Letter to the Editor
“Antagonizing AZW” is a controversial piece written by an International Studies student at UC Irvine who completely disregards the situation of Palestinians by labeling the condition they live in as merely “less pleasurable.” To label the situation of Palestinians as less pleasurable is to speak from a position of privilege, as Palestinians are currently suffering under Israeli Occupation.
Her (the author’s) main argument was that the Muslim Student Union (MSU) should not host Anti-Zionism Week and that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) should host it instead. To the respective author and others who fall into Islamophobic rhetoric: looking at the religion of an individual or a group of students before hearing their message is unfair and says more about you than it does about the group or what their political stance is. MSU has traditionally hosted AZW because of the fact that it has more members and has accumulated enough funding for such an expensive project. Every single year, this event is organized for months in advance and a lot of internal discussion happens especially around the use of the word “Anti-Zionism” because although we do recognize that Jewish people like others have the right to a state they do not deserve it if their state is on stolen Palestinian land. AZW does not intend to condemn the creation of a Jewish state but intends to increase awareness about the death, displacement, and torture of Palestinian bodies. You would only have to Google the history of the role of Zionism in the creation of Israel to understand why Zionism is problematic.
The author writes that SJP should recruit members from MSU and “become a strong enough group to host events in support of the Palestinian cause so that MSU doesn’t have to.” However, if the author of the article had done her research, or perhaps listened to what the participants of AZW had to say, she would have known that SJP consistently works with MSU and actively co-sponsors many events, especially AZW and the events that lead up to it. Hannan Seirafi, the co-chair of SJP, says, “Anyone who attends SJP or MSU meetings knows that the two clubs actively work together and co-sponsor events all the time and AZW is not an exception.”
She would have also noticed that participants in AZW would repeatedly ignore passers-by who were too incendiary, aggressive, and argued for the sake of arguing. Yes, the purpose of AZW was to “shed light on the different aspects of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine” through the lens of military occupation through genocide and massacres, sexual violence, apartheid walls, environmental issues, racism, etc. I’m sure you can understand why we can’t have a “warm and welcoming” demeanor when it comes to talking about the collective punishment of the Palestinian people through forced expulsion, displacement, massacres, and the lack of acknowledgment of the land also being the historic home of the Palestinians. Israel has committed many human rights violations against both Muslim and Christian Palestinians which have been recognized by the United Nations. Of course iFest is more appealing since it is essentially a celebration, and who doesn’t like to celebrate?
How ridiculous would it be if we ostracized every group on campus based on their religious demographics or the level of festivity they bring? Was the Civil Rights Movement just another issue that people wanted to “nit pick” as they kindly asked, with a smile and free cupcakes, for injustice to stop happening?
Furthermore, does it matter who is standing up for these aforementioned causes when the hegemonic clock is ticking? It is also important to understand that there are many aspects of iFest which promote Zionism and attack Palestinians. To critique AZW and celebrate iFest is to dilute the entire issue and appease the masses. And the fact that anyone finds iFest enjoyable is disgusting as iFest advocates for Palestinian cultural appropriation, pink washing, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians throughout Gaza and the West Bank. Celebrations like these are an allusion to forget the war crimes Israel has committed against the Palestinians and pretend that nothing happened prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. How is it that we can pass negative judgment about AZW, simply because it is hosted by Muslim students on campus while iFest is upheld for its celebration of the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948? As a recommendation to the writer and anyone else who feels like they have the authority to pass judgment and criticism without attending any organizational meetings, should consider contributing in a healthy and productive manner.
Marwa Aboubaker is a third year comparative literature and film & media studies major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.