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Letter to the editor: Latino Buckeye Dinner hosted by Hillel should be boycotted

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Letter to the editor:

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the Latino Buckeye Dinner, an annual gathering to celebrate the Latino community on campus, is to be hosted by Hillel this year. At first glimpse, this seemed like a great way to bring together the Latino and Jewish communities on campus. But after looking closer at Hillel’s relationship with the state of Israel, I couldn’t help but feel that the decision to have the event hosted by this group is insensitive toward the Palestinian community on campus as well as the members of the Latino community, like myself, who oppose the Israeli occupation.

Hillel has hosted events glorifying the Israel Defense Forces, a notorious abuser of human rights. It is also an organization that, at both the local level and international level, organizes and promotes so-called “Birthright” trips. For those who don’t know, Birthright trips are propaganda tours led by the Israeli government in an attempt to convince the Jewish community in the U.S. to support Israel, but also purport that it is their right by being born Jewish to visit Israel. The harm of these tours is their disregard of the occupation and the situation of Arabs living in Israel under an apartheid system, arguably comparable to that of South Africa or the Jim Crow South.

Hillel does not limit itself to supporting Apartheid Israel. It actively suppresses opposition to the Israeli state, allowing no room for an alternative voice to be heard. In fact, according to Hillel International’s Israel Guidelines, Hillel will not host or partner with any speakers who “deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.” In other words, speakers who advocate for the equal treatment of Israel’s Arab population and against Israel’s response to the “demographic threat” of a growing non-Jewish population are barred from expressing their views at Hillel. This is why there has recently been a movement called Open Hillel, which seeks to allow voices who stand against the occupation to speak out at Hillel.

The occupation is not something happening in a faraway place with no effect on the rest of the world. Israeli apartheid directly affects the oppression of the Latino community in the U.S. This can be seen in various ways, the most obvious being Israel’s role developing technology and tactics leading to the increasing militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Bloomberg News, the Israeli arms manufacture, Elbit Systems, received a $145 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to use the same technology used to target Palestinians to target undocumented immigrants trying to cross the border. These are immigrants who are fleeing from Central America and Mexico, areas currently engulfed in drug violence and drained of economic opportunity. 

This why, as a member of Columbus Latino community and an Ohio State student, I cannot in good conscience attend the Latino Buckeye Dinner as long as it is hosted at Hillel — a place where, as a supporter of Palestinian liberation and, most importantly, human rights, I do not feel safe. I call on other members of the Columbus and OSU Latino community and allies to boycott this event until the organizers of this event change the location. I realize this decision might be unpopular with some members of the Latino community on campus, but I will not stay silent while this event is being hosted by an organization that stands against the values of social justice and equality that have defined the Latino struggle in the United States.

Cruz Bonlarron-Martínez

Student in the Department of Geography

Publicity director of The Committee for Justice in Palestine at OSU

bonlarron.4@osu.edu

59 comments

  1. Well put. With so many of the Jewish community’s institutions becoming increasingly aggressive supporters of Israel, there’s an elephant in the room of any event trying to bring communities together. We need alternatives to Hillel. Is there a Jewish Voice for Peace chapter at OSU yet?

  2. Thank you! I’m Latino and feel the same way, but I was afraid to say anything and then be called “anti-Semitic”.

  3. As an alumni, I completely agree and believe that events like the Latino Buckeye Dinner should be more intentional about where they host and what message that is sending.

    In light of the recent assault in the Gaza strip, it is now more important than ever to highlight repressive institutions like Hillel and send that message by not partnering with them on events such as this.

  4. While you’re entitled to your opinion, you should probably get your facts straight. The Israel Defense Force is not a notorious abuser of human rights- it’s an army protecting a country being attacked by Hamas militants hiding in residential homes, schools, and hospitals in the Gaza strip. So I’m not sure what you expect the IDF to do when they are determined to protect innocent Israeli civilians (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze, and otherwise), while Hamas cowardly hides behind the Palestinian people. You sound extremely uneducated when comparing the situation in Israel to the Jim Crow south- please reread your history books. Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights, while some Middle Eastern countries still do not let Arab women vote. Israeli Arabs hold seats in the government, and Arabic is one of the official languages of Israel. Israel does not exercise de jure racial segregation as the south did with the Jim Crow laws. Arabs are able to attend Israeli universities, and I personally studied at one of these universities and happily lived with an Arab roommate. Birthright is an educational gift given to young Jewish adults, not a propaganda trip, but rather an opportunity to travel around the state of Israel. I personally have many Latino relatives, yet I believe that there are legal and justified ways of evading unfortunate situations such as drug violence and economic depression, and it is not fair to blame Israel for United States border regulation.

