Steven Plaut’s Letter to the Review Inflammatory, Outrageous

Melanie Malinas and Anonymous

Events in Oberlin these past few weeks have provoked conversation around the topic of Palestine. Students for a Free Palestine is a group committed to serving as an educational resource for the campus and community to learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a human rights–based, anti-racist framework. Therefore we feel that it is our responsibility to both address the recent oversimplified and reprehensible discussion surrounding this topic and to offer organized, inclusive spaces to more thoughtfully discuss the topic of Palestine.

Many of the most recent campus conversations on Palestine have revolved around an audience member’s comment, “Free Palestine,” shouted during last Monday’s convocation. This comment inappropriately conflated Judaism with Zionist politics. Furthermore, many criticisms of this shouted comment incorrectly associate this speaker with SFP and falsely conflate all opinions critical of the Israeli government into one monolithic “pro-Palestinian” opinion. There is no single “pro-Palestinian” or “pro-Israel” set of opinions; this false dichotomy only serves to antagonize and hinder meaningful dialogue. Baseless accusations that Palestine solidarity work, including the work of the SFP, is anti-Semitic is similaryl damaging, hurtful and counterproductive.

Even more conversation has centered around Steven Plaut’s outrageous, inflammatory letter to the editor last week. It was connected to a longer article on www. that assessed positions critical of Israeli government policies as worse than the Ku Klux Klan and further sought to justify the presence of the KKK in Oberlin. There are several serious issues with his Review letter, but to be brief: As a group committed to anti-racist organizing, we are deeply offended at this absurd comparison and we are disappointed that a letter justifying the presence of the KKK in Oberlin was published in our school newspaper.

The prevalence of such remarks that falsely conflate ideas, misat- tribute opinions, and reinforce false dichotomies are harmful to meaningful dialogue and the pursuit of justice in Palestine-Israel. Therefore we urge all of us in Oberlin to be more critical of our assumptions and thoughtful with our language. We will provide a space for thoughtful dialogue on the topic of Palestine next Tuesday, March 19th, and 9 p.m. in Wilder TBA at a general interest meetng. As with all of our events, all are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please feel free to contact us before then at [email protected].

–Melanie Malinas
College senior

–Amanda Jacir
College senior