Israeli-Palestinian conflict: myths and facts

Editor’s Note: The printed version of this op-ed incorrectly listed Hannah Hoang as the author. The piece was in fact written by Chad Kramer. The Daily apologizes for this error.

Our buzzword culture continues to thrive.

Through its advertisement in the Tufts Disorientation Guide, Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) promotes reckless policies and false or exaggerated claims. Let’s have a look:

“Israel’s expansion onto Palestinian land…mirrors the methods through which the land we stand on was ‘settled by the original colonists.'”

        Though I am against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the continued displacement of Palestinians, this statement ignores some key differences between American and Israeli settler colonialism. Most importantly, the Jews, along with the Palestinians, are indigenous to the land. Don’t believe me? Countless genetic studies, along with endless archaeological evidence, prove that Jews (European/Ashkenazi Jews included) trace their ancestry to the land and that the Jews’ closest genetic cousins are indeed the Palestinians.

“Stealing land, displacing [people]…committing genocide continuously and using brutally dehumanizing technologies of population control against indigenous peoples are just a few methods of occupation shared by the U.S. and Palestine.”

        Israel continues to unjustly oppress — sometimes violently — the Palestinians, but it is not Nazi Germany. The United Nations defines genocide as actions perpetrated with the intent to destroy a people, including killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the group in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within it or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. By claiming Israel commits genocide, SJP accuses it of deliberately and systematically murdering the Palestinians en masse — with intention to exterminate — what the Nazis did to the Jews, Hutus to the Tutsis and Ottoman Turks to the Armenians. That is genocide. Not the war in Gaza, nor the occupation.

“On campuses all over the world, students have come together in outrage at the…aid the US government supplies to Israel to fuel its war machine, military occupation and apartheid system.”

        This convoluted conflict has been perpetuated by violations on both sides; to place all of the blame on Israel is shortsighted. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines apartheid as actions or policies “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one group over another.” While Palestinians living in Israel suffer discrimination, they also enjoy citizenship, the right to vote, political representation, state-funded Arabic language schools and media, affirmative action and freedom of movement (without checkpoints) within Israel. Since all parties (with the exception of Hamas, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance is pretty murky as well) support a two-state solution, checkpoints and barriers along the West Bank border are the legitimate precursors to the future international border.

“To resist against the fabulously-funded and well-oiled zionist indoctrination machine that is alive and well on college campuses. Tufts being no exception (pst. Hillel).” 

        SJP fails to understand what exactly Zionism is, which is why it continues to be snubbed by the mainstream. Zionism, like every form of nationalism — French, Vietnamese, German, Palestinian, American, etcetera — comprises a spectrum of beliefs that should not be defined by those on its extremes. At its core, Zionism supports the existence of a national homeland for the long-persecuted Jewish people within a part of the historic Land of Israel (Palestine) — simple self-determination. The actions of the current Israeli government do not define Zionism. The small proportion of Jews living in the West Bank known as “settlers” do not define Zionism. Tufts Hillel, which officially endorses a two-state solution and sponsors the Tufts Students for Two States coalition (which SJP has not joined), clearly shows its opposition to the Israeli Occupation. While I don’t support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), I believe it’s in the Jewish community’s best interests to encourage debate over its legitimacy and efficacy. And maybe Hillel could tone down Israel a bit. But does the principle of freedom of speech warrant Hillel to host (anti-Zionist) promotion of the destruction of the world’s largest Jewish community?

“SJP at Tufts supports the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against the Israeli state until it extends equal rights to Palestinians.  Wherever they reside — be it in the diaspora as refugees, in the occupied territories or in ‘Israel proper’.”

        Extending “equal rights” (which starts with citizenship) to the entire Palestinian diaspora of 12 million would risk making the 6 million Jews in Israel proper a minority. The position SJP takes on the Palestinian “right of return” illustrates its de facto political goal — a one-state solution in which Israel is dismantled and replaced by a Palestinian state. Why should the liberation of one nation come at the expense of another? Wouldn’t that just be repeating 1948? And a binational state would be a chaotic failure. Israel is obligated to help alleviate the burden of the Palestinian refugees, but the future Palestinian state (alongside Israel), that I and a majority of Israelis and Palestinians support, should be where most of them receive citizenship.

