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Opinion: Ohio State turns its back on Palestinians’ rights with boycott opposition

January 14, 2014

seghiri.1@osu.edu

Ohio State’s decision to oppose the boycott against Israeli higher education only signals a stance against justice and human rights for Palestinians.

According to the American Studies Association, the boycott was put in place because of Israel’s human rights violations against the Palestinians.

“As with South Africa, Israel’s system of racial discrimination, at all institutional levels, constitutes apartheid as recognized by international law under the 2002 Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court,” according to the ASA website.

Academic freedom is essential in allowing growth and inspiration among all learners, but the concept needs to be applied fairly in the case of Palestinians and Israelis.

OSU released a statement on the decision in December.

“The principle of academic freedom includes the unfettered capacity to partner with other scholars and students around the world, and this proposed boycott is the antithesis to academic freedom,” the statement read. “Put simply, we believe that to limit the exchange of ideas is to limit human potential. As a public research and land-grant university, Ohio State was founded with a fundamental and abiding commitment to free and open inquiry, and our opposition to this proposed boycott underscores that commitment.”

While OSU has said it opposes the boycott because of academic freedom, the statement gives a clear double-standard against Palestinian rights for their own educational liberties.

The ASA website said Palestinian academic institutions are prevented from attending various academic dialogue and events because of restrictions placed upon them by the Israeli government.

Furthermore, Israeli academic institutions have reenforced the unjust policies implemented by the Israeli government, according to the ASA website.

Despite emphasizing academic freedom, OSU needs to look at the bigger picture of what is truly happening in an area where people’s rights are being restricted and taken away every day.

Palestinians are placed under strict residential laws and some are prevented from traveling to certain areas according to a CNN article by Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the Palestinian Center and the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development.

Although these unjust acts are evident, opponents will raise the obvious question, what about the terrorizing acts committed by the Palestinians?

The ASA website says the U.S. is one of the biggest supporters of Israel, and has provided most of Israel’s military and foreign aid.

The U.S. has provided more than $118 billion of aid to Israel since World War II, according to a Congressional Research Service report by Jeremy M. Sharp a specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs.

Israel has the military capability and support from the U.S., which places the Palestinians in a situation where they have to use weapons, which come from neighboring countries, according to an Al-Akhbar article by Hassan Illeik.

During the 22 day strike against Gaza in 2009, more than 1,300 children were killed along with 5,400 injured. The war also caused 13 Israeli citizens to be killed, according to a CNN article.

Through these statistics, there is a perspective I feel is missing in what is considered to be honest and realistic.

Regardless of the political differences of each side, the inhumane and unjust treatment of a group of people should not be disregarded.

We as students dedicate a part of our lives to enrich our minds, and no one should be deprived of that right.

Furthermore, obvious practice of injustice should be something that no university should stand for, and OSU has unfortunately turned their backs to those seeking their basic human rights.


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Comments (14)

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  1. Demonic Denizen says:

    Another one-sided editorial. How about the Arab’s own human rights violations? They make Israel look like Momma Theresa.

    Let the women show their faces and drive first, then come back and complain.

  2. Buckeye Alumna '12 says:

    Thank you for this commentary. I wish this opinion weren’t as underrepresented. An otherwise flourishing country such as Israel should know to maintain justice for Palestine.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Will boycotting Israeli institutions actually make a difference in the peace process? The conflict is complex and in my opinion, it is important for both sides to take steps to understand one another and not further divide them.

  4. Arafat says:

    I think we should boycott and divest from the Islamic world.

    This holiday season witnessed a large increase in Christians being killed, raped and forced into refugee status throughout the Islamic world.

    This past year witnessed ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Pakistan and Buddhists from southern Thailand.

    This past year witnessed Palestinians further destroying their own people’s freedoms with Palestinians being tortured for speaking out against their leaders, be it Hamas or Fatah.

    This past year witnessed Syrians starving Palestinian children to death in Syrian refugee camps, in addition to the creation of two million refugees and the death toll skyrocketing towards 200.000.

    This year witnessed another several hundred thousand refugees being created in Mali thanks to Islamic aggression.

