Letter: Students for Justice in Palestine defend Suárez talk

By Opinion & Editorial Staff

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

To the Editor,

After reading Joseph Frank’s article regarding the Thomas Suárez talk this past Tuesday, the Students for Justice in Palestine feel that its unfounded accusation of anti-Semitism toward Suárez, as well as the sponsors of the talk, is an issue.

To begin, nowhere in Suárez’s lecture does he himself make comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, nor does he deny Jewish people the right to self-determination. We will not waste our time with this – the talk is available to watch online. However, it is worth mentioning that the question Suárez sets out to answer is not at all one of whether or not Israel has the right to exist, but rather how the settler state of Israel emerged, flourished and continues to occupy the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights fifty years later.

To that end, what Suárez was able to uncover in classified source documents held by Britain’s National Archives was that the Zionist movement, in its inception, was one of settler colonialism and the extra-nationalization of land, and anyone – Jew or non-Jew – who threatened this mission was intimidated, terrorized and eradicated. Zionism, in the words of Suárez, “is to assert implicit ownership over all Jewry,” and thus he concludes by saying that Zionism is not Jewish self-determination, rather it is the theft of Jewish self-identity for the benefit of a settler state.

Regarding Frank’s statement, “Suárez’s message is anti-Semitic if one uses the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism,” it is crucial to point out that the very use of a State definition as the basis for objective truth is a fundamental contradiction. The official language of the United States foreign policy apparatus reflects its own geopolitical agenda and its own national interest concerns.

It is also important to highlight Frank’s following assertion: “[Suárez’s] rhetoric is a detriment to the Jewish student body on campus.” This is a blanket statement designed to confuse anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. There are many Jewish members of the University of Massachusetts student body – quite a few who are members of UMass Students for Justice in Palestine – who do not believe that the Zionist movement and/or the state of Israel is an accurate representation of Judaism. Those members of our community are silenced with this statement.

Human rights for Palestinians intersect with human rights and social justice for everyone. In fact, they are inseparable from the Movement for Black Lives. They are indivisible from the fact that the U.S. is a country founded on white-settler colonialism, slavery and the genocide of this land’s indigenous peoples. They are united with the struggles of our LGBTQ+ communities, and they are inextricable from justice for Jews who are historical and ongoing victims of vicious anti-Semitism. This is the broader vision of UMass Students for Justice in Palestine, which is embedded in everything that we stand for and do. This is why we co-sponsored to host Thomas Suárez, author of “State of Terror: How Terrorism Created Modern Israel,” and ally in our irrevocable demand for human rights for all.

Leila Aruri and Joshua Raposa

UMass Students for Justice in Palestine