Notes on the conference that happened today at SFSU:
Being in a place where I have had to consider my options regarding Graduate School and being encouraged to teach (thank you APCIV), I wanted to hear real, true dialogue about the inside workings of this university system and experiences of faculty and students within the institution.
I only caught the opening plenary, which focused on what the vision for public education should and could look like. It was a lively, thought-provoking, enriching discussion that illuminated not just the caustic state of institutionalized learning but the needs of the students such as housing and food, emotional/physical acceptance and support.
Rabab Abdulhadi, Ph.D. Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas/Race and Resistance Studies, opened the discussion with notes on the need for Palestinian solidarity resolutions being passed and her experiences with trying to educate people on the distinct difference between Judaism and Zionism. As in a video that I created to accompany my report on a wonderfully written but horrifying book:
Abdulhadi points out as I did: Zionism is not Judaism. The footage I included in the end of my video showed several rabbis on the streets of Tel Aviv looking straight into the camera and saying (paraphrasing, not verbatim):
“In the past Arabs and Jews took tea together, their children played together, they shared streets and tables. There was little rift between the Jews and the Arabs. The cult of Zionism destroyed that. The actions of the IDF destroyed that. Capitalist zeal for beach-front developments for wealthy retired “settlers” destroyed that. There is nothing in the Torah that aligns even remotely with the actions of Israel in the past 70 years. It is a tragedy beyond proportions and the media along with social pressures keep people from talking about it openly.”
So why, exactly am I talking about this?
Because Abdulhadi tried to stop a Zionist group from coming to SFSU and her life was turned upside down. Because she is an Arab from a muslim country she was labeled anti-semite immediately and threatened until she censored her beliefs. She is well aware of the difference between Judaisim and Zionism, but apparently very little others are or do not want to differentiate. Even if she was not able to stop them, she should be allowed to share her views on why she felt threatened or disturbed by their presence on campus.
How do we freely educate the student body and our population in general on the difference between Zionism and true Judaism or anything labeled controversial or uncomfortable? How do students join faculty to educate others so that we all can benefit from a fruitful learning process and experience?
The forces that are committing a slow methodical genocide on the Palestinians are relying on the witch-hunt of “anti-semites” to allow their agenda to continue unchecked. Most of these “anti-semites” are educated people that are simply demanding justice for other human beings. They are being silenced by ignorance and corrupt agendas.
If you think this does not apply to a California liberal campus think again.
The people that fund the schools are not going to allow free speech or an enlightened discussion/action around the Arab-Israeli crisis because it goes against their personal beliefs or financial investments. Trying to go against this means loss of funds, loss of jobs, and as Abdulhadi mentioned: loss of peer support in her field.
A new Mccarthyism of sorts, where teachers and students who threaten the powers that keep this university afloat are blacklisted, marginalized, pushed out.
There was a lot of information covered today…this discussion TBC……
A sad but beautiful one that I used to sing a lot…