Having grown up in Israel, I remember celebrating the Israeli Independence Day. There were musical performances, dancing, games and fireworks. There was, however, no mention of the history behind the day.
I believe the same is true of the celebration on campus. Most people who attend the event probably do not know of the atrocities surrounding Israeli independence. Yet this day, which Jewish chaplain Michael Faber presented as uncontroversial in his letter to the editor, is also called al-Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, by the Palestinians who lived there. When the state of Israel was created, 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and forced to flee to make room for the incoming Jewish population. Palestinians’ homes and villages were destroyed while Palestinian families lost their land and entire way of life, not to mention family members who were either killed or fled to other areas.
The day is nothing but controversial, and having our campus celebrate this day by Hillel and SAFI throwing a “damn good party!” on a day that is mourned by many is simply inappropriate. I am glad to hear that the groups are beginning to recognize the inherent political connotations of the event and are making room for dialogue in their “Sulha” (Arabic for reconciliation) tent. Perhaps the more appropriate term would be Lishkoah (the Hebrew word to forget), which is the theme of the Israeli Independence Day, as it encourages Israelis and U.S. citizens — and in this specific event, Ithaca College students — to forget the violence embedded in the day’s commemoration. Students for Justice in Palestine will be present at this event in protest to remind those in attendance of the controversy behind it and the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. We encourage the Ithaca community to recognize the political nature of this celebration and the disrespect and complacency that attendance implies.