This past Thursday, I attended an event hosted by CAMERA and UF Hillel titled “Less Hamas, More Hummus.”

As if the title alone wasn’t ridiculous and incredibly offensive to Palestinians, I think the statements by speaker Dr. Anat Berko also bordered on insanity. At surface level, her talk appeared to be about the plight of suffering Palestinian women; however, it wasn’t hard for me to see the thinly masked racist Orientalism hidden behind faux-feminist remarks.

It seems to me that Berko, despite her guise as a “progressive” or even possibly a “feminist,” actually uses the very personal anecdotes of women to justify the massively oppressive actions of Israel. In my opinion, there is nothing progressive about using the struggles of women to promote a disgusting, repressive occupation. I think she undermines their plight and also conveniently leaves out the systematic human rights violations the Israeli Defense Forces carries out against Palestinian women every single day.

In protest of her speech, Students for Justice in Palestine held a walkout to make it clear our campus doesn’t feel comfortable with what we see as hate speech. Four members of SJP stood up during her talk wearing signs that read “Hamas isn’t the problem, Israeli occupation is,” “The IDF kills women and children,” and “Gaza is under siege and blockade.”

One female member read a short statement denouncing the event, and furthermore the overall demonization of Palestinian culture. In response, Berko completely lost her composure, screaming at the members and responding with threats. Sadly, this behavior wasn’t surprising to me, as I think it’s typical of Israeli apologists to respond to any sort of resistance with hysteria and a zero-tolerance policy for any sort of dissent.

As a representative of the Israeli occupation, Berko herself helped hammer home the point SJP wanted to bring to light: Israel and its apologists have no room for free thought, resistance or any sort of Palestinian voice. It is not Hamas that occupies the West Bank and Gaza, denies women basic health care or access to hospitals where they can safely give birth to their children, kidnaps Palestinian children, divides families, bulldozes homes and shoots teenagers in the back for throwing stones at tanks rolling through their neighborhoods.

Ask a Palestinian woman about her struggles and she will surely tell you about checkpoints, sons murdered by IDF soldiers, the need for electricity and the fact that she has no clean water to survive on. The IDF arrests 500 to 700 Palestinian children per year. Berko’s attempts to place the blame for oppression in Palestine on Palestinians themselves is nothing other than a racist means to solidify Israel’s systemically oppressive tactics.

There is no excuse for holding events like this one, which completely marginalize Palestinian voices and forget that Palestinians are actual human beings. Come on, Bob Graham Center for Public Service: I know you can do better than this. I’ve attended genuinely inspirational and progressive events here. Please, live up to that name, and stop giving a voice to individuals whose only goal is to ignore the worth of an entire group of people and maintain the status quo.

If you would like to hear voices from Palestinians themselves, join Students for Justice in Palestine, and be on the lookout for Palestinian People’s Week in the last week of October.

Farah Khan, Rami Okasha and Eric Brown are members of Students for Justice in Palestine. This guest column ran on page 7 on 10/14/2013 under the headline "Palestinians are people with a voice"

(11) comments

Wah wah wah. Worlds smallest violin. How odd a speaker would lose composure when your sham group interrupts her.

What an appropriate day for your column.

As I'm sure you know, Israel uncovered a mile long tunnel from gaza into Israeli territory tpday, created for the sole purpose of murdering and kidnapping Israeli citizens. If only hamas used the thousands and thousands of pounds of concrete and human resources to build some infrastructure and schools instead of whining and complaining and trying to murder.

More hamas, less hummus, right students for justice in 'palestine'?


Nobody holding up a sign that says "The IDF kills women and children" can be taken seriously. Please provide legitimate sources for your propaganda. As for the lack of water and electricity that is largely the fault of poorly executed and/or corrupt Palestinian governance. My source? I spent more than a month in Ramallah over the summer and met with several members of the Palestinian Authority. There are people in their government trying to make things better, but many more that are not.

Chris O'Donnell

Its the "Israel Defense Forces" not the "Israeli Defense Forces." Would you write, "The American Army?" No, one writes the "US Army." Israel is the name of the country and Israeli is the nationality of the citizens, just as United States of America is the name of this great country and American is the nationality of its great citizens.

Between the three of you writing this poorly scraped together emotional account of some minor campus speaker I would have hoped you would have at least gotten the small details correct. As for the larger details, well, you didn't have any facts with sources just emotional pleas with terribly overplayed propaganda terms. Do yourselves a favor and put down your silly protest signs and attend some higher education classes compliments of the great state of Florida's tax dollar.


So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?
The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list. The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.
These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.
In the past, we have talked about why some Israeli soldiers attack and mistreat Palestinians. Also, we saw Israeli planes and tanks attack various Arab countries. But, do these attacks match the current atrocities being committed by some Arab states against their own people.
In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imaginations? And, isn’t the Iraqis are the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars from the poor Tunisians? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is the most fertile land in the world? Why would Iraqi brains leave Iraq in a country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?


