Letter to the editor:
Though I once had a narrow view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after exposure to a fellow student’s Palestinian heritage, my eyes were opened to the Palestinian narrative. This led me to spend a summer at the Arava Institute in Israel, which focuses on environmental cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. At the Institute, I worked on a water desalination project to improve water quality in the Gaza Strip, and I lived in a community of Israelis and Palestinians and forged meaningful relationships with my supposed “enemies.”
I am Jewish and an outright supporter of Israel, yet I fully acknowledge the current situation between Israelis and the Palestinians is not sustainable. I advocate for the advancement of peace and cooperation for all people of the region, both Israelis and Palestinians.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aims to delegitimize the entire State of Israel through boycotts in the international arena. This has manifested itself in boycotts of any products and companies that have associations with Israel, as well as the American Studies Association’s motion to boycott all Israeli academic institutions. Though the Ohio State administration rightfully rejected this boycott, the BDS movement is slowly creeping onto the OSU campus.
I applaud the OSU administration’s impressive display of leadership and oppose any new university policy advocated by the BDS movement for two reasons: It is not practical for OSU, and it will not bring peace to the Middle East.
OSU forms partnerships and purchases goods that service its best interest, not because of its political associations. To alter OSU’s policy because of these associations would be extremely costly. Until the supporters of BDS are ready for OSU to abandon our $32 million deal with Coke (sold in all Middle Eastern countries, including Israel), cut ties with the State of Ohio (bought $42 million of Israeli bonds), and delete their personal Facebook pages (Facebook recently purchased an Israeli tech company for $200 million), they leave me with no other option than to expose their undeniable hypocrisy.
BDS approaches this issue from a divisive stance, which makes a just solution harder to obtain. In an attempt to target inequitable water use, the BDS movement initiated a push to boycott Merkorot, the Israeli water utility company. And yet, the status quo of water resources in the region is unchanged.
Meanwhile, organizations and academic institutions like the Arava Institute are actively cooperating with Palestinian organizations to enhance environmental conditions to bring immediate, positive change for Israelis and Palestinians alike. While BDS continues to focus its attention elsewhere on efforts to tirelessly bash Israeli institutions, the real change-makers from both sides are actively engaging to bring real solutions to the people that need them most.
I have much respect for Palestinian supporters who use constructive means to advocate on their behalf. I have no respect for BDS and tactics employed by either side that further the rift between the two viewpoints.
To those who are not personally invested in this issue, I urge you to support dialogue and oppose BDS to demonstrate what being a true Buckeye is all about.
To those who are personally invested in this issue, I urge you support dialogue and oppose BDS, and instead embrace interaction with the opposing viewpoint. It’s time for the many voices of moderation to take charge, and to engage in purposeful discussion based in mutual respect.
Third-year in environmental engineering