opinion   |   letters

LETTER: Response to 'Hillel sponsored lecture isn’t what it seems'



 Editor's Note: Zack Chambers is a former employee of the Indiana Daily Student. 

Indiana Daily Student columnist Matthew Waterman, Feb. 3, polemicized the recent speech given by Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid. 

Waterman’s absence at the event was noteworthy then, as Mr. Eid discussed a number of the complaints Waterman raised about him and would have been happy to take any questions he had.

Indeed, by my count, 10 of the 12 questions Eid received were direct challenges to topics from his lecture. For example, he addressed the absurdity of calling Israel an apartheid state when Arabs serve in the army, hold government positions and are heads of major hospitals in Israel. 

What is most concerning about Waterman’s writing is his "Uncle Tom"-ing of Mr. Eid. Waterman seeks to delegitimize Eid without having to directly engage his message. He does this by attempting to revoke Eid’s credentials as an authentic Palestinian voice. 

This is facially absurd. Waterman is not the gatekeeper of Palestinian self-identity but reveals a deeper underlying bias, a strain of absurdly regressive thought that has become mainstream in dialogue around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Waterman’s article implies that No True Palestinian Scotsman could ever have anything positive to say about the Jewish state. While seeking to support what they perceive to be marginalized voices, activists like Waterman hijack the dialogue from those very marginalized voices and superimpose their own first world narrative onto a nuanced conflict in which they will seldom ever feel the consequences.

As Bassem said, most American Boycott, Divest, Sanction activists make their sweeping proclamations on campus then return to their warm, comfortable homes, something the majority of Palestinians lack. 

Advocating a boycott that threatens desperately needed Palestinian jobs is easy to do from 6,300 miles away. 

“Short term suffering for long term gain” is the motto of the privileged self-appointed spokesman an ocean away that will never have to suffer his or her own ideology. This ethnic reductionism embodied by Waterman’s article stands in direct opposition to the peace process. Nothing will ever get better as long as Palestinians are expected to hate Jews and vice versa.

Zack Chambers is a 2018-2019 CAMERA Fellow.

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