Below is the email sent by the head of Students for Change and still another email sent by a member of Women in Black, a JEWISH peace activist, one of MANY sent by Jewish activists opposed to the apartheid of the occupation. I know there was an outcry by people from ALL walks of life opposing the censorship, but I offer these emails because they are the ones sent to me that I personally have knowledge of. This is the email I sent:
Dear Ms. Griffith,
I am contacting you because I received an urgent email requesting that I contact you concerning your pending censorship of the Palestinian occupation display. I was told that you are asking the students to change their display to show the other view as well, that other view being that of some students who complained about the display. I ask you Ms. Griffith, have you been keeping up on the state of affairs in Palestine? Have you been keeping up with all of the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reports on the state of apartheiid in the Occupied Territories? Have you been keeping up with the UN reports? Because Ms. Griffith, if you have not, then I suggest you do a quick study before you decide to censor this project. As I understand it, this is a PALESTINIAN display, NOT an Israeli display. And while I can understand your reluctance to hurt some students feelings, I ask you WHY would this hurt someone's feelings if what is in the display is from a certain view, the view of those who APPLIED for the display and are the ones being occupied? Across this country universities and the media are attempting to silence the voice of the Palestinian people. I suggest that rather than attempting to silence one side, you provide the opportunity for these other students to do a display as well. A university is NOT supposed to be a place of censorship and for San Jose State to ask the students who ARE being hurt on a daily basis from the actions of those SAYING their feelings are hurt, that Ms. Griffith, is the stuff of elementary schools, NOT universties.
As a resident of California with a child entering university in two years, I would not dream to have her attend a school which has silenced the voice of the Palestinian students AS IT IS. I ask that you allow the display to go forward as submitted.
Ms. Griffith's response:
Thank you for the email and your insights.
Hello, (please forward)
Letter sent to Debra Griffith opposing the censorship of the display:
Dear Ms. Griffth:
I am writing to you as a Jewish Californian whose annual taxes support San Jose State. I urge you to allow the Students for Change project on Palestine to continue as planned. I was in Palestine in November and was able to observe and experience the shocking conditions under which Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must live. I saw a 27-foot high concrete walls surrounding whole cities, running down the middle of Palestinian towns, cutting off these towns from their agricultural lands and being used to illegally expropriate land both privately and communally owned. I saw a system of new roads for "Jews only," Palestinian communities in which only Jewish settlers are able to drive--Palestinians must walk and must carry all their household supplies including heavy gas canisters. I saw Palestinian teachers prevented from reaching their classrooms, families prevented from picking the olives off their own tress and a vast system of checkpoints both "fixed" and "flying" that impeded movement of Palestinians to work, school, medical appointments, shopping and all other activities of daily life.
A few months ago, a young journalist, Mohammed Omar, came from Gaza to tell us about conditions there. He showed a slide of his family's house, demolished with his mother inside. As the bulldozer came through the front of the house, the only entrance and exit, his mother was forced to jump out a window to escape being crushed to death. She broke her leg and experienced so many other injuries that she is still undergoing corrective surgeries.
Palestinian unemployment in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem is about 70%. Most Palestinians live below the poverty line of two dollars a day. Half of all adults and a huge number of children are malnourished, increasing numbers can barely afford one meal a day.
For 60 years, Jewish Americans and Jewish Israelis have been free to disseminate their version of the conflict between Palestinians and Jews in historic Palestine without ever being required to present the Palestinian narrative of what happened. Now, we know from the scholarship of the 'new historians" in declassified Israeli archives, that about 750,000 Palestinian men, women and children were deliberately ethnically cleansed from their homes in Palestine, that this action was planned, that it included many deliberate massacres.
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is illegal. In defiance of the Geneva Conventions the Israelis have moved their population into occupied territories, they have imposed a system of closures, pass laws, segregated roads, economic sanctions, land expropriation, and much more, all illegal, on a largely helpless Palestinian population. Meanwhile as I have observed in two trips to Israel in the last three years, Israeli Jews live largely prosperous lives, move freely around in cars, buses, trains and planes, go to school, eat in restaurants, frolic at the beach, receive excellent medical care without any barriers and, in general, live a life free of restraint. No one smashes their homes down on top of them.
I urge you to let the project of the Students for Change proceed as planned. It would be a mitzvah (a good act) to provide the truth about the suffering of the Palestinian people so that students at San Jose State can understand what is going on. Jewish groups have many organizations and a lot of resources on as well as off campus that they can and do mobilize to present their viewpoint. They do so often and without impediment. I see no reason why they should attempt to suppress or hijack this one expression of the Palestinian viewpoint.
Women in Black-Los Angeles
This picture was taken January 14th in front of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Women in Black were standing in silent vigil in protest against the Israeli Philharmonic. In the foreground is Hedy Epstein, who the day before had given her powerful presentation at the Beverly Hills Library. Hedy is also a member of Deir Yassin Remembered