Letter to the community from ASUCD senator Azka Fayyaz

Dear Community and All Others,

On Thursday, January 29, 2015, after the ASUCD Senate voted “Yes” by a supermajority to pass the Divestment Resolution, I posted a picture with the Pro-Divestment community on my personal Facebook with a satirical caption. Although I made a comment on the picture stating that the caption was satirical, the anti-divestment community conveniently left out the comment from the rest of the picture and took the caption out of context. In doing so, they shared my picture on various Islamophobic, racist and anti-Palestinian blogs and articles. Consequently, I received hateful e-mails and violent messages and was labeled as an anti-Semite, a spokesperson for Hamas and a Jew-hater. All of these judgements are grotesquely disgusting and factually incorrect. Additionally, the linking of my satirical comments to the painting of swastikas on the Jewish fraternity at UC Davis is a red herring. I am condemning the painting of swastikas on the Jewish fraternity at UC Davis — not because I feel that I should but because it is against my beliefs. Just as my pro-divestment views are rooted in social justice so is my distress over what has transpired at the Jewish fraternity at UC Davis. This is why I stand firmly in my stance on divestment and I reiterate this is not out of hate for anyone but out of love for those facing these injustices every single day and night.

I have been involved with the divestment campaign for the last three years, for many of the same reasons that others are pro-divestment and pro-Palestine. I feel strongly about my reasons and none of these reasons are even remotely close to being anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish in nature. Their foundations lay in a framework of deep social justice values, anti-imperialism, and a deep dedication to working in solidarity with oppressed peoples worldwide. As a veiled, Muslim senator, I have been attacked many times during my term by the anti-divestment community on campus, specifically the leadership of both AEPi, the Jewish fraternity at UC Davis, and Aggies for Israel, who have made it their mission to harass me over social media and actively censor my online presence during this summer’s atrocious Operation Protective Edge, which resulted in the death of over 2,000 Gazans. More specifically, these communities have violently stalked me on Facebook and reported the contents of my profile to the Zionist lobby groups which they have been paid to represent. Additionally, student senators and other students affiliated with Aggies for Israel on campus have also yelled Islamophobic slurs at me such as “terrorist” and threatened me by holding my position as an ASUCD senator hostage over me. During ASUCD Senate meetings, the anti-divestment community has attacked me and vigorously yelled at me, all because of my affiliations on campus, which include predominantly Communities of Color. Attacks such as these have been directed at me from the day that I assumed the position as an ASUCD senator. Their intentions are clear, to suppress any opposition and slander the individuals while they do it.

My satirical comments are a non-confrontational method to mock the arguments presented by the anti-divestment community during the last three years who have incorrectly labeled the Divestment movement as a violent and anti-Semitic movement by Muslim and Arab students. In fact Divestment is supported by students from all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds (including people of Latino, African, Muslim and Jewish identities, among others). It is a nonviolent strategy utilized globally by activists to put pressure “against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.” Furthermore, the very caption on my picture was verbally presented at ASUCD Senate hearings in 2013 and 2014 by the anti-divestment community and such discourse is also presented by Zionist lobby groups worldwide but because I, a veiled, Muslim, Divestment and BDS-supporting senator, decided to use it in a satirical and ironic context after the passage of divestment, I was single handedly and wrongfully attacked. My hope is that any intelligent person is able to discern between satire and fact.

I have a choice to release this statement — just like those of you who are connecting me to anti-Semitic sentiments and maliciously attacking me are making a choice. I’m choosing to communicate with you my truth because I want to make a lasting and positive difference in this world. And while doing that I will use humor and faith.

I ask those in the various communities I have had the pleasure to be involved with, those who know me, have worked with me, have laughed with me, to stand with me during this time.

02.02.15 2:41PM EDIT: Members of my community who have supported me throughout my term and during this time, if you feel that I have put you through a difficult time, please accept my heartfelt apology and know that I have never abandoned you nor put my own interests before yours, you all are the reason that I fight against injustice every single day and you all will always receive my unconditional support and love.

Sincerely,

Azka Fayyaz

Senator, Associated Students, University of California, Davis

Winter 2014-Present

February 02, 2015

 

Graphic by Jennifer Wu