Anti-Zionism Week Sparks Debate

The Muslim Student Association is marking Anti-Zionism Week this week with speakers, videos and tables on Library Walk, sparking much debate on campus.

UCSD’s MSA President Eahab Ibrahim said he feels his organization has done a successful job in educating students on Zionism and the situation in the Middle East.

“”The main thing we’re trying to accomplish is to make people aware of the situation of the Palestinian people and the effects Zionist philosophy has had on them,”” he said. “”I think we’ve done a decent job of that.””

Monday’s speaker, Richard Becker from the human rights group International Action Center, gave an eyewitness account of the current state of Israel.

He spoke of a double standard of justice for Jews and non-Jews in Israel, and how non-Jews are often not allowed to go from one town to another.

“”Israel is pursuing a policy of strangulation — economic strangulation of the people living there,”” Becker said.

Becker also gave a history of Zionism in the Middle East and distributed handouts detailing the changes in control over Middle Eastern territory.

Lila Hollman, a member of the Union of Jewish Students, said Becker had a communist take on his historical account of the region.

“”There was definitely interpretation of history and he definitely left out certain key aspects of the history of the country,”” she said.

Tuesday night’s video, “”The Land and the People,”” gave an account of day-to-day life in Israel.

It depicted road blocks, the use of rubber and plastic bullets and the stopping of non-Jewish cars by Israeli police.

UJS President Wade Strauss said he thought the video was one-sided and somewhat outdated but acknowledged that it was an appropriate critique of Israeli policies.

“”It did address a lot of the things that did and do go on there,”” he said.

MSA Treasurer Muslema Purmul said she is pleased to have people attending the Anti-Zionism events.

“”We’re hoping that people recognize the controversy,”” she said. “”They don’t have to agree with us, just listen to our story.””

Purmul added that she hopes the current controversy and conflict will lead to eventual peace and justice, comparing the movement to the civil rights movement in America.

“”I look at people like Martin Luther King,”” she said. “”His position was to fight oppression. The people who rallied against them didn’t understand what he was fighting for. He challenged the status quo. And look at what it led to. Look at the rights African Americans have today.””

Ibrahim said he was displeased by the fact that Anti-Zionism Week had created such a controversy before it even started, even though the controversy brought attention to the event.

“”The main reason I feel the charges were put against us was to discredit us before we were given a chance to speak,”” Ibrahim said. “”It has had an adverse effect in some ways, but in other ways it has brought attention to our week.””

Ibrahim added that if he had to do over again, he would only change the name of Anti-Zionism Week if he could come up with an accurate alternative.

“”We would definitely consider that,”” he said. “”We were trying to come up with alternative titles for an exact description of what we were trying to do.””

Both Ibrahim and Purmul said, however, that no other title would suffice.