When it comes to the Middle East, question everything. Question quarter sheets handed to you on the Diag, question “facts,” question sources, question motives, question opportunities — especially missed opportunities like Palestine Awareness Week, which had such amazing potential to share the rich culture of a people too often ignored. Question how the chance to share the traditions, not the tragedies, of a people so frequently used as pawns was spoiled by turning it into a page out of the anti-Zionist playbook; how the rare occasion to get people to acknowledge the humanity of the Palestinian people, not the sheer numbers, was thrown away by talking about “occupation” on Palestinian Cultural Day. That discourse propagates the belief that Palestinian culture is defined by its opposition to Israelis, not by its history or traditions. Question how an organization whose mission is to “bring equality to all peoples” hands out FAQs that use the words “Israel, Israeli, Jewish,” or “Zionist” 13 times, but “Palestine” or “Palestinian” only 10 times. It uses the language of “killed, forced, and demolished,” as opposed to talking about life, accomplishments, and hope. Question the obsession with victimization and hate.
Question single-mindedness. Question the sincerity of a student organization whose members claim to be “rights activists” with a “moral obligation,” but is so narrow in its focus to only talk about financially destroying Israel as the means to achieve peace. Question a movement that in February, even the most ardent of anti-Zionists called a cult. Question the genuineness of MichiganBDS and its inflammatory, inaccurate claims.
Question conversations without dialogue. Question people who espouse rhetoric and consistently fail to listen. Question one-liners, buzz words and irrational claims. Question the blame game, and those who try to make their side out to be the greater victim. In the end, the real victims on campus are those who fail to challenge what they hear.
Question how educated people on this campus can be so vehemently against — or passionate about — the state of Israel. Ask them why they feel the way that they do — and understand the emotions inherent in the conflict, and the bias that goes with that. Question how otherwise rational, intelligent people can be dedicated to a cause so seemingly removed from Ann Arbor. Question how events, groups and viewpoints on the issue are suddenly prominent features of the campus climate.
Question leaders on every level. Question Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cries for Israel’s destruction. Question why Mahmoud Abbas — who has taken the most public steps toward creating a Palestinian state — has been stalled. Question why Benjamin Netanyahu — and every Israeli leader since 1948 — has been insistent on maintaining secure borders for the Israeli people. Question leaders on this campus who claim to support one cause or another, and hold them to their word.
Question your peers. Question people flyering or tabling on the Diag. Question me. Question yourself. Find the truth. Understand that when it comes to conflict in the Middle East, there is no single truth. But more than anything, question those who fail to question anything at all.
Allison Berman is a junior in the business school.