Monday, December 9

Submission: Polarization undermines Israeli-Palestinian dialogue

Correction: The original version of this submission incorrectly stated that Students for Justice in Palestine conducted a "mock stabbing" and had student leader employing Holocaust-related rhetoric during its "die-in". The speaker also did not say "the resistance is justified," but said "the cause is just."

Last week, Students for Justice in Palestine organized its annual Palestine Awareness Week, which has led me to question the true definition of the word “pro.” Does being in favor require that you be adamantly against something else? Contrary to popular belief, being pro-something does not require you be anti-something as well – even though our polarized campus climate may lead to you believe otherwise.

As a pro-Israel student at UCLA, it has become abundantly clear to me that there is no place for nuance in the current dialogue that takes place about Israel and Palestine. Students are forced to pick a side and publicly oppose the other to the point that dialogue and mutual recognition are virtually nonexistent.

The pro-Palestine movement at UCLA has long claimed to be fighting for justice for Palestine and Palestinians. However, recent events proved that these groups have begun to use their platform not to build up the Palestinian state and the Palestinian people, but to incite hatred against the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

Advocating for the establishment of a Palestinian state or advocating on behalf of the Palestinian people should not require calling for the destruction of the Jewish state and justifying the murder of the Jewish people. In the last years, SJP has unapologetically employed such rhetoric and imagery.

This rhetoric can be seen in footage of SJP chapters across the University of California, including SJP at UCLA, chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” To an ordinary bystander, this phrase probably means absolutely nothing. To a student who is aware of the geography of the Jewish state, this is a direct call for its annihilation.

In this chant, “the river” refers to the Jordan River, which is the eastern border between Israel and Jordan, and “the sea” refers to the Mediterranean Sea, which is the western border of Israel. Chanting “from the river to the sea” is not a call for the “liberation of Palestine.” Rather, it is a call for wiping the Jewish state off the map. Something along the lines of “from the river to the sea, coexistence shall come to be,” would be far more appropriate.

On Oct. 14, SJP held its annual Day of Action, during which it organized a “die-in” at Meyerhoff Park. The “die-in” was followed by a speech in which a student leader declared that the “cause is just.” Regardless of how you feel about Israeli policy, there is no justification for the ruthless murder of innocent civilians. The victims of the most recent wave of terror range from a 13-year-old Israeli child biking through the streets of Jerusalem to an 80-year-old grandmother sitting at a bus stop in Rishon L’Tzion. There is no justification for stabbing another human being with a kitchen knife – any attempt to justify this is both inhumane and undignified.

And most recently, during its Palestine Awareness Week, SJP hosted “Jewish Voices for Palestine featuring Max Blumenthal and Miko Peled,” during which they further reinforced the false dichotomy of “pro” and “anti” by denying Jewish history, and justifying the murder of innocent civilians, saying, “any attack by people in Gaza on Israel is legal, morally just, and completely understandable.”

Recent months have been difficult for Israelis, Palestinians and their respective supporters. But we cannot allow conflict 8,000 miles away to jeopardize or blind us from our moral obligations as human beings. A pro-Palestine movement should not be inherently anti-Israel, in the same way that a pro-Israel movement should not be inherently anti-Palestine.

There are many individuals who use their involvement within the pro-Palestine movement as a vehicle for deeply rooted anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic inclinations. Least of all Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, who has said, “we are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it, for Zionism is intent on killing itself. I, for one, support euthanasia.” Zionism is the belief in the self-determination of the Jewish people. By blatantly denying the self-determination of the Jewish people, while simultaneously advocating for the self-determination of other peoples, Barghouti clearly expresses blatant discrimination against the Jewish people.

As a Zionist and a believer in the self-determination of both the Jewish and Palestinian people, let me be the first to say that my community will not back down from intimidation. We will not stop championing the cause that we know to be right and true. We will never allow our movement to be one that condones anti-Palestinian or Islamophobic rhetoric. Nor will we ever lose our hope that our two peoples will live in peace.

My challenge for all of us Bruins is that, removed from the immediate conflict, we may see beyond the shadows of our own beliefs and narratives to begin to listen to the narratives of others, in hopes that we may recognize that the zero-sum game in which we currently engage is futile and dehumanizing.

I am a Bruin for Israel, a Bruin for future coexistence and most of all a Bruin for peace.

Neuman is a second-year political science student and public relations director for Bruins for Israel.

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  • M.N. manasseh

    The truth is that you cannot be for Israel, for Palestinian rights and also for the occupation. You will have to choose two of those. Also you cannot be in favor of the two state solution also in favor of settlements. you cannot be also in favor of peace and the expulsion of the local Palestinians. I am sad to tell you that choosing your ideals, although it does not mean you have to be an activist against others, it does mean you work for the ideals….

