Sarah “Eli” Nachimson was fired by UCLA student newspaper the Daily Bruin for speaking at a rally in support of a cease-fire in the war between Israel and terrorist group Hamas, according to Nachimson.
“If their only qualm was I had spoken at a politically charged rally I would have no issue,” Nachimson, who identifies as Jewish and uses they/them pronouns, wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “However, other staffers have gotten reprimanded for supporting Palestine. No one has for supporting Israel.”
Later Monday evening, The Daily Bruin released a statement saying that the paper “expects student journalists to abide by the paper’s ethical standards, including policies regarding conflict of interest and public expression of opinions.” They included a link to the outlet’s policies.
“The Bruin’s directives, to which Daily Bruin staffers agree when they apply to our organization, are consistent with those of mainstream news organizations, such as The Associated Press, The New York Times and The Washington Post,” the statement continued, linking to policies from these institutions. “The Bruin does not comment on individual personnel matters.”
Read the version of their statement released to X in full below.
The Daily Bruin does not reprimand, discipline or remove contributors for their beliefs or opinions. The Bruin expects student journalists to abide by the paper’s ethical standards, including policies regarding conflict of interest and public expression of opinions.— Daily Bruin (@dailybruin) December 5, 2023
Nachimson stated that one of the Daily Bruin’s editors was a reporter who cited Jewish advocacy group the Anti-Defamation League as a “‘reliable source’ on antisemitism’ and conflated Judaism with support for Israel.”
They criticized the Daily Bruin’s coverage of another rally, which the Bruin described with the caption, “Hundreds gathered in front of Royce Hall to show support for Jewish students on campus.” Nachimson expressed frustration with the Bruin’s approach to an event “with signs that said ‘Islam = Isis.’ Enough said.”
Nachimson criticized the traditional journalistic idea that journalists need to remain neutral.
“Neutrality in the personal lives of journalists, especially journalists with personal connections in Gaza, is demanding that journalists side with the oppressor,” Nachimson wrote.
Nachimson also cited “disrespectful and untrue accusations against me” made, as well as “extremely insensitive comments when I mentioned my friends’ families killed in Gaza.”
According to Nachimson, “I was told my feelings were ‘unacceptable’ from those who are supposedly dedicated to standing for neutrality.”
They shared a copy of their speech, in which they detailed their experience visiting the region when they were 12 years old, as well as research they had done over the years about the longstanding conflict between Israel and Palestinians. They also shared about friends who had been killed or lost friends and family of their own in the conflict.
In their speech, Nachimson’s remarks also included, “Zionism is not Judaism, and there can be no peace until there is equality for every living being between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”
They closed their speech by saying, “We now witness a horrifying international effort to distort the fact of the universe, to imply that the cry of an Israeli baby is somehow more real than the cry of a Palestinian baby. In the name of my faith, my soul, my beating heart, I beg everyone to fight this dehumanization. Peace will only come with a cease-fire, with an end to this cruel occupation, and freedom for all Palestinians to live in an equal and just society.”
Their posts Monday also included the controversial phrase “from the river to the sea,” stating, “I have long fought for peace from the river to the sea.” Some have argued that the phrase has been co-opted by Hamas.
In another post on Monday, they wrote, “Journalism does not demand neutrality.” They cited outlets, including Jewish Currents and +972, who don’t aim for neutrality in their reporting on the Israel-Hamas War.
Nachimson said they personally support a cease-fire because they believe it would “save the lives of my friends and colleagues in Gaza.”
Some expressed support for Nachimson on social media, though the journalist later noted that they were locking their X account because “I’ve started getting insults to my appearance … and harassment threats.”
Others opposed Nachimson, with one X user asserting that Nachimson was “a radical anti-Israel activist” and stating that they’d reached out to Nachimson’s parents. Another example of those upset by Nachimson’s posts included a person who suggested that they “be deported to Gaza to join your friends until you come to your senses.”
Nachimson has contributed to progressive journalism outlet Knock L.A., as well as other journalism and arts outlets.