By Naeem Khan
On Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, Drew Students for Justice in Palestine hosted Miko Peled, an Israeli peace activist —in collaboration with other groups in the area. Prior to the event, SJP discovered an inflammatory tweet by the speaker and engaged in thoughtful and long discussion about how to proceed. SJP subsequently released a statement condemning not only the aforementioned tweet, but reiterated its longstanding position against any form of racism, anti-Semitism, and hate speech. We decided to proceed with the event in order to continue the discussion of difficult issues in an university arena. Prior to the event, SJP was shocked to read a statement by our Student Government, which failed to make the distinction between condemning the tweet and allowing for a space for controversial conversations rather than closing them down. This statement deeply offended SJP as it disregarded our statement and efforts to peacefully continue with hosting Peled, which was done in the spirit of free speech. Several members of Drew’s administration, faculty, staff, and students who attended the event commended SJP on its ability to negotiate a difficult situation through extensive discussions. The event was fully open to our fellow student protesters to voice their opinions, questions, and concerns regarding the tweet and the speaker. Further, the event reaffirmed SJP’s mission and created a safe space for open dialogue where multiple opinions could be expressed. The members of SJP’s board as well as the speaker signed the protester’s banner in a show of support and solidarity. As such, our group was dismayed by the SG’s statement because they issued the statement before attending the event, and they failed to acknowledge SJP’s prior statement condemning anti-Semitism. Drew Students for Justice in Palestine is a group of students working towards justice and the recognition of universal rights for all current and displaced residents of ;historic Palestine. We stand for justice and equality and strongly denounce any form of hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination against any racial, religious, or ethnic group. We understand that SJP, and generally the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, are rather controversial and heated topics. Thus, we welcome not only the Drew University Student Government to contact SJP regarding our event, but also any student on Drew’s campus who wants to voice their opinion on our recent event or any general issues or points of concern at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome people to any and all events and continue to welcome everyone to engage in open dialogue.
Naeem is the President for Students for Justice in Palestine
[Graphic by Joseph Gotto/Graphics Editor]