    • mls31286

      The idea M.N. manasseh is that most diaspora Jews and Israeli’s do not support settlements passed the green line, so most do support a two state solution. I will anticipate your next question is then why did they reelect Netanyahu. The answer to that is fear – the level of hatred people have for Israel and the double standards applied. For example, Israel is a standing agenda item for the UNHRC and has been censured more than all other countries in the world combined. Does this make sense?

      Further, the international community never stands by it’s word when it comes to Israel. When Israel moved it’s settlers out of Gaza, the Intl community promised that if it didn’t turn into the next Dubai they would have Israel’s back. Well it didn’t and they didn’t.

    • ModernMaccabi

      So what you are saying is that if you are pro-Israel there can be no compromise with the Palestinians/Arabs? If that is the case, according to your logic, the Israelis should probably move to expel the Arab population. “From the River to the Sea…” as your side likes to say.

  • Davey Wavey

    The entire premise here is wrong: Advocacy for Palestinians does not require, nor endorse, hatred for the Jewish people. In fact, the idea that this is the case is pursued by the Zionists who find refuge, as always, in their tragic posture as victims of hatred, the inevitable defense of “anti-semitism.” Palestinians know well that there are many many Jews who are opposed to the policies and practices of the self-appointed “Jewish” state, far more than one could imagine from the mass media. Cornered by its ridiculous, otiose and unnecessary conceits, Zionism defends by adopting the pose of the victim. Zionists have always been poseurs.

    I do not endorse hatred, despite Israeli “hatred” of all Arabs, if ever there was a basis for hating Jews, Zionism would fill that requirement easily. On the face of it, the Jewish people have indeed founded their “home” at the expense of another people. Among world historical infamies, the multi-generational oppression of Palestinians in their own land, on their own land, after over 1000 years of Arab possession, would rank up there with the miseries of American slavery, or the Holocaust. After all, Palestinians have been battered for nearly 70 years by the immigrant population, three generations of refugees giving up land, businesses, rights, and futures to this exogenous group posing as natives with name changes and all that. Even t4he Holocaust was really maybe four years of savage oppression and murder, not 70 years.

    The amazing thing is that Pals don’t hate or promulgate hatred. They leave that to the “settlers” squatting on their land, their future.

    • M2000

      “Even t4he Holocaust was really maybe four years of savage oppression and murder, not 70 years.”
      No wonder Palestinian supporters are into holocaust denial.

    • mls31286

      Davey Wavey – Not one thing you have said is based on fact. It’s not even close or even debatable. Everything you wrote above is nonsense. Let me take you through why.

      1. “I do not endorse hatred, despite Israeli ‘Hatred’ of all Arabs”. Arabs consist of 20% of the Israeli population and are given full rights. It is one of the only countries in the Middle East where minorities and women hold positions in the government, there are Arab doctors, Lawyers and Judges. Israel accepted the Arabs in the Palestinian Mandate as citizens of Israel. How did surrounding Arab nations treat the Palestinians? Well they are still in refugee camps – yes – as Europe and the US are taking in immigrants and giving them citizenship – Arab nations spat on the Palestinians. Israel is one of the only nations to set up field hospitals for those being injured in Syria and treated everyone. Israel treated over 200,000 Palestinians in Israeli hospitals. This included treatment of Hamas leader Isma’il Haniya family. So Hamas’ goal is to destroy Israel but Israel gives his family entry permits to get help at Israeli hospitals. Please explain to me how this is hatred. You are either ignorant or a liar.

      2. To compare the treatment of Palestinians to Slavery or the Holocaust is ridiculous. The Palestinian population has grown both in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli Arab population has grown in Israel. Life expectancy is longer in the West Bank and Israel than any other Arab nation. Arabs have better lives even in Gaza than most Arab nations. The holocaust consisted of rounding people up that were just trying to live their lives and systematically murdering them, over 60% of the European Jewish population. You are an idiot plain and simple for thinking these are even remotely comparable.

      3. “Over 1000 years of Arab possession” – Have you even heard of the Ottoman Empire? The land changed hands many times over the years and there was a Jewish presence always – this is undisputed fact. Most Israeli’s bought land legally when they immigrated as well. The Arabs declared war on the newly formed Jewish State. From here, everything is the Palestinians own doing. The Jews even bombed one of their own ships (Atelana – look it up) to ensure they adhere to the truce.

