Letter to the Editor: Huwaida Arraf – The other side of the story

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By Letter to the Editor

This piece is the writer’s own and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Concordiensis or its staff.

Next Monday, Campus Action is sponsoring a talk given by the Chairwoman of the Free Gaza Movement, Huwaida Arraf. I want to be clear that I support the right of Campus Action to bring Arraf to campus. However, it is important that the campus community is educated and understands the other side of the argument. Arraf and Campus Action are entitled to voice their opinions just as the student body is entitled to hear both sides of this controversial issue.

The Free Gaza movement is sponsored by the Turkish flotilla that was intercepted by Israel last May. Arraf vehemently defends the flotilla and wrongly refers to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as illegal. She never mentions that Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is almost exclusively a military one that exists solely for security reasons. The blockade successfully prevents arms and money from reaching terrorists in Gaza. Israel’s blockade does not prevent any humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas—a terrorist organization which openly calls for the destruction of its neighbor, Israel—and Israel does what is necessary to defend itself. Hamas, whose government lies in the Gaza Strip, smuggles weapons into the Gaza Strip to attack Israel. Israel is always under attack and its military does what any country’s military would do. Arraf never acknowledges that Hamas is a terrorist organization or that Israel faces threats to its very existence on a daily basis.

When Israel decided to withdraw from Gaza in 2005, it did so in the hopes of reaching peace. Instead, Hamas took control of Gaza and immediately began committing human rights atrocities and violent terrorist attacks. Specifically, Hamas consistently violates the human rights of women, homosexuals, and other minorities. Arraf never denounces Hamas’s violence and human rights abuses.

When Arraf talks about the Freedom Flotilla intercepted last May, she doesn’t mention that the “peace activists” on this ship were fully armed and very obviously looking to provoke the Israelis. Originally, Arraf’s Freedom Flotilla claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid to Israel, but this was found to be untrue. The flotilla existed solely as a provocation mechanism.

Arraf also never mentions that the occupants of the flotilla were given the opportunity to send the “humanitarian aid” that they claimed they were attempting to distribute to Gaza via plane. That way, it could accompany the extensive supplies sent into Gaza daily. But if the flotilla occupants had agreed to go this route, their media stunt never would have gotten the attention that it did. The “peace activists” weren’t going to let this happen.

While Arraf rails against Israel’s “crimes against humanity”, she doesn’t acknowledge facts like that in the eighteen-month period leading up to the flotilla incident, Israel helped distribute 1,068,400 tons of aid, 139,118,433 liters of fuel and 52,580 tons of cooking gas into the Gaza Strip. This is more than one ton of aid for every single civilian living in the Gaza Strip. Again, Arraf never once acknowledges this.

I was disappointed to learn that when Arraf speaks next week, there will be no moderating panel, as there often is when controversial speakers come to campus. When Prime Minister Olmert visited last year, a student-run, diverse panel ensured that students could ask questions from all different perspectives and had the opportunity to challenge the Prime Minister’s controversial decisions.

­I feel that because there will be no such panel for Arraf’s visit next week, it is especially important to educate the campus community of the different sides to this argument. I hope that next week students are able to respectfully listen to Arraf but can challenge her thoughtfully and intellectually.

Nicky Abrams ’11

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