Letter to the Editor: March 10th

Dear Editors,

The Muslim-Jewish symposium that was held on February 28 and 29 has not resonated well with the majority of the Jewish community at Queen’s. When my Jewish friends and I first saw the title for the event “Becoming-Allies: Muslim-Jewish Solidarity in the Face of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism” we were optimistic that this symposium would be one designed to build a healthy dialogue between Jewish and Muslim students on campus. However, we were surprised to later find out that the event was a one-sided representation of this pertinent and critical conversation. The speakers that were chosen to lead the discussion were not representative of the spectrum of views. Upon receiving this news, Queen’s Hillel (the Jewish club on campus) reached out to ask if they could provide a speaker of their own to diversify the conversation. Queen’s Hillel received no response. For an event that is advertised with the purpose of promoting dialogue between Jewish and Muslim students, it seems quite contradictory that only one side of the conversation was being included. Additionally, the symposium was held during Shabbat; the Jewish day of rest. Therefore, Jewish students and Hillel staff were unable to attend the event.

In an article recently published by The Journal, an ArtSci ‘20 student stated that “when people organize Birthright and pro-Israel events, they do not receive backlash for not inviting anti-Zionist Jews or Palestinians”. This kind of statement completely bypasses the issue at hand. Birthright and pro-Israel events are meant to provide educational resources to Jewish students interested in attending Birthright trips to Israel. That is how they are advertised. A symposium that claims to promote discourse between Jewish and Muslim students would, hopefully, think to include both of these student groups. Evidently, there are individuals and groups on campus with differing views who should utilize their freedom of expression to promote issues that they are passionate about. However, an event being presented by only one side of a particular narrative should be advertised as such. Looking forward, event organizers who truly wish to engage in healthy dialogue among diverse groups should design these events in a way that is inclusive and accessible to all. Otherwise, they should be advertised for what they are; a tool to advance one side of a complex discussion.

Sincerely,

Ella Haslhofer and Sydney Grad, ArtSci ‘21

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