LETTER TO THE EDITOR
The Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine joins Chancellor Michael Drake in condemning terrorism and in reaffirming our university’s “commitment to dialogue and democratic rule, not violence.” The MSU condemns the killing of innocent civilians, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or any other label. As stated numerous times throughout the week, we will not tolerate the promotion of hatred against any particular group on the basis of their race, color, ethnicity or religion. As human beings, people of faith, and students of conscience, we will be the first to speak out against any form of injustice.
Our week’s events brought professors, academics and human rights activists to shed light on the apartheid state of Israel and its occupation of Palestine. This does not necessarily mean that we endorse everything that our speakers say. Our speakers have differing views when it comes to discussing the apartheid state of Israel, but nonetheless, we remain committed to educating our broader campus community. Our week’s goals, which were constantly reiterated before every event, were meant to educate students and start dialoguing in a way that is conducive towards taking peaceful, non-violent means towards a solution to the conflict.
While we don’t agree with blanket support of the actions and stances of groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and others, we do believe that it is important to distinguish that the expressed support for such groups, made by one of our speakers, comes in the context of leading resistance against a state that continues to function based on genocidal and apartheid-like politics. It comes in the context of trying to end the inhumane siege on Gaze, and in the struggle of striving to secure freedom, peace and justice in the midst of an illegal occupation. Let us be clear, terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians is never justified whether it is practiced by Palestinian militant groups or the Israeli government. However, one cannot blame the victim for being victimized by the aggressor while turning a blind eye to the aggressor’s actions that are the root cause of the conflict, which, unfortunately, has too often been the case in discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This type of discourse only serves to undermine the atrocities that occur in Palestine and Israel and to deflect the attention away from Israel’s violation of international, moral, and humanitarian laws.
It is for this reason, the death of innocent people on all sides, that the MSU seeks to translate its words into action. The violence on both sides is a result of the occupation and with an end to the Israeli occupation will come an end to the killing of people on both sides. As mentioned throughout our week, we would like to announce the launch of a peaceful and nonviolent initiative known as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction Campaign on campus. The BDS movement aims to ensure that our money at UC Irvine does not fund war crimes and terrorism practiced against innocent civilians. The campaign, which is supported by many in Israel and around the world, aims to divest university funds from companies that profit from the occupation and oppression imposed on the Palestinian people.
In the past few days, we have been overwhelmed by the support of the UCI community for our campaign; hundreds of students have already signed a petition in support of BDS. The University of California was an essential part of the movement to divest from, and successfully end, the apartheid in South Africa and it is now the time for the University of California to take the lead again and stand up for justice and equality by demanding an end to the illegal apartheid taking place in Palestine, not only by words, but also by action. We ask the Chancellor and all people of social conscious to stand with us now and peacefully demand an end to the occupation.
President of the Muslim Student Union