Speaker disputes Cafe Intifada allegations

By Jeffrey Gross

My fellow Illini:

I feel that it is imperative that I clear up many allegations made against me with regard to the events that transpired at Cafe Intifada. I attended the event as a Jewish student concerned only about the word “intifada” itself. I did not criticize any of the many anti-Israel statements made at Cafe Intifada.

I read a pre-prepared speech about why the word “intifada,” in the explicit context of the Palestinian struggle, is not a peaceful word, but rather one of terror. I merely stated that the word “intifada” to a Jew has the same meaning as “jihad” to a Sept. 11 victim.

I said that acts of violence committed against the citizens of any state is not rebellion, but terrorism.

I said action against military personnel is rebellion; violence against innocent bystanders is terrorism.

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    I listed but a few of the many, many violent attacks by militants against Israeli civilians under the guise of the second intifada and tried to explain why the word is not a peaceful one to any Jew.

    I said that terrorism, no matter what the reason, is never justified, even if it accomplishes a goal.

    My microphone was turned off half way into my one page, 12-point font speech at this “freedom of speech” event. People booed and hissed me for speaking what I had to say. They shouted statements like “Jewish terrorist” at me. The MC questioned my legitimacy to speak at the event and refused to let me finish my speech unless I could prove I knew what I was talking about, though no one else was questioned.

    No one else was booed, yelled at or cut off.

    Just me, the lone Jew who spoke out against the word “intifada” – not about the stories told at Cafe Intifada, but merely a word in the title of the event.

    I came to advocate peace. I came to say that we shouldn’t use words which anger the other side, not if we want to find a solution. I said numerous times that I was in favor of two states and felt for the Palestinian struggle. Many people at Cafe Initifada didn’t care. They just heard what they wanted to hear and made accusations thusly.

    Finally, I urge you, if you want to know what I said at Cafe Intifada, to visit the online comments section of the original article, titled “Cafe Intifada Expresses Discontent About Military Occupations.” There you will find the speech that I read, verbatim, and the tale of my experience at the event.

    Thank you for your time.