On Monday, March 28, the Daily Pennsylvania printed our ad “Wall of Lies.” We removed the word “Palestinian” from the original “Palestinian Wall of Lies” as a concession to the reigning political orthodoxy on campus which forbids putting the words “Palestinian” or “Muslim” with the words “lies” or “terrorism” in the same factual sentence but has no problem with putting “Israel” and “Apartheid” in dyad thus spreading an actual lie about a militarily threatened democratic state. In response to our ad the sinister coalition of campus Hillels with groups that seek to destroy the Jewish state took another step forward. Below is the “response” to our ad in the Daily Pennsylvanian, followed by the letter I have submitted to the editor. This, in turn, is followed by my letter to one of the signers of the attack on our ad, a former Hillel education chairman.
On Monday, the David Horowitz Freedom Center took out a full-page advertisement in The Daily Pennsylvanian and college newspapers around the country. It was an ad full of dehumanizing hate speech about the Palestinian people particularly and the Muslim, Arab and pro-Palestinian communities generally. We, as leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities and as leaders of the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups on campus, are joining together to collectively condemn such hateful and inflammatory rhetoric and those who espouse it.
We believe that the publication of this horrifying and divisive document is an opportunity to come together as one community and address the status quo that has gone unchallenged for too long. We are exasperated by the oversimplification of an issue that deeply affects millions of human lives. We reject the idea that there is no alternative to this fruitless, polarizing antagonism. We are deeply disappointed by the fact that both sides have convinced themselves that they have nothing to learn from the other and nothing to say that the other will respect. We reject the extension of this attitude to our campus.
We are no longer satisfied with a world in which Muslims, Jews and Christians, as well as those who identify as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, are compelled to suffer silently every time extremists perpetrate hate in the name of the convictions we hold most dear. We recognize that these attacks and libels de-humanize not only those they target but also those in whose name they claim to speak — the individuals whose peaceful voices and opinions are drowned out in a sea of discrimination and hatred. We refuse to be complicit in destructive ignorance.
We propose that we, as Israeli and Palestinian advocates, bring the same level of open-mindedness and intellectual rigor to our advocacy as we do to our studies. When discussing this issue, we resolve not to check our inquisitiveness or our tolerance at the door. We should be able to view each other’s efforts not as incitements that require either response or dismissal but as invitations to expand our understanding of the issues and each other.
Today and going forward, we stand united in our suffering and against our suffering. We are united in the conviction that this moment of hate will serve as the catalyst for us to come together and learn from each other. These conversations will not be easy, but they are essential in the process of reconciliation between our communities and the development of a shared vision for the future.
We all dream of peace, but we also recognize that in our dreaming we must not fall into complacent slumber. We must remain alert to the hatred and intolerance that surround us and guard ourselves — and each other — against them. Our generation has not inherited an easy task, but we resolve that those who see enmity as inevitable, or hatred as natural, will never go unchallenged. By our unity, commitment, action and friendship we vow to build and defend a new framework of respect, humility and constructive creativity.
This guest column was written by: Besan Abu-Joudah, College and Wharton junior, former Penn Arab Student Society vice president Logan Bayroff, College sophomore, Forum for New Israel Dialogue president Ariel Fisher, College senior, former Hillel Education chairman Elisheva Goldberg, College senior, Kedma editor-in-chief Sarah Shihadah, College freshman, Penn for Palestine, Penn Arab Student Society
The following people are signatories: Maryam Alireza, Penn Arab Student Society president Humna Bhojani, Penn for Palestine president Sarah Ijaz, Muslim Students Association president Tamar Karpuj, Hillel Israel Sector chairwoman
Elisheva Goldberg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the editor:
On Wednesday, the Daily Pennsylvanian printed a response to our Wall of Lies ad signed by a coalition of Jewish and Muslim campus leaders. In several rhetoric heavy paragraphs they called our ad “dehumanizing hate speech” and “hateful and inflammatory.” It would have been nice to see one citation from the ad that was alleged to be hate speech or one argument that the claims made in our ad were not true. There was no such citation and no such argument, only hate speech against us for writing the ad. It seems reasonable to conclude that this resort to emotion is because there is no argument to be made for the slanders that Israel is an “apartheid state” or that Israel “occupies” Arab land. Or perhaps these students were not up to the task. Shame on those who signed the article, and shame on their teachers for not providing them with the ability and good manners to actually answer arguments they disagree with instead of demonizing those who make them.
Dear Elisheva Goldberg (former Hillel Chairman and signer of the Daily Pennsylvanian article),
I don’t pretend to understand what would motivate you to attack a statement of facts defending Israel with such hate-filled vitriol as you do in the article you have jointly signed with Palestinian groups. I would like to see any statement you personally, or Hillel generally, has made condemning the Israel Apartheid Weeks and Walls organized by the Muslim Students Association, undoubtedly with support from the Palestinian groups you have embraced. If you do not respond to this email I will conclude that you made no such statements, and prefer to attack Jews defending themselves against slanders whose intent is clearly genocidal.
The purpose of this email is to formally offer to debate you or anyone you may propose as to the veracity of the claims our ad makes in defense of Israel or, alternatively, any of the claims made by the Palestinian groups you have aligned yourself with against Israel.