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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

From the Daily Northwestern:

Palestinian organizer Rasmea Odeh and University of Illinois at Chicago Prof. Nadine Naber spoke Monday about the Palestinian experience in both the Middle East and the U.S., saying Palestine supporters must continue to fight for liberation.

The talk, held in Technological Institute and attended by more than 70 people, was part of a series of events hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine for Israeli Apartheid Week. The week aims to “shed a light on the settler colonial project,” according to SJP’s Facebook page. Monday also marked the 69th anniversary of Nakba, which many Palestinians observe as a forced eviction from their homes following the creation of the state of Israel. Others refer to the 1948 signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence as Israel Independence Day.
 Israeli Apartheid Week has now been extended from February to May, apparently.

Now "Nakba Day" is the primary definition of Israel's Independence Day, according to this reporter.

And only in the third paragraph does this report grudgingly bring up Odeh's history, only to dismiss it.
Odeh was convicted by the Israeli government in 1969 for participating in bombings that killed two Israeli college students. However, she said she was convicted after being tortured into making a false confession.
The fact that her torture claims are an easily proven lie is not even worth mentioning.

However, the obvious bias is not the most disturbing part of the article. (Another student newspaper reporting was even worse.)  The pseudo-response from the organized "pro-Israel" community is.

Half an hour before the event in Tech began, a group of students from Fiedler Hillel, Wildcats for Israel and J Street U organized a vigil to mourn the two students who were killed in the 1969 bombing. More than 120 people, including University President Morton Schapiro, attended the vigil.

Hillel president Samantha Max said the vigil was not pro-Israel or a direct response to anything Odeh would say during the event.

We wanted to offer space for people to decompress and we wanted to really focus it on the victims, these two people who were killed in the 1969 bombing attack,” the Medill junior said. “And really just offer an alternative space for people that would in no way disrupt the event.”
It is nice that the number of people who attended the vigil outnumbered the number who attended Odeh's talk. And it is also nice that it attracted the University President.

But it is nevertheless a poor response to a convicted, admitted terrorist being allowed to be given a place of honor and an opportunity to spout lies about both Israel and the US (she called the Justice Department "racist") on campus.

Sure she has a right to free speech. And that right extends, beyond this silent vigil, to create a noisy, outraged protest outside the actual talk.

Hillel appears to have been rendered impotent by its strange desire to partner with J-Street U in an action that their president is seemingly proud to label "not pro-Israel." But Wildcats for Israel should have skipped this and protested Odeh directly. 

The lack of an organized expression of anger at a murderer and terrorist on campus is more of a statement than the silent vigil. After all, the anti-Israel side doesn't afford pro-Israel speakers the same courtesy. In February, Bassem Eid was forced to cancel his speech at Northwestern after he saw the same hecklers who disrupted previous Chicago campus speeches.

I am not saying that Odeh's actual speech should be disrupted. I'm saying that there should have been a noisy protest outside her venue with flyers and signs telling the truth about her. The vigil didn't serve that purpose, and the articles about her appearance are therefore unabashedly anti-Israel since there were no voices opposing her - only organized silence.

As the Talmud says, silence is consent. And this vigil was a tacit acceptance of Odeh's right to slander and lie about Israel and the US.

Rasmea Odeh murdered two people. The facts are undisputed for anyone who bothers to find them. Holding a vigil in the victims' memory is nice, but allowing Odeh's presence and lies to be unopposed on campus sends a much more powerful message of acceptance than any silent vigil can.




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