Shame on the Missouri History Museum

Henry Clements | Class of 2014

Palestinians have fought for nearly 70 years to voice their perspective and preserve their history. It was in 1969 that former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir so infamously asserted, “There were no such thing as Palestinians…They did not exist.” Nearly 50 years later, you would be hard-pressed to find street signs for Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank; those are reserved for Israeli settlements. Such is the nature of Israeli rhetorical warfare. Palestinians never existed. They still don’t.

I had expected better from St. Louis and Washington University. Until last year, when external pressure groups (or perhaps individuals; the details were kept in the dark) forced the administration to pull the plug on a panel discussion that included Palestinian poet Remi Kanazi. The assault on the Palestinian perspective had reached our campus. Recent events show that the assault continues in St. Louis itself.

Activists had scheduled an event for Thursday, March 19 at the Missouri History Museum entitled, “Ferguson to Ayotzinapa to Palestine: Solidarity and Collaborative Action.” Two days before the event was to take place, the museum contacted the organizers and demanded that Palestine be removed from the program, or else the event would be cancelled. The details, once again, are uncertain, but the organizers suspect outside interference given the last-minute demands.

How cruelly ironic that a museum of history would deny a voice to those who have been continuously expunged from the historical record. How shockingly hypocritical that the hosts of an event intended to promote solidarity would succumb to outside pressure and threaten to cancel it outright. Especially in light of the ongoing events in Ferguson, we should all be concerned with institutional responses to social justice issues across the greater St. Louis area.

Activists have organized a protest in front of the Missouri History Museum when the event was originally intended to take place: Thursday, March 19, 6:30 p.m.

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