DePaul students mobilize to put a stop to faith-washing
DePaul University student activists, from backgrounds in a variety of struggles, joined forces to mobilize and stand in solidarity with Palestine in response to their administration’s latest attempt to conceal Israel’s settler-colonial existence and deflect from its oppression of the Palestinians.
The activists took to the library with posters displaying important queries, key facts, and captioned photographs, that embodied precisely what the university and the Israeli embassy wished to conceal—Israel’s expansionist, exclusivist, male-dominant, white-supremacist, anti-Indigenous, settler-colonial face indiscriminately erasing all things Palestinian.
In a statement issued by Students for Justice of Palestine (SJP) DePaul, which was also endorsed by MECh@, MOVE, and the Feminist Front, the students responded to the Midwest Consulate of Israel’s sponsorship of an art exhibit that “disguises the active apartheid settler colonial state of Israel as one of concordance and peace” in DePaul’s student library.
“We find fault in this art exhibit that depicts the Pope’s visit to Israel as one of acceptance and community because it turns a blind eye to the violence and racism prevalent in the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people…This exhibit contributes to the erasure of not only Palestinian history but also the voices of Palestinian students on this campus,” the statement explained.
The art exhibit, entitled “Building Bridges of Faith: Photographs of Papal Visits to the Holy Land, 1964-2012” featured a slew of photographs of the Pope and other purportedly notable religious and cultural figures taken in Israel. By design, of both the gallery and Israeli ethnocracy, no traces of Palestinian uprooting, occupation, and apartheid were visible.
“The whole idea upsets me. We have a lot of religious scripture and that’s completely wonderful, but this is a different story. You can’t really explain in words how it feels to look at a country, a homeland, that I might never be allowed to be in,” said Palestinian student organizer Leena AlMasri.“To see that our university celebrates something like that is just painful to watch.”
This type of faith-washing attempts to paralyze Palestinian organizing by simultaneously reinforcing the motif of a monolithic Judeo-Christian value-set, the normalcy of the Jewish ethnocratic state, and the equation of Judaism and Zionism. Traditional Orientalist discourse is evoked as Israel attempts to brand itself as an open, inclusive, pluralistic society. Those who rally for inalienable Palestinian human rights are then labeled anti-Semitic.
The university has not responded to PiA’s requests for comment.