  5. Dear Anonymous, I find your belittling of the civil rights violations against Arab citizens of Israel distasteful and condescending. Palestinians in Israel live under a regime which practices systematic legal discrimination and encourages an atmosphere of racist incitement against them. I suggest you follow your own advise, and educate yourself. A good place to start would be Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (please google it yourself as I can’t paste weblinks here). Tip: start by doing some browsing of the ‘Discriminatory Law Database’.

    You mischaracterize the IDF’s occupation and siege of Palestinian territories. The IDF’s presence on the West Bank and Gaza long predates the activities of Hamas. Hamas was founded 20 years after the occupation began (in 1967). For over four decades, this has been an illegal military occupation which entails a wholesale violation of the basic human rights and freedoms of Palestinians. In recent decades, the occupation has been partly transformed into a system of racist apartheid under which the Israeli state has usurped land and resources to benefit its illegal settlement project, a shameful undertaking of creeping ethnic cleansing which has been concemned as such by countless UN agencies and human rights organizations. This entails house demolitions, land theft, settler violence, army incursions, the construction of an illegal separation wall, to name a few things. The massive human rights violations resulting from these practices have been documented in detail by countless impartial observers, which most certainly debunks your brave claim that the IDF is “not a notorious abuser of human rights”

    As for your depiction of Hamas’ resistance against the IDF’s recent attacks on Gaza, you again fail to get “facts straight” despite your own haughty consternation. There is no substance to the cliché that Hamas is “hiding behind the Palestinian people”. This is an unfounded talking-point fabricated by the IDF’s propaganda machine and I challenge you to prove otherwise. I recommend you consult Amnesty International’s report on “Operation Cast Lead”, the invasion and bombing campaign prior to the one this. During Operation Cast Lead, the same talking-points that you repeat were constantly broadcast – that Palestinian militants were using civilians as human shields – but guess what? Amnesty “found no evidence that Hamas or other fighters directed the movement of civilians to shield military objectives from attacks” (p. 76)

    What does that tell us? It tells us that the IDF and its PR machine cynically use this accusation as a smear tactic, and that it should not be trusted unless supported by evidence. In actual fact, Amnesty however found that the IDF itself had used Palestinian citizens as human shields: “By contrast, Amnesty International did find that Israeli forces on several occasions during Operation “Cast Lead” forced Palestinian civilians to serve as “human shields”.” (Please google it yourself as I can’t paste weblinks here). The hypocricy of this is quite stunning.

    Regards,
    Vidar Thorsteinsson

  6. Marc Allan Feldman

    Norman Finkelstein on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction “cult”:

    “You know and I know exactly what we are talking about because if we end occupation and we bring back 6 million Palestinians and
    we have equal rights for Arabs and Jews — there is no Israel. That’s what it’s really about. And you think you’re fooling anybody? You think you’re so clever? That people cannot figure that out for themselves? No, they understand the arithmetic perfectly well. Are you going to reach a broad public, that hears the Israeli side “They are going to destroy us!”, no you’re not.
    And frankly, you know what? You shouldn’t. You shouldn’t reach a broad public because you are dishonest. And I wouldn’t trust those people if I had to live in this state. I wouldn’t. It’s dishonesty and I do not want that kind of leadership.” — Norman Finkelstein
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONlacD6f1cg

  7. I think USG should support a divestment resolution!

  8. Your letter is quite laughable.

    I’m very sorry that Hillel was willing to let you hold your meeting there. Maybe you should hold it at a Latino establishment?

    It’s the Wexner Hillel. Have you heard of the Wexner Center on campus? Do you know who donated $100 million to the brand new Wexner Medical Center? …I think you can at least get that fact right.

    So I ask you, what has your Latino group done for Ohio State, the community, and the well being of people?

  9. Would love to see USG take on divestment.

  10. Steve of Mevaseret

    The nation of “Israel” is described in Egyptian hieroglyphics (King Merneptah`s Stela, 1200 BCE.) A stone inscription in Aramaic referring to battles with the “House of David” was uncovered in Israel’s northern border at Tel Dan. Never in history has there been an independent Palestinian nation. During the Arab Caliphates and Ottoman rule, Palestine was a sparsely populated and neglected province of a distant empire. Scratch the surface of the land of Israel and you will uncover Jewish life under Roman rule, not centuries of Arab civilization. We have returned from exile to settle in our land where astonishing archeological discoveries of our 3500 year heritage are now commonplace. No nation on this planet has a greater right to their territory, than the Jewish people have to the Land of Israel. There are many accounts of the Holy Land written in the 19th century, before Zionist pioneers began to reclaim the land. Start with Commander William Lynch of the US Navy whose “Expedition to the River Jordan” was subtitled “Unrelieved Desolation.” We will continue to build and settle in our land.
    As to criticism of civilian casualties in Gaza with blame placed upon Israel for disproportionate use of force, the opposite is true. Israel’s restraint in its military operation permitted continued indiscriminate rocket fire by Palestinian terrorists into Israeli cities. The terrorists cynically used their own civilians as human shields. During Israel’s air campaign, Hamas advised its citizens to remain in their homes that were taken over for military purposes, despite Israel’s advanced warning to evacuate. Due to the repeated attempts by Palestinian terrorists to infiltrate Israel through an extensive tunnel network, Israel was forced to expand its operation. In response to Israel’s ground offensive, Hamas terrorists placed children in the windows and fired on the Israeli soldiers from behind the children. Netanyahu is absolutely correct: ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.

