This past week has seen two op-eds published in The Daily supporting Fadi Quran and trying to mobilize the campus to issue a resolution expressing concern for his welfare. I find it a bit ironic that the discussion in the ASSU Senate took place after Fadi was released from prison, but this, perhaps more than anything, highlights the conviction among certain groups on this campus to issue anti-Israel resolutions at all costs.
What is more concerning to me is the way in which Israel has been represented in these op-eds. As if for some reason Israel has nothing better to do with its resources and the lives of its young men than to occupy the Palestinians, and according to an op-ed piece published yesterday by Jeff Mendelman (“Shame on us,” March 1), it somehow “benefits” from the occupation “at the expense of the Palestinians.”
So lets just get one thing straight here: Nobody wants to occupy the Palestinians. Not the Israeli people, not the Israeli government and certainly not the Israeli soldiers who are shown on the video footage arresting Fadi. I can assure you that these soldiers, who are most likely 20 years old, would much rather be at college than be drafted into the army, where they face stones and Molotov cocktails on good days, and live fire and suicide bombers on bad ones.
So if nobody wants it, why does it still exist? Well, lets start with a brief history lesson. In the past 12 years, Israel unilaterally withdrew its forces from two areas under its control in the hope of achieving peace with its neighbors. In 2000 Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, and in 2006 they did the same from the Gaza Strip. In return, Israel has been attacked with more than 10,000 rockets and missiles from the terrorist organizations which took over: Hezbollah and Hamas. And while Israel is being criticized here almost daily, no one seems to be bothered by the fact that the charters of these organizations openly call for the destruction of the state of Israel and the rejection of any peace initiative with the state of Israel – and the latter even calls for the murder of Jews wherever they may be.
But what does all that have to do with a non-violent protest against the occupation? Well, according to a recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for public opinion, support for the Hamas organization is on the rise, and it has recently joined the official Palestinian government. Furthermore, according to the same poll, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians’ notion of peace includes the right of return. The right of return essentially means that five million Palestinian refugees will be allowed to immigrate to Israel, almost doubling its current population. This is effectively a call to the destruction of Israel. And when the current chairman of the Palestinian authority refuses to even utter the words “Jewish state,” let alone acknowledge its right to exist, one does not need to think very hard about what a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank would look like. This time however, Israel’s enemies would be able to establish their bases just 10 miles away from Israel’s largest cities. Just imagine Al-Qaeda setting up shop in San Jose and you would get the idea.
So next time someone talks to you about ending the occupation, remember to read the fine print, because any discussion of the occupation without addressing these concerns is simply slander against the state of Israel. Now don’t get me wrong, I support Fadi, his non-violent ways, and I support his goal of establishing a Palestinian state. I just want to see it established alongside the state of Israel, not in its place.
Gil Shotan ’12
Former soldier in the Israeli Defense Force