News Politics

Hundreds protest Chicago Tribune editorial they say spread anti-Palestinian racism


More than 100 people protested outside the Chicago Tribune’s West Town office Saturday afternoon, claiming the paper’s editorial board spread anti-Palestinian propaganda in its editorial criticizing the City Council and Mayor Brandon Johnson’s handling of a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

The Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine rallied outside the Tribune’s Grand Avenue entrance. Organizers chanted that the editorial board and Chris Jones, editorial page editor, should be ashamed and held accountable for “hateful words” that “stand with our oppressors.” A few dozen police officers stood outside the property gates during the protest, directing traffic.

The U.S. Palestinian Community Network-Chicago said in a news release that the editorial, published the day after the resolution vote on Jan. 31, used “racist dog whistles” that “attack the movement for Palestinian rights.”

“That editorial by Jones and his team at the Chicago Tribune was really disgusting,” Nick Sous of USPCN-Chicago said in the release. “It was worse even than what the Zionist Israelis themselves use as propaganda to justify their genocide. We reject it, reject their accusations of antisemitism, and demand that Jones apologize to our movement and to our mayor!”

Demonstrators gather at the entrance to the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center for a protest against the Chicago Tribune editorial board for an editorial about the City Council resolution for a cease-fire Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune)
Demonstrators gather at the entrance to the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center for a protest against the Chicago Tribune editorial board for an editorial about the City Council resolution for a cease-fire Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Chicago. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune)

The editorial stated the vote — which made Chicago the largest American city to call for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel — was “a model of how not to conduct the city’s business.” It criticized what it called “a one-sided resolution that failed to cite Hamas’ role in instigating this horrific situation” and Johnson’s maneuvering to narrowly pass it. Johnson cast the tiebreaking vote after a 23-23 deadlock.

The editorial also said Johnson should have done more to prevent shouts from spectators directed at Ald. Debra Silverstein, 50th, the council’s lone Jewish member. Silverstein has said her suggestions about the resolution weren’t taken into consideration, and that Jews in the city feel more unsafe.

“Mr. Mayor, encouraging hate against more than 100,000 of your residents, based on their religious or ethnic identity, is hardly ‘leading with love,’ as you like to say you do,” the editorial said.

The editorial board is separate from the Tribune’s news sections. It is and edited by a team that works independently of the newsroom.

Jones said in a statement that the paper’s opinion section publishes a variety of content, “much of which has been sympathetic to the Palestinian cause,” and that he appreciates how some of the people protesting Saturday have written to thank them for that.

“In the case of this editorial, which largely mirrors the position of both the governor and the Biden administration, we were writing in support of an alderman who had written a fair and heartfelt compromise resolution that mirrored the desire for less bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and yet also reflected the horrors visited by Hamas on Israel,” Jones said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the resolution should have taken into account that Hamas fighters killed about 1,200 Israelis and took about 240 hostages on Oct. 7. Israel declared war following this attack.

“For what it’s worth, I was in the West Bank in September and met many Palestinians who shared their perspective with me and I understand the reasons for the protest,” Jones added.

The Gaza Health Ministry said Saturday that the bodies of 117 people killed in Israeli airstrikes were brought to hospitals over the past 24 hours, raising the overall death toll from the offensive to 28,064, mostly women and children. The ministry said more than 67,000 people have been wounded.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for civilian deaths because it fights from within civilian areas, but U.S. officials have called for more surgical strikes. President Joe Biden said this week Israel’s response is “over the top.”

Israeli airstrikes killed at least 44 Palestinians — including more than a dozen children — in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Saturday, hours after Israel’s prime minister said he had asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people there ahead of a ground invasion.

The Associated Press contributed reporting. 

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Rebecca Johnson, Alysa Guffey , 2024-02-11 00:05:45

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