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Letter to the editor: USG unfairly denies funds for Ohio State Palestinian cultural event

Letter to the editor:


A few days ago, Students for Justice in Palestine received the news the Allocations Committee of Undergraduate Student Government would not fund their seminal event this year — A People with a Culture. It was set to feature performances by a stand-up comedian and a Palestinian dance group.

SJP is a national organization, with branches at schools across the country. The official purpose of the organization at Ohio State is simply “raising awareness and educating the public on the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination.” Its events are open to the public, even specially designed to ensure accessibility.

I first heard about the organization when I happened to sit next to its former president in a class last fall. As a double major in Arabic and political science, I’ve come to find that opinions on the questions of Israel and Palestine tend to work their way into the classroom, and the issue is one with which I’m well acquainted. SJP’s new president and I have come to know each other, but I’m not a member of the group, nor do I generally attend their events. Still, it struck me as odd that the Allocations Committee would refuse SJP’s funding request.

References to Israeli occupation are commonplace in the international community. The United Nations has deemed Israel an “occupying power” and the Israeli High Court of Justice holds that it presides over the West Bank with “belligerent occupation”. Its newly acquired status as a U.N. observer-state would seem to make the objective that even if the U.S. doesn’t recognize it as a country, there is some entity called Palestine. Agreements in the Oslo Accords to eventually cede control of certain areas to the elected Palestinian Authority would also seem to make clear that there is a struggle for independence­ — one supported by the Israeli government.

I can certainly forgive the Allocations Committee for a lack of expertise in these areas; last year I saw a video made on the Oval, and it showed that many OSU students can’t even locate Israel on a map, but the Multicultural Center had already pledged money to the event. So why didn’t the committee ask about any of these issues?

USG likes to make a big deal that it’s a part of the only true shared governance model in the country. That is, the students that constitute our ranks are actually voting members in all University Senate committees. We have the opportunity, unlike other schools, to really have a say in the policies adopted by the university, meaning that many of our actions — like our recent support for Columbus City School levies and LGBT rights — are expressly political. It also means USG here isn’t just a stepping stone on the way to bigger and better things.

I sit on the Committee of Diversity and Inclusion, one of 11 committees make up the OSU Executive Branch. Our charter obliges us to “seek out and advocate for issues pertaining to underrepresented students and groups of the student body, with the intent of properly representing its diverse constituency,” as well as to recommend policies that foster tolerance and mutual respect.

Palestinian culture in the last half-century has necessarily been affected by Israeli-Palestinian relations. It is often presented exclusively as an opposition movement — routinely in a violent light, so when a student group at OSU seeks to present Palestinian culture in contrast to Israel, it does so out of necessity not nefariousness. Failing to give it a voice is failing to represent our constituency.

On Wednesday, an American Israel Public Affairs Committee National Board Member and a U.S. Congressman will be speaking at a BuckiPAC Gala for “politically motivated and Jewish community affiliated students.” Meanwhile, a group of less prestigious representatives will decide the fate of A People with a Culture.


Paul Peters
Third-year in political science and Arabic


  1. Other than venting, missing the point of this article…

  2. The reason this is an issue I believe is because USG denied funding for SJP’s event on the grounds that they did not want to seem to be somehow taking sides on what is popularly deemed a controversial issue. The point is that the OSU student body is made up of many diverse ethnic backgrounds and that we should recognize that the Palestinian-American students are an important part of our constituency. They should be allowed to properly present real Palestinian culture since, as the author stated, “[Palestinian culture] is often presented exclusively as an opposition movement — routinely in a violent light”. So when the group creates a comparison between Palestinian & Isreali culture they are doing it with the intent to spread awareness, educate, and clarify certain misunderstood issues that much of the student body holds. All with the hopes of increasing tolerance and mutual respect. Contrary to what USG seems to believe, they are not doing this with any malicious intent. The author also points out that it would be blatantly hypocritical to deny SJP from representing Palestinian-American OSU students since the Committee of Diversity and Inclusion’s charter compels committee members to “seek out and advocate for issues pertaining to underrepresented students and groups of the student body, with the intent of properly representing its diverse constituency,”.

  3. Brings up some good points- Palestinian culture has been shaped by the Israeli Occupation (for better or for worse) and so talking about Israel shouldn’t make this a political question. I’d like to think I go to a university where we can celebrate all cultures and not just those that we are totally “comfortable” with. This is America.

  4. Thank you for your input. I would be interested to see why USG denied the funding for this event. Anyone care to shed some light on their reasoning?

  5. I find it extremely unnerving USG President Taylor Stepp too an AIPAC funded trip to Israel last year. Why are american student leaders being wooed with free trips to a foreign country? And is it true Stepp has publicly stated that even if an appeal is granted he will veto it?

    Shouldn’t students leaders who’ve been offered free all expense paid benefits by lobby groups representing foreign interests abstain from voting on issues that represent a conflict of interest? or are student leaders so easily bought off?

    Needless to say I think this ‘sheds some light on their reasoning’. Especially in light of the fact Israel routinely denies American students of Palestinians descent access to visit their ancestral homeland.

