Letter to the Editor: “SJP’s response to Mr. Mercado”

Mr. Abraham Mercado’s Letter to the Editor regarding the headline “Free Pizza, Free Palestine” is not only filled with inaccuracy but also inflammatory language. It shows an evident bias and misunderstanding of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and our actions as a human rights organization. For a film student, he also seems to misunderstand the role that the media can and should play at Florida Atlantic University and in society as a whole.

Students for Justice in Palestine at Florida Atlantic University ([email protected]) has never advocated for the destruction of Israel but rather the enforcement of equal rights for all its citizens. We do, as individuals that make up SJP, reject Zionism. [email protected] denounces this racist, supremacist and colonialist ideology that has hijacked the Jewish faith and transformed it into a form of nationalism. Israel is a settler colonial state born out of ethnic cleansing and terrorism. Our rejection of Zionism is an echo of the calls of agony of Palestinians during the 1948 “Nakba”, when over 700,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their land. This time is also known as the Israeli War of Independence, when Israel successfully gained independence from the indigenous population of Palestine, essentially by driving them out of their own homeland. This ethnic cleansing is still ongoing under the Prawer Plan which will allow the Israeli government to intentionally and forcibly remove over 70,000 Palestinians from their homes and destroy 35 Arab Bedouin villages. What excuse can you, Mr. Mercado, give us for that? Or are these Israeli citizens that have lived there for centuries a “security threat” too?

Mr. Mercado claims that the wall Israel is building, that separates Palestinians from Israelis and other Palestinians, is not an apartheid wall. SJP, along with the international community and former South African apartheid veterans, recognize Israel an apartheid state simply because it practices apartheid. This is not under debate by the international community. An analysis of the illegality of the wall, with citations, can be found in the “Build Bridges Not Apartheid Walls” op-ed written by our former President Nadine Aly. Contrary to Mr. Mercado’s previous op-ed, it is actually the Shin Bet (Israel’s Internal Security Service) that claims the wall is no longer considered a major factor in reducing terrorist attacks, not Nadine. (Do be sure to get your sources straight before making baseless and slandering claims) However Mr. Mercado still fails to address the real question behind the apartheid wall; if the wall is no longer considered a major factor then why is Israel still building it? And if the wall is sincerely a precaution for security, why hasn’t Israel built it on its own territory, or on the internationally recognized pre-June 1967 border (also known as the Green Line) which separates the Occupied Palestinian Territories from Israel proper?

Mr. Mercado at least acknowledged the truth of the international community’s condemnation of Israel’s illegal practices in the second paragraph of a recent opinion article however his dismissal of the International Court of Justice and the United Nations is in poor taste, to say the least. Claiming that the United Nations, the international community, the International Court of Justice and every human rights activist and organization are all “bias” and “bent on the destruction of Israel” is unreasonable and illogical. Such logical fallacies that Mr. Mercado has presented do nothing but justify our cause and demean his.

The phrase “Free Pizza, Free Palestine,” is indeed a catchy phrase that should be accepted and circulated throughout media. If Mr. Mercado strolled over to our mock checkpoint he would have seen this phrase on the mock Apartheid Wall that we constructed to display the gross mistreatment of Palestinians and how, as American tax payers, our tax dollars go into funding this injustice. We would have gladly given him pizza, of course if he had agreed to be treated as a Palestinian would at a real Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank; tied up and detained for hours without any reason or rights, strip searched and often murdered. The phrase is a reflection of the event and not a reflection of the University Press or its employees. As a film major, Mercado should understand this.

“Free Palestine” does not mean what Mr. Mercado fabricated in his most recent opinion Editorial. SJP wants justice for all, including current Israeli citizens. Twenty percent of Israel’s population is Arab while the rest originate from Europe, non-indigenous foreigners. Israel has over 50 laws that discriminate against their Arab-Israeli citizens. SJP does not endorse any particular solution to the conflict. However, we believe that no solution is possible without justice for the parties involved. Until the perspective and modern-day plight of the severely underrepresented Palestinian people are understood, a just settlement of the conflict will remain elusive. We advocate for Palestinian human rights, including their right-of-return, and we support and endorse the BDS movement. We reject Zionism as an ideology and Israel as a settler colonialist state. We embrace freedom and justice for all. A true democracy does not depend on the majority of one religion or ethnic group for sustainability. The United States did not cease to exist when Native Americans were allowed to be citizen’s on their historic homeland. South Africa didn’t cease to exist when the blacks were given rights. The freedom of Palestinians will not take away freedom from Israelis, regardless of religion.

Students for Justice in Palestine will continue to fight oppression until every person is treated fairly and justly. We will continue to educate students about Israeli war crimes, settler colonialism, Palestinian history and culture, the dangers of nationalism, the military industrial complex, the homeland security apparatus, and other repressive structures throughout the world that contribute to global oppression. It seems that Mr. Mercado doesn’t have the moral capacity to understand that humans deserve to be treated equally regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin; and so our determination has only been strengthened because we, as humans, are in the process of making history so choose the right side of it.

Students for Justice in Palestine at Florida Atlantic University is a student-run advocacy organization created to stimulate a heightened awareness within the FAU community and South Florida of the plight of the Palestinian people living in Occupied Palestine and the roles that our government and tax dollars play in this conflict.

 We can be reached at: [email protected]