  11. You should boycott and leave Ohio State since it receives donations from Wexner, Schottenstein and many other Jewish donors, who likely have ties to Israel (Nevermind that it was a friendly gesture on Hillel’s part).

    PLEASE, PLEASE, OH PLEASE, we beg of you.

    We’ll discuss your one-sided view of human rights another time

  12. Oh great… Another jew-hating, confused anti-sematic has decided to redirect his anger with Israel towards a local organization. Maybe Israel has killed a lot of innocent people and taken back land that has historically been known as Judea. Maybe Palestinians are the gutter of the arab world and no arab nation wants anything to do with them past helping a thorn in Israel’s side. Whining like a baby about these things will not help. If you want to make a difference, go to the Middle East. Try living in these muslim dominated nations. Experience the flavor. And you will come to realize the arab world is a festering cessspool of religious gratification and little to no actual human right/dignity. Israel is the only area in the god forsaken land with civility and respect for human rights. Maybe judaism and a jewish state isn’t worth fighting for or against. All I know is there are more important issues in the world to worry about and I’m damn glad there isn’t a dense muslim population in the U.S.

  13. Ruben Castilla Herrera

    I’ll be short and not hateful and racist. I agree with the writer of this letter and as a Latino community member, will urge other community people not to attend this event!!

  14. “Anonymous” says “Israel does not exercise de jure racial segregation as the south did with the Jim Crow laws.” And one should naturally wonder why he added the qualification “de jure.” The answer is that Israel does practice ethnic/religious discrimination though it isn’t explicitly codified as such: Veterans of the IDF enjoy all sorts of privileges, such as special housing areas, jobs and security bypasses. This of course has the effect of denying these privileges to those (read non-Jewish peoples) who are loathe to volunteer to serve in such an organization.

    And how about “hi” above who basically says all Jewish people should be considered supporters of the Israeli state, whether you know anything about them or not?!! Such a generalization, coming from the opposition, would be considered anti-Semetic.

  15. It is really absurd how much hate there is on both sides. Regardless of all of the political arguments, I think the author’s argument is incredibly unfair and a blatant application of the ecological fallacy. Have you ever attended events at Hillel and met the people who worked there? They are some of the nicest and most welcoming people on campus. Clearly you haven’t if you think that the OSU Hillel is an organization that “will not host or partner with any speakers who ‘deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.'” Though this may be what the national organization believes, you are not having this event at the Hillel headquarters.

    The Hillel that I know and attended for the past five years is nothing like the quotes that you so carefully chose. I personally attended multiple events every single year that attempted to bring Jews and Palestinians together to have meaningful dialogue about the conflict and how to form bridges between the two people. This included talking about the occupation and ways that the people could coexist. I would be lying if I said that the discussion never got heated, but that is part of the process of healing and finding middle ground.

    Judging any organization or people, even one that is part of a larger national organization like Hillel, by what you see on the news or read on the internet is ridiculous. It sounds like who you really disagree with is the national Hillel organization, as well as political stances of the state of Israel. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is your right to disagree and protest those entities. What I hope for, is that you will not confuse these people with the individuals who work at Hillel. The OSU Hillel has shown, directly through their actions, that they support people of all backgrounds and have in no way tried to silence discussion about the unfortunate political situation in the Middle East. I assume that you would be upset if someone assumed that you agreed with a famous Latino, just because you are also Latino, and I would hope you will give the OSU Hillel the same courtesy.

  16. Deat Too Much Hate, I appreciated your respectful comment even though I don’t agree.

    Unfortunately, the statement about Hillel you cite in quotation marks is no fabrication of the writer. This is the publicly stated policy of the nationwide Hillel, one that it has rigthly come under criticism for in recent years. You can easily look this up. In response, dissidents from Jewish campus communities have founded Open Hillel, which operates on a principled platform that fully acknowledges human rights and equality for all. I sincerely encourage you to familiarize yourself with, and support, Open Hillel. It needs and deserves support.

