OP−ED | An op−ed battle: we all want to be heard
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 25, 2013 02:03
As the author of the anti−Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) op−ed that appeared in the Daily last week, I first want to apologize for judging SJP as an outsider in an effort to engage with them. I had never been to a SJP event (even though I tried, but was discouraged), so I was unfair to judge them so critically without knowing much about them. I have come to learn that most SJP members are very well−educated on the issue and that they have thought−out reasons for their actions.
In response to Alexa Petersen’s op−ed piece on March 11, I would like to say that I understand her criticisms. I think we can all agree that the op−ed section of the Daily is used to be heard. My op−ed was written in reaction to what I saw as aggressive SJP actions. I recognize that raising awareness is not futile, but in trying to modify my position, I meant to criticize the way in which SJP raises awareness. I am against agitating protests (even though they are peaceful). I believe that using the term “Israel Apartheid Week” does not provoke the questioning that SJP wants others to engage in. Instead, I believe that this tactic provokes a strengthening of one’s original ideas because they view this term as inflammatory and try countering it by defending their views rather than questioning them. I see these actions as not adding dialogue to the campus climate on Israel−Palestine but instead creating a more polarized student body. In criticizing Israel so strongly, SJP is marginalizing Zionists with their aggression and one−sidedness. I believe that these people can be reached in a more productive way.
I realize that this is my opinion, but I also recognize that many share this opinion with the many positive responses I received to my last op−ed. In writing an op−ed, I am trying to legitimize my views (like Petersen was). I recognize that one can interpret something in any direction; however, maybe an interpretation can spark new thinking.
Petersen also writes that my comparison between SJP and the Iranian Revolution was unfair. I understand that by simplifying events, meaning can be misinterpreted. I stand by my comparison because I believe that it raised some good points about how protest does not always lead to its desired effects.
I have engaged in an op−ed battle. I commend others for raising criticisms of my previous op−ed because it has sparked new thinking in me. I recognize that this issue can create an echo chamber, where only people who are interested in these issues read these articles.
I am still skeptical of SJP’s in−your−face tactics and their simplifying of the issue, but I recognize that I am unfair in judging them, so I intend to frequent more of their events, and the events of other student groups involved in this conflict, in an effort to better understand the issue and where these student groups are coming from. I just hope that my op−eds provoke questioning in others, like they have done in me.
Robert Persky is a sophomore majoring in international relations. He can be reached at Robert.Persky@tufts.edu.