Often when students follow the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, they feel frustration, anger, and indignation. Students wonder why the two sides can’t sit down and work through their problems to build a mutually beneficial peace. They wonder why radicals on either side are unwilling to recognize the other side’s legitimate narrative. They wonder why radicals need their side to have a monopoly on pain, suffering and struggle. They wonder why there can’t be a productive dialogue.
Sadly, the problem is not limited to the politicians and radicals in the Middle East. On campus, students feel that the conversation is dangerous and inflammatory. Often they feel that they must take sides.
When I read the op-ed by Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine in The Stanford Daily’s Monday edition, I cringed. Again, the conversation is moving away from dialogue and mutual struggle and moving towards finger pointing and delegitimization and demonization. The op-ed rejected the Israeli viewpoint on the summer by taking statistics and events out of context. It begin by making an illogical argument that Israel could not be acting in self-defense this summer because there were fewer Israeli casualties than Palestinian casualties. The op-ed ignored the kidnapping of three Israeli teens by Hamas that started the conflict. It ignored the terror tunnels through which armed guerrillas infiltrated Israel with the goal of killing and kidnapping innocent Israeli civilians. It ignored the thousands of rockets fired at Israel, targeting civilian locations. The op-ed refused to recognize any suffering on Israel’s side.
Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine moves directly to joining with the divestment movement; a movement that ignores the Israeli narrative, a movement whose co-founder Omar Barghouti rejects Israel’s right to exist, a movement that ignores the 3,000-year history of the Jews in Israel, calling them colonizers and referring only to the Palestinians as indigenous.
Most importantly, divestment is a movement that wants to destroy dialogue. It wants to group all people who are pro-Israel as pro-settlement policy, anti-peace and anti-Palestinian. Divestment rejects having a spectrum of views on this issue by demonizing any support for Israel as support for a country that has ethnically cleansed and colonized the land.
By advocating for divestment, Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine is simply projecting the one-sidedness of the BDS movement on everyone else. The Palestinian-led BDS is mirrored by Students for Justice in Palestine in the United States.
There are many students on campus who would proudly stand up and voice that they are pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, against racism in Israeli and Palestinian societies, against the delegitimization of either narrative, against those who reject both peoples’ claims to the land and against those who reject either side’s right to pray at their holiest sites.
These are the voices we need on campus. These are the voices that need to be heard. Only then will we have a productive and healthy dialogue that truly represents the hopes, aspirations and struggles of the two equally legitimate narratives.
Yisroel Quint is the Vice President of the Stanford Israel Association. These opinions are Yisroel’s own. He can be contacted at yquint ‘at’ stanford.edu.