SAFE provides side of debate that most Americans do not hear

To the Daily:

In response to Benjamin Gerber’s letter last Thursday (Radical SAFE should follow lead of Michigan Student Zionists and re-evaluate itself, 04/03/03), I would like to inject a neutral voice into the discussion of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality and its chair, Fadi Kiblawi’s, place on this campus.

To begin, SAFE is not a “radically pro-Palestinian group” with a chair who “has only allowed hate and propaganda to filter through its organization.” A careful observer will notice that SAFE is a group composed of people from various backgrounds and religions, both Arab and non-Arab, with the mission of expanding dialogue on this campus so that University students can avail themselves of the side of the Arab-Israeli debate that the vast majority of Americans never get to hear – the Palestinian side. This is a noble and valuable cause – to produce intelligent debate and much-needed discourse about a topic which has acquired more urgency than ever in the post-Sept. 11 world, and during this war with Iraq. This is the cornerstone of what it means to get a higher education and to live in a participatory democracy.

Moreover, it strikes me as presumptuous and arrogant that a call for the resignation of the leader of the pro-Palestinian group on campus would come from a pro-Israeli student. Instead of making misplaced demands of the pro-Palestinian group, while all the while dismissing their events, members and arguments as “propaganda” and “hate-filled,” the pro-Israeli students would do their cause better by responding meaningfully and producing compelling counter-arguments to SAFE and to the University student body at large. Calls for the resignation of a leader of a student group one doesn’t agree with does nothing but stifle debate and cloud the important issues with petty student politics. And unfortunately for Gerber and his group, it also serves to inadvertently highlight the grander issue of how lopsided the Arab-Israeli conflict really is.

Michelle d’Amico

Law student

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