“We designate one week…as ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’…to end all facets of our institution’s complicity in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.”

        Since Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians does not constitute apartheid, SJP’s accusation is distracting. Israel’s human rights violations need to be addressed, but singling it out from among all of the world’s nations, including U.S. allies and friends (Saudi Arabia? Turkey? Pakistan? France? Switzerland?) paints Israel as an illegitimate pariah.

I urge everyone to challenge both the Zionist and the Palestinian narratives you have been exposed to, including SJP’s. And if, like me, you’re sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, know that you don’t have to adopt the unreasonable stances of SJP to be a student for justice in Palestine.


5 Responses

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  1. Arafat
    Oct 09, 2015 - 08:38 AM

    Are people who support Hamas akin to people who supported the Nazis?

    Seems to me they are.

    Nazis destroyed all the Jews of Europe. Hamas never stops talking about destroying Jews.

    Nazis depicted Jews as beneath contempt just as Hamas does. Nazis blamed Jews for all their
    problems and so does Hamas.

    Seems to me the only difference is Hamas does not have the military required to really kill off all the Jews of Israel. If they did have these weapons everyone knows they would use them as indiscriminately as the Nazis did.

    I wonder what sort of person supports an organization that is today’s Nazis. What moral and
    intellectual blindness do these Nazi worshippers suffer from?

  2. Arafat
    Oct 09, 2015 - 08:45 AM

    Chad, this one is for you…

    Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,

    who put darkness for light and light for darkness,

    who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

    Isaiah 5:20

  3. mxm123
    Oct 13, 2015 - 09:40 AM

    “Most importantly, the Jews, along with the Palestinians, are indigenous to the land. Don’t believe me? ” – For which they got the land of Israel and now want to steal the rest from people living there. Thanks Chad for omitting that..

    “Since Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians does not constitute apartheid” – Sayz you Chad. And of course the Hillel and its parrots.

    “The small proportion of Jews living in the West Bank known as “settlers” do not define Zionism. Tufts Hillel, which officially endorses a two-state solution and sponsors the Tufts Students for Two States coalition” – As Peter Beinart often states, Hillel’s, along with a host of other pro Israeli groups, talk thru both sides of their mouth. They claim they’re for a two state solution while actively supporting the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians through settlements.

    • Mr. Shami
      Mar 25, 2016 - 07:32 PM

      Go try to live in an Arab country as an atheist/homosexual/religious/ethnic minority and then tell me what real apartheid feels like. I bet you neither care about the thousands of Muslims the Muslim Assad regime is killing nor the 300,000 Palestinians expelled from Kuwait during the Gulf War as much as you do care about the “Palestinians” (less than 20,000 killed in history) by Israel just because it’s Jews killing Muslims this time.

      Anti-Semitism is still alive, it seems.

  4. alumni
    Nov 06, 2015 - 12:27 PM

    I applaud the author for his mastery of “double speak”. Under the pretense of establishing facts, this article is virulently anti-likud. He is pretending to a “friend”, while he clearly is taking a one sided point of view.

    While the occupatioon of the West Bank is a fact, it is not entirely Israels fault. You have to ignore history and be inconvinienced with facts to blame it squarely on Israel or the Likud. You need to ignore the offers dating back all the way to the 60’s by diferent Israeli government to different state and non state actors.Why not ignore the the famous three Nos? or the Olmet plan. It did not give the arabs all they wanted, but it was substantive and had the workings of a proper functioning state.

    The the truth is that Arab culture is maximalist while jews tend to be incrementalists. What does that meen? Arabs want all or nothing. Jews will take what they can get and live to fight another day. This maximalist attitude has led them to loose territory over the last 150 years, while the incrementalist attitude has led to an increase in territory by jews.

    This maximalist attitude has also led to other historical tactical mistakes. It has led the palestinian leadership to ally themselves with the nazis, the soviets and Hussain. It is hard to continually ally yourself with the loosing side and expect to better your position.

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