Dear President Father Dennis Dease:
This letter concerns the December 2, 2008, St. Thomas-hosted forum entitled “Healing Wounds and Building Bridges: An Interfaith Dialogue on Peace in the Holy Land”.
The forum was advertised as “an attempt to encourage mutual understanding and peace-making” concerning “the controversial Israeli-Palestinian situation.” Reportedly, it was intended as a reconciliation gesture following the 2007 controversy when Desmond Tutu’s invitation to speak at St. Thomas was rescinded because of honest and realistic statements he had made concerning Israeli policy.
While attempting to address wrongs is commendable, it is unfortunate that in trying to do so, St. Thomas blundered yet again. The most glaring blunder was the absurd assumption that a discussion pursuing “mutual understanding” could be held without including a Palestinian voice. How can one seriously discuss peace in the Holy Land in the absence of one of the most important points of view in that region, that of the Palestinians themselves? The failure to include anyone from local or national Palestinian communities raises serious questions as to the actual “peace” the institution is advocating.
St. Thomas disinvited Desmond Tutu based on charges from Minneapolis’ Jewish Community Relations Council of Tutu being “anti-Israel”. It is curious that St. Thomas would indulge one voice as speaking for the entire Jewish community, even at the cost of insulting an internationally respected figure such as Rev. Tutu, and at the same time callously ignore the requests of local Palestinians to be included in a substantive public forum.
Such favoritism serves to promote a status quo that caters to U.S. Zionist pressure, blindly supports Israeli policies, and condemns Palestinian society in absolute as terrorists. To encourage healing dialogue on peace in the Holy Land, we must change these dynamics that actually silence discussion in a harmful and racist way. Serious discussion on this matter MUST happen, MUST be allowed for and MUST no longer be silenced by those who hold power.
As conscientious people of the Twin Cities — Jews, Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and allies, we are here to say that we do not accept these dynamics of discrimination in our cities. We are here to build honest relationships to combat injustice and seek peace. We are here to create the space needed for inclusive dialogue and we refuse to be pressured into silence for fear of ruffling feathers.
As that great man of peace Desmond Tutu said in his “controversial” speech, “Injustice and oppression will never prevail.”
K. Flo Razowsky.
International Jewish anti-Zionist Network, Twin Cities (IJAN-TC)
Razowsky is a Jewish writer, photographer, community activist, and a US coordinator for the International Jewish AntiZionist Network (IJAN). She spent more than two years in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, documenting life on the ground and participating in Palestinian organized non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation. The upcoming theatre piece Café Intifada is Razowsky’s first turn as writer/director.
-Ricardo Levins Morales, St Paul
-Jordan Ash, St Paul
-Joel Weisberg, Carleton College
-Rachel Orville, Minneapolis
-Josina Manu Maltzman, Minneapolis
-Sanna Towns, Local Educator
-Sarah Martin, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)
-Tom Snell, Minneapolis
-Sylvia Schwarz, St Paul
-Charlotte Albrecht, University of Minnesota Graduate Student
-Deborah Rosenstein, Labor Educator
-Bob Kosuth, Duluth
-Elise Goldin, Macalester College
-Gale E. Jensen, St Paul
-Fadia Abu Haj, Minneapolis
-Carole Ryden, Middle East Peace Now (MEPN)
-Eric Angel, St Paul
-Lisa Albrecht, Ph.D, University of Minnesota
-Karen Redleaf, St. Paul
-Bara Berg, M.D., St. Paul
-Ziad Amra, American Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee (ADC).
-Jordan S. Kushner, Attorney
-Liza Burr, St Paul resident
-Simona Sawhney, University of Minnesota
-Polly Mann, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)
-Nigel Parry, Minneapolis
-Trish E. Kanous, PharmD,MP
-Margaret Sarfehjooy, WAMM
-Claire Urbanski, Minneapolis
– Ilana Lerman, Minneapolis
-Harry Greenberg, Minneapolis