UJS's Decision to Pull Out of Forum is Disappointing

As a result of the recent controversy over Anti-Zionism Week, and in an attempt to educate the UCSD student body on this important issue, the A.S. external office recently made an avid effort to organize a forum in which four speakers — two representing the Palestinian side and two representing the Jewish side — would be invited to shed light on this topic. We, the members of the Arab Student Union, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, strongly supported the event and were very excited about presenting our case to the public.

This academic forum was to address the origins and the reasons of the conflict, the topics of which would include the historical aspect, matters relevant to human rights and international law, and prospects for the future. Unfortunately, we were saddened to see the Union of Jewish Students pull out their speakers, who were urged by the Jewish community at large to boycott the forum. Thus, the underlying question that I ask and attempt to answer is: What is there to hide?

As the issue of Zionism has recently been responsible for stirring an emotional controversy on this campus, it is important that the legitimacy and validity of its claim be examined, with the hope that the reasons for our vehement opposition to this political ideology are wholly clarified.

In 1919, at the Peace Conference in Paris, the Zionist Organization advanced its claim to Palestine, suggesting that the Allied Powers should “”recognize the historic title to Palestine and the right of the Jews to reconstitute in Palestine, their national home.”” This claim, as my study will prove, has no basis in fact or in law.

From an historical viewpoint, the Zionist claim of a legitimate Jewish right to Palestine falls short for two reasons. First, the Jews are neither the original nor the longest continuous inhabitants of Palestine. Palestine’s earliest known inhabitants were the Canaanites, who are thought to have inhabited the country as early as 3000 B.C. In fact, the Jebusites, a Canaanite subgroup, built the city of Jerusalem over a thousand years before the Israelites first appeared on the land.

Furthermore, the sum of all the periods of rule that Jewish groups had on this land, which adds up to no more than 300 years, is short relative to this region’s long history of over 5,000 years. Moreover, following the destruction of the Temple by Titus in A.D. 70, Jerusalem, as argued by Albert M. Hyamson, “”never again revived as a Jewish city,”” and the Jews, who were either killed or deported, almost ceased to exist in Palestine.

Henry Cattan, in his book Palestine and International Law, states the following: “”Benjamin of Tudela, a Jewish pilgrim who visited the Holy Land in about A.D. 1170 to 1171, found only 1,440 Jews in all Palestine; and Nahman Gerondi, in A.D. 1267, found only two Jewish families in Jerusalem.”” On the other hand, the Palestinians of today are the continuous inhabitants of this land, beginning at the dawn of history, and did not come into Palestine with the Muslim Arab invasion, as is erroneously thought by many. Moshe Menuhin, in his book The Decadence of Judaism in Our Times, makes the following argument: “”The Palestinian Arab of today, then, is a descendant of the Philistines, the Canaanites and other early tribes … “”

The second historical fallacy committed by the Zionists is their failure to distinguish between the Jews of today and the Hebrews of Biblical times. The majority of Jews today are converts of East European origin, coming mostly from the Khazar Empire of Eastern Europe. In his book The Thirteenth Tribe, Arthur Koestler argues that “”the large majority of surviving Jews in the world is of Eastern European — and thus perhaps mainly of Khazar origin …. Should this turn out to be the case, then the term ‘anti-Semitism’ would become void of meaning, based on a misapprehension shared both by the killers and their victims.””

These facts, however, were completely ignored when the British government decided to give its support to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. This led to a policy of mass Jewish immigrations to Palestine, organized by political Zionists, in an attempt to change the demography of the land and justify their illegitimate creation of the state of Israel.

Nevertheless, in 1947, the Jews only made up 25 percent of the population of Palestine and owned less than 7 percent of the land, when the United Nations partition proposal awarded them 54 percent of the country, including the best lands. In 1948, however, the Jews declared an independent state after seizing 78 percent of Palestine and driving out most of the Palestinian population through a process of violence, including some of the most gruesome massacres, such as that committed in Deir Yasin. Nineteen years later, in 1967, Israel expanded its borders as it occupied the regions of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, again causing the flight of Palestinian civilians, exacerbating the refugee problem.

Since its creation, Israel has followed a consistent policy of land dispossession, house demolition and settlement building. In addition, its brutal occupation has included acts of murder, rape, torture and maiming of civilians.

For this reason, although many find it hard to comprehend, the Palestinians find little pleasure living under Zionist occupation, and it is on these facts that we base our opposition to Zionism. Our position on this issue, along with our continued struggle for justice, is not based on hatred for anyone, but rather on love for our people, as well as our deep and genuine belief in human rights. In accordance with this position, we declare that the right to struggle is the right to advance, and thus, we shall never surrender this right to those who, on the one hand, preach to us about peace, and, on the other hand, prepare for war.