Your view: Letter to the editor

Ola A Hassanein

I walked by the M.A.C. Center Tuesday to find that Hillel and Kent Students for Israel were celebrating “Israel Fest,” the student groups’ annual celebration of the creation of the state of Israel. I suppose on some level I can understand their desire to rejoice at the birth of their motherland, but I have to ask myself, do my peers really not know the price that came with it? In 2008, members of Hillel wore shirts that said “Party like it’s 1948,” and although that wasn’t the case this year, they seemed to be following the same theme.

Throughout my college career, I’ve come across many people who are uninformed about the background of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, can the members of Hillel and KSI really not know the history of their young nation? I find satisfaction in being able to enlighten others about the conflict. So for those of you who are unaware, not everyone was partying in 1948.

Following World War II and the Jewish Diaspora, pressure from Zionists pushed the United Nations to take action. In 1947, U.N. officials thought it was a good idea to partition 55 percent of land from the state of Palestine to these displaced Jews. What followed was an Arab-Israeli war in 1948, which resulted in the creation of the Israeli state and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from their homes.

Definitely sounds like a reason to party if you are a nationless and severely oppressed Palestinian people. The period is known as al-Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic). Israel occupies Palestinian land and continues to violate human rights. These statements do no justice to this crisis, but for the sake of keeping this letter brief they will suffice.

I will spare you the history lesson and get to my point. Hillel is considered a prominent and respectful organization on campus, but for them to overlook the bloodshed that is a major part of their history is unacceptable. While they celebrate, we mourn. The event obviously wasn’t meant to be malicious or one made to spark controversy, but I am saddened by Hillel’s lack of sensitivity. I merely wish that those who partook in the celebration would recognize the reality and cost of this day in history.

Last semester, Students for Justice in Palestine and Students for Israel sponsored an open dialogue to discuss the conflict. I cannot say the event was successful because it ended up being extremely one-sided, as hardly anyone came to represent Hillel/Students for Israel. It is a shame that people wasted an opportunity to contribute to a great discussion because they preferred to shy away from the controversial topic.

Hillel and KSI are either uneducated about the conflict or they chose to be tactless. I call on these students to help our generation to be the one to bring about change. Dialogue is important, and the inability to put aside differences and overcome is hindering progress. I strongly believe that it is our responsibility as members of the human race to ask questions, learn everything we possibly can, and stand for what we believe in, whatever that may be. I only hope that Hillel and Students for Israel can come to terms with the history of their nation and help rectify the future.

Ola A Hassanein is a senior

international relations major.