      4. The Palestinians don’t hate or promulgate hatred. Do you live under a rock? Not even Palestinians themselves would deny this – the Palestinians pay anyone who murders a Jew – in what world is that not hatred? Let me share some quotes from each side:


      “Even in the abyss of mourning for Gilad, Eyal and Naftali, it is difficult for me to describe how distressed we are by the outrage committed in Jerusalem – the shedding of innocent blood is against morality, is against the Torah and Judaism, and is against the foundation of the lives of our boys and of all of us in this country,” – Rachel Frenkel mother of one of the murdered Israeli Children

      “Whoever throws a Molotov cocktail at a residential home is a terrorist. Period,” Bennett wrote on twitter. – Bennet – a very right wing Israeli leader talking about an Israeli settler attack.

      “In a democratic state there is a place for freedom of expression, but with that there is a need for civic responsibility to express the protest within the limits of the laws,” he said. “ I want to say very clearly that anyone who tries to take the law into their hands, anyone who disturbs the peace, the police will act against him with full determination — we will protect the civil order in the streets of Israel.” Netanyahu after the same Israeli settler attack Bennet responded to above


      “Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.” Abbas speaking after he made up Israel was trying to change the status quo when no evidence showed this

      “We call on our people in the West Bank to carry out more quality operations like the [one] today. This is the only solution which is supported by the masses of our people everywhere.” – Hamas spokesman Husam Badran after a mother of 3 was murdered by stabbing and her 3 children were injured

      A recent poll came to show 85% of Palestinians support violence against Israeli’s:

      Again, you are either a liar or ignorant – which do you prefer?

    • Beer Baron

      And people wonder why there will never be a nation called Palestine.

    • ModernMaccabi

      Almost every single assertion made by Davey Wavey is a lie or historical falsehood. It is absolutely amazing. Just one example: “1000 years of Arab Possession”??? Oh, really. Please provide some support for that falsehood. Before the land was called Israel, it was small part of the Ottoman Empire for more than 500 years. The Ottomans were not Arab. Before that it was controlled by the Byzantines, Greeks, Romans and Judeans. Likewise, stop comparing the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Holocaust. There are no death camps or mass executions in Israel. Doing so is small-minded and despicable.

  • BradD99

    The fact is, 99% of “pro-Palestinian” activists don’t want a peaceful Palestinian state and a peaceful Jewish state. They want a heavily armed Palestinian state, and the world’s only Jewish state to be erased turned yet another Arab/Muslim-majority state that dominates the hated Jewish minority.

    Pro-Palestinian activists accept Muslim states yet reject a Jewish state. They accept Arab nationalism, Palestinian nationalism and Muslim nationalism yet hatefully demonize everything about Jewish nationalism.

  • BradD99

    As you can see even by mentally ill loons like “Davey Wavey” who posted an hour ago, the pro-Palestinian nutjobs hate the very existence of Israel. That’s why almost all their arguments are centered around how badly they want the one tiny Jewish state to not be Jewish anymore, and the tiny state of Israel to stop defending itself.

  • BradD99

    Israel cannot be expected to hand land they won from Egypt and Jordan in defensive wars over to Jew-hating Palestinians.

    It is absurd to expect Israel to hand land/power to the jihadist maniacs who surround Israel.

  • BradD99

    Jews are the only people in the world now forced to defend nationalism that resulted in one tiny homeland existing for them.

    Nobody puts Italians on trial for having Italy.

    Nobody puts Arabs on trial for having Arab states.

    Nobody puts Muslims on trial for now having over 50 Muslim countries (all of which belonged to Christians Hindus Buddhists etc before Islam came around)

    Only Jews/Israelis are put to trial like this.

  • BradD99

    BDS is not a peace movement. It doesn’t just promote a Palestinian state. BDS promotes ethnic cleansing of Jews entirely out of the West Bank, BDS is OK with Gaza having literally zero Jews, BDS promotes a Palestinian state that would blatantly discriminate against any Jew. AND BDS promotes the act of millions of Arabs/Muslims flooding into the world’s one tiny Jewish state WITH THE SPECIFIC PURPOSE of ERASING Israel as a Jewish state SPECIFICALLY so there’d be a Palestinian state run by Arabs/Muslims AND Israel being ERASED and ALSO being run by Arabs/Muslims.

    BDS basically tells Jews that their nationalism is evil yet Arab and Muslim and Palestinian nationalism is ENCOURAGED. BDS tells Jews that they have to commit national suicide or else they’re “racist.”

    BDS tells Israelis that they must suicide their own homeland and allow a massive Jew-hating population conquer Israel and erase Israel or else Israelis are “racist.”

    BDS isn’t about peace or co-existence, it’s just an assault on Israel’s very existence.

