Why I Am Personally Affected by SGA Endorsing AIPAC

Being Palestinian comes with a default expectation – being heavily involved and knowledgeable in politics and social justice. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had to look for the information about where I’m from because it was never taught to my in any school system I’ve been in; whether that be in Jordan or the United States. So, it is safe to say that with years upon years of conversation with family members directly affected by the Israeli occupation and endless searching and scrolling through information, I know a thing or two about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

For some background information, AIPAC is an abbreviation for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is a lobbying group that advocates policies that are pro-Israel to the Executive Branch and the Congress of the United States. In 1954, Isaiah L. Kenen founded the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs, AZCPA, which is the predecessor for AIPAC. 

This lobbying group was created for multiple reasons, but namely so that Jewish leaders can promote Israel’s interests to high US government officials. Another reason that isn’t talked about as frequently is because at the time, Kenen used to work for the American Zionist Council, but they weren’t registered as the agents of a foreign power because registering would have most likely limited its activities and funding. So, some assume that Kenen created a new advocacy group in order to spare some complications for the council. Regardless, AZCPA was formed after Israeli forces committed a massacre on the citizens of Qibya, a Palestinian village in the Jordan-controlled portion of the West Bank, which caused a lot of turmoil between then-president Eisenhower and Israel. He believed that Israel was disregarding many agreements and treaties, such as the UN-brokered armistice agreement with Syria, etc. He didn’t want to give Israel the support and endorsement of the US, and people like Kenen didn’t like the sound of that, which is why AZCPA was created. Jewish-Americans and Zionist sympathizers felt it was their responsibility to close ranks and explain and justify the actions of Israeli military forces, and every time an incident against the Palestinian people by Israeli forces would occur, they would take it upon themselves to make those events water under the bridge. AZCPA was renamed AIPAC in 1959 due to the problematic and violent nature of the Zionist movement, but that didn’t mean that their core ideologies, moral codes, and advocating members changed with the title. 

Now, I’m not one to criticize what some students like to be involved in. There is something for everyone on college campuses, especially one like Florida State University, where there is a plethora of organizations; whether they are identity-based, interest-based or academic based. 

However, I, along with many other Palestinians on campus, feel personally underrepresented, not accounted for, and quite literally attacked when organizations such as the Student Government Association, Hillel, Student Democrats and many others endorse and support AIPAC. SGA sending student senators to AIPAC conferences and students on Birthright trips to Israel makes Palestinians on campus feel betrayal on another level. There is a difference between having an opinion about a certain topic and actually acting upon that opinion. Endorsing AIPAC is a slap in the face to Palestinians on campus because it shows that student-led organizations that represent FSU chose a side in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, rather than remain neutral. Knowing that I have yet to visit the place where I am from because of the Israeli occupation while students get to go on fully payed trips because of an organization advocating violence boggles my mind. The fact that SGA endorses an organization that fails to realize the atrocities done by Israeli forces upon Palestinians on a day-to-day basis in unacceptable. Understanding that I have family members who have passed away from Israeli violence or are constantly living under fear of Israeli hostility while FSU supports trips that use the mask of birthright to justify their ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people makes me question my choice of University. 

Do better, Student Government Association. Do better, trip-goers. Do better, FSU.

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