USC is the first academic institution to launch a Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement. Cool ... and that means what?
Well, I suppose the first Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement means at least two things: that we have the only center in the U.S, and that the relationship between Jews and Muslims has been so horrible for so long that we are in dire need of a University sponsored center to work through our issues. Of course, that may be an overstatement to some and an understatement to others. But the most basic idea, which Jews and Muslims can agree upon, is that there are problems we need to fix.
At USC, Jews, Muslims, non-Jews, and non-Muslims show up to separate Pro-Israeli and Pro-Palestinian rallies. Good news is people care. Even better news is that students on both sides of these protests hold up signs calling for peace. The weird thing about it though is that if everybody really wants peace all that badly, how come we’re not standing together? Apparently we care, but we do not care enough to figure out what people on the other side are thinking. Or, maybe it is that no matter what they think, we are obligated to approach the issue in the same way - to stay on “our side”, and chant slogans which mean next to nothing because, in reality, the other side wants the same thing too.
How about we stand as one united group of Pro-Palestinian, Pro-Israeli, and anti-violence students for peace? Could we do that?
Pro-Palestinian students who rally at USC do not support Hamas. We are concerned with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and we condemn what we believe are acts of fatal aggression committed by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people. Just as we are appalled by the indiscriminate murder of civilians in Gaza, we are also appalled by the murder of Israeli civilians at the hands of Hamas militants. Our criticism of Israel’s actions is not born from prejudice; it is motivated by a basic sympathy for human suffering. For the same reason that we oppose discriminatory policies implemented by the state of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we reject all forms of hatred and discrimination directed against every racial, religious, and ethnic group, including Jews and Israelis. This is what Students for Justice in Palestine stands for, although of course not all Pro-Palestinian students share identical views.
When looking at the political activism on campus, how is it that Pro-Israeli and Pro-Palestinian Americans, who live in peace, still fail to work together? If we can’t get along here as citizens of the U.S, then how can we expect the Israeli’s and Palestinians to ever resolve their conflict?
The most significant shift amongst Arab, Israeli, Jewish, and Muslim relations will happen when the majority of these people focus on strong, meaningful efforts to work together rather than against each other, or not caring at all. We have the opportunity to do this at USC, if we truly want to. Yes, it will take some effort, but both sides have already proven an ability to commit to what they believe is a worthy cause.
Marwa is a sophomore majoring in English, and is a member of the Muslim Student Union.