In a sweeping, unanimous decision in Legislative Council, our ASUCI representatives made history: in R48-15, they managed to slander a pluralistic democracy as an apartheid state under the guise of tolerance and concern for human rights violations.
Before we discuss the actual conflict, let us dismiss a few common misconceptions. First, although members of legislative council may say this legislation is about human rights violations across the world, clearly it is not. If this legislation was about human rights, why is the synopsis “Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid,” and not human rights? The simple answer is the purpose of the legislation is to delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel.
Israel is not an apartheid state. This comparison is deceptive and marginalizes the evil apartheid encompassed. Apartheid was a political and legal system in South Africa under which a small minority of whites ruled over the larger indigenous black population, subjugating them to severe political, social discrimination and segregation. Black Africans under apartheid could not vote, could not hold political office, and were not even allowed to use the same public restrooms as whites in South Africa.
Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, however, enjoy the same liberties as Jews and any other ethnic group. There are currently 17 Arab members out of the 120-person Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as Arabs holding office in almost all aspects of Israeli government. Salim Joubran is a member of the Supreme Court, Major General Hussein Fares was the commander of Israel’s border police, both Arabs. Judge George Karra, a Palestinian Arab, sentenced the Jewish former President of Israel Moshe Katsav to jail on charges of obstruction of justice. An Arab sentenced a Jew to jail: this is an example of a thriving democracy with a fair judicial system, not apartheid. Israel offers all citizens the right to vote, the ability to live in a society with free press, freedom of religion and freedom of expression – privileges many do not have in the 22 countries comprising the Arab world.
The “West Bank” is not occupied Palestinian land. The “West Bank” should be called Judea and Samaria, named after the indigenous Judean people, the Jews. Judea and Samaria is not occupied, nor is it Palestinian land. A very important misconception is the use of the word “Palestine.” There was never a sovereign Arab State called Palestine in history. Only one people have ever established a sovereign state in what is today Israel, and it is the Jewish people; in the first Hebrew kingdom from 1000-586 B.C.E, the second Hebrew kingdom in 538-63 C.E. and finally, the third founded in 1948 called Israel. Palestine is a geographic area, named by the British after the Ottoman Empire fell in 1917. This is where the term West Bank came into use because the British, who controlled the Geographic Mandate of Palestine intended to create a Jewish state in the West Bank, which represented 26 percent of the mandate, as well as in the East Bank of the Jordan which represented 74 percent of the mandate.
The current state of Israel only controls the Judea and Samaria, and Israel proper as defined by the 1949 Armistice lines.
Judea and Samaria are also not occupied; the land is disputed. After the war of independence in 1948, a genocidal war launched bySyria, Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan and Lebanon after the Arabs refused U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, which would have created a Palestinian state. The modern State of Israel was reconfirmed with its borders being the Armistice Line of 1949, commonly confused with the “1967 Borders.” Israel came to control Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip in a war of self-defense in 1967 fighting against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, as well as Arab expeditionary forces from nine other governments across the Arab World, which included the Palestinian Liberation Organization. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 does not require Israel to withdraw from the lands conquered, and because of this, “occupied” is not an accurate term, rather “disputed” is more apt.
As for the wall and checkpoints, both are unfortunate and neither Israelis nor Palestinians like or want them, but they are, amongst other factors, a necessary measure to combat Palestinian terrorism. The wall was built in 2003 in the midst of the Second Intifada after 73 suicide bombings from Judea and Samaria murdered Israeli civilians, women and children, Arab and Jew alike.
The wall and checkpoints helped stop this, and at the end of the day, it saves innocent lives. As for any complaint regarding Gaza, Israel unilaterally withdrew 100% of all Jews in 2005 and the Palestinian people democratically elected the terrorist group Hamas into power. 12,000 rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel – a double war crime because these rockets are being launched from civilian populations into civilian populations. A legislation pertaining to human rights should have mentioned this, or the other tragic human rights violations Hamas is guilty of, such as using human shields and child combatants.
The chalk on Ring Road to “free Palestine” and “punish Israel” is not the first time these words have been spoken. But it puts whoever wants to “free Palestine” from the Jews in select company, company that includes the Arab governments who launched wars with the intent of genocide of the Jewish People in 1948, 1967, and 1973; the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah; the militant Iranian regime as well as Saddam Hussein and Haj Amin el-Husseini; the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, who met with Hitler to discuss bringing the final solution to the Middle East.
As a concerned student who feels betrayed by ASUCI, I urge all my fellow Anteaters to support justice and tolerance on our campus and oppose legislation that divides our campus and is downright factually incorrect.
Daniel Narvy is a second-year political science major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.