Mazzig: Zionism was not a political decision, it saved Jewish lives

Anti-Zionists in America assume that because they do not personally need a haven in Israel, the family of Hen Mazzig, who survived the Farhud massacre, did not either. Writing in Jewish Journal, Mazzig, who recently completed a tour of US campuses, was shouted down at Vassar College. The College has since said that the protesters had violated its values. 

Mazzig’s speech at Vassar College was disrupted for 15 minutes

As soon as I arrived at the on-campus venue, I was greeted by protesters. As a staunch supporter of free speech, I invited them to join the talk and ask me the hard questions.

Instead of discussing their concerns with me, they decided to scream over me.

One said she decided to oppose me telling my story because she’s a “white queer Jew.” Another claimed they were protesting me telling the story of Mizrahi refugees as a means of fighting white supremacy. It’s ironic because I was there to speak about how my grandmother narrowly survived the Farhud, a catastrophic event in which the Iraqi government collaborated with Hitler’s white supremacist regime and killed around 180 Jews in two days.

 To put this in perspective, British newspaper The Guardian reported in August that more than 175 people have been killed worldwide by white nationalists in the past eight years.

 My talk was titled “forgotten refugees” for a reason. Too often Mizrahi history is excluded from Jewish memory. But anti-Zionists, whose narratives of white saviorism are disrupted by our mere existence, actively work to keep us forgotten.”  In their quest to “fight white supremacy,” these students at Vassar chose to shout over me during my presentation about the anti-Semitic supremacy that my family has endured.

It’s not lost on me that they chose to chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a slogan often employed by members of Hamas when they call to ethnically cleanse Jews with the same fervor as white nationalists.

 As I tried to honor the memory of my great-grandfather, who was hanged by anti-Zionists in Baghdad, anti-Zionist students called for the murder of the world’s largest Jewish population.

Yes, I do say murder, which is what the destruction of Israel means for Middle Eastern Jews. When my grandparents sought asylum in the United States in 1951, America declined to provide them sanctuary. Their only refuge was Israel.

To Iraqi Jews, being Zionists wasn’t a political decision — it was either that or death.

People often claim these incidents are not anti-Semitic, especially when Jewish people participate in them.

One Jew involved in the protest was an American Jew with European roots. Like most with her background, I’m sure she’s never even heard of the Farhud.

She and other anti-Israel Jews seem to assume that because they personally do not need Israel to survive, my family should not either.

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