This turned out to be especially illuminating because, as we watched this film, (minding our own business and bothering no one) a Palestinian-Arab student who happened to enter the room during our meeting sidled over and asked to join the conversation. To her credit, she was quite polite throughout the remainder of the film; she did not interrupt, but instead waited till the end to express her discontent.
Her monologue began with the usual disclaimer: “I think the Holocaust was horrible.” As if she felt she deserved some accolades upon such a noble proclamation, she let pass a small pause in between this statement and her next. Then, the reason for her ostensibly Jew-friendly opener became clear. She quickly moved on to spewing the well-known Shlomo Sand-ism: that European Jews are supposedly not real Jews, but merely Zionists who ruined everything. In one fell swoop, our Palestinian-Arab guest had eschewed the Holocaust while peddling a libel that was used as a defense of the Holocaust by its proponents.
This was followed by quasi-apologies for modern Jewish victims genocidal hatred, such as, “I’m sorry those three boys were murdered, but– come on– of course my society made fun of it.” To this, I promptly responded that she was sick and should be ashamed of herself.
All of this made for an interesting lesson that day. I was particularly disturbed– no, furious– at having been told that my best friends aren’t really who they said they are, that their identity could instead be dictated to them by someone who would deny them their God-given right to self-determination. At that moment, I understood what was really meant in academic circles by the concept of “privilege.”
There is a type of Palestinian-Arab privilege which exists today that makes anti-Semitism “okay,” acceptable in academic discourse, and even politically correct. It enables college students of the anti-Israel persuasion to question a Jew’s very identity, to reduce him or her to a monolithic creature which exists solely for the purpose of living in a dejected, victimized, dehumanized state. It divorces them from their past in their native land, and thus strips them of their history, and therefore allows them no future.
This type of prejudice must be fought against. It is not enough to fight lies and slanders in the media if we do not understand that these are variations of the old European libels that manifested themselves in racist anti-Jewish laws for centuries in Western Europe, and which culminated in the Holocaust. They undermine a people’s dignity and sense of belonging. Our endeavor to educate others must be coupled with one crucial element, one which speaks to not only the logic and rational basis of a movement, but the heart and soul of a people: Pride.
Chloe Simone Valdary is a consultant with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and the founder of the CAMERA Campus Activist Project- supported organization, Allies of Israel, at the University of New Orleans.