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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  • A

    Alum 1993Dec 1, 2023 at 10:44 am

    Very well-written peice. Thoughtful. I very much appreciate your perspective. Respectfully, I would like to make several counter points. It’s possible that you might not be aware of some of these points. “From the river to the Sea, Palestine willl be free” is a slogan that was first used by Palestinian leaders during the 1948 war…. 5 Arab nations attempted to liquidate Israel and that slogan was their mantra. It is also a slogan that is used by Hamas (see their website). Hamas is a genocidal tyrannical state-sponsored terrorist regime that was elected by the Palestinian people circa 2006 whose singular goal is the permanent liquidation of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people wherever they may exist in the world (btw, they also call for the liquidation of all Christians and Americans).

    As you pointed out, the slogan IS anti-Zionistic. We agree.

    I’m glad that you are arguing that your position is NOT antisemitic. Thank you for carefully stating that. And I absolutely believe that you authentically believe that AZ is not Antisemitc.

    However, alleging that anti-Zionism is NOT antisemitism is morally bankrupt.

    Here’s why:

    Anti-Zionism (AZ) call for the dismantling of the nation state of the Jewish people, where more than half of the world’s Jews live. AZ’s allege that the only Jewish nation on Earth is “illegitimate” and “has no right to exist”. AZ’s demonize the only Jewish nation on Earth through the use of cruel and hateful language: an “apartheid” state, a “terrorist” state, and the most cruel of all: a “nazi” state. And Lastly, AZ’s apply an astounding double standard to Israel: The only Jewish nation on earth is singled out for “war crimes”, while the heinous abuse of rogue factions, such as Syria, Hamas, hezbollah, Iran, etc. are strategically ignored. It is well documented that the IDF’s tactics to reduce civilian casualties are beyond exceptional. In fact, the IDF is the most moral army in the history of modern warfare, yet the AZ alleges the exact opposite. The level of scrutiny that is applied to the IDF is applied to no other army or faction or state on the planet. A blatant double standard. Applying a certain standard to one ethnic group or one nation (in this case) and not applying said standard to other ethnic groups IS the essence of racism.

    In summary, AZ’s delegitimize and demonize Israel. And AZ’s apply a double standard to Israel.

    In simple terms, let’s substitute a different nation and see what happens to the argument: One cannot reasonably argue that Italy (for example) “should NOT exist”, or that Italy is “illegitimate” without hating the Italian people. This argument is morally bankrupt.

    In summary, AZ alleges that the one Jewish nation on Earth should NOT exist. AZ is hatred for Israel, the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.
    AZ IS antisemitism. AZ meets all reeasonable definitions of hate and racism i.e. AZ IS racism.

    Lastly, even if I accepted the premise that AZ is NOT antisemitism, experience shows that Antisemitism follows very quickly after AZ ie.the “free Palestine from the river to the sea” slogan is often accompanied by signs such as “gas the Jews”, or “we don’t want two states, we want 1948”, a call for a world in which Israel did NOT exist. Of course, these slogans are blatantly antisemitic.

    • A

      Alum 1993Dec 1, 2023 at 12:56 pm

      one final clarification : criticism of israeli policy is absolutely NOT antizionism or antisemitism, and I’m happy to engage in respectful discourse with anyone who criticizes Israeli policy, as long as said person recognizes the right of Israel to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people.

      AZ does NOT merely criticize Israeli policy. It goes way beyond that. AZ calls for the cessation of the existence of the one Jewish nation on earth. AZ is antisemitism.

  • 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”

    • A

      Alum 1993Dec 1, 2023 at 12:29 pm

      A beautifully written rebuttal. I agree with All.

      I would add that there have been at least six two state partition plans for Palestine over the last 109 years that would have led to an independent Palestinian state. ALL SIX have been accepted by Jewish folks and rejected by Palestinian folks. Six.

      The most famous one, of course, is in 2000, when Yasser Arafat was offered a state on 99% of the West Bank, as well as Gaza, and he rejected it outright. Not even a counter proposal. Instead, He immediately launch a vicious intifad!!! which lasted from 2000 to 2005.

      this is when suicide bombing and mass bombing became common place. The second Intafada made the first intifada look like child’s play!

      The truth is that the Arab-israeli conflict has never been about land. It has always been about one Thing, and one thing only: The inability of Palestinian Arabs, to accept a sovereign Jewish nation in Palestine, under any circumstances, no matter how small , no matter how large defensible.

      from The Palestinian Arab standpoint, the only solution to this conflict is the cessation of the existence of the nation state of the Jewish people. plain and simple. Any solution short of this is rejected in favor of violence and war.