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SAS Flier Offends Jews

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NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of The Crimson:

Like many other Harvard students, we received a door-drop from the Society of Arab Students (SAS). Knowing that there are peace talks going on right now in Washington, we assumed that this would be about the peace talks. After all, the Harvard Israel Political Affairs Committee (HIPAC, Harvard Radcliffe Zionist Alliance (HRZL) and the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA), the three Zionist groups on campus, as well as the Harvard Gulf Arab Alliance, have all come out in support of the Peace Conference. Upon reading this letter from SAS, we were saddened to discover that the SAS does not seem to be aware that peace talks are going on; instead they spread the same old hostility. Do some things never change?

It is insulting to have to defend one's nationalism, especially to people who cannot find a harsh word to say about Arab countries which torture and kill their own people, and do not let Jews into (Saudi Arabia) or out of (Syria) their countries. But because the SAS has decided to undermine the peace process and further the dreams of destroying Israel at a time when our thoughts should be of peace and mutual understanding, we are forced to respond. Fortunately, their intellectual exertion leaves much to be desired, making our job particularly easy.

"Zionism is a political ideology professing that the Jews of the world, wherever they may be, constitute one nation, one people, a single ethnicity," reads the SAS letter. Unfortunately, the SAS definition of Zionism is flat-out wrong. Many non-Zionists (Simon Dubnow, for example) who wanted to remain in the Diaspora, believed that the Jews are one nation.

While most observers would agree that Jews in America constitute an ethnic group, no one would see all Jews in the world as one ethnic group. There are Sephardic (Oriental), Ashkenazi (European) and Ethiopian Jews in Israel alone. Of course, the fact that Israel has airlifted 30,000 Black Jews from Ethiopia should say enough about the ridiculous notion of this accusation of racism.

SAS's statement of the objectives of Zionism is also completely false. It states that "Jews needed to be separated from their respective countries and transplanted into one territory." Anyone who has taken Foreign Cultures 56 has read Ahad Ha-Am, and knows that he for one did not envision a separation of Jews from their respective countries. He, who was a Zionist, did not even envision a Jewish state, merely a Jewish community. Even so, the territory that Jews would be "transplanted into" is merely the homeland of the Jewish people which they inhabited until their exile by the Romans in 70 C.E.

The SAS letter then goes on to say that "Non-Jews needed to be removed from that territory." No respectable version of Zionism advocates the removal of the non-Jews from the land of Israel in order to create a Jewish state. The Israeli Declaration of Independence states that Israel "will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of religion, race or sex." The state of Israel has over 700,000 Muslims and Christians who hold full citizenships.

This is in contrast, of course, to the treatment of Jews in other Arab states, such as Syria, which proves its commitment to religious tolerance by persecuting its Jewish minority and refusing Jews the right to emigrate. This is to be expected, given that Syria does not even guarantee its own Arab citizens basic political rights! But for some reason, SAS seems unconcerned about Arab oppression of Arabs.

The SAS's citation of the official United Nations definition of racism is misleading. If racism is "any distinction, etc., based on race, color descent or national or ethnic origin," then every member of the United Nations is a racist state. If an American woman gives birth to a child in Greece, her child is an American citizen, while the child of a Greek woman giving birth in the same hospital is not an American citizen. That too is a distinction based on "national or ethnic origin." The United States is thus a racist state, if we take this simplistic definition at face value. Let us instead leave accusations of racism for those states which really practice racism, such as South Africa or Syria.

SAS's distribution of such a false and misleading piece of propaganda illustrates little commitment to the current peace negotiations, let alone the quest for greater understanding and peace between all countries in the Middle East. Furthermore, the Zionism-is-Racism Resolution, a resolution which, incidentally, was passed by a nasty coalition of Communist and Third World dictators, compromises the integrity of the United Nations and discredits its participation in the current peace process as a disinterested, unbiased observer.

As the peace process continues, we hope all sides will abandon these unprovoked polemics and concentrate on achieving the elusive goal of peace in the Middle East. Sharon Fenick '94   Michael Kaplan '92   Harvard Radcliffe   Zionist Alliance   Shawn Aster '93   Kamran Rokhshar '94   Harvard Israel Political   Affairs Committee   Joel Gerwin '92-93   Matthew C. Weiner '92   Progressive Jewish Alliance

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