Letter to the Editor Fall 2017

From Student for Justice in Palestine at CSUF

On Thursday, Sept. 1, the Office of the President and the Department of Politics and Justice hosted an event that was promoted as a “celebration of rich diversity on campus,” but what many found it to be was a one-sided tool of propaganda by Mohammad Dajani, Ph.D.

“Moderation in the Midst of Conflict: The Palestinian Wasatia Movement and the Path to Peace” was the title of Dajani’s address. A former professor in Jerusalem and current fellow at the Washington Institute, Dajani calls himself a “peace activist” working “moderately” towards a solution in the Middle East, but what he’s actually doing is being complicit with Israel’s ongoing occupation. He supports the Zionist agenda of silencing resistance, while ignoring Israel’s violations of international law. CSUF’s Students for Justice in Palestine found the following discomforting points in Dajani’s address and in the nature of this event as a whole:

Firstly, when Dajani wasn’t promoting himself and his individual work, his talk revolved around promoting Islam as a religion of peace (which, having to convince people of that in the first place is a problem in itself). He discussed radical Islam, but failed to discuss radical Judaism, or Zionism. He blamed Muslims for the reason why Israeli forces take “extreme precautions,” such as firing tear gas and maintaining checkpoints, but he did not acknowledge the fact that Israel’s checkpoints violate international law to begin with. Checkpoints restrict Palestinian movement, preventing them from getting to work, school, hospitals or places of worship.

Secondly, Dajani depoliticized the conflict and focused on it as a religious issue. He operated on the assumption that “all Muslims hate Jews.” This logical flaw not only excludes Palestinian Christians from the equation, but all those fighting in solidarity with Palestinians all over the world. Every day, pro-Palestinian activists face backlash and threats for their work, especially on college campuses. Students and professors of all different backgrounds are regularly victims of censorship and/or punishment when advocating for Palestine. They’re often called anti-Semitic, a common misconception and flawed argument that equates criticizing Israeli apartheid with attacking Judaism. Last year, there were nearly 300 incidents of suppression of Palestinian advocacy work on colleges throughout the United States, according to Electronic Intifada, an online news organization focusing on Palestinian news. Dajani’s focus on Islamic extremism undermines and disregards the effects of Israeli apartheid not only in the Middle East but globally.

Lastly, this event was promoted as a discussion in order to celebrate campus diversity, but no Palestinian organization was involved in the planning or sponsorship of this event. An event that was supposed to enhance diverse opinions on campus was controlled by the Zionist agenda in order to maintain a goal of normalizing and minimizing the core reason for conflict in the first place — Israeli settlement and apartheid. There was zero opportunity for response to express the Palestinian narrative. A meager two-question Q&A session was held but quickly halted, not giving much opportunity to respond. The follow-up discussion scheduled to take place a week after the event won’t allow the opportunity to question Dajani; also, not everyone who attended the event will necessarily be able to attend the follow-up discussion, making it unfair to those who do wish to express or hear the true Palestinian narrative. A genuine and effective platform for opinion, dialogue and diverse discussion should have immediately followed Dajani’s address that evening.

In concluding his address, Dajani expressed that we should be “pro-peace” rather than “pro-Palestine” or “pro-Israel.” The truth is, you cannot be pro-peace without acknowledging Israel’s war crimes. You cannot be pro-peace if you don’t accept the fact that anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism. You cannot be pro-peace if you do not hold Israel accountable. You cannot be pro-peace if you condemn boycotts, sanctions and divestments (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would disagree with you on that one, Dajani).

This event was just one of several efforts on college campuses to silence those in solidarity with Palestine; an event that coincided with the Zionist efforts to deny Israel’s oppression of Palestinians for the last 70 years.

Students for Justice in Palestine is offended by Dr. Dajani’s attempt to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people — people who have been denied basic human rights including clean water, shelter, electricity and the right to return to their homes. We are offended that Dajani conveniently ignores these conditions while organizations like the Jewish Federation and the Washington Institute issue his paycheck. For more information, contact Students for Justice in Palestine.

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