  6. Annie – Taylor Stepp did not take a fully funded trip to Israel but to the AIPAC conference in DC. Another influential USG member did take an AIPAC funded trip to Israel, however.

  7. I was told the appeal is being heard tonight. I see both sides of the argument because funding one side might alienate the other. I think we should all go listen to the Allocation Committee’s take on this.

  8. However USG can get politically involved with a school levy that does not involve Ohio State students at all. Sounds right.

  9. Perhaps it was better when student senate as a whole could discuss funding issues. It’s a shame not all constituencies were represented in the allocations committee meeting.

  10. EXCELLENT point about the levy, someone!

  11. To those wondering about the “point” missed, know that this article has been censored. Check out the original here:http://mondoweiss.net/2013/11/presence-palestinian-solidarity.html

  12. Vetoing this modest event would be an obvious abouse of power, and would be bluntly racist. Perhaps this will lead to a resolution by USG favoring a complete boycott of Israel.

  13. USG doesn't fund political events. That's why groups like College Republicans, College Democrats, or the AIPAC student coalition doesn't ask them for funding in the first place. If I interpret correctly, the author was upset that the event put on by Students for Justice in Palestine, clearly a partisan group, did not receive student government funding. The rules are clear. They were not prohibited from putting on the event, just from receiving funding. They always have the opportunity to fundraise using other sources.

  14. SJP is a human rights organization. AIPAC is registered as a PAC. Big difference.

  15. miranda, for your edification, scroll up and read the headline “Palestinian cultural event”, and the agenda “A People with a Culture. It was set to feature performances by a stand-up comedian and a Palestinian dance group.”

    while the group may be “clearly partisan” the event planned is not political. However, one could make the argument everything relating to palestine is political. and how interesting that “USG doesn’t fund political events” then why are political orgs like AIPAC (totally political) targeting student leaders?

    Hannah, thanks for the info.

  16. Would you mind if Buck-i-Pac had an event to “celebrate the Israeli culture and the struggle against Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Quds Force” and received USG funding?

  17. You know I see everyone talking about Palestine but the Pakistan
    Students Association were also denied USG funding for an event where
    they were trying to raise money for kids in Columbus city schools

    Clearly there are bigger issues with USG than just Palestine in regard
    to ethnic student orgs and I’d really like to know how USG can harp
    for months about the school levy but not provide funding for an event
    that’s specifically trying to help those kids… I don’t want to say
    there is an agenda against ethnic orgs but there may be one.

  18. In the interest of full disclosure, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) are notorious propaganda mouthpieces for Hamas terrorists.
    Recall also, in a 6 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a federal law that makes it a crime for Americans to provide “material support” of any kind (be it in the form of cash, weaponry, training, personnel, services, or “expert advice or assistance”) to a foreign terrorist organization, even if that support is for (ostensibly) peaceful purposes.
    Hamas would be one such example. It conducts terrorist attacks against Israel with one part of its organization while spitting propaganda lies with another. Propagandizing for Hamas allows Hamas to not have to spend propaganda funds for its terrorist activities.
    Upcoming Congressional hearings will undoubtedly focus the spotlight on SJP terrorism enablers. For those interested in a fuller disclosure of MSU, feel free to read their rancid dossier @
    So, thanks once again to SJP Hamas propagandists for making it easier for Obama’s NSA to track your activities and Holder’s Justice Department to prosecute your material support propaganda campaign.
    And good luck staying gainfully employed with “terrorism enabler” emblazened on your resumes.

  19. If it is correct that OSU USG President Taylor Stepp accepted a free trip to Israel sponsored by an Israeli lobby group (AIPAC) then he has a conflict of interest in this affair. It certainly bears the appearance of a quid-pro-quo. Cry Foul!

  20. If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth, right? the Democrats' great accomplishment is producing the political equivalent of a Rodney King video, clearly demonstrating the lies of the right, the right Hilary Clinton correctly identified as a vast conspiracy. Confirm by examining Central District of California Cases, 01-4340, 03-9097, 08-5515, 10-5193, US Tax Court 12000-07L –though I think you want to view my US Tax Court Appeal to the 9th Circuit for a good account of their day to day assaults, a few month time slice indicative of a decade of assault, and, when it's completed, 9th Circuit 11-56043.
    Typically operating through puppets–including puppets in the judiciary–the right wing has for decades been committing crimes and trying to classify them to cover them up, a move explicitly forbidden by the Code of Federal Regulations. With either the approval or the willful ignorance of the judiciary the right has e killed & stolen several of my pets and routinely shoot energy weaponry at me and my pets, despite my calls to the police, the FBI, Congress, and despite my petitions in court. They've been placing dead cats in my path at a rate of one every few weeks or one a month, and shot out the eye of another stray a day after I advised a few strangers it had a particularly nice disposition. They ran over another animal last night, bloody and in the road, I suppose their defiant response that they're not going to stop trying to intimidate. There is really only one solution, and that's to disempower them politically. They are beyond sick, and belong in prison.

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