Jews misrepresented in discussion

On March 12, Students for Justice in Palestine and other Arab organizations and cultural houses hosted an event called “Change in the Middle East: the US, Israel and Palestine”. As an American and a Jew, I am deeply interested in a discussion about the future of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This is a delicate issue that requires the presence of all sides taking part in a mature discussion. Thursday’s event was none of that.

The lack of Jewish sponsorship itself indicates the slant of the event: anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. The “Jewish” side was represented by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, a self-loathing Jew and denier of the Holocaust (a crime in Germany), who holds virulent anti-Israeli beliefs. Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian electronic journal, spoke for the Arabs. In addition, I heard anti-Semitic comments from much of the audience.

In this setting, it is impossible to have a neutral, reasoned discussion.

I am disappointed in the sponsors for attempting to spread Arab propaganda under the guise of enlightened discussion.

As students of a public university, we come from diverse backgrounds with our own beliefs and opinions. In this academic setting, far removed from the subjects of our studies, we learn objectively about passionate issues.

Thursday’s event discredited all of that.

While the Arab students on campus want to host a slanted event, do not attempt to persuade others that this is the whole story. I am compelled to exclaim: “If Arab students in America address the conflict in this manner, then it’s no wonder peace gives way to suicide bombers.”

But I refrain. Instead, I hope for mature, future discussion between Arabs, Jews, and Americans.

I expected better. I welcome and encourage discussion of this conflict. I hope those who attended Thursday realize what the event truly was.

Daniel Flesch

junior in LAS