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Speaking from the radical end of campus

Reader comment on item: Extremists on Campus

Submitted by Rachel Linstead (United States), Jul 3, 2002 at 14:33

I object to any violent actions or hateful words against Jews and certainly find it is scary that suicide bombers are lauded as heros and that SFSU students are intending to eliminate hate by hating back. But instead of calling everyone who believes that Zionism may be flawed an extremist, why not examine their claims?

To look at the situation another way, it is important to recognize that between when Jews were driven from Judea and when Zionism encouraged them to come back existed a span of nearly 2000 years in which the Palestinian people lived on the land. No one has a historical memory that long - or we Americans wouldn't be raising our flags without a single thought of the native people who lived here before we came - who we made no room for, who we forced off lands we now consider ours. So isn't it logical that Palestinians consider what is now Israel theirs? With less than 2000 years of family history I consider America my country. It can not be pretended that Palestinians did not live where Israel now exists and that they weren't driven off it violently.

Israelis have every reason to be frightened by suicide bombers and it is logical that they feel terrorized, but how can we deny that Palestinians also feel terrorized when one of the largest and most sophisticated armies in the world occupies every bit of land they live on, tears their homes apart routinely in searches, refuses them entry to their most sacred spaces. A couple facts to throw in here is that the United Nations have held that Israel's occupation is illegal since 1967 and that as Americans we get a very skewed view since our country is the prime military and financial funder of Israel and that our country has some economic investments in the whole process. Not all Israelis are in favor of this occupation. Many protest their country's occupation of the West Bank and its military tactics.

Applying the word 'terrorism' has a lot of power these days, and I am afraid it is being used far too much against disempowered peoples who are angry for valid reasons. Not that their violent actions are in any way valid, but these people aren't just crazed lunatics who hate for no reason. Accusing anti-semitism is a manuever often used to deflect all criticism from Israel and Zionism, and I think it is true that the discovery of the Palestinian cause on campuses may be clouded by the feeling of injustice. But telling us, who believe that Zionism is currently manifesting in an oppressive manner to Palestinians who are human just as must as Israelis and Jews, just to shut up isn't getting anyone anywhere. Please engage in colleges and universities so that we can talk about this, so that we can recognize the complicated nature of this conflict when all of the viewpoints are available. But pointing fingers will mean an escalation of the extremism on campus. Let's talk gently to each other and try to understand where one another are coming from.
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