On April 6, I flew from Washington, D.C., to Fort Collins to
give a talk on the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and
the various peace proposals that have been made over the years. My
lecture was well received by everyone who came up to speak to me
after the event.
Unfortunately, there were some who didn’t like what I had to
say, but instead of discussing their concerns with me in person,
they waged a vitriolic smear campaign against me personally
afterwards, calling me an “anti-Semite,” and claiming that my
presentation was full of “half-truths and lies.” My detractors have
not attacked what was actually said, because the facts that I
presented were backed up at every step of the way with
documentation, and thus they are indisputable.
From what I understand, at least 160 people have signed a
petition calling on the Associated Students of CSU to cut funding
to the Palestinian Student Association (PSA), the organization that
brought me to your great school, claiming that through PSA’s
auspices, I delivered a political speech. There weren’t even 160
people inside the hall when I was lecturing, so I do not understand
why any responsible young adult would affix his or her name to a
petition regarding a lecture that they did not hear.
For those of you who weren’t present, don’t worry, I am making
available online a recording of the entire event so that you may
judge for yourself what I said that night. You can access the audio
stream next week by visiting www.amjerusalem.org.
Although I approach the Middle East conflict with a certain
perspective, I went to great lengths to ensure that the audience
was subjected to fair and balanced analysis of the conflict, based
on factual information. I ran a slide show to illustrate maps of
how the geography has changed over the past 100 years and to show
what the effects of the Israeli occupation have been on
Palestinians, in particular, Palestinian refugees.
When asked my opinion on the root cause of the conflict, I
blamed the ideology of Zionism, and yes, I do believe that
Christian Zionists are more dangerous than Jewish Zionists because
the Christian Zionists wish to exploit the conflict in the Holy
Land for their own selfish reasons. Don’t take my word for it: Just
tune in to the 700 Club and listen to Pat Robertson and you’ll see
what I mean. Because I am Muslim, my detractors call me an
anti-Christian and an anti-Semite for my comments. If I was
Christian, I would be called a Heathen, and if I were Jewish, I’d
be called a self-hating Jew. This is the logic of Zionists who wish
to shut out any perspective on the conflict other than their own,
by character assassination and pressure tactics.
One of the biggest myths related to the Middle East is that Jews
and Arabs have been fighting for centuries. This notion, although
popular and expressed commonly by politicians, is simply not true.
The inhabitants of Palestine lived together for hundreds of years,
Muslims, Christians and Jews, in relative peace and tranquility.
The only wars that were waged in the Holy Land were by invaders,
like the Crusaders.
The Palestinian narrative is an important one that is totally
underrepresented in our country, and just as we have Hillel and
other student groups that provide a pro-Israel stance on issues, we
must have student groups like Palestinian Student Association to
bring their perspective forward so that there is balance.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a complicated and emotional
problem, and it is understandable for this topic to have a
polarizing effect on people. What makes our country so great,
however, is the tolerance and respect that we are expected to show
one another, even if we disagree with them on this or that issue.
The diversity of opinions and the freedom to express those opinions
lay at the cornerstone of our democracy. Attempts to stifle
different opinions at CSU by using lies to attack my lecture, and
by trying to cut the funding of student groups that make important
contributions to campus life, is outright despicable and should be
rejected by students and faculty alike, whatever their political or
ideological affiliations are.
Raeed N. Tayeh is communications director for the Washington,
D.C.-based American Muslims for Jerusalem. He can be reached at