were sending money to people involved in terrorism,” he says.

Hamad says that he and other community leaders are scheduled to meet with Finley, Silverman and the editorial board May 23. If they don’t like what they hear, Arab-American store owners throughout the area may stop selling the Detroit News, he says.

“If discussions fail, then it is time to determine a course of action, which we will announce at the right time,” says Hamad.

Ann Mullen is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail her at [email protected]
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