Letter to the Editor: Shalom FIU seeks to engage the University community

Guest Columnist/ Meyer Grunberg

In my time as an FIU student, I’ve always felt that the University and its students are innovators, forward thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. However, attending an event hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine at FIU on March 26 made me think otherwise.

SJP presented a slideshow of skewed statistics and hypergraphic imagery meant to evoke a sense of peril in the conflict. Their opinion was very clear: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is 100 percent the fault of Israel.

As president of Shalom FIU, FIU’s Israel Culture and Education club, I seek to educate the student body about Israel and while promoting an understanding and cooperation to work towards a peaceful future for people living in Israel and the surrounding areas.

I wish SJP had the same goals. The conflicts of the Middle East, especially something as multifaceted as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the greater Israel-Arab conflict, can’t be simplified into a powerpoint of “we’re right and they’re wrong.”

Throughout the event, Hamas — the terrorist organization that controls and terrorizes Gaza and Israel —was not mentioned once.

The Palestinian Authority’s budget to pay terrorists and their families wasn’t mentioned either, and neither was the hateful incitement and demonization of Jews in Palestinian textbooks.

But what’s worse  — a proposed measure of hope for peace and justice was never mentioned.

When Shalom FIU hosts an event, we ensure a portrayal of hope. Our programs are meant to include messages of coexistence, peace and justice, among others. That’s how — as we believe — you build trust and relationships.

That’s why we call ourselves Shalom FIU — “Shalom” in Hebrew and “Salam” in Arabic means hi, bye, peace or completeness. It’s an all-encompassing word that brings together people regardless of their race, color or religion in the aim of having a more in-depth dialogue about how to move forward with peace and justice.

Israel isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s justified for SJP to distort the facts and brainwash the student body. They deceive lay students into believing this conflict is black and white; Israel is Goliath and Palestine is David.

It was both ironic and bizarre that after an hour long event hosted by SPJ, the idea of justice hadn’t been discussed once.

I asked the board of SJP a simple question: “Being that we’re talking about two peoples that are neighbors and are going to continue being such, in your opinion, is the step that needs to be taken towards peace and justice?”

The board didn’t answer my question directly, but another attendee who identified as Palestinian said that the issue was Zionism.

Zionism is the right of the Jewish People to live freely, safely, and have self-determination in their ancient homeland. By no means is Zionism’s existence at the expense of Palestinian Arabs, nor has it ever been.

The opinion of this student, implicitly endorsed by the rest of the attendees at the event, make it clear that SJP believes in justice, but only for the Arab and predominantly Muslim citizens of the Palestinian Authority.

Their view is what I would call a fragmented justice; a zero-sum game where either the Israelis win or the Palestinians win, but never both. This sort of justice isn’t justice at all.

Shalom FIU seeks to educate and engage in dialogue so, in our small way, we can eliminate the notion of this zero-sum game. We’re Zionists and we’re proud. We’re also pro-Palestinian, and we believe that justice for both people doesn’t have to come at the expense of the other.

I only wish that SJP saw it the same way.

 

Letters to the Editor are not written by Panther Press Staff. They are submitted by readers of Panther Press. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

 

Photo taken by Nicole Malanga/Panther Press.

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