The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Op-Ed: Pards for Palestine statement

During our peaceful walkout in solidarity with Palestinians, a student displayed a poster that read “From the river to the sea.” This student was issued a One Pard report on the grounds of hate speech, and an email was sent out from President Nicole Hurd to the entire Lafayette community. 

As students from the Pards for Palestine coalition, we stand against and detest hate speech. Our core values include combating antisemitism, Islamophobia and oppression in all forms. Our fight for Palestinian liberation requires it. The statement “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is often conflated with antisemitism. Pro-Israel institutions and individuals claim that this statement calls for the genocide of Jewish Israelis or the destruction of the Jewish people as a whole. As Pards for Palestine, we wholly condemn this association. 

This slogan is a recognition of the oppression of Palestinians living under fragmented colonial rule from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It calls for dismantling colonization that denies rights and freedoms for Palestinians. 

This statement is not antisemitic, but anti-Zionist, and is a common slogan used in the pro-Palestine movement. Anti-Zionism cannot be conflated with antisemitism; it is in fact wrong to associate any legitimate criticism of the actions of the Israeli government with antisemitism. Doing so contributes to the censorship and silencing of any voice who dares to speak up for the lives lost in Palestine. 

We call upon President Hurd and Lafayette College to research the slogan and learn of its historic grounding in the Palestinian liberation movement for justice against oppression, instead of characterizing it as antisemitic. 

We cannot help but also point out the sheer hypocrisy of this institution and President Hurd. There were no school-wide emails when a student on our campus Yik Yak used genocidal language and called to flatten the Gaza Strip by stating “the Gaza Strip is going to be a great location for a Walmart supercenter after Israel flattens it.” Or when another Yik Yak statement said “Gaza deserves to burn.” Currently, there are 2 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel’s genocidal campaign against the Palestinians has led to the killings of over 6,500 Palestinians, nearly 2,500 of whom are children. 

To misinterpret a poster as antisemitic while omitting the rampant Islamophobia and support for genocide against Palestinians on our campus is sheer cognitive dissonance. While some have expressed concern over one of our posters, students broadly do not express concern for the genocide of 2 million people. We wholeheartedly urge our administration and campus community to do better. 

We urge our whole campus community to engage in critical learning about the occupation and colonization of Palestine moving forward.

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  • J

    Josh MillerNov 10, 2023 at 12:34 pm

    What is Zionism and who is a Zionist?

  • R

    R. Marshall Austin MD, Lafayette Class of 1971Nov 9, 2023 at 10:31 pm

    (Numbers 24:9) ‘He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? ‘ “Blessed is he who curses you, And cursed is he who curses you.”

  • R

    Richard S. Koplin, MDOct 31, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    I read the Op-Ed piece by the Pards For Palestine and their defense of the sub text read into the phrase “from the river to the sea” held aloft by one demonstrator during the small and otherwise peaceful demonstration. And I applaud the students for making a statement. But to make excuses for a term that since it was first uttered as a notorious call to arms is unforegivable.

    As well, Professor Goshgarian’s response was most egregious: “The most overarching intent of the phrase, to my understanding, is to recognize the shared experiences of the Palestinian people within the contemporary context of Zionism.” Pure twisted gobbledygook. And from historian of the mid-east, no less. But I think we understand where her bias lies.

    What is happening in Gaza is hoirrific, and if I could wave a magic wand I would stopp both Hamas and Israel in their tracks. But understand this well, the likes of Hamas can lose battles with Israel 1000 times, but Israel can lose only once. Have any of the sympathizers examined the Hamas manifesto before spouting off? This phrase in question is repeated hundreds of times in both Palestinian and Hamas propaganda. A (para)reference is even made in the January 2021 Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Collection quoted by KhameneI himself (From the Nile to the River).

    Student Dorai-Raj said that he did not know that the phrase was used by Hamas prior to the OnePard report. I also found this off-putting. Forgiving the fact that he is a young student, he should none the less understand better and do his homework before making a commitment to a public notice. As Alvin Toffler said: the illiterate to the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

    And then there is Mariama Bah’s ’24 (an organizer) comments about fostering understanding of Palestinian liberation which boggled my mind. Liberation? Mariama Bah, we’re talking about Gaza here! Run by a terrorist organization that would cut off your head if you were Jewish. And your talikng about “understanding.” (And I am fully in favor of Israel out of the West Bank.)

    The Palestinians have had myriad opportunities to live up to accords and make a way forward as well as to make Gaza a fertile landmark to peace and prosperity. But instead they took Qatari (and Iranian) monies and dug underground cities to use as military launching pads.

    Who should Israel negotiate with? If Hamas should ever drop their manifesto into the mediterranean sea and say to Israel “let’s talk,” then you have my ear. Israel’s frustration in dealing with the Palestinian representatives goes back as far as Arafat’s corrupt game playing.

    Please point Dorai-Raj and Mariama Bah — as well as Professor Goshgarian —- to a quote by Abba Eban (Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister) after the Geneva Peace Conference in 1973:

    “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”