To the Editor:
Bringing a Holocaust denier to campus is not a responsible way for Students for a Free Palestine (SFP) to expand the discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. SFP needs to be accountable for the anti-Semitic, Holocaust denial propaganda which was distributed by a speaker brought with their sponsorship and consent on Sunday, April 21. Dr. Kaukab Siddique, editor of The New Trend, was brought to campus as the opening speaker for Palestinian Awareness Week. Students for a Free Palestine, who brought him, reserved a room for him in Wilder, and willingly allowed him to hand out his newspaper, is accountable for the distribution of his Holocaust-denial propaganda on campus.
Before bringing a Holocaust denier to campus, organizers of this lecture should have been aware of the views expressed in Dr. Siddique's newspaper. To be uninformed about the Holocaust revisionist tactics expressed in The New Trend before bringing him to campus is irresponsible. Not only were Dr. Siddique's comments about the Holocaust in The New Trend and in his lecture historically inaccurate, they were also extremely offensive and intentionally revisionist. I hope that the Oberlin community is able to recognize and acknowledge the problems with Dr. Siddique's lecture and with the newspapers he distributed. Many who attended Dr. Siddique's lecture recognized his veiled Holocaust denial before reading it blatantly in his newspaper. To not recognize his tactics of Holocaust denial reflects an inexcusable ignorance about the Holocaust and revisionist history tactics.
Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial have no place in a lecture about Palestinian liberation. Why not bring a speaker who could present Palestinian perspectives on the peace process without also encouraging anti-Semitism? As someone actively seeking to educate myself about Palestinian perspectives on the peace agreements, I was disappointed that Dr. Siddique's lecture and his newspaper were filled with anti-Semitic propaganda which caused me to discredit him. Unfortunately, bringing a lecturer who distributes Holocaust denial propaganda detracts from goals of Palestinian awareness and from the struggles for Palestinian liberation. Any detraction from these goals is regrettable.
However, although there is absolutely no excuse for bringing a Holocaust denier to campus and providing a room for this speaker to publicly distribute Holocaust denial propaganda, everyone, myself included, needs to be more responsible in examining and presenting more diverse viewpoints on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It should not be the sole responsibility of Students for a Free Palestine to present Palestinian perspectives, especially when SFP lacks the financial, institutional and faculty support often provided to other organizations. While I am angered and alienated from SFP for facilitating the distribution of Holocaust denial propaganda in Wilder, I firmly believe that we are all implicated in the narrowness of the debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, I share the view that we need to be responsive and accountable for both anti-Jewish and anti-Arab comments. While we all need to work towards creating responsible dialogue, this does not absolve SFP of responsibility for helping to distribute The New Trend and for Dr. Siddique's lecture.
It is regrettable that the opening speaker for Palestinian Awareness Week was a Holocaust denier, because not only do those views have no place in a responsible dialogue, but also because there has been an absence of a credible speaker this year about Palestinian liberation.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 22; April 26, 1996
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