This past Wednesday and Thursday were two of the most important days in the entire Jewish calendar. On both nights, Jews across the world came together at sundown and participated in a ritual meal called a Seder to retell the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. This holiday is called Passover and is a definitive aspect of the Jewish religion.
But I don’t expect you to know that. Although you may, and I’m sure many of you do know about the holiday, it doesn’t seem morally incumbent upon you to be aware of it.
I do however, think that a group who titles themselves the Student Action Forum on the Middle East should know at least the most basic aspects of one of the three main religions in that region.
At the very least, they ought not to schedule an event that is directly related to that religion’s identity and survival in the region. SAFME did just that. This past Thursday night, at 7:30, just when most Jews were sitting down to observe Passover, SAFME hosted a talk on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw the flyer. I had to call one of the organizers to make sure it had actually occurred. It had indeed.
This, as I see it, can only be explained in one of three ways:
1. SAFME simply did not know about the holiday.
This is possible, although that kind of ignorance is simply shocking. With matzos being sold in every supermarket in the area, with Microsoft.com listing Passover recipes online and with the historic connection between Passover and the Christian holiday Easter, one would think that SAFME might have gotten wind of it. To be a campus group who ostensibly is concerned with the conflict in Israel-Palestine demands a certain level of cultural awareness and sensitivity. This level of Ignorance is simply unacceptable. SAFME ought to educate themselves or disband.
2. SAFME knew about the holiday and did not care.
Perhaps someone mentioned the holiday and they simply discounted it as unimportant. It is important to Israelis though. It is important to Jews. For thousands of years, this has been one of the most important holidays to the Jews. To be this callous, this outrageously disrespectful of one of the world’s great religions – the religion that is, in fact, the faith of one half of the people who were the topic of the evening – is intolerable.
3.SAFME knew about the holiday and that is why they selected the date they did.
This goes beyond intolerance and becomes dangerous. This is intellectual selectivism at its worst. It smacks of the UC Berkeley class, “The Poetics of Palestinian Resistance,” whose course description read “conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections.” The uproar about this line was decisive and rightly so. Because it discouraged those holding alternate views from participating, it did not foster true learning, only indoctrination. This is exactly what occurred last Thursday night. Only this was even worse. The choices made by this class’ organizer were morally reprehensible but at least they were honest. But, if in fact, SAFME did schedule the talk because of the holiday, they were engaged in a form of intellectual subterfuge that has no place at a university of this caliber, certainly not from a group that is approved of by Associated Students. This is preaching to the choir in a very frightening way. The song that will inevitably come from this choir will be a cacophony of propaganda, misinformation and one-sidedness.
Moshe Kasher is a senior religious studies major.