“Because you’re an anti-Semite!” said Kei in a room full of Palestine supporters, looking me straight in the face.
Kei was a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He had just finished delivering a talk on the Nakba – “catastrophe” in Arabic – to a meeting of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. It was a good presentation, and clearly he and the other presenter had spent significant time putting it together.
To all appearances, Kei and I saw eye to eye on the issue of Palestine, and should have been on the same side. And that is how we first became acquainted. I was the logistical member of a team bringing two Palestinian women from the refugee camps in Lebanon to speak to students and other groups in North America. Kei’s SJP group at GWU had invited the women to speak at their campus, and Kei was my contact for working out the details.
But then, all of a sudden, he and his group disappeared and we had no response from them. They had decided not to communicate with us anymore, not even to let us know that they had cancelled the invitation. And then there was Kei at the PSL meeting, where I had come at the suggestion of a friend. Having never met him in person, I didn’t realize who he was until he was in the middle of his presentation.
So I asked for an explanation of the GWU incident, and he responded, “Because you’re an anti-Semite.”
“Really!” I replied. “Is it because I…