Op Ed: A defense of Palestinian pain on campus

July 23, 2018, 10:18 p.m.

My best friend, Hamzeh Daoud, is used to the Stanford College Republicans’ campaigns against him. So I am writing in his defense, to contextualize this latest ordeal and implore the Stanford administration to have a just and even hand when determining how to respond.

Last week, the Israeli parliament passed the “nation-state bill,”declaring Israel to be “the historic homeland of the Jewish people” and enacting measures to maintain this Jewish-only character.

Hamzeh, a third-generation Palestinian refugee, understood that although apartheid has effectively been the Israeli norm since his grandparents were expelled decades ago, this law explicitly and unapologetically makes Palestinians second-class citizens. In an instant, he posted his reaction online.

While threats of physical violence should be taken seriously, Hamzeh’s Facebook post was a response to unimaginable pain – evoked by the erasure of his entire existence, by ethnic apartheid, by the justification for his family’s oppression and expulsion. It should not be understated the immense moral and intellectual stature it took for Hamzeh to criticize this reaction himself and change his language to describe this pain in an edited Facebook post only a couple hours later. The State of Israel and Zionists who unequivocally support it certainly do not possess such morality as they continue to indiscriminately and extrajudicially murder Palestinians en masse in Gaza.

Hamzeh’s growth is evident not only in his near-immediate edit, but also his note explaining this change his language and his decision to keep both posts up as a record of this process. At Stanford University, the responsibility represented by this self-reflection and self-criticism should be viewed as the ultimate testament to a student’s worthiness and intellectual vitality.

I have one more request for the Stanford community: to recognize and actively scrutinize the assymetrical and disproportionate force with which establishments crack down on marginalized students’ reactions to oppression. Although this comparison is of course reductive, just as Gazans’ kites and demands for basic human rights are met with bombs and exploding bullets, Palestinian student activists are subjected to immediate and unforgiving institutional punishment while organizations like SCR, for example, are permitted to repeatedly slander them with baseless claims of terrorist affiliation or invite guest speakers who subject them to death threats and harassment. This is true across the world and throughout Stanford’s history of activism, but now is an opportunity for this institution to intervene.


— Emily Wilder ’20


An update from Wilder, July 26 at 2 p.m.: I would like to clarify that I am not directly accusing Robert Spencer of issuing death threats to members of community, but rather that members of the community received death threats immediately following the publication of pieces attacking students on his website, Jihad Watch. These death threats were a result of exposure on Spencer’s website.


Contact Emily Wilder at ewilder2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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