Editorial by Maria Lilly, [email protected]
Students on campuses around the United States and around the world are finding themselves in the middle of a rhetorical struggle between two competing groups: anti-Israel groups and pro-Israel groups. For our purposes I would like to focus on two particular groups from opposite sides of the issue: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
Students for Justice in Palestine’s name claims to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine. But in effect SJP is more a slander platform. On campuses SJP chapters criminalize the State of Israel with claims Israel is an apartheid state.
Christians United for Israel’s On Campus division combats such rhetoric with fact-based advocacy. They argue with legitimate sources, intellectually undeniable facts and first hand accounts that Israel is in fact not an apartheid state because fundamentally Israel does not meet any of the requirements set to define apartheid in South Africa.
Rather than being a state endorsing racism, in Israel citizens of every ethnicity, gender and religion are allowed to vote and hold office. Israel welcomes immigrants from all over the world. All people are afforded equal rights under a democratic government, including women, a rare occurrence in the Middle East. Rather than forbidding mixed racial marriages, Israel welcomes them and is one country in the Middle East where same-sex couples are not threatened with death for their sexual orientation.
Unlike in the case of apartheid South Africa, all Israelis are invited to freely participate in the economy; all people are free to own property. When it comes to land ownership the ones segregated against are actually Israeli citizens, their government forced them out of land which historically and legally is their own, in an attempt to both protect Israelis from those who wish to kill them as well as in hopes of achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
The argument that Israel is an apartheid state, emotionally arousing rhetoric, is simply empty.
Apartheid in South Africa was a globally recognized atrocity involving segregation, legal and economic inequality. It was blatant, unadulterated racism in its most purely evil form. Apartheid is a noun meant to make every man’s skin crawl. To associate apartheid with the state of Israel is an insult to all humanity and most especially to South Africans and the South Africans’ struggles for freedom.
Associating a free and democratic state with an institution which wronged and abused thousands because of racism ultimately results in the negation of what apartheid is and how it looks. It is the dissolution of justice in valid cases of racism and a discredit to every person who has ever faced racism. It is the equivalent of spitting in the face of Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr., giants who looked racism in the face challenged it and suffered for the cause of justice.
By contrast the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the groups governing the Palestinian territories, persecute, discriminate against, confiscate without just cause the property of and even kill Christians, homosexuals, and anyone who disagrees with regime policy. They murder those brave enough to defend their right to free speech and independent thought. Those who have the courage to speak out.
According to the Institute of Black Solidarity with Israel, Palestinian territories honor killings are up 300 percent just over the past year. The Palestinian government receives funding not only from countries like the United States but also the selling and trading of African refugees as slaves. The Palestinian government surrounds her people, including young children, with anti-Jew propaganda. They call for the ethnic cleansing of all Jews, and socialize their children to believe such action would be just. They simultaneously deny the Holocaust and laud Adolf Hitler.
Students for Justice in Palestine claims to defend a victimized Palestine when in fact, as an organization it demonizes democracy, freedom and equality while tolerating and justifying the massacre of innocents by their government. SJP defends persecution and murder of minorities, the criminalization of free speech, modern slavery, interfamilial murder, as well as a corrupt judicial system.
Students for Justice in Palestine uses misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric to disguise their funding and support of human rights violations. Christians United for Israel endeavors to use truth as a catalyst for the promotion of critical thinking and a knowledge based point of view of Israel’s and the Palestinians’ situation in the world.
Apartheid in the Middle East is not in Israel, it is in Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Justice would be criminalizing the criminals not attacking democracy.
So why then is SJP finding wide support on the campuses of our nation? Our Universities, which of all the places in the world, ought to be the greatest defenders of intellectual integrity, truth and social justice are being hijacked and our students’ very human urge to fight injustice is being taken advantage of.
Our Universities should not be standing in solidarity with injustice for Palestine. Rather America and her Universities ought to be actively defending justice’s cause.