I once heard a comical saying, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” As I read through yet another letter from the Georgetown Israel Alliance accusing Arab students of waging an “anti-Israel” flier campaign (Letters to the Editor, Nov. 17, 2000, p. 2), these words about denial take on a relevance worth commenting about.

As a Palestinian American born and raised in the United States, I have been exposed to the undeniable history of the suffering and persecution of Jewish people. As a Palestinian who lived amongst Jews and Israelis in the Occupied Territories, I have become familiar with the historical attachments that Jewish people hold to the land that my people call Palestine. When I speak to Israelis, from the ultra-secular to the religious, the sense of legitimacy to their ties to the land are always rooted in history, from the Bible to the Diaspora to the Holocaust. No one can deny this history, least so an Arab or Muslim, without being called an anti-Semite, and as a result of the efforts of the Jewish and Israeli community, nor will anyone forget it.

As a Palestinian and a Muslim who sympathizes with and recognizes the unjust sufferings of all peoples and creeds, I find that all histories of tragedies are equally abhorrent, and hope the world never forgets them. But at times, when I look at the suffering of peoples of the world, from my own people to the people of Rwanda, from Bosnia to South Africa to Kosovo and many others, I wonder if the world’s eyes and ears have become as deaf and blind to today’s injustice and human oppression as they were to the Jews in the Holocaust.

So how do I justify these controversial opinions? Let’s use some analogies to make it simple. I wonder if today we would call art or literature that portrayed over 200 years of enslavement of black people, or the civil rights movement for that matter, “anti-American.” I wonder if the images of mass graves in Bosnia or Germany can be called “anti-German” or “anti-Serbian.” I wonder if the images of black South Africans being beaten and killed fighting for equality would be called “anti-South African.” I could go on, but the point is simple: it would be ridiculous to name these images in those terms, because what they are against – what they are the antithesis of – is injustice. To reduce these realities to mere slander of a nationality is to avoid recognition of the injustice altogether.

Calling these pictures “propaganda” is nothing short of offensive. If pictures of maimed and killed Palestinian children are the cause of polarization on campus, the solution lies not in censoring the depiction of this injustice, but in the efforts to end the aggression itself. I have no hesitation about causing uneasiness when that is the very feeling that should call upon the hearts and consciences of anyone who sees what is happening right now to the Palestinians. Justice has rarely, if ever, been brought about by being politically correct. Unfortunately, history has shown that it took horrible images from such tragedies as occurred in the Holocaust, as what occurred in Bosnia, Rwanda or South Africa in order for the world to take action against injustice.

Whether or not negotiations are going on has nothing to do with raising awareness about human rights and international law violations being committed against innocent Palestinian civilians and children, especially when they are merely exercising their recognized right to self-determination. The fact that fliers depicting Israeli tanks aimed at Palestinian children is being called “anti-Israeli” is merely an admission of guilt in my opinion, because these pictures represent nothing more than fact. And if those facts happen to show that Israel is committing unjust and immoral acts, then those who are concerned with ending it are not deserving of blame.

As I stated before, Israel is a state that was built upon, amongst many other things, an identity was founded upon the sufferings and injustices of the Jewish people. Through movies, memorials, vigils and holidays, the world continues to be reminded of these atrocities, as they should be. But while many will be appalled at the comparison I allude to in paralleling these situations, what the Palestinians are being and have been denied is a voice to their history and their suffering. If these images make anyone uncomfortable, my answer is that they should. If the truth brings about divisiveness, silence will only and has only created a weak and superficial peace that will not be sustained until these issues are addressed.

Such expression is not aimed at creating “enemies”; it is aimed at informing people of the realities. If the Georgetown Israeli Alliance takes that as an aggression, then maybe it should stand behind those who call for the end of the use of excessive force, instead of turning the issue into one of “propaganda.” Moreover, if such voices violate university policy, then I wasn’t aware that university policy censored the truth. Anyone who says such voices should not be “tolerated” must have a serious problem with that.

Dalal Hasan is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

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