Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Altered Consciousness: Anti-Israeli sentiment in Jewish Voice for Peace

Published: March 18, 2011
Section: Opinions

Last week, Brandeis University’s Hillel chapter rejected Jewish Voice for Peace’s (JVP) membership application. I applaud Hillel’s decision on the grounds that JVP takes positions that are completely out of the mainstream in relation to the pro-Israel community.

The primary problem with JVP and similar organizations, such as J Street U and Americans for Peace Now, is that they adopt a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that essentially, Israel the oppressor can do no right and that the Palestinians, the poor innocent victims of neo-colonialism, can do no wrong. According to JVP, settlements, the “occupation” and Israeli self-defense initiatives like Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza blockade are the primary obstacles to peace.

Therefore, it supports the odious boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign; individuals who refuse to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the removal of Israel’s security fence, among other things.

This narrative, however, relies on an utterly distorted depiction of reality and must be refuted to filter out the public discourse.

Firstly, Israel has offered to make peace with the Palestinians seven times: in 1919, with its signing of the Weizmann-Faisal Agreement; in 1937, with its acceptance of the Peel Commission Report’s recommendation to partition then-Palestine; in 1947, with its agreeing to United Nations Resolution 181; in 1978, with its approval of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty that included provisions related to Israeli-Palestinian peace; in 2000, with its bid to end all final-status issues at Camp David; in 2001, with a similar proposal at Taba; and finally, in 2008, with yet another offer at Annapolis.

The Palestinians ultimately refused each time despite the fact that Israel was always prepared to make far-reaching territorial, security, economic and political concessions.

Additionally, as if this were not enough, Israel withdrew from most of the West Bank during the 1990s Oslo process to let the Palestinians govern themselves. Instead of reciprocating, Yasser Arafat launched a five-year campaign of terror, murder, suicide bombings and destruction known as the Al-Aqsa intifada to weaken Israel’s resolve.

Similarly, Israel unilaterally uprooted thousands of its citizens from Gaza in 2005. Again, this action had the opposite effect: it emboldened Hamas and its affiliates and encouraged the terrorists to launch thousands of rockets into the Negev and places like Sderot, Ashdod and Beersheba, precipitating the belated Operation Cast Lead in late 2008.

Finally, during the last few years, supposed hard-liner Prime Minister Netanyahu has significantly slowed down the construction of Jewish towns and villages past the green line; weakened the Gaza blockade; taken down roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank; reduced the IDF presence in the territories and permitted greater mobility for the Palestinian army.

In response, he has gotten absolutely nothing from his Arab counterparts, in addition to President Obama and the Europeans, but is instead receiving demands for more concessions; Palestinian attempts to delegitimize Israel via forums like the United Nations and brutal attacks on Israelis such as the heinous massacre of the Fogel family at Itamar last week.

These facts establish that the “occupation” is not the main obstacle to a peaceful settlement but rather Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Furthermore, there is the Hamas-Fatah divide; the desire to flood Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees; Anti-Semitic incitement in Arab media; the status of Jews as infidels according to Islamic doctrine; the fact that Israel was established on once-Islamic land; the weakness and corruption of the Palestinian Authority; the instability in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan; Iran’s involvement in the region; and disputes about issues like Jerusalem, boundaries, water and security arrangements.

In light of these truths, JVP and its ilk must answer the following: why should we punish and delegitimize Israel, which has suffered so much to acquire that ever-elusive peace with its neighbors but to no avail? Why should we completely ignore years of Palestinian violence, rejectionism and sheer hatred for the Jews? Why should we hold Israel up to moral standards that are far higher than we would to any other country in the entire world?

Until groups like JVP change their positions, they ought to be marginalized and excluded from the pro-Israel community. There are institutions, such as AIPAC, Zionist Organization of America and the Anti-Defamation League that are aware of the realities of the Middle East but JVP is not one of them.