In an effort to promote discussion and debate on the
Arab-Israeli conflict, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality
held their first lecture in memoriam of the late scholar and
literary critic Edward Said with university professors Asad Abu
Khalil and Joseph Massad who led a discussion titled the “Palestine
Question.”

Kate Green
SETH LOWER/Daily
California State University political science Prof. Joseph Massad addresses a crowd of over 100 people in the Michigan Union

SAFE chair Carmel Salhi said the goal of the event was to give
students “a better understanding of what’s happening when they read
the newspaper so that they take it for more than face value -so
they take it for more than a headline.”

The lectures took place in the Michigan Union Ballroom, where
over 100 people attended. Massad, a political science professor at
California State University and author of “Bin Laden, Islam, and
America’s New War on Terrorism,” began the first of the two
speeches with an in-depth look at the history of the conflict.
Through this emphasis on the history, Massad argued that Israeli
treatment of Palestinians was in many ways identical to that of
Jews in much of the 19th century and early 20th century. He
presented historical similarities between the Holocaust and the
Palestinian condition and stated that despite these blatant
similarities, “Zionism and Israel show no embarrassment.” Massad
ended his lecture by reiterating his focus that “the persistence of
the Palestinian question depends on the persistence of the Jewish
question.”

Massad’s lecture was followed by a much shorter one by Abu
Khalil, a professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual
history at Columbia University and author of “Colonial Effects: The
Making of National Identity in Jordan.” Abu Khalil focused his talk
around the American perspective of the Palestinian problem. Abu
Khalil cited the lack of discussion about the Palestinian question
on college campuses as a factor leading to ignorance about events
taking place in the Middle East. He also blamed the media for its
skewed reporting in students’ inability to relate to the
Palestinian dilemma, stating that only 4 percent of Americans
identified with Palestinians in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The lectures were followed by a question and answer session in
which the audience expressed optimism for the future of Palestine
and questions about increasing effectiveness in changing American
policy towards Israel were addressed.

LSA junior Aesha Ahmed, found the lectures and question and
answer session to be “informative and beneficial because we got to
interact with one another.”

However, a University student who wished to remain anonymous
said that the event’s message was biased in its viewpoints.

“I felt like it was a very polarized discussion. It was not
productive at all.”

SAFE hopes to make these lectures on the Arab-Israeli conflict
an annual event honoring Edward Said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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