Letters to Editor, Opinion

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Why we chose to walkout and why BU students should know

The Daily Free Press did a great job covering the events of Israel “Peace” Week and Israeli Apartheid Week. However, I think there were a few very important things that were left out. As mentioned in the article “Students host awareness weeks to address Middle East conflict,” BU Students for Israel (BUSI) hosted a presentation on Arabs in the IDF given by Yoav Levin. About half of the attendees walked out following the first 10 minutes of the presentation in an effort to peacefully protest any association of Boston University to the Israeli Defense Forces.

I hope to offer the perspective that wasn’t present in the article, as one of the organizers of the walkout.

Walkouts have shown to express disapproval quite effectively. Historically, the East Los Angeles walkouts forced the LA Unified school district to provide a better quality education and inspired some of the civil rights campaigns in the Chicano movement. In 1836, women in this very state — in Lowell, MA — walked out of factory mills due to poor worker’s rights. They forced the mills to cut the housing costs and cooperate with women worker’s organizations.

With this productive and inspiring spirit in mind, we walked out to show disapproval of Yoav Levin’s presentation. While we undoubtedly support his freedom of speech, we don’t agree with him presenting on our campus. More so, we don’t agree with him discussing the topic of Arabs in the IDF. And frankly, we are not trying to make it okay that an IDF soldier was here and simply that he was wrong in things he said. That is what I believe a dialogue would do.

As BU students, we wanted to most effectively communicate to BUSI that we are uncomfortable with any association of BU with a member of a group that is known to abuse human rights and contribute to a country’s violation of numerous international laws according to the U.N.

Many people have been compelled to state that this is an example of BU Students for Justice in Palestine’s (BUSJP) unwillingness to have a healthy dialogue, but this wasn’t BUSJP. Though this serves irrelevant to the point being made, SJP wasn’t “invited” to the presentation, contrary to popular belief. This initiative was done by a collection of various BU students. Claiming it is BUSJP discredits some of the students who respectfully protested the event and have no affiliation to the organization — not even attendance at a single SJP meeting or event.

Lastly, there was one incident that I believe deserves more attention. The fact of the matter is the whole walkout was peaceful and respectful. While the idea of a walkout might rub some people as aggressive, the students participating in the event did not instigate any kind of confrontation or aggression. They were reminded before the event to remain silent if approached. However, one of the students recording the walkout was blocked from peacefully exiting the presentation room by a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. The brother flashed his fraternity letters and prevented a proper recording of the walkout by sticking an Israeli flag in the camera and restricting the student from not only filming but leaving. The most alarming part about this intimidation was that the individuals in this incident were a 5’ 2’’ female and a 6’-plus male. The AEPi Boston page shared — and later deleted — the video of this occurrence where you can hear the startled girl whisper, “you can’t block me from walking.”

This whole ordeal showed that the efforts on the side of the walkout participants was peaceful, no “double-edged sword” present, the participants even went to the Hillel lobby, where the event was being held, and passed out cookies.

BU students should know of these incidents on campus. As Martin Luther King Jr.’s alma mater, we should foster a safe environment where differing opinions are welcome and intimidation does not silence a cause. If a female activist isn’t safe to walk out of an event on BU grounds peacefully, do you think she’s safe enough to speak up and discuss her views in a so-called dialogue?

Sana Hashmani, College of Engineering Senior


  1. The following happened before Israel existed. Muslims do not need Israel as their excuse for murdering Jews.
    On page 369 (554 in the Arabic) of the earliest Muslim biography of Muhammad, Muhammad says “kill any Jew who falls into your power”:

    It’s a “charming” story of two brothers, Muhayyissa and Huwayyisa: (To avoid confusing the two brothers, keep in mind that the brother whose name begins with M is the Murderer in the story.)

    “The apostle [Muhammad] said, ‘Kill any Jew that falls into your power.’ Thereupon Muhayyisa bin Masud leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom they had social and business relations, and killed him. Huwayyisa was not a Muslim at the time though he was the elder brother. When Muhayyisa killed [the Jewish merchant] Huwayyisa began to beat [his brother Muhayyisa], saying, ‘You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?’ Muhayyisa answered, ‘Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off.’…[Huwayyisa] replied, ‘By God, if Muhammad had ordered you to kill me would you have killed me?’ [Muhayyisa] said, ‘Yes, by God, had he ordered me to cut off your head I would have done so.’ [Huwayyisa] exclaimed, “By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvellous!’ and [Huwayyisa] became a Muslim.”

  2. Israel’s problem is that it is surrounded by an expansionist, totalitarian, theocratic political movement that is 1400 years old and for which compromise is impossible except for short term tactical purposes. Part of the core theology of that movement says that once a piece of the earth has been dominated by Islam, it must always be dominated by Islam. The Jews offend against that, and because of that offense, and the profound Jew-hatred in the Qur’an, a continual jihad is waged using all kinds of means with the purpose of wiping Israel from the face of the earth. That’s the problem faced by Israel.

  3. BDS is an anti-Semitic, racist movement, plain and simple. There are 49 Muslim majority countries in the world that identify themselves as Muslim and where Islam is considered the official religion of the state. But the BDS movement doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. They have a problem with only one nation, the Jewish one, which they wish to be supplanted with yet another dysfunctional Muslim state.

  4. For something like 3,000 years people have been telling Jews where they can live. (Or, more accurately, where they cannot live.)

    The noble Brits wouldn’t let one Jew live in England – and this for over 200 years. The Germans one-upped the Brits and didn’t tell the Jews much of anything other than take action to end their existence in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and elsewhere. Of course so many others helped in this effort with special mention going to the always holier-than-thou French.

    The Romans wouldn’t let Jews live in their homeland and Russians would only let them live in ghettos, as did the Spaniards, Italians among others. Of course the Russians and others would intermittently start pogroms to kill and rape the Jews.

    And so it goes.

    Today Jews are not allowed to live in most any Muslim nations and those where Jews are allowed to live we find Jews living in fear of their Muslim masters.

    And now the world is telling the Jews once again where they can and cannot live. They cannot live in the
    West Bank some tell us. Gaza? No way. Israel? It depends on who you ask.

    Nobody tells Muslims they cannot commit genocide and “occupy” Sudan or Somalia, or Nigeria because, I guess they are Muslims and not Jews and not subject to the same rules. But let’s not dwell on the hypocrisy, the double-standards and the obscenity of it all, for they, the Jews that is, are just Jews: Victims of hatred from the weak and maladjusted for thousands of years. People like Sana are nothing new.

  5. It’s not the “oppression olympics”, please stop.