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Lecture did not educate on Palestine

To the Editor:

I went to a lecture sponsored by Students for a Free Palestine. Prof. Kaukab Siddique was the speaker. It was my understanding that I would learn about Palestine, and the Palestinian struggle for independence in an occupied land.

I was mistaken.

Professor Siddique denied the fact of the Holocaust. The lecture was an attempt to revive the paranoia, persecution and propaganda of an anti-Semitic state (Nazi Germany). Any critique of Israel as a political entity stemmed from a belief that Jews manufactured evidence of the Holocaust. His vitriolic condemnation of Israel's terrorist policies against Palestinians came not from the acts and policies themselves, but from the "fact" that Jews in this country rule the banks, newspapers and the television stations.

I was presented with a flyer that asked me to make a pledge: "I will try to identify Jewish businesses and will not buy from them." In addition to mailing in my name with this pledge, there was a space for me to send in the names of Jewish businesses.

Prof. Siddique is the editor of a news publication, New Trend. In an editorial, Siddique wrote that the "Jews lie and lie in a systematic and ongoing basis and have built an entire edifice of lies." This, he claims, has "so horribly intimidated" the Germans that "the average German-American dare not ask the daily purveyors of lies: what about the other side of the story?" Prof. Siddique followed up on this point at the lecture. He asked, "What really happened at Auschwitz?"

I learned nothing about Palestine. I learned a lot about anti-Semitism from a devout anti-Semite. When I write the word "anti-Semite," I am consciously using a term as it has been consciously used for centuries by a people needing to identify their oppressor and the associated tactics of physical and intellectual persecution. I don't care about technical linguistic terminology. I write "anti-Semite" to mean one who hates Jews.

I am alarmed and disgusted with this man's presence on campus, and hold Students for a Free Palestine responsible for bringing him here. I was also outraged that the crisis in Palestine is being used as a front for anti-Semitic propaganda and hate speech. It further angered me to hear some of the sponsors laughing at his racist jokes. The opening of Palestinian Awareness Week was an infuriating abuse of the Palestinian people, since nothing was spoken about their particular persecution.

-Aaron Seliquini (OC '94)

Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 22; April 26, 1996

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