To the editor:
I am a Jewish 3L classmate of Husam El-Qoulaq who would also like to remind readers not to rush to judge Husam.
I will start by distinguishing myself from other recent signatories. I believe that the State of Israel is the most moral government in the world, a government that has shown its unwavering commitment to human rights even in the face of endless provocation from Palestinian terrorism. I also believe the disproportionate criticism and demonization of Israel is a sign that anti-Semitism is still very alive and growing in 2016.
Nevertheless, as someone who has known Husam for quite some time and as someone who has had the opportunity to discuss Israeli-Palestinian issues with him on several occasions, I am very confident in saying that Husam is not the anti-Semite the online world is trying to make him out to be. I will not attempt to minimize the specific remarks in question, nor will I undermine the fact that they provide an important reminder for us to consider the interplay between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. However, I will say that everyone makes mistakes of judgement at times, and that we should only judge a person harshly after looking at a broader survey of their actions. Husam has always only been a nice person on campus who is quick to offer his respect and friendship to Jew and non-Jew alike. Other than the comments in question, he always has only attempted to provoke reasonable and beneficial dialogue on campus. Husam also has always expressed his interest in having respectful conversations with anyone on campus who disagrees with his views, and I know that I and others who have taken him up on those offers have had meaningful conversations with him about Israel. All in all, if all critics of Israel were to emulate Husam’s usual style of activism then the world would be a far far better place.
Based on Husam’s track record of respectful activism, we owe Husam the benefit of the doubt. Additionally, it is clear to me that many characterizations of Husam written by people unaffiliated with HLS who have never spoken to Husam and who know nothing about Husam other than the remarks in question are completely out of touch with the reality of him as a person and all his previous conduct.
I therefore urge readers: please keep all this in mind as you think about Husam as a person. However, don’t just trust my word regarding Husam. Sit down with him, take him up on his offer, and have an actual conversation with him. I think for many of you the experience will be a lot more pleasant than you might expect.
Tuvia Tendler is a 3L