Letters to the editor

Remember the facts

The statements laid forth in Fadi Kiblawi’s recent article “Remember Deir Yassin” (April 10, p. 4) need to be set strait. Kiblawi completely misrepresents both the situation itself, and the entire conflict currently plaguing the Middle East. “Remember Deir Yassin” is flooded with false statements and is used just as it was by the Palestinian leader Hussein Khalidi in 1948 – to misrepresent reality and instill hatred toward the nation of Israel based on false accusations.

Terming the event of Deir Yassin as “ethnic cleansing” and purporting that “over 100 of its inhabitants…were systematically murdered” is a blatant fabrication and proves Kiblawi misunderstands what occurred. When Etzel and Lechi forces – the paramilitary wing of the Israeli revisionist movement – entered Deir Yassin, the residents fired at them. And while the New York Times did report that over 250 Arabs were killed, it was a blatant miscalculation. Several sources, including a study by Bir Zeit University based on discussions with family members from Deir Yassin, state that the number may actually be lower than 100. During the encounter at Deir Yassin, Arab fighters dressed as Arab women pretended to surrender and then opened fire on the Israeli forces. The reason many women were killed is because Israelis couldn’t distinguish between Arab women and male Arab fighters in disguise. Instead of the Arabs responding to Deir Yassin by attacking the perpetrators of the killings, they exacted revenge by ambushing and burning a civilian convoy filled with 70 Israeli doctors, nurses, and patients en route to Hadassah hospital. This, not the Israeli attack on Deir Yassin, is an example of what Kiblawi refers to as “systematic murder.”

The only reason Deir Yassin has received so much attention is because of how out of character it is for Israelis. Following the events of Deir Yassin, the Jewish Agency and Haganah – the official Jewish army of self-defense – officially apologized and condemned the killings. Arab leaders, however, used Deir Yassin in 1948 as propaganda inundated with rumors to mobilize their people against the Israelis. One of these blatant rumors was that Israelis raped women in Deir Yassin. Hazam Nusseibi, an employee of the Palestine Broadcasting Service in 1948, later admitted that he was told to manufacture this rumor. The reason given by Hussen Khalidi was, “We have to say this, so that Arab armies will come to liberate us from the Jews.”

While Israel offered citizenship to all Arabs who chose to remain in the Jewish State, the Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians were carried out with the goal of Jewish extermination. The Arab League’s secretary general, Abd al-Ahlman Azza Pasha, stated that: “This will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.” The Arabs would not end their plight until they saw the total ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel, which still plays a role in the Palestinian suicide bombings against Jewish and Arab Israelis today.

While Kiblawi claims that “peace is not possible by disregarding this reality and building walls of separation,” I argue that peace it not possible by distorting reality, which breeds cultures of violent terrorism.

-Sarah Fink, sophomore

Needless rhetoric

I usually try to ignore blatant and meaningless rhetoric when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There’s just so much of it out there on TV, on the web and in print. I bite my tongue when I see right-wing Jews make inflammatory and racist remarks toward Palestinians and Arabs in general, and shake my head in dismay when I see those Palestinians and Arabs who can spew nothing but hatred and angst at the very concept of a Jewish homeland.

Deir Yassin, one of many tragic events in the collective history of Israel and Palestine, is just that – one of many tragic events. I’m sure that most American Jews have never heard of what happened at Deir Yassin or Sabra and Shatilla, and that most Palestinians have never heard of what happened at Gush Etzion or Hebron. Mr. Kiblawi is doing us the service of sharing the history of his people – albeit laced with so many political euphemisms I almost needed a thesaurus to grasp the facts within the rhetoric.

I don’t have the answer to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but I can tell you this: Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs (and other non-Arab Muslims) will hate each other as long as they feel the need to respond to every bit of inflammatory rhetoric put forth by the other side. Only when we learn to listen to one another without prejudice and with compassion for each others’ pain will we truly be able to put the past behind us.

I hope that one day Mr. Kiblawi, you will be able soften your heart and open your ears to Israel and the Jewish people. I cannot unilaterally apologize for what my grandfather did in 1948, and I don’t think or expect you will apologize for what your people have done to mine either. I hope that one day we can stop worrying about the past and live together in a future of peace. What better way to honor our massacred?

-Ari J. Senders, alumnus

Know the difference

On Sunday, April 3, the film “Jenin Jenin” was shown in the Marvin Center. The film, made by Muhammad Bakri, is a supposed factual documentation of Israel’s incursion into Jenin in April 2002, but in reality is fictitious propaganda. The UN Secretary General’s Report, dated May 7, 2002, concluded that the scenario depicted in the film was a fabrication (http://www.un.org/peace/jenin/index.html). 55 Palestinians, of which 44 were armed Hamas members, and 23 Israeli soldiers died at Jenin. This hardly constitutes the massacre described in the film.

This “documentary” was propaganda largely financed by the Palestinian Authority. Even the director admitted, in an interview with WorldNetDaily on January 17, 2005, that he intentionally falsified scenes. He was quoted as saying that he believed the “witnesses” but did not check the information they provided. The documentary purports to be accurate but is clearly a piece of fiction and should be viewed as such.

Films like this one do not advocate peace and tolerance but rather promote hatred and violence through lies and misrepresentations. When viewing films of this nature and listening to speakers on the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is in your best interest to educate yourself about the history, the context, and the current situation. Many “facts” are actually fiction. Make sure you know the difference.

-Annie Weisberg, sophomore

Mount Vernon life

I wanted to take a moment to respond to your editorial, “Reassess decision” (April 7, p. 4).

Students come to GW for an education! They come to learn with some of the best faculty in the country, they come to participate in research as undergraduates, they come to take advantage of innovative learning environments and they come to enhance their education with the opportunities that the city and its environs have to offer. Both the Mount Vernon and Foggy Bottom campuses provide easy access for our students to all the advantages of a GW education.

Mount Vernon academic and social events do draw a crowd – perhaps you have not taken advantage of some of our many events to know that. Here is what you missed: most recently the artist Carolina Mayorga closed her one-woman show with an excellent evening presentation – the library atrium was filled with students and faculty enjoying espresso and cappuccino and conversation. You also missed students enjoying the warm weather on the quad while surfing the Web on our outdoor wireless network. You probably missed a Wacky Wednesday Chinese New Year, our salsa dance classes, the University Honors Symposium, studying in a lab in our state-of-the-art science building, mid-term stress-buster tutoring sessions with faculty endorsed study tips and Professors in the Pub as well. I’m sure that you missed a meal in our dining hall – the only one at the University.

There is still time to participate in upcoming events on Mount Vernon. Check “What’s Happening at the Vern” published every Friday for new events.

So, I extend an offer to you – hop on the shuttle, enjoy what the Mount Vernon Campus has to offer – I bet you wont want to leave!

-Rachelle S. Heller, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs,

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