Letter to the Editor: Response to the Headline “Free Pizza, Free Palestine”

Abraham Mercado

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Dear Editor,

The issue printed on October 16, 2013 with the headline “FREE PIZZA, FREE PALESTINE”, was appalling and insensitive.

The hurtful actions committed by the group, Students for Justice in Palestine, and their hateful words have sadly been given a voice. These students shout, “From the river, to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This is plain and simple, a call for the annihilation of Israel. It echoes the calls of genocide by Arabs against the Jewish inhabitants of Israel before and during Israel’s 1948 war of Independence. The phrase ‘to the sea’ reveals the most alarming part, which is that they consider all of Israel to be Palestinian land. They would not be chanting this if they wanted a Palestinian state that could coexist peacefully with Israel.

One of my best friends, 16 year-old Daniel Wultz, was killed while eating in a restaurant with his father by a Palestinian suicide bomber that was trying to “Free Palestine ” in Tel Aviv in 2006 Tel Aviv isn’t inside of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), so why was there a deliberate attack against it? That is because they consider all of Israel Palestinian land.

If one takes a close look at the security barrier that is constructed around different campuses, inaccurately named by some as the “Apartheid Wall,” one will see that they use the entire map of the state of Israel and label it as “occupied”. The issue of those who are anti-Israel is not with the policies of the State of Israel, but its right to exist as the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

Just because “Free Pizza, Free Palestine,” is a catchy phrase, it does not mean it should be accepted and circulated in our media.

The term “Free Palestine” also calls for the establishment of a country that would be anything but free. In the words of the President of the Palestinian Authority, “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli — civilian or soldier — on our lands,” Abbas said speaking to Egyptian President Adly Mansour on July 30th, 2013. There is no difference between “Israeli” and “Jew” because he considers all Israeli Arabs as Palestinians, singling out the Jewish Israeli.

A future Palestinian state would be “judenrein”, meaning Jew-free; a term used by Adolph Hitler to describe his vision of Europe that led to the extermination of 6 million Jews and 8 million others. If the students advocating to “Free Palestine” would continue the sentence, the next three words would be “from the Jews”.

It is sad that the world has forgotten so quickly in less than 75 years what these types of words can lead to. It is ironic that these students are allowed to voice their “freedom of speech” in most campuses in the United States because what these students advocate for is the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, not for a Palestinian state that can live beside an Israel with peace and security for both.

That is not an option for them because as long as Israel exists, they will continue to hate it, even if the Palestinians had their own state, since they consider all of Israel “occupied Palestinian land”. It is appalling that these students are allowed to hide behind the shield of freedom of speech, the same way as Hamas uses their own people as human shields, to call for the destruction of a nation. This is not an FAU Administration problem; it is a problem for most University Administrations in the United States and Canada.

University Press Editor-in-Chief Dylan Bouscher said about the decision to use the headline, “The UP staff agreed it was attention-grabbing and accurate, as all headlines should be. It reflected the facts about the SJP event in the story. It was not and still is not a statement of support or endorsement of any position, perspective, or viewpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We stand by the headline, story, and its writer and will not shy away from controversial topics that evoke strong responses from our readers. This is a learning publication and the students working on that issue certainly learned as much from hearing the reaction to the issue as they did from producing it, if not moreso.”

This insensitive headline also does not take into account the many students from Israel that contribute to our campus every single day. One Israeli student came to me crying after seeing the publication and asked me, “What in the world is this?! Is FAU against Israel?! How can they publish such a hateful issue?!” This is not ethical journalism and by giving a voice to hate, you are helping it grow.

Regardless, Owls for Israel and other Israel supporters will continue to show our student population the incredible contributions that Israel has given to the world in the medical, engineering, and other professional fields. We will continue to show the diversity that exists in Israel where finally Jews are not persecuted and live peacefully alongside Christians, Muslims and 15 other affiliations. Among other things, we will show our student population the generosity of the state of Israel with countless organizations like Zaka, Save a Childs Heart, and others ready to help humans all over the world regardless of their race or religion, like in Haiti, Kenya, Mexico, whenever a natural disaster strikes. Most importantly, we will continue to show our student population how Israel is an incredible country, with amazing people that have been ready to welcome peace with her Arab neighbors since her birth, 65 years ago and will continue to do so until a real peace is assured.

 

Abraham Mercado is the Vice President of Programming for Owls for Israel, A Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) Fellow for FAU, A GenZ Ambassador and a Senior Majoring in Film and Jewish Studies. [email protected]