Support Israel at WU

Jessica Hahn

Recently, WU Solidarity for Israel (WSI) has been circulating a petition. It reads, “We, the undersigned, members of the Washington University community, support Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and we promote the continuation of the strong US-Israel relationship.”

The purpose of this petition is straightforward: it is meant to reaffirm that a Jewish state has a right to exist and that the U.S. should maintain close ties with Israel. The biased, anti-Israel media and a general ignorance about Israel and the situation there has made people afraid of making commitment to that country. I hope that this fear does not deter people from signing WSI’s petition. By signing this petition, members of the WU community support democracy and the right of the Jewish people to live in their own land.

The main reason that there is so much controversy surrounding Israel’s right to exist is because it involves the Jewish people. It involves the same Jewish people who, over the generations, lived as sub-citizens and were scapegoated by their host countries. Although this anti-Semitism is more latent now, it has instead manifested itself in the form of anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism is another means of bringing Jews back to their accepted status of victim in their host countries.

Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly explains the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in his “Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend.” He writes, “Driven from their homeland, their nation in ashes, forced to wander the globe, the Jewish people time and again suffered the lash of whichever tyrant happened to rule over them… And what is anti-Zionism? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the globe. It is discrimination against Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism.”

While we are constantly questioning Israel’s right to exist, the statehoods of Argentina, Germany, or even Iraq are inherently understood. As King suggests, we question Israel’s right to exist because it is equivalent to the Jewish people’s right to exist.

Although much anti-Zionism in the United States is a result of anti-Semitism, it also stems directly from the anti-Israeli media that portrays Israel as the big bad giant. Across the nation, newspapers and magazines write articles and print photos that are biased against Israel. For example, the Chicago Tribune consistently prints photographs that depict Israel as aggressive and violent. Unfortunately, people do not question the veracity of this type of depiction or attempt to learn about the situation the photo represents. It is no wonder that too many U.S. citizens feel that the existence of a state of Israel is a threat. The truth is that Israel is not a threat. We should not be afraid to support Israel.

By supporting Israel we are supporting democracy. In a sea of oppressive governments, Israel stands as the only democracy in the Middle East. This common value of democracy, among others, has allied us with Israel since its statehood in 1948. It should continue to do so. By maintaining a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, the United States does not necessarily need to condone and support all of the actions taken by Israel. For example, President Bush has denounced various Israeli military action throughout the past two years of conflict. Nonetheless, the U.S.-Israel relationship must exist. While we still remain allies with other democracies, with whose policies we do not always agree, we are constantly questioning our relationship with Israel. There should be no question here. We must continue it.

Now, we have the opportunity to voice our support for both the existence of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship. This opportunity is WSI’s petition.

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