Letter to the Editor: SJP

Kent State Students for Justice in Palestine opposes unequivocally the recent assault on Gaza by the Israeli military. We mourn for the more than eighteen hundred Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are civilians, that have been killed thus far in the conflict. As an organization and as individuals, as Americans and as citizens of the world, we condemn the deplorable violence visited upon the people of Gaza and the terrible siege they have endured since 2007. We equally condemn,  in no uncertain terms, the misguided and hateful rhetoric used by many would-be “allies” of the Palestinian people worldwide. Chief among these offenders is Dr. Julio Pino, whose high-profile ravings have caused massive setbacks in the desperately needed dialogue around the issues of human rights and social justice in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This crisis will not be resolved by ideologues, hatemongers or jihadists. Humanity, before all else, is what will bring this conflict to a close and Dr. Pino’s comments contribute absolutely nothing in this regard. His words fall like bombs in the ears of peace-loving people all over the world.

Pino’s most well-known eruption was at an October 2011 speaking event here at KSU in which he engaged in a heated exchange with a member of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs before shouting “Death to Israel” and leaving the room. Kent State Students for Justice in Palestine specifically and absolutely condemns this outburst and all similar rhetoric. As students sympathetic to the suffering and exploitation of all people, we oppose the actions of the Israeli government and the specific structure of the Israeli state that oppresses, marginalizes and discriminates against Palestinians. We do not wish death to the people of Israel or anyone else; it is the actions of the Israeli state that we are against. A state does not live, and thus a state cannot die. A state does not breathe or bleed or love. A state cannot cradle the body of sister or bury a son. The region, and indeed the world, has known enough death. We would not add more, and cannot begin to understand the thinking of those who would.

We would have it known that the hatred that Pino has displayed does not represent the position of all or even most Palestinians or those that stand in solidarity with them. There is vitriolic hatred being spewed from wild fringes on both sides of the conflict, and the challenge of peace-building will be to drown out these voices with tolerance, peacefulness and goodwill. The bombs may soon stop falling in Gaza and the eyes of the world will turn elsewhere—to Ukraine or perhaps Iraq. Meanwhile, Gaza will likely remain under siege, the West Bank will continue to be colonized, and the suffering of the Palestinian people will continue, silently, unabated. Kent State Students for Justice in Palestine sets as our goal the strengthening of public consciousness of the plight of the Palestinians and the deep injustice they endure day by day. We will not allow this struggle to be caricatured by would-be jihadists more interested in expanding their own notoriety than in building a sustainable peace. We will not allow the peace process to be derailed by bigots—hateful historical footnotes—who see no solution but bloodshed. The governments of the United States and Israel have indeed committed terrible crimes over the years, but the blood of their people will rebuild not one school nor nourish one olive tree. What we want is a free Gaza, a free West Bank, a free Palestine. We want safety and humanity and dignity for all the people of the world. This is our purpose as an organization, and those whose politics contradict this goal, such as Dr. Julio Pino, can rightly consider themselves no friends of ours.