Charles Nailen/The Hoya Senior Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Harold White speaks out at the Jewish Solidarity Rally in Red Sqare Monday evening.

The Jewish Student Association and Georgetown Israel Alliance staged a rally last night in Red Square to protest allegedly anti-Semitic remarks made on campus by guest speaker Norman Finkelstein and abroad by university professor emeritus Hisham Shirabi.

The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, the Program on Justice and Peace and the Young Arab Leadership Association sponsored an event last Monday in which controversial author Norman Finkelstein drew comparisons between Hitler’s policy toward Jews during the Second World War and Israel’s opinion of the Palestinians. He also asserted that Israel has repeatedly attacked Palestinians in order to evoke a violent reaction, thus having reason to continue conflict and fulfill its goal of creating a completely Jewish state in Israel and Palestine.

In a related incident last week, Georgetown professor emeritus of Arab Culture Hisham Sharabi made allegedly anti-Semitic remarks during a lecture at Balamand University in Lebanon. According to the Nov. 20 issue of Lebanon’s Daily Star, Sharabi told students and faculty that “Jews are getting ready to take control of us and the Americans have entered the region to possess the oil resources and redraw the geopolitical map of the Arab world.” Sharabi is currently abroad in Beirut and was unable to be reached to confirm or deny this report.

Immediately following this incident, the American Jewish Committee issued a press release “strongly condemn[ing] the anti-Semitic remarks” of Sharabi. “While professor Sharabi is free to say anything he wants, no matter how repugnant and outrageous, Georgetown University is also free and even obliged to make clear that his remarks are viewed as highly offensive to the university community and its leadership,” AJC Washington Area Director David Bernstein said.

The press release indicated that the AJC sent a letter to the university regarding this matter. “We urge you to issue a strong statement condemning Professor Sharabi’s remarks,” Mr. Bernstein wrote in a letter to Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia. “The Georgetown University community, and especially its Jewish population, must clearly understand that the university does not subscribe to such views.”

JSA President Daniel Spector (SFS ’04) described the remarks concerning Jews and Israel made by Finkelstein and Sharabi as “deplorable and disgraceful” and said that these men were disguising anti-Semitic sentiments as political theory.

“Incendiary statements preaching about Jewish conspiracies to extort European countries for money, as in the case of Dr. Finkelstein, and to take over the Arab World, as in the case of Dr. Sharabi, only serve to spit in the face of Georgetown’s values,” Spector said. “It is revolting that these men have had their statements legitimated by our university’s name.”

Spector explained that the rally was meant to show observers that Georgetown students of all faiths and traditions cherish a safe and inclusive learning environment.

“Zionist students are sick and tired of being jeered and demonized for supporting the state of Israel,” Spector said. “The message of this rally is inclusive; while it is meant to motivate Jewish students to support their people, it is also intended to motivate the Georgetown community to stand up against intolerance, much like it did when the menorah was attacked three years ago and when the Muslim Prayer Room was vandalized more recently.”

Yesterday YALA posted flyers explaining how Finkelstein’s quotes were taken out of context. Executive Board member of the Young Arab Leadership Association Samer Oweida (SFS ’04), however, defended Finkelstein’s remarks. “Finkelstein only attacks those who have exploited the holocaust for their own personal or political gain,” Oweida said. “The speaker taken objectively would not have promoted any anti-Semitic sentiment.”

Oweida also spoke positively about the events of the evening. “We embrace any event promoting tolerance and equality of all people,” he said.

Spector was the first speaker at the rally. He described Finkelstein and Sharabi as “ugly faces of hate and ignorance.” He also explained that students were “gathered to fight anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance.”

Next, Scott Miller (SFS ’03) shared a personal story about the verbal abuse he faced while handing out flyers at the Finkelstein speech, saying he was accused of being “brainwashed by holocaust mentality.” He also spoke in favor of outward speech by Jewish students.

“Jews and Jewish supporters must express views publicly and be free from fear and intimidation,” Miller said.

GIA President Julia Segall (COL ’05) then spoke about how Jewish students should no longer be afraid to voice their opinions.

“It is time to stop concluding every pro-Israel statement with a disclaimer,” Segall said. “We should feel safe to say that we rightly support Israel without apologies or explanations.”

Becky Katz (COL ’06) gave a performance of lyrical spoken word. “Students should no longer whisper about who they are,” Katz said. “Things are going to change after tonight.”

Last to speak was Senior Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Harold White who explained that he would prefer to be peaceful but said that Jewish students must not be afraid to be contentious when they are wronged.

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