It’s often hard to make an intelligent criticism of the pro-Palestinian movement, one gets a lot of hate-filled comments when someone with an observant and open eye chooses to open one’s mouth. I, one who has always been against Israel’s illegal occupation and brutal military offenses, am called a Zionist by some when I point out that some behavior on the part of pro-Palestinian protesters could use a little work.
The pro-Palestinian movement in the United States, especially in Ann Arbor, tends to play the human rights card to attract other progressives into the cause, ignoring the fact that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not drawn out as a matter of left and right. The pro-Israel contingency is similar. On more than one occasion, I have been declared a traitor to my people for not “standing with Israel,” when being Jewish doesn’t mean having blind faith in a ruthless leader like Ariel Sharon.
But while some journalists and talking heads point out the complexity, others combat it with the whole “it’s the occupation, stupid” doctrine and quoting international law. There are a lot of people who feel that fighting for human rights is a priority, but don’t know about Israeli policy, Hamas’ monopoly on social services in the occupied territories, or how Arab nations have been involved in the conflict for 50 years.
These are all reasons why ending the occupation alone doesn’t equal peace in the region. But they do know what apartheid and Nazism mean, so when a pro-Palestinian protester has a sign that says “Israel is an apartheid state” and “Israel is a Nazi regime,” they decide that they should be against Israel for that reason. And maybe LSA senior Monique Luse and LSA junior Jackie Bray, two intelligent and important progressive people on this campus, have fallen victim to this.
The point is, in order for Israel to end the illegal occupation and work for peace, it must make sure that there is a government in the Palestinian region that is able to promote security throughout the region. This means dismantling the machines of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and restoring order with the help of not only Palestinian self-determination, but also the help of the international community. This means that Israel can’t end the occupation tomorrow. Does it mean that the Israeli Defense Force should have a green light to go into the West Bank and attack refugee camps? No, it needs to find a peaceful way of building Palestinian stability and security in order to grant statehood while working with the international community. But still, some people have this notion that “it’s the occupation, stupid” and that if one day Israel pulled its soldiers out and removed all the settlements without leaving a trace, these terrorists will throw down their weapons and everyone will live happily ever after. The people that think this, however, are complete idiots.
Luse and Bray are right in thinking that progressives should unite in supporting the Palestinians’ right to statehood, security and basic human rights. But that doesn’t mean that we should have blind faith in the idea that an Israeli withdrawal will turn the region into Fantasy-Peace land.
Paul is an RC junior and a member of the Daily’s editorial board.