This article reflects the opinion of the writer and not The Rock at Boston College. The Rock takes no official political stance and welcomes opinions from every point of view
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Monday, 55% of Americans sympathize more with Israel while 9% sympathize more with the Palestinians. This drastic imbalance exists at a time when many pro-Palestinian movements are appearing around the country, particularly on college campuses. I think that the disparity of sentiments is, in part, because pro-Palestinian movements focus more on antagonizing Israel than supporting the Palestinian people.
Readers may have noticed the presence of an 8×12 foot wall on the Stokes Lawn this week. This is part of series of events sponsored by Boston College’s Students for Justice in Palestine under the title: “Peace, Not Apartheid Week.” The wall is a drastic misrepresentation of the security fence in and around the West Bank, of which over 97% is a high-tech chain link fence. Only 3% forms a wall, erected, according to authorities, near locations such as Jerusalem where suicide bombers were of greatest threat, as well as where high-traffic roads were targeted by random sniper fire. Pro-Palestinian organizations such as SJP ignore the terrorism that forced Israel to build the security fence, and the incredible number of lives it has saved.
Among the images on SJP’s wall is a dove wearing a bulletproof vest with red crosshairs aimed at its heart, to “show that the Israelis don’t want peace.” If you passed by our Israel Peace Week table at any time last week, you would know this is far from the truth, and that the problem instead lies mostly with the Palestinian leadership who refuse to compromise.
The strongest argument against Israel is that the security fence encroaches on the West Bank. While it is true that the fence does not run along the ‘Green Line,’ it is important to recognize what the Green Line actually is. The Green Line is the name given to the armistice line drawn arbitrarily on the map after Israel’s War of Independence in 1948-49. The phrase originates from the line that was drawn in green permanent marker, never meant to be an official border.
Furthermore, the analogy between Israel/Palestine and Apartheid South Africa again ignores the truth. It condemns Israel’s security policies, implemented to protect its citizens, while ignoring the fact Arab citizens of Israel enjoy freedom like any other citizen. Arabic is one of Israel’s official languages; 20% of Israel’s citizens are Arab; and 10% of the Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court are Arab. Indeed, Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh left the highly censored Palestinian publications to enjoy the freedom of the press in Israel.
Ever heard the term ‘pink washing’? Pink washing is one of two ‘colored washes’ claimed by pro-Palestinian groups, in addition to “green washing.” Pink washing refers to claims of Israel distracting from its “human rights violations” by emphasizing its friendliness towards its LGBT community, while green washing implies that Israel uses its environmentalism to distract from its supposed injustices. Would these groups prefer that Israel be less friendly toward the LGBT community or that Israeli environmentalism cease? By refusing to acknowledge Israel’s achievements-in LGBT rights, in environmentalism, and more-they lose credibility by trying to malign Israel. To suggest that Israeli achievements are somehow designed to serve as a cover for humanitarian crimes is tremendously inaccurate.
Another issue revolves around the fact there has never actually been a sovereign state of Palestine. Historically, this land housed the ancient kingdoms of Israel. It became part of the Muslim empire after the 7th century, and its last Muslim rulers were the Ottomans, who lost their empire after the First World War. The League of Nations gave Britain the task of establishing a Jewish state and an Arab state in what was known as the Palestine Mandate. Most of Palestine was given to the Arabs after the war, to become the Kingdom of Jordan. What was left was partitioned between Israel and the Arabs in 1948, but the Arabs demanded all of it. They are still demanding all of it, as the Hamas and PLO (now the Palestinian Authority) charters make clear.
Finally, anti-Zionism often comes very close to anti-Semitism. Because of Israel’s identity as The Jewish Homeland, many groups use “Israeli” and “Jewish” interchangeably, setting the foundation for potential anti-Semitism. To be clear, though, anti-Zionists are by no means all necessarily anti-Semitic. Interestingly enough, despite their celebrating their advisor’s Jewish identity, the term “Jewish” is absent from SJP’s list of keywords on BC OrgSync, while “Muslim” and “Christian” are in fact included. I do not think that this was done intentionally but rather as a result of subconscious association of Israelis and Jews.
I believe the Palestinians would gain far more support if pro-Palestinian groups focused less on antagonizing Israel and protesting its existence, and more on the internal problems faced by Palestinians, including their political leadership. This leadership has resisted the formation of a sovereign Palestinian state on no less than six occasions since 1937, costing the Palestinians a majority of the land. If the 1937 or 1947 partition plans had been accepted, it is unlikely that immigration and defensive wars would have led to Israel being the size it is now, although still miniscule in the grand scheme of the region. It is my desire that Eagles for Israel and Students for Justice in Palestine find a common ground in our search for peace, just as I support the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority finding a compromise to achieve peace by a two-state solution. However, this requires a positive approach, which in turn must be based on the facts and real issues at hand. The pro-Palestinian cause must not devolve into an anti-Israel campaign, to ensure the pursuit of what is in the best interests of the Palestinians.