Kent State Students Demand Removal of ‘Golda’ Display, Claiming Late Israeli Leader Engaged in ‘Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians’
Students at Kent State University are demanding the removal of a display featuring a photo of and quotation by the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir on the grounds that she participated in the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”
In an op-ed published by the independent student website Kent Wired, the president of the university’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, Yousof Mousa, wrote that his group — together with the Spanish and Latino Student Association (SALSA), Ohio Student Association and Muslim Students Association (MSA) — consider the display to be a “discriminatory…daily” reminder of racism on campus.
“Unfortunately for black and Palestinian students…while she [Meir] might be a model for some students, her legacy is more complicated for many of us,” Mousa wrote.
Citing the “academic research” of virulently anti-Zionist “Israeli scholars,” such as Ilan Pappe and Tom Segev, Mousa wrote that Meir “had policies and statements that were expressly racist against Africans,” which “produced many hurtful stereotypes, and we hear about people of color today in the racism authorized in the Trump campaign.”
“For Palestinians, it is doubly hurtful — Meir once said that we don’t exist as a people,” he added.
Mousa said that passing by the campus’ Bowman Hall and seeing the photo and quote (“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement”) makes Palestinian and black students uncomfortable, and “contributes to a climate that makes us feel like we do not belong here.”
Mousa said the coalition of Kent student groups would like to see “someone more fitting of a diverse and inclusive campus environment” featured, suggesting famed Jewish theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel or political theorist and author of The Banality of Evil, Hannah Arendt.
Responding to potential critics, Mousa wrote that SJP recognizes “many want to silence our support for Palestinian rights by labeling us antisemitic. We are not. Many of our closest allies in the US and across the world are Jewish and believe deeply in Palestinian rights. We struggle together with them as we do with all other people of color and white allies that believe in eliminating racism, discrimination and systematic violence.”
While Kent State’s SJP contends its activities are not antisemitic, a recent study by Brandeis University found, as The Algemeiner reported, that “one of the strongest predictors of perceiving a hostile climate towards Israel and Jews is the presence of an active SJP group on campus.”
Meir — who served as Israel’s fourth and only female prime minister between March 1969 and June 1974 — is remembered as being a key player in bolstering Israel’s relations with African nations and for seeking peace with Israel’s neighbors.
“We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us,” she famously said.