I am a progressive Zionist Jewish woman. I hold dual American and Israeli citizenship. I am an avid supporter of social justice movements. I have volunteered in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories. I have spent months in dialogue with experts on both sides of the political divide and care deeply about a just and peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
By all accounts, I should be an avid supporter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), but I am anything but. Here’s why.
As a student at UR, I have experienced too many ignorant, anti-Israel encounters, many of them masked by pro-Palestinian agendas. Mostly, I have let them pass. But now, with the latest insult from SDS, in the form of “Palestinian Awareness Month,” I must speak up.
SDS, you claim you are “not affiliated with any political party and welcome people with political views across the spectrum.”
But this is not true. You have a clear anti-Israel political agenda.
Here are two examples.
First, your “State Oppression” committee focuses solely on the State of Israel. Are there no other states in the world worthy of the “oppression” title? What about neighboring Syria, where the government has murdered over 200,000 of their own citizens in the last few years and makes daily headlines with new atrocities?
Second, your Palestinian Awareness month project does very little to increase knowledge about the Palestinian culture and history, but rather focuses solely on anti-Israel propaganda. Shameful.
And yet, it would be unfair to assume the plight of the Palestinians isn’t bound up tightly with Israel. Israel’s imperfections are many, and worthy of coverage. But to avoid producing one-sided propaganda, you ought to fairly address other key contributors of the Palestinian situation.
Consider the Palestinian Authority’s “problematic” leadership, who have taken very large sums of money from their own treasury, robbing the Palestinians of badly-needed resources. And what of Hamas’ violent and theocratic police state, where children, schools, and hospitals are routinely used for military purposes?
If you really cared about Palestinians (and were focused on a true pro-Palestinian agenda, rather than an anti-Israel one), you would fight to improve their education, health, and economic opportunities by advocating for their statehood and voting against the U.N. agency that prevents Palestinian resettlement.
If you really cared about Palestinian awareness, you would also fight for the rights of Palestinian minorities, like LGBTQI people and non-Muslim religious minorities, all of whom suffer tremendously in the Palestinian territories.
And in case you weren’t aware, here a few facts about the reality of Palestinians living in the state of Israel.
All Palestinians living in the state of Israel are full Israeli citizens with full equal rights. In fact, there are three Arab political parties in the government, and over 17 Arab members of parliament.
Salim Joubran is a distinguished Arab-Israeli Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, and has served since 2003. Thousands of Israeli Arabs serve in the Israel Defense Forces, attend universities, work as doctors and lawyers, and serve as police officers
So, no, I’m afraid that your characterization of Israel as “State Oppression” hardly comports with the facts, and is inherently anti-Israel.
As a Jew, I treasure and aspire to the value of “tikkun olam,” to repair the world as best I can. But to lend support to SDS hardly seems like a “tikkun”—a repair—at all.
It is nothing more than shouting and blaming, and I simply do not feel comfortable supporting you and your efforts.
I want to be an ally. Please, SDS, reconsider your positions and give me an opportunity to rejoin you.