Tensions on campus

Erika Zurawski, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Anti-War Committee, is quoted in the Oct. 3 Daily article, “Middle East tensions spread to U students,” as saying (referring to supporters of Israel), “there are some individuals that have a history of showing up at our events to disrupt them.” She cites two events that occurred last spring, both of which I attended. Zurawski seems to define “disruption,” “harassment” and “intimidation” as people with differing opinions showing up to offer an alternative voice or to ask challenging questions – something we should welcome on campus. In the case of the April event, an argument ensued only after the rally had essentially dispersed. In the case of the spring educational event, a one-sided presentation was challenged by firm, yet respectful questions from audience members. Members of the Anti-War Committee quoted in the article seem to be reacting just like the people Sari Nusseibeh describes, fearful and accusatory without trying to understand what the other side is saying or doing.

Perhaps members of the Anti-War committee were irritated that members of Friends of Israel showed up at their event a couple of weeks ago at Blegen Hall. But a few people passing out informational flyers (none linking Palestinians to the Sept. 11 attacks as reported in the article) did not create an “extremely hostile environment.” Rather it was the attempt to bar these people from attending the event that led to the tension that evening.

Amy Olson, Executive Director, Hillel, the Jewish Student Cultural Center