This column is a response to a guest column published in the Alligator: “Palestinians Are People With a Voice”.

Avia Gridi, CAMERA Fellow at UF

Dr. Anat Berko is a world-renowned terrorism expert who has lectured before Congress, the Department of State, the FBI and NATO. Berko lectures before these important individuals because of her unique research and experiences. Last week, UF was lucky enough to have the chance to hear Berko speak about her interactions and research with attempted suicide bombers. She studies the relationships and lives leading up to the event in which these individuals were strapped with explosives. Her lecture was eye-opening, thought-provoking and exceptional.

Unfortunately, while she was speaking, three students stood up holding signs that claimed, “Hamas is not the problem.”

Additionally, they rudely started speaking over her in an attempt to distract students from the lecture. These same students, who were asked by Berko to stay and listen, immediately left and published an op-ed about an hour-and-a-half-long event they only attended for 10 minutes.

If these students had listened to Berko’s lecture, they would have heard her state, “This lecture is not about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s purely on the research I have conducted.”

They would have heard her examples of women and children suicide bombers — only one was Palestinian. Instead of asking questions, they interrupted and were disrespectful.

Farah, Rami and Eric stated that Berko “uses the very personal anecdotes of women to justify the massively oppressive actions of Israel.”

Israel was never mentioned in the lecture except once — to tell a story of a bombing that almost happened there. If these students had stayed and listened to the lecture, they would have understood that Berko’s life is dedicated to listening to the stories of these women. If anyone is trying to show that “Palestinians are actual human beings,” it’s Berko, who tries to explain why these women find themselves in these situations, clarifying that they don’t just wake up one day and become suicide bombers.

Moreover, “Less Hamas, More Hummus” is not offensive. Hamas is a recognized Islamist terrorist group that focuses its attention on creating chaos and sending missiles into Israel instead of helping Gaza grow. These students claim Israel is the sole reason the Palestinian people are lacking human rights. However, the people living in Gaza are often stripped of these rights by Hamas. In 2010, Hamas shut down six human rights groups’ offices. Among these organizations were a women’s health society and the Woman and Child Development Association.

Next time there’s a speaker on campus, you should listen. Listening is the only way to achieve peace. Berko was an amazing speaker, and I‘m thankful to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, UF Hillel and the ICC for bringing her to campus.

Contributed by Avia Gridi, our CAMERA Fellow at the University of Florida. This guest column in The Alligator ran on page 7 on 10/23/2013 under the headline “Inside the Mind of a Bomber.” This piece was recently republished in The Algemeiner under the title “Hamas Activists Disrupt Campus Event on Suicide Bombers“.

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