    This year witnessed increased attacks against Southern Sudan by Muslim jihadists.

    This year witnessed endless attacks against Christians and their property in Nigeria.

    This year witnessed relentless persecution of homosexuals throughout the Islamic world.

    Shall I continue because I’ve barely scratched the surface.

  5. Arafat says:

    Globally, the story is the same. Out of the 57 nations which comprise the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, only three rise to the level of flawed democracies, according to the 2010 Democracy Index by The Economist.[7]

    With the exception of communist and former communist countries, Islamic nations impose the highest level of government restrictions on religion.

    Among the predominantly Islamic countries in the middle east and North Africa, 80% have anti-blasphemy laws and 60% of these nations enforce them.[8] Democracy, individual liberty, free speech, toleration, and equality are simply not consistent – or even compatible – with traditional Islamic theology and Shariah law.

    So don’t blame Israel or any other entity for Islam’s consistent dysfunction.

    Until Islam changes its core tenets which result in brutality, repression and failed Arab Springs the fault lies at their doorsteps not Israel’s.

  6. Tim Adams says:

    Great piece! I’m glad to see an anti-apartheid perspective published in the Lantern. Supporters of Israeli apartheid will try to paint us as anti-Semitic, but this has absolutely nothing to do with being Jewish – in fact, many of the most vocal supporters of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement are Jewish! Instead, it’s about challenging the racism and oppression of the Israeli state, which has continually oppressed both Palestinians and African immigrants. All people deserve equal rights and protections.

  7. Anon says:

    Uh, Dominic, I think you’re confusing Palestine with Saudi Arabia. While it is true that there are several severe women’s rights issues that need to take the stage in Saudi Arabia, in Palestine, women openly show their faces (many do not cover their hair!), drive freely (besides on the roads on which Palestinians are not able to drive), and are active members of society.

  8. Hawk in the sky says:

    Dear Arafat,

    That was an incredibly enlightening post. I really enjoyed reading it, especially the part where you provided clear, reliable support for your claims. You should consider submitting a piece to the Lantern about the atrocities this year has witnessed and why we should divest from the Islamic world. I try to stay informed about things that go on around the world but your post helped me realize how ill-informed I am. Thank you. We’re only 22 days into the year and I’ve already fallen behind :/

    Also, I was wondering whether or not you’d be willing to meet over coffee sometime? Perhaps teach me more about Islam and maybe give me a few tips on how to live life as a disrespectful bigot? I’ve always had a bit of trouble with that. Ahh, I am soo overwhelmed with curiosity right now!!! I’ve been living my whole life as a Muslim and I’ve always thought that the core tenets were the belief in one God, the Holy Book, the Angels, the Prophets of God, the Day of Judgment, and divine decree…all of which go against brutality and repression. So as you can probably assume, your statement about the core tenets certainly caught me off guard. Also, I could’ve sworn that there was a notable amount of religious diversity among Palestinians. At first, I thought that you may have been overlooking the significant amount of Palestinian Christians, Samaritans, etc whose fundamental human rights also happen to be stripped away as a consequence of the Israeli occupation by mentioning Islam exclusively and misrepresenting the issue as one that is purely religious. However, after reading your well-founded and unbelievably informative comment, I realized that you are much more intelligent than I am and that I may have been misled by everything I’ve read/heard from individuals who have experienced life in Palestine, under occupation, first hand and from anti-Zionist Israeli Jews who have spoken out against the blatant discrimination & oppression employed by the “most moral army in the world”. In any case, we should chat sometime!

    peace and love ;)

  9. Vidar Thorsteinsson says:

    This article raises an urgent issue. The illegal military occupation of Palestinian land and people, the Apartheid system installed in the West Bank and Gaza, and the civil discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel, must end. Also, the Palestinian refugees which were driven out of their homes in 1947-1949 must be allowed to return, as must their landless descendants. These demands are simply demands for human rights, made on the basis of international law, as has been asserted multiple times by the UN Security Council and General Assembly. The boycott movement is gathering momentum and might become a force of positive change comparable to the anti-Apartheit boycott and sanctions movement against South-Africa, another settler-colonialist state which oppressed and discriminated against indigenous peoples on the basis of their ethnicity. We should heed Palestinian civil society’s call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israel state until it ceases its human rights violations and acts in accordance with international law.

