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War Watch

If anyone doubts that America's universities have become a shockingly anti-American and anti-Israeli community, take a look at this exchange of emails between faculty members at a California university. The party line of the hate-filled terrorists is followed to the letter, assigning all blame to Israel and the United States when in fact almost all of the blame for the current situation can much more reasonably be assigned to the Arab states surrounding Israel. If they had never attacked Israel, Israel would now occupy a much smaller portion of Palestine, Jerusalem would be in Arab hands, and Palestine would have been a self-governing nation since 1948. Not one increase in Israeli territory has come as a result of Jewish aggression, and America's aid to Israel was prompted solely by the fact that Israel is surrounded by enemies sworn to destroy its citizens and eliminate its national existence. If there has ever been a case of blaming the victim, it is surely in this exchange of letters.

Dear Laura:

Thank you for your very cordial inquiry into the position of the Interfaith Center on Zionism. I appreciate the spirit in which the question was asked and the chance to let you know how this message came from my office.

A recent alum referred Ms. Petru to me and asked if there was a way to get the word out on a conference AIPAC was having. I have sent out mailings on behalf of the Mobilization for the Human Family (a Christian/Political organization), California Council of Churches Legislative Alerts, the Nevada Experience Peace Mobilization (which involves religious and non-religious persons protesting Nuclear testing), Americans for the Separation of Church and State, and other such Religous/Political organizations. I've tried to be fair and open about information I pass on. There have been students in Hillel (at least in the recent past) who have been involved in AIPAC and have shown an interest in what they are about. Therefore, I simply passed on the information in case people were interested.

Due to recent events -- and the positions of this organization -- there is a high level of sensitivity about this particular notice about an AIPAC conference in the area. I guess I'm the messenger that gets to be shot (by a few, anyway). The Interfaith Center holds no position on such issues and the email was purely for informational purposes.

Please forgive any breach of campus ethics in presenting another opportunity to hear another point of view. I will probably continue to send out information about events put on by religous/political groups in the area -- so please let me know if any future messages are offensive.

Also, thank you for responding to me directly and not sending out a campus-wide response before getting my point of view. I appreciate the courtesy and the restraint involved in that decision.



Dear Anne,

Thank you for your thoughtful response and explanation. I did have a feeling that you were passing on information, especially given your previous postings; however, given the controversial and loaded nature of this particular posting, I was curious about the position of the Occidental Interfaith Center. I am interested in peace projects in relation to Palestine, especially those coalitional efforts on the part of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and secular feminist/activists who both critique and resist the regime of Zionist imperialism and heinous subjugation of Palestinians. For these reasons, especially, your 9-11 postings have resonated to me in the spirit of such solidarity.

In the matter of your work at the Interfaith center, I wonder if when you send out postings related to Judaism and Jewish peace projects, you might stave off negative responses if you make clear in your postings re: Judaism and/or Israel, that Judaism is separate from Zionism and Zionist hegemony, but Israel and Palestine are embroiled in both (with the U.S. in the middle). Here, we can instead critique malevolent appropriations of religion (i.e. in the name of Judaism, Islam, or Christianity), which I believe Zionism does in its employment of Judaism to legitimate its subjugation/decimation of Palestinian people, and instead direct our attention toward Jewish peace projects that are critical of Zionism (and in solidarity with Palestinians and Palestine).

Unfortunately, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) does not represent the kind of work of those endeavoring toward peace and equality. For years AIPAC (via its powerful political lobby) has promoted Zionist measures in Palestine/Israel that have resulted in the virulent oppression of Palestinians. This conference is not the sort of event that I would want my students to attend without this historical knowledge and political awareness. That 5 billion dollars a year of US foreign aid goes to Israel (mostly in the form of military assistance--i.e. F-16s and Apache helicopters) makes matters even more complicated and troubling. I think students should be aware of these different contexts of colonial power, and the devastating effects imperialism wields both nationally and internationally. I believe there is a way to talk about religion -- in this context, Judaism -- that is critical of political regimes that coopt religious discourses -- such as Zionism -- and at the same time promote teachings of peace that foster political consciousness, integrity and equality. It seems that the good work you do at the Center is both separate from and critical of such regimes of power that undermine struggles for peace.

Again, thank you for your message. I hope we will meet soon.

In solidarity,


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