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Davis

Davis, California

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Letter to the Editor: Responses to Feb. 27 presentation by Israeli speakers

I attempted to attend an event on Feb. 27 put on by Chai-Life club and StandWithUs, a pro-Israeli organization. Often, Palestinians are blamed for our “lack of dialogue,” and our refusal to sit down with Israeli and Jewish students to just talk things out. I am personally against dialogue, as the word implies that both parties are on equal footing — obviously Israel as the Occupier and Palestinians as the Occupied cannot sit down as two equals. It’s the equivalent of asking a white man and black man to sit down to dinner in 1960s Mississippi — absolutely absurd. But alas, it is often the accusation we get. However, the actions of the pro-Israel community were far from the words they often speak.

Concerned students and Davis community members had planned a simple walkout — a common technique to show disapproval of an event — and some people would stay back to ask questions respectfully. We showed up to Olson 106, the advertised location, only to find that we had been sent a decoy. A member of Aggies for Israel gave a short speech and left. We heard that the event had been moved to Wellman, and we made it just in time. By changing the room last minute, they were going to avoid all thought of Palestinians. That is not conducive to the dialogue that they supposedly so desperately want with us.

There were admittedly hecklers from both sides. I have much respect for the mediator of the event, who tried to let everyone speak, even when pro-Israel attendees would not let people ask questions during the designated Q&A period. It is important for people to know that the event ended abruptly, not because of Palestinians rioting, but because the Jewish and Israeli community began yelling as soon as a Jewish American student got to the mike with statistics. He was not able to ask his question because as soon as he declared his position, people began shouting at him. Eventually a man grabbed the microphone from his hand, and people began swarming in on him as he yelled that this is what the Israeli community always does — limits the “dialogue” to their own terms and ends it before they can be criticized. That is not a democracy, despite what Israel supporters will tell you.

During the event, one of the speakers commented on how Israel gives Palestinians all of their electricity and water. I made a comment to a friend, and a man in front of us interrupted and told me I was wrong. I gave him a legitimate example: Last week, it was reported that Israel was planning on demolishing solar panels in the Palestinian village of Hebron. These solar panels were given to them through grants from the Spanish government but Israel is revoking the building permits. The man did not believe me and did not give me his e-mail when I offered to send him links with information.

I’d like people to know that this is why I stand up against Israel. I would not be doing this if Israelis were simply shopping or lounging on the beach, like one of the speakers said her days are typically like. I am against the human rights violations, the apartheid system of government and the occupation of an indigenous people. These speakers are portraying Israel in an inaccurate light, and I feel it is my duty to raise awareness. I was touched by the support Students for Justice in Palestine had from other campus organizations and the community, and I encourage readers to look out for our upcoming events if you are curious about the situation on the other side of the wall, where Israelis do not travel.

Lyla Rayyan
Senior international relations and communication major
Co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine

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