West Virginia Event
Panel discusses Palestine issues
By Ryann Acto
Several panelists met with the Muslim Student Association in Eiesland Hall last night to present "Perspectives on Palestine: The Other Reality."
Grant Smith of the Institute for Research on Middle East Policy, George Naggiar, the president of the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights, Mazin Qumsiyeh, a native of Bethlehem and Rafeeq Jaber, the co-founder of the Council on American Islamic Relations all spoke.
Before the discussion of the highly charged issue began, MSA Vice President Ihtishaam Qazi, warned that the panel's opinions did not necessarily represent the views of the MSA. A Department of Public Safety officer was also on-hand for the event.
But the discussion went smoothly.
Smith emphasized that changes within the American media need to be made. He said the United States needs new media and new messages concerning Palestine.
The timing is right for new messages since Americans are starting to see beyond pre-packaged media bytes, he said.
Naggiar discussed specifically how the issues in Palestine and the Middle East are presented in American media. He said they are presented trivially.
He said Americans view the Israel/Palestine conflict in simple terms, thinking, "Why can't the Muslims, Jews and Christians just share the Holy Land and go to McDonald's like we do?"
The problem is more complex, he said.
Naggiar broke the conflict down into simple but intense terms. He said it's a system of domination over the Palestinians that has been going on for the last century.
The conflict is more intense than the apartheid system in South Africa and civil rights in the deep South, he said.
Naggiar compared it to the hoses police used on black protesters in Alabama, but instead of hoses, there are hibachi helicopters. Instead of water, there are bullets.
"That's what you have in Palestine," Naggiar said.
The bullets and tanks are funded by the United States Federal Budget, he said.
He said if Americans can reject the South's racism during the 1960s and South Africa's apartheid, then they have a responsibility to not support the domination in the Middle East.