    In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority makes it ILLEGAL for any Palestinians to sell a house to a Jewish person. This is blatant anti-semitism that the world of BDS OPENLY ACCEPTS.

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    • ThisIsPalestine

      Students for Just Us in Palestine has been explicitly against a two state solution and peace for decades now. It is written into the fabric of their organization. Ask any member of SJP if they want a Jewish state of Israel living in peace alongside a Muslim/Arab state of Palestine and they’ll give you some long sob story. Because the answer is “no,” that isn’t what they want. They want the Arabs to conquer Israel.

  • FB363

    This article is rife with the sophistries, equivocations and bad faith which one would expect from a sophomore Zionist, so to that extent is hardly a shocker.

    Dear Neumann, wishing for the Zionist regime to disappear does not mean wishing for Israeli Jews to be murdered. Perhaps you can tell the difference between these two:

    1 – A state in which all legal residents have equal rights and enjoy equal respect, even if they don’t like each other very much, and no matter whether they identify as Jews or Christians or Muslims or are colored white, black or brown.

    2 – A state in which all the Jews have been murdered or driven out, leaving it to the non-Jews to enjoy their equal rights amongst themselves.

    It is hard to argue against #1, since it is highly appealing to the democratic sympathies we all claim to share. Unfortunately it requires that Israel in its current form go away. Much the same way that the apartheid regime of South Africa went away, and the old Soviet regime. They have disappeared from the pages of time. It happens. But the Russians and South Africans are still with us, thank goodness, as will be the Jews of Israel.

    The idea of #2, or imagining that it sums up the pro-Palestinian / anti-Israel aims, is comforting to the Zionist wallowing in his perpetual victimhood, but it is a phantasm.

  • BigSticksWalkSoftly

    Self-determination for the natives (Palestinians)?
    Self-determining on other people’s land?
    That is called stealing(followed by the lies,violence,intimidation,misinformation).
    Kind of like what the crusaders were trying to pull off back in the days. that didn’t work out so well

    • ThisIsPalestine

      The Palestinians are not natives, they are conquering imperialist occupiers.

      Imperialist colonizing land thieves go home!

      • BigSticksWalkSoftly

        It is amazing how unconditional Zionist supporters make out Palestinians to be some super human warrior.
        When in fact it is Israel with the illegal nukes and US military weapons galore that claims to be a victim but stays busy stealing other people’s land

        • ModernMaccabi

          Palestinian/Arab combatants are many things. “Some super human warrior” is not one of those things. Cowardly killers of innocent women and children is a more accurate description especially considering the most recent examples of their chosen type of warfare.

    • ModernMaccabi

      BigSticksWalkSoftly: You continue to pedal lies and mistruths. Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. While some fled during the diaspora, others remained and lived there for thousands of years. Whereas, the Arabs (called Palestinians beginning the late 1960s) do not have historical ties to the land. Indeed, there has never in the history of the world been an independant Arab country or territory of Palestine. Never. That’s just a historical fact.

      • BigSticksWalkSoftly

        How is that different from what the crusader invaders thought 1000 years ago?
        No difference.
        I think you are confusing Judaism with Zionism.
        Or you are purposefully confusing others.

        • ModernMaccabi

          How is what different from the crusader invaders? What on earth are you talking about? You don’t seem to understand, or are just flatly ignoring, the FACT that Jews have lived in Israel (or whatever it was called before 1948) for thousands of years, and the FACT that Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. Christian Crusaders had absolutely nothing to do with the area before they invaded.
          The fact remains that it was never a homeland for Arabs or even an Arab state or republic. That is an undisputable fact. Period. If you disagree, which I’m sure you will, please provide some dates or historical references (e.g., political system, leaders, distinct language or culture, currency, etc…) to prove otherwise.
          Zionism is a political movement to re-establish Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. They are tied together no matter how much you try to deny it or try to create a false definition.
          Nothing disgusting about the facts. You just choose to ignore them. What is disgusting and pathetic is your utter lack of knowledge about the history of Israel and the Jewish people.

  • ModernMaccabi

    Imagine if pro-Israeli students chanted “Free, Free Israel… From the River to the Sea, Israel will be free.” What would that imply? Any reasonable person would take it to mean or imply the expulsion or destruction of Arabs from Israel. In my view, such a chant would be completely unacceptable and should be deemed racist on its face. Clearly there are double standards for Jews which is pathetic and shameful.

  • hypocrisy

    Talk about Palestinian rights and the pro-Israeli crowd will drive the discussion straight into the gutter. That’s a wonderful way of avoiding any discussion of Israeli settlements. Just like the author above and the commentators below.