  10. Arafat says:

    “To clarify: Wahhabism is the only officially recognized and allowed religion in Saudi Arabia. Other forms of Islam and other religions are banned and persecuted by the state.

    Saudi Arabia is the only Islamic state in which there is no church, no synagogue and no other place of worship of any other religion.

    Shiite Muslims have been systematically discriminated against for decades. Jews are even forbidden to enter the Kingdom.

    Saudi Arabia practices a form of Sharia law that is one of the most brutal systems in the world. Saudi Arabia has at all times rejected the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

    Women may not drive a car and can be punished by flogging. Corporal punishment, including amputations and executions, are part of everyday life in the country. Just two weeks ago a Sudanese immigrant in Saudi Arabia was publicly beheaded for ‘sorcery.’ Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world in which the death penalty is enforced even on teenagers,” the paper said.

  11. Arafat says:

    You want apartheid? Try this.

    The top ten countries for persecuting Christians over the last year were ranked: North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen, according to Open Doors USA, an organization that monitors and exposes Christian persecution around the globe. Particularly, the “2014 World Watch List”, a rather nuanced report, has highlighted these nations based on deep structures of persecution.

    Take note that nine out of ten of these countries are Islamic.

    Looks like Islam is on par with North Korea when it comes to human rights. But let’s pick on teeny-weeny Israel instead just like the cowardly school bully would do.

  12. Samael Vlackenmeier says:

    I am going with the list of the Top 10 Unjust Nations as those that shall be most pressingly addressed.

    Student writing this piece, and The Lantern: take The Ohio State University off of your lips when pushing your own agenda in this manner.

    Thanks for painting this issue of human injustice with a much broader brush, Arafat.

  13. Tom Shoemaker says:

    Arafat poster is nothing less than a hasbara troll employed to misdirect, obfuscate, and justify Israel’s brutal apartheid occupation. They always try to bring in other Arab countries or the Islamic religion into the equation (He even really goes out there and bring North Korea Iinto the mix)

    What does that even remotely have to do with the international crimes being committed by Israel? This is a question of zionists who pre-planned to bring peoples from all over the world through immigration based on their religion and supplant the indigeneous people of Palestine through slaughter, ethnic cleansing, mass land robbery, and illegal occupation. From 1947 until today, the crimes against the Palestinians continue and this hasbara Arafat poster has the gall to say “until you solve the issue of how some Arabs treat other Arabs, don’t even dare to complain about how Israel treats the Palestinians.

    Hats off to Hawk in the sky and Vidar Thorsteinsson for a brilliant rebuttal!

  14. milton says:

    I have only lived in Israel/Middleeast for 7 years.I don’t put much stock in any political opinions I might have with regard to this region;however,with that said,I lived for 50 years in America,and always felt the same reluctance to ‘speak my mind”.I do live in an area that made the news of late being referred to as the Arab Triangle.We refer to it here as Wadi Yaara,and my children attend school in the Israeli Arab village of Kfar Qara.The schools name is Gesher al Wadi,Bridge over the Wadi,where arabs and jewws learn together,with arab and jewish teachers side by side in each class.The green line weaves in and out of this area.One village,Bartaa,was split in half when the line was drawn.I buy my black coffee in Bartaa.Palestinians work in Israel.Israeli/Palestinian jointly owned companies exist in Palestine,in the West Bank.Palestinians work in these factories,businesses.Many live in substandard conditions in the West Bank.Many don’t want to create jihad on Israel.A few do.A few jews want to oblterate Plaestine.A few.They make the headlines.They,the few,make the sound bytes we eat with dinner every night.There will be a Palestinian State.If there isn’t,than eventually Palestinians will vote in Israel,andd Israael will disappear.This is not South Africa,and none of the comments here have been written by South Africans,people who grew up in South Africa during Apartheid.
    To use the word apartheid when referring to Israel,is,to be quite honest,a disservice to those who struggled against it in South Africa,but it does make for an excellent sound byte,doesn’t it?

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