Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights University of Ottawa (SPHR) is a student run, non-profit organization that advocates on a strong social justice platform to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people in the face of human rights violations and all forms of racism, discrimination, misinformation and misrepresentation.

November 11, 2007

a letter to the paper...

After attending a lecture hosted by the Jewish Students Association (JSA) in which Dr. Ephraim Zuroff spoke about “hunting” down Nazi war criminals, I found one aspect of the event, among others, particularly disturbing. At the event on November 8th, the JSA had hung the flag of the World Zionist Organization, who not only sponsored the event, but they were also promoting an annual retreat to Miami called the “Young Zionist Leadership Conference.” At this conference, not only will you be in the presence of “renowned Zionist Leaders,” but you will be “celebrating Israel’s 60th [anniversary of its creation]” and you will be able to “strengthen your personal connection to Zionism.”

The problem with promoting Zionism on campus is simple and crucial to understand; the principle behind Zionism is the creation of a religiously homogenous Jewish State on the land of Palestine. Theodore Herzl, who founded the World Zionist organization in 1897 and who is accredited with planting the seeds of Zionism, envisioned a Jewish State starting in the late 1800’s on the land of Palestine, which Jews believe to be their biblical homeland. The problem with Zionism is that in practice, in order to achieve its goals, the native Palestinian population was expelled and to this day has not been allowed to return to their homes for which many of them still hold the legal deeds. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine was a direct result of the concept of creating an exclusive State, and the practices of “cleansing” the lands of Arabs, including Arab citizens of Israel, is still underway to this day. See Ilan Pappe’s “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” to understand what I mean.

Zionism is a political ideology that led to the expulsion of around 750 000, representing three quarters, of the native Palestinian population from 1947-1949 and to the exacerbation of the ongoing conflict in Palestine and Israel. Why should a club on our campus have to right to be sponsored by an organization that, in theory and in practice, promotes ethnic cleansing? I found it disturbingly ironic that a talk about the Nazi Holocaust was sponsored by an organization that supports ethnic cleansing and the ongoing oppression of an entire people. I openly condemn the actions of the JSA for promoting this organization, and I hope they will publicly begin to make the distinction between being Jewish and being a Zionist.


Jessica Carpinone, media relations for Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, University of Ottawa.

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