Daniel Swindell

MU Peace Studies says no to Zionism

A university department that welcomes only speakers who promote violence and advocate for Israel's destruction

Since 2013 The University of Missouri Peace Studies Department has refused to sponsor three speakers hosted by Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Yet, since 2014 Peace Studies has sponsored three events condemning Israel. George Smith, a university Biology professor, hosted each event. The first of the three events vindicated the terrorist group Hamas as being innocent, the second called for the destruction of Israel, and the third called for an end to Zionism. These three events are worth examining in order:

First, in July of 2014, during the last Gaza War, Peace Studies sponsored a protest that condemned Israel and declared the terrorist organization Hamas as being innocent in the conflict. Peace Studies shared a press release written by Smith which stated, “The crisis was initiated by Israel, not Hamas.” The press release did mention that the Hamas’ rocket attacks were war crimes but justified the attacks as, “a struggle for equality and human rights, not for sovereignty over land.” The claim is completely false. The Hamas Charter states, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”

Second, in November of 2014, Peace Studies sponsored a lecture which called for the destruction of Israel. Smith hosted the lecture called, “The Everyday Occupation of Palestine.” Saree Makdisi gave the lecture, and called for Israel to be replaced with a completely different bi-national state. Makdisi concluded the lecture by stating: “All that has to happen is to remove the borders” of Israel.

Third, in April of 2015, Peace Studies sponsored a lecture by Smith called, “Palestine in Context,” during which Smith called for an end to Zionism. To understand Smith’s lecture, it will first be necessary to define Zionism. Simply put, Zionism is the self-determination movement of the Jewish people. For decades the opponents of Zionism have tried to equate it with racism. This portrayal starts by depicting history before the creation of Zionism as utopian in nature where Arabs and Jews lived in perfect peace, or as Smith described it, before “militaristic” Zionism came to dispossess, “Arab land.” Israel is not recognized as a country but rather as something that belongs to Palestinians.  Or, according to Smith, “the whole of Palestine, even Gaza and the West Bank, even East Jerusalem.”  If this were true, then it would make sense why Smith called the creation of Israel was a, “massive injustice.”  But, “there are some Israelis, who claim, this massive injustice was done for the purpose of the greater good.” In addition, Jewish people are depicted as a people who try their best to avoid other ethnic groups. Or, as Smith put it: “Every Arab born is a threat to the Jewish State.”  The climax of Smith’s lecture was when he boldly proclaimed, “Zionism is doomed!”

However, the greatest African American civil rights leaders in history have already disagreed with Smith. These leaders equated the struggle for civil rights with the struggle for Jewish independence.  In the 1970’s these leaders formed the “Black Americans to Support Israel Committee” (BASIC).  Nearly 200 African-American leaders signed a document in support of Zionism.  The list included Hank Aaron, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and the NAACP leader, Roy Wilkins. The civil rights leaders declared: “Zionism is not racism, but the legitimate expression of the Jewish people’s self- determination…From our 400 year experience with slavery, segregation, and discrimination we know that Zionism is not racism.” According to the civil rights leaders, Zionism is the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, independence, and freedom from persecution. This is what Smith wants to destroy.

Actually, some of these civil rights leaders were just as willing to support Palestinian self-determination but only on the condition that it would not seek to destroy Zionism. One of the founders of BASIC stated: “We are not for the self-determination of the Palestinians if they are dedicated to the destruction of another people.” The civil rights leaders were willing to support Palestinian nationalism if it did not justify violence and call for the destruction of Zionism and Israel. Yet, these were the exact things done at each of the events sponsored by MU Peace Studies.

How can lectures calling for the destruction of a country be consistent with peace? Why are Jews the only people in the world who are racist if they seek self-determination? It is the refusal to simply accept a Jewish State that is the source of the violence. By definition, peace would require the acceptance of Israel. In contrast, not one single CUFI event has called for the denial of Palestinian self-determination. In fact, one CUFI speaker was actually a Muslim who spoke passionately about his support for a Palestinian State. Ironically, the MU Peace Studies department has only hosted events that defended terrorist organizations and supported the destruction of Israel, and they have refused to host any events promoting peace.

About the Author
Daniel Swindell is a Zionist. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri, and has studied in Yeshiva.
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