Students for a Free Palestine is a group dedicated to the liberation of occupied Palestinian lands and to the support of the Palestinian people's struggle against imperialist powers. As such, we are honored to have sponsored Kwame Ture's lecture. We believe that Ture and the All African People's Revolutionary Party, which works in conjunction with the PLO, presented a realistic picture of the Palestinian struggle.This is a picture which is seldom heard due to the blaringly unequal power dynamics which enable Israel, and its supporters, like the United States government, to dominate discourse on the historical and political events which have transpired in Palestine. Those who have been engaged in issues of justice understand that hegemonic capitalist power can easily veil the reality of events in the interest of those in control.Take for example the story we were frequently told about the indigenous people of the U.S.A. The fundamental point of Ture's lecture was that Zionists, in their formation of Israel, pushed off, killed off and exploited as cheap labor, the Palestinians who were living in that area at least 500 years prior to 1917. This is the crux of the issue for us. Discussions of Israel which refuse to deal with or acknowledge the existence of a Palestinian people are racist and oppressive by definition. The religious claim of Jews to Israel as a homeland thousands of years ago does not account for the existence of the Palestinian nation when the predominantly European Jews, fleeing the Holocaust, were given the land by Lord Balfour of Britain, the colonial power controlling Palestine.
Furthermore, we again wish to clarify what Kwame Ture, and what we believe Zionism, to be. Zionism is a political ideology which is based upon the claim that Jews have a right to the land which is presently known as Israel. It is this claim we find to be invalid - a claim based upon an ideology analogous to a multitude of other racist structures. Therefore, Kwame Ture's statement that "the only good Zionist is a dead Zionist" is analogous to saying that "the only good Klan member, or white American settler, is a dead settler." In the context of the Palestinian struggle, we believe this to be true. Attacks on the violence implied by the statement are a discussion on the validity of violence as a tactic of revolutionary struggle. Ture's statement also must be taken in the context of a political war which is presently being waged in that area, not in the context of dialogue exchanged on Oberlin campus. Claims that Kwame Ture, and those of us who support him are anti-Semitic confuse our attack on the racist, imperialist ideology of Zionism with an attack on Jewish people. Our attacks on the state of Israel do not mean that we do not recognize the need for a Jewish state, but rather that the present state of Israel and its Zionist philosophy are racist and oppressive.
We do recognize that parts of his lecture have offended and inflamed segments of the Oberlin community. We did not bring Ture to personally attack any community, but rather to voice the struggle of the Palestinians: one which is frequently demonized, attacked and misrepresented.
Finally, we resent the attempt by members of the Oberlin community to make us personally responsible for all of his remarks. This attempt is an example of unjust power dynamics which demand more of those who dissent from the dominant ideology than of those who uphold it. We support Ture, but do not believe that as a sponsoring group we should be made to embody all remarks made by him.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 18; March 15, 1996
Contact Review webmaster with suggestions or comments at email@example.com.
Contact Review editorial staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.