Palestinian poet, writer, and activist Remi Kanazi, Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) latest guest, compares Jews to the KKK. He poses in support of terrorists and advocates violence. His presence is part of a focus-grouped and incubated hatred, which is intellectualized, digitized and repeated ad nauseum. SJP targets you as the consumer for that hatred. They’ve weaponized discrimination in the form of victimhood. This is my fourth year of witnessing and addressing it. I’m tired.
SJP is part of a well-financed campaign to bring this hatred to our campus. Every year it comes and goes, and students are bombarded with distorted images, oversimplifications and lies.
Just consider the bias in the narrative SJP force-feeds us. Fanatic after fanatic, zealot after zealot, SJP poisons our well by bringing radicals to Kenyon. Two years ago the group brought a professor who justified the killing of teenage Israeli Jews (he called them ‘settlers’) who live in the West Bank while also claiming that, in some demented way, antisemitism could be seen as “honorable.” SJP brought an artist, Amer Shomali, who glorified convicted terrorist and plane-hijacker Leila Khaled. One student member of the group compares Zionism (the belief in the right to self-determination of the Jewish People) to Nazism, a comparison the U.S. State Department deems anti-semitic. One can be a just activist for the Palestinian cause without supporting radicals and without condoning codified Jew-hatred.
Bringing Remi Kanazi to campus is SJP’s latest move in their twisted game of delegitimizing and demonizing Israel. Kanazi, however, doesn’t just reserve his contempt for Israel; he saves some for the U.S. too. Kanazi writes that “Hillary Clinton is a racist, violent, corporate shill,” and “Obama is a butcher.” Clearly, Kanazi is a radical who preaches hate. In reference to Israeli Jews, he says, “they were hooded in the South,” comparing Israeli Jews to the KKK. He lauds and poses for photos with convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh, whose family even admitted to her role in the killing of two innocent Jews in a supermarket bombing in Israel.
Why do these groups insist on bringing radicals to campus? Time and again the Middle Eastern Students’ Association (MESA) aids SJP in its extremist goals. It’s disappointing that SJP, along with their consortium of affiliated groups, brings extremists to our campus, while rejecting the opportunity to host moderates devoted to finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Radicalism solves nothing — it further divides.
Though they try to stress the connection, Kanazi’s presence isn’t about the Dakota Access Pipeline, or Standing with Standing Rock as some of SJP’s advertising suggests. It is about using others’ struggles to benefit their cause. In a word, it’s tokenizing. It uses others’ native identity to push one’s own agenda. In fact, the blind equivocation of the Israeli occupation with the DAPL is problematic in itself: It creates the implication that the presence of Jews in the West Bank is as inherently negative as the presence of an oil pipeline in Standing Rock.
The reductive world of SJP and their speakers is founded not on constructive dialogue, but on denunciation. As their narrative goes, Israel is imperfect and thus college students should advocate its dissolution and repopulation. They, along with Kanazi, believe we should boycott Israel until it surrenders. The implication of this? Perpetual war. They know the Jewish State will never lay down its arms while there are those who seek to destroy it. Asking for this is asking for suicide. Kanazi and Students for ‘Justice’ in Palestine are really for “justice,” aren’t they?
Adam Rubenstein ’17 is a political science major from Randolph, N.J. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.