I agree with Reut Cohen’s statement that racism should have no place on campus.
However, as a member of the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine, I am angered and disturbed by Cohen’s remarks accusing the MSU of promoting racism on campus.
To the contrary, over the past several years, the MSU has collaborated with many other student organizations at UCI, including Students for Peace and Justice, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, Society of Arab Students, Tomo no Kai and the Afrikan Student Union, to sponsor events that speak out against racism.
The MSU strives to contribute to the struggle against injustice by increasing awareness on campus against racist ideologies and regimes, such as Zionism and the state of Israel.
Zionism is generally defined as a ‘political movement and ideology aimed at establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine.’
Two points are key in this definition. First, Zionism is not a race or an ethnicity; it’s an ideology and a political movement.
Israelis are not a single race. Rather, they are a people from various backgrounds and descents who believe and practice the philosophy of Zionism.
Although most Israelis are Jewish (excluding a small percentage of Arab Israelis who are Muslim or Christian), undoubtedly not all Jews are Israelis or Zionists.
In fact, there are many Jewish, anti-Zionist organizations globally. Accordingly, when the MSU criticizes the state of Israel, they are not attacking or belittling a race, an ethnicity or a religion; they are speaking out against an ideology.
I fail to see how this can ever be classified as racism.
The second key point in the definition of Zionism is the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
An issue that seems to be forgotten, and which many fail to consider, is that Palestine was already inhabited by a population that was mainly not Jewish.
At the beginning of the last century, the population in Palestine was approximately 600,000, with Jews constituting only 8 percent of the population.
The Muslims, Christians and Jews were living together in harmony for hundreds of years.
In order to fulfill the goals of Zionism, the non-Jewish inhabitants had to be either killed or forced to leave: both occurred.
As a direct consequence of the establishment of the Zionist state of Israel, there are now over 4 million Palestinian refugees living under destitute conditions, some for the past 57 years.
The racism exhibited by the Zionist state of Israel does not stop there.
Thousands of documents, many released by international human rights organizations, detail the racist policies and practices of the Israeli government.
Quoting from Sherri Muzher, a Palestinian-American journalist and activist, ‘More water is given to Jewish citizens than to Palestinians.