Palestinians are a miserable and pathetic
people. They slit the throats of innocent Israeli families, then whine when
Israel sets up check points to prevent this. They blow themselves up on crowded
Israeli buses, then whimper when Israel prevents this with a wall. The shoot
rockets at Israel by the thousands, then kvetch and moan when Israel deploys
Iron Dome defenses to prevent this, too.

They forced the construction of the wall. They necessitated the checkpoints. All of
their misery is their own doing. But they will never acknowledge that truth;
because that would mean self-reflection and intelligence (decency and kindness)
on their part-- all characteristics they and their leadership know nothing


Are people who support Hamas akin to people who supported the Nazis?

Seems to me they are.

Nazis destroyed all the Jews of Europe. Hamas never stops talking about destroying Jews.

Nazis depicted Jews as beneath contempt just as Hamas does. Nazis blamed Jews for all their problems and so does Hamas.

Seems to me the only difference is Hamas does not have the military required to really kill off all the Jews of Israel. If they did have these weapons everyone knows they would use them as indiscriminately as the Nazis did.

I wonder what sort of person supports an organization that is today’s Nazis. What moral and intellectual blindness do these Nazi worshippers suffer from?


Hamas is an islamic terrorist organization that murders Israelis and arabs. The "palestinians" are an invented people. Historically, the Jews are "the palestinians." There already was a two state solution. Jordan is the arab palestinian state. Israel is the Jewish palestinian state. Israel is not occupying anyone's land but its own. It is time to stop excusing barbaric islamic terrorism. It is long past time to send the west bank arabs back to jordan and the gazans back to egypt.


This is the most poorly written article I've ever read. As a student who actually attended the event, I can say that these three rudely interrupted the speaker with false propaganda that literally had nothing to do with what the speaker was talking about, which they would have known if they had stayed at the event for more than 5 minutes.
However, in the 5 minutes they were there, they didn't even listen to a word the speaker said but were making last minute plans to interrupt the event.
If they had listened, they would have realized how this event had nothing to do with the IDF. In fact, the speech was about understanding terrorism and defended the innocent Palestinians that are forced to be suicide bombers through pressure from their community. It was more about defending the women and children that become suicide bombers, and Dr. Berko has met with many women and children that had failed at their attempted suicide missions. She was able to form relationships with them that led them to confiding in her about the societal pressure that led to the attempted terrorist attack, and she was sharing the information she has learned from her experiences.
The people who wrote this article are extremely ignorant, and I am appalled at the completely inaccurate information. If you're going to write an opinion, at least listen to the speech before you embarrass yourselves with false accusations.
Also, when you so rudely stood up during her speech, she absolutely did not threaten you. She told you to sit down and listen to her lecture, and when you refused, she told you to protest Syria instead because they slaughter their women and children. Sound like a threat? No.
Stop making things up. I'm ashamed that you are my fellow UF students, and I'm so proud to support Israel and Dr. Berko against these completely and intentionally false accusations. Stop trying to make Israel look bad by lying. No one believes you.


"It is not Hamas that occupies the West Bank and Gaza, denies women basic health care or access to hospitals where they can safely give birth to their children, kidnaps Palestinian children, divides families, bulldozes homes and shoots teenagers in the back for throwing stones at tanks rolling through their neighborhoods." Kahn, Okasha and Brown

The Palestinians keep complaining that Hamas is occupying Gaza and parts of the West Bank where they are doing all these things. Hamas kicked a bunch of pregnant women out of the hospital so they could use it as a lounge area. Yes, Hamas has bulldozed homes on more than one occasion; homes legally owned by Palestinians. Hamas decided they wanted the land for their own use. At least Israel allows a courtroom trial (Palestinians are not always found guilty) and the reasons are the same as any other country: illegal buillding on land owned by others, no sewage hook-up, inadequate foundation, etc. Hamas is brutal and has certainly murdered Palestinians. They have stolen from charities to give the food and supplies to their own members.


Seriously? An op-ed piece complaining because a speaker wasn't polite to hecklers who interrupted her and tried to make a statement while she was speaking? The authors of this absurd whine go on to say "ask a Palestinian woman about her struggles" but did not bother to stay to listen to Berko, who had actually interviewed Palestinian women in prison. If they were truly interested in educating people about the Palestinian mindset, they would have been encouraging people to stay to listen to Berko rather than using her speech as an excuse for a rude knee-jerk protest that was completely irrelevant to what the speaker actually had to say.


The "protesters" were there to trash the presentation. No one in attendance wanted their precious time ripped off by these rude vandals there to cause a vandalism of the presentation. Had they made their presentation without interfering, like outside, it would have qualified as a protest. They denied people agreed upon choice. They denied people pursuit of happiness. They denied people freedom of speech. They showed their slaver mentality that indicates their belief other peoples time and attendance is theirs to hijack and use as they please. I believe there should be legislation for participants at an organized venue to bill and collect from slaver protesters for time ripped off from them. Protest is fine but hijacking peoples choice should be criminal and costly.

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