Hillel Responds to DePaul SJP: ‘The Nakba is a Death-Wishing Festivity’

Chicago’s very own Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at DePaul University is making local headlines due to its upcoming event to raise awareness about the oppression of Palestinians within Israel’s apartheid walls. This Thursday, May 13, DePaul’s SJP is organizing and hosting a “Die In” to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians evicted from their homes and forced to face the muzzle of Israeli guns since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Sixty-two years later, SJP protests these injustices.

But the “Die In” has evoked a counterprotest by pro-Israeli communities both inside and outside of DePaul’s campus. While SJP continues to plan the logistics of this event, Hillels Around Chicago has just begun circulating a memo in an attempt to denounce the protest. The full statement can be found at the bottom of the page.

A representative of Hillel kindly included her contact information in the memo so I took the liberty of calling her to gain a better understanding of Hillel’s reasoning. She literally echoed the exact words of Hillel’s released statements.

There will be protestors pretending to be shot dead by Israeli soldiers in an effort to delegitimize the state of Israel.

According to her, Hillel felt the need to defend Israel from such biased and provocative pro-Palestinian sentiment. I didn’t quite follow her logic. How would a few actors delegitimize the state of Israel? The protestors aren’t in any way fabricating facts or exaggerating the reality of the situation. Rather, these protestors are providing the public a realistic glimpse of life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Whether Hillel wants to believe it or not, Israeli soldiers do shoot Palestinians. These protestors are only mirroring the scenes that young Palestinian children wake up to. If anything, Israel’s wanton disregard of the livelihood of Palestinians is the direct cause of Israel’s delegitimization. Don’t blame SJP for bringing to Chicago a reality check.

Hillel bases its response on this very basic phrase:

For many of you, this event may be offensive, upsetting or hurtful

Unfortunately, Hillel seems to have forgotten that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people has caused even more grief. Every single day, Palestinian sympathizers here and abroad are forced to cope with the never-ending news that more children have been illegally imprisoned without due process, that humanitarian aid has been blocked, and that live ammunition had just torn through a peaceful protest. How is this “Die In” as “offensive, upsetting or hurtful” as Israel’s apartheid measures against the Palestinian people? Israel’s destruction of entire Palestinian villages is “offensive”. The mass murder of entire families – mothers and children included – is “upsetting”. The missiles fired at Palestinian hospitals and schools is “hurtful”. Without a doubt, sixty-two years of illegal oppression causes more pain than a single, peaceful protest.

Hillel, you’ve got it backwards. This event serves as a unified moment of silence for all those who’ve died under Israel’s lack of humanity towards Palestinians. DePaul’s SJP is part of a global movement to commemorate the Nakba. The lady on Hillel’s hotline told me that the Nakba meant “catastrophe”. Correct. She also said that it was an Arab “festivit[y]” to delegitimize and destroy Israel. Wrong. Israeli policy is doing that on its own. The real catastrophe, however, is that 62 years ago, the creation of Israel led to the killing of thousands of Palestinians as well as the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands more.

Sami Kishawi

Statement from Hillels Around Chicago

Disturbing Anti-Israel Protest at DePaul Student Center Tomorrow
May 12, 2010

Dear Members of the Greater DePaul Jewish Community,

In light of the upcoming Palestinian “Die-In” protest tomorrow, it is critical that you be aware of the disturbing events scheduled to take place. Thursday, May 13, from 1-4 pm in the Lincoln Park Student Center at DePaul, there will be protestors pretending to be shot dead by Israeli soldiers in an effort to delegitimize the state of Israel.

For many of you, this event may be offensive, upsetting or hurtful as there will be inflammatory language and literature on display. Please know that we are available to provide you with factual information about the history of and current situation in Israel.

As always, we at Hillel are a resource for you. Please feel free to contact Nick Liebman at nliebman@depaul.edu or Michelle Maer at MichelleMaer@juf.org with any questions or concerns you may have. If you experience intimidation on campus from this event or other events, please let us know. We would also like to hear from you and to understand what your thoughts are.

The Hillel staff will be monitoring the event and available in the Hillel space (2250 N. Sheffield, Room 340) all day tomorrow, so please feel free to reach out to us.

Hillels Around Chicago


There are 3 comments

  1. Marilyn

    I am a DePaul student and saw part of the event yesterday. I would love to read any local news articles about this if you know of any that were written. Thanks!

  2. Claire

    Your “Sixteen minutes to Palestine” fails to mention that David Ben-Gurion begged the Arab population NOT to leave their homes. He asked them to stay and continue to live in peace as neighbors. However, those who heeded the advice of the surrounding countries who then proceeded to attack the new state of Israel were then left homeless. The governments who encouraged them to leave never absorbed the refugees they helped create. This became the Palestinian population that lives in limbo. And it is a shame. The Palestinian people have become international pawns, which is not how a person, of any kind, should be treated. Interesting to note, that many of the surrounding Arab and Muslim countries allow Palestinian representation in the government, as does Israel. But ONLY in Israel do they have voting rights. Perhaps the enemy you think you have isn’t really your enemy after all.

    1. Sami Kishawi

      The Irgun, Stern Gang, and other paramilitary Israeli forces made sure that the native Arabs were forcibly removed from their homes. A great book to read is “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Israeli academic Ilan Pappe. He provides an in-depth summary and analysis of the methods employed to depopulate the area of Palestinians. As evidenced through fact and historical documentation, these strategies began months, even years, before the declaration of statehood and continues today (settlement expansions evicting Palestinians from homes in Jerusalem and other West Bank areas). Voting rights in Israel doesn’t exonerate Israel from its violations. Arab countries’ unacceptance of Palestinian refugees also does not exonerate Israel from its violations.

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