Statement to denounce hosting Zionists in the name of freedom of speech

Qatar Foundation (QF) came out a few days ago with a new episode of normalization. On March 5, QF hosted the Zionist Professor Alan Dershowitz, who spared no effort in trying to justify the practices of the occupation’s army against Palestinian children and adults. He never hid his Zionism, but he was proud of it as he declared during the lecture he gave at Education City in Qatar. The lecture was met by a strong opposition by students who objected to giving a platform to such a figure, students responded by raising Palestinian flags and walking out of the hall. In this statement, we will respond to the arguments made to justify hosting Zionists in Qatar:

The first question raised in this context is: isn’t it better to object to the ideas and opinions of a person, rather than their affiliation?

One of the first objections that were raised against the call to refuse hosting Zionists in Qatar was as follows: That anti-normalization youth are opposing to a person’s identity or affiliation, and not their ideas, opinions or their ideological positions. Here we respond by asserting that Zionism is in fact an ideological position, we also assert that racism and Nazism also represent ideological positions. These ideological positions may have been discredited, but they remain a set of adopted ideas and opinions nonetheless. Hence, when someone makes a claim that we are opposing them for being a  “Zionist,” it means that they are either ignorant of the essence of Zionism as an identity based on an ideological position, and a set of ideas adopted by a number of people, or they may be ignorant of the nature of proponents of the Zionist project and its underlying racist premises. Zionism is not a “normal” position that is adopted by an individual, rather it represents a movement and an accumulation of ideas that were classified as racist and discriminatory by the United Nations’ resolution 3379. This resolution was adopted in 1975 and remained in place for sixteen years until it was repealed in 1991 due to the objections of the Zionist entity state. [1]

The second argument pertains to the notion of free speech, which is the most cited claim to justify hosting Dershowitz and giving him a platform. Doesn’t everyone have the right to express their ideas?

One can respond to this claim in a number of ways. Firstly, there is a great difference between freedom of speech and hate speech. The right to free speech is not absolute, because justifying massacres against a people was never considered under the umbrella of free speech, rather such a discourse is racist and fascist, and it is aligned with extremist discourse. Secondly, hosting Zionists not only gives them the space to express racist ideas and opinions, but this was a state-sponsored platform that was given to these Zionists, while this platform was not given to students who oppose Zionism and who support the Palestinian cause under the same right to freedom of speech.  Further, one must make a distinction between an state institution sponsoring hateful discourse, and an individual expressing their racism or sectarianism.

Thirdly, is it ethical to create moral arguments to support what is unethical?

Zionists have always used their academic efforts to create moral justifications for the policies of the Zionist entity. For example, Dershowitz has previously published an article in which he asserts the permissibility of destroying Palestinian villages in retaliation for attacks he describes as “terrorist” against the Zionist entity. “Even if the property of some civilians innocent people was destroyed in this process”.[2]

Our Position and Future Action

We, Qatari Youth Against Normalization, reject cultural and academic normalization with the occupier and all its supporters under the guise of the right to  freedom of speech. Israeli academic institutions have consistently used their resources to oppress the Palestinian people and have contributed to the creation of an apartheid system in the education system by putting culturally discriminatory admissions tests. As a result of these policies, there is a great divergence between the number of Palestinian and Israeli students. Palestinian students constitute less than 10% of the total number of students, while Palestinian citizens constitute more than 20% of the Israeli population.[3]

Finally, we categorically reject giving a platform for hate speech under the name of the freedom of expression. This is not a  call for the imprisonment or punishment for those who advocate for hate speech as we are aware that such claims can be misused negatively. But we assert our rejection to hosting extremist Zionists  in our country who promote a discourse that justifies the killing of civilians and the use of violence against the innocent. We oppose giving them a platform on our land, and in one of our educational institutions to spread the occupier’s narrative, which violates human rights, the right to land, and Palestinian life. We also assert the need to distinguish between an individual’s expression of their Zionism, and the state’s sponsorship of this individual’s Zionism.

Lastly, we would like to announce that we will be organizing a series of upcoming workshops and lectures to discuss the academic boycott of the Zionist entity, its importance and influence, and we would like to invite you to join us, and follow our Twitter account for the latest updates:




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