Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Students for Justice in Palestine arrives on UCF campus

 


Anti-Semitism is rising at an alarming rate across the United States, especially on college campuses. A group such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is not interested in engaging in civil conversations with pro-Israel students. They would rather harass supporters of Israel, shout anti-Semitic insults, and turn to violence—as witnessed recently at Temple University—to spread their desire to “free” Palestinians from the “open-air prison” they supposedly live in. This type of student-run organization thrives upon media manipulation, demonizing and delegitimizing Israel, as well as urging for the boycott and divestment of the tiny democratic state.

Even with the increasing trend to spiral into this realm of hatred, the University of Central Florida (UCF)—the second largest school in the nation with close to 60,000 students—has a surprisingly minor history of anti-Semitic acts and anti-Israel sentiment. However, this fall semester, SJP finally arrived at the UCF campus with the backbone of their organization firmly resting on falsified information and inaccurate claims.

On the night of Sep. 6, seven Jewish UCF Knights filed into the UCF Pegasus Ballroom to quietly listen to the speakers featured at an SJP event. These students were not there to make a raucous or to dispute the biased slander being spoken into the microphone; these students were there simply to assess what type of threat SJP poses to the current and future UCF student body. Although they were relieved to see a rather small turnout of UCF students and local community members, that did not make listening to the event any easier.

A Palestinian-American poet by the name of Remi Kanezi recited a poem that spoke about the Israelis’ “indigenous confusion” and how the “Zionists [would] one day cower in embarrassment” at the slightest mention of their “66 years of continued ethnic cleansing.” As the pro-Israel students cringed at the lies being spewed to the audience, the rest of the crowd applauded and nodded their heads in agreement.

Salaatul Maghrib, originally from Detroit, first opened his speech with a verse from the Koran: “Indeed, Allah’s power orders justice, good conduct, and giving to relatives and he forbids immorality, bad conduct, and oppression. He admonishes you, so that perhaps you may be reminded.” In regards to opposing Israel, he continued with: “...This talk and this event are [about] anti-oppression. This talk is anti-genocide. This talk is pro-humanity...This talk is pro-peace and pro-justice because we stick to the side of justice wherever we are.”

Statements such as these raise some interesting questions. For instance, if this talk is about “anti-oppression” and G-d forbids “bad conduct and oppression,” then that must mean supporting the overthrow of Hamas, right? After all, Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization that publicly oppresses its own people: murdering them if they speak out in opposition, using them as human shields, and pouring thousands of dollars into building terror tunnels instead of helping them improve their poverty stricken lives.

Maghrib closed his 25-minute speech with: “You must raise awareness and understand the facts. As long as you’re on the side of truth and the side of justice, you’re fine.”

In reality, those individuals who vehemently oppose the mere existence of the State of Israel along with Students for Justice in Palestine constantly mislead large groups of people. By disguising their desire to wipe Israel off the map with language such as, “human rights,” “pro-justice and pro-truth,” and “ending the occupation” it is easy to see how they are attracting peoples’ attention. However, what college students need to ask themselves is if these assertions are true. Shouting slogans such as, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” “Baby killers,” and “Death to Israel” can be internalized quicker than Israel activists can refute them. The refutation takes time, education, and a willingness to listen whereas yelling anti-Israel phrases takes mere seconds.

It is unfortunate that UCF students, whether they have a stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict or not, may have to endure this struggle on their very own college campus. Nevertheless, UCF Knights, will continue to stand united and strong. We will not let Israel’s name be associated with words such as “apartheid” or “genocide.” Even if SJP becomes disruptive, we will continue to spread the truth and debunk the lies. The Jewish community has strong partnerships with other student-run organizations at UCF and we refuse to let SJP make students feel uneasy or unsafe at their own university.

Shana Medel is a Heritage intern and a student at UCF.

 

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