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My People

I started this column as a letter to the editor. I soon realized, though, that there’s a reason I write the columns and anti-Semitics like Benjamin Rubinfeld and Joshua Solomon just get to respond.

“The PSM is not coming to foster debate or ‘start a dialogue’ but rather to recruit American students as human shields to die while working to destroy Israel,” Benjamin Rubinfeld wrote in his Aug. 26 letter; ending with, “Do not legitimize a group that seeks to destroy my people.”

Similarly, Joshua Solomon wrote Aug. 27, “This is the true face of an organization that seeks... the annihilation of Israel and her people.”

I don’t know where Rubinfeld and Solomon conjured up their so-called facts, but I recommend that these two men (and the multitudes of people that object the Palestinians’ right to advocacy, even on Duke’s campus) do their research before they start pointing fingers…. They should have known that someone like me would point right back.

According to the official PSM website (www.palestineconference.com), “The PSM endorses… education, public demonstrations and rallies, and non-violent direct action for the purpose of encouraging awareness of Palestine issues;” and in fact, the PSM supports both Palestinian and Israeli efforts for justice and peace.

If college is supposed to be a microcosm of the real world, then Duke is the perfect political arena for this debate. Much like the millions of dollars and immense political support that the United States pours into Israel, Duke is a highly pro-Israeli campus; it hurts as a Middle Easterner and as a Palestinian rights advocate to see Duke students conditioned, convinced and confused about the Middle East.

Palestinians are the little people in a bigger issue, and they are used to being shortchanged and silenced. Palestinians have no nuclear weapons, no organized military or security and (unlike their Israeli counterparts, Ariel Sharon) no voice with which to form political bargaining power.

We see this translated in our own politics at Duke: Even Palestinians on campus feel silenced by Duke Friends of Israel and the Freeman Center for Jewish Life’s undying presence. Donations to the Freeman Center and the cash flow of Jewish alumni present Palestinians as terrorists and threats, and not the Israeli government and army as terrorizing and threatening towards Palestinians.

Even President Richard Brodhead recognizes Jewish influence on campus. Why else would he have made a visit to the Freeman Center last Wednesday to address concerns about Jewish life on campus?

To the students of Duke, in preparation of the heated days before us, I pose to you the following questions: How many Jewish and Zionist (because in the United States, yes, to be Jewish and to be Zionist is one in the same) students do we have at Duke? How much power do they exude? How many speakers from Israel (or even just pro-Israeli speakers) did we have last year alone? How big are the Freeman Center and Duke Friends of Israel in comparison to HIWAR?

Rubinfeld makes sure to include in his letter to the editor that “It is hard enough to be a practicing Jew on Duke’s campus.” I challenge Rubinfeld, Solomon and any and all of their Zionist, Jewish friends to spend one day as an Arab or Muslim on this campus and in this country… and then to come back and letter to the editor that.

I want to make clear that I’m not saying this because (like most people believe Middle-Easterners to be) I want to kill all the Jews, take over Israel and claim Palestine the new Holy Land. I say this because for years the world has been looking at anti-Semitism from a purely Jewish standpoint, when in reality the term “Semite” applies to my people as well.

Rubinfeld and Solomon would be shocked to hear this, but what they wrote in The Chronicle was highly anti-Semitic. According to yourDictionary.com, a “Semite” is any “member of a group of Semitic-speaking peoples of the Near East and northern Africa, including the Arabs.”

The Jewish people are not being destroyed, but rather because of heated opposition to the PSM conference, the Jewish students of Duke have continued a tradition of offending and potentially destroying mine—the same way many thousand people who suffer as refugees while Israel builds new walls and forts to keep these starving and innocent people of mine away.

 

Shadee Malaklou is a Trinity sophomore.

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