Op-ed Submission: A response to Students for Justice in Palestine

Zakary Kadish and Max Handler | Class of 2019 & Class of 2018

When the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) walked out of Etai Pinkas’s talk, they followed in the footsteps of numerous other pro-Palestinian organizations that refuse to engage in any constructive dialogue or debate for fear of being exposed for the frauds they are. Instead of taking advantage of an opportunity to show that pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian organizations can work to secure common aims, SJP chose to make a scene and disrupt an event that had no real relation to their cause, other than that it involved Israel. Apparently, one can never admit or concede that Israel does, on occasion, positive things, lest it detract from Israel’s fundamental evil. This kind of reductive, simplistic thinking demonstrates how fundamentally unserious of an organization SJP is.

If Students for Justice in Palestine is truly concerned with LGBTQIA* rights, they would applaud Israel for its progress. In Israel, LGBTQIA* individuals can enter civil unions, serve openly in the military, adopt children with their partners, get their legal gender changed on official documents and have marriages performed in other nations recognized by the State. In Palestinian territories, those who are LGBTQIA* fear persecution by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and harassment by local police and Fatah in the West Bank. In Israel, Tel Aviv serves as a model of tolerance and gay activism, with dozens of LGBTQIA* bars and nightclubs, and one of the largest Pride Parades in the world. In stark contrast, LGBTQIA* individuals from the Palestinian Territories frequently seek asylum in Israel. It is not Israel who denies their citizens the ability to be secure in their identities; rather, it is the Palestinian government that oppresses and harasses them. SJP refuses to admit this fact, something that is not surprising. After all, admitting this truth would require recognizing that not everything bad in the world is the fault of Israel.

This anti-Israel, “pinkwashing” op-ed follows another disturbing pattern among pro-Palestinian activists. No matter what cause, what advancement in human rights, what contribution to medicine, green technology, or the world, everything that Israel does is torn down as a form of “-washing.” Any good deed of Israel’s must be tied back to its alleged “apartheid” regime. Aside from lacking a dictionary to look up the definition of “apartheid,” Students for Justice in Palestine is apparently unable to consider the fact that Israel advances these policies because they are humane and will benefit their society. There is no other reason to promote this sort of rhetoric unless Studentc for Justice in Palestine wish to delegitimize the Jewish State. Considering the tactics and tone of other SJP chapters on other college campuses, it is entirely plausible that the Washington University chapter of SJP seeks to do just that.

Just as we are certain Students for Justice in Palestine would not appreciate us labeling their criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, conflating Israel with Judaism as a whole, we think it irresponsible to label anything that is against their cause as contributing to “anti-Arab rhetoric in a deeply anti-Muslim America.” We find the attacks of the president-elect and his supporters against members of the Muslim community to be despicable. But it is equally important to recognize the anti-Jewish elements as well. Donald Trump’s supporters have unleashed large amounts of anti-Semitism, the likes of which have not been seen in years. They have painted swastikas on Jewish-owned businesses and have flooded Jewish journalists with thousands of harassing emails and tweets invoking the Holocaust as a means of intimidation. Suggesting, as SJP does, that anyone opposed to Trump’s presidency must oppose Israel is laughable.

There is no doubt in our minds that Israel has its faults. We are against the presence of Israeli settlers in the West Bank. We believe that Palestine has a right to self-determination and co-existence with all of the nations of the world. We both favor the two-state solution and recognize that some of Israel’s actions have made the realization of that goal more difficult. But we want to work to make that dream a reality and we cannot do it when groups like SJP refuse to engage in any sort of productive dialogue. This refusal is telling; while SJP may claim to support a two-state solution, their refusal to engage in debate and acknowledge that Israel does good reveals the opposite. SJP has no interest in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it’s sole purpose is to de-legitimize the world’s lone Jewish State.

And one final note: Israel is spelled with a capital “I.”

  • Arafat

    Brilliant article.

    Thank you for taking the time.