    I did not see anything in this essay which implies that Hillel members are not nice and well-intentioned people. Really, that is not what this issue is about. This is a struggle over some very pressing issues and harsh realities, and those who take a stand must be ready to face and answer criticism.

    Regards, Vidar Thorsteinsson

  17. Wait a second, I’m confused. When did offering to host a meal for a fellow minority group become considered an act of bigotry? When did the simple acknowledgement of a country’s right to exist become considered an act of bigotry? And when did calling for divestment from a campus minority organization STOP being considered an act of bigotry?

  18. Dear Confused, being confused is sometimes a good thing. It can signify that previous assumptions are breaking down, and that new insights and knowledge are about to appear. I don’t know if perhaps your questions are intended as rhetorical, but in any case I’d like to offer answers to them.
    1) The event itself is not an act of bigotry, and I don’t believe the writer used those words. The criticism is against Hillel, an organization that is an official propganda mouthpiece organization on behalf of Israel’s illegal occupation, military agression, civil discrimination, and racist apartheid against Palestinians.
    2) You seem to have fallen into the trap set by the “right to exist” talking point. States don’t have rights, persons do. Israel needs to recognize the equal civil rights of its citizens, bring its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to an end, and recognize Palestinian refugees’ right to return. All these things are mandated by international law, as has been confirmed countless times by the UN. None of these things are at odds with “Israel’s right to exist” unless that notion is given a twisted and diluted meaning.
    3) Divestment, boycotts and other forms of disassociation from voluntary relations are a strategy that has been used succesfully in the past to send a message in political situations and is perfectly legitimate. The global campaign against Apartheid in S-Africa was largely driven by this strategy, and it succeeded – as it will do in the Palestinian struggle for justice and human rights.
    Sincerely,
    Vidar Thorsteinsson

  19. Hi Vidar Thorsteinsson, who pays for you? Where does your money come from? Your rent? Food? Your words? Who pays for it all?

  20. Vidar Thorsteinsson

    I believe that Hillel’s main goal is to give Jewish students the sense of community and a place to go for religious services and gatherings. Hillel serves students, not political agendas.

  21. Please note that the comment above is not by me. Another commenter has chosen, by mistake I hope, to post under my name.

    Wise Clams, I do not understand your questions and they appear aggressive and inappropriate. If you have something to say, please do so in a respectful manner, preferrably under your actual name esp. if you seek to address me as an individual. – Vidar Thorsteinsson.

  22. Vidar, was it aggressive? Or are you simply feeling defensive? I was only curious if you are willing to admit your own hypocrisy. I guess you prefer to hide your shame.
    Wise Clams is my name, as I have introduced myself as such.
    Most of your information is quite purposefully slanted towards a faulty agenda. Ignoring the course of documented history will not help the Palestinian cause. A more nuetral viewpoint would serve them better.

  23. Maybe you should first learn a little history. Jewish groups starting buying land in the area after World War I. After the end of World War II, many Jews had no where to go. Their former home countries would not accept the back. There were Jews living in “Displaced Persons” camps as late as the 1950s (note, these were absolutely NOT the same as concentration camps, but nonetheless many Jews had no where to go). Some have gone to Israel. By the way, number of Palestinians who left Israel (even though they had the legal right to stay) is about equal to the number of Jews who were expelled from Arab countries. Do you demand that Jews have the right to return to Arab countries? Why wouldn’t those Arab countries give those homes to Palistinians? Israel only wants to defend itself, including against groups that think they should not live there.

  24. Dear NYCer, I think you raise some important points. Of course we need to be sensitive to the historical suffering of Jews due to anti-semitism. We also need to be vigilant against the lingering anti-semitism that persists in the world to this day. That, however, does not make Israel’s decades-long human rights violations and racist discrimination against Palestinians acceptable. Support for BDS and the demand that Israel follow international law and recognize the human rights of Palestinians is not at odds with recognition of the injustices suffered by other groups, Jews included. Many of the Jewish groups which bravely stand in solidarity with Palestinians in their struggle are testament to that, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Women in Black, Rabbis for Human Rights, and countless others. All best to you. Vidar

  25. Vidar T, do you even know what “International Law” means? Israel has broken no international laws. That’s a fact. Google “International Law”, for allahs sake.
    And now Palestinians are a race… Israel is racist against Palestinians in your “mind”? This back and forth is not going well for you or BDS.

  26. Hello “Sigh”, and welcome to the discussion. That Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is in breach of international law is not a matter of debate. The UN security council settled that a few months after the occupation began in 1967, in resolution 242. You seem to know Google, so you can quickly find out yourself what I’m talking about.

    That the construction of settlements on illegally occupied territory is in breach of international law is also not a matter of debate: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49).

    Legalities aside, the systematic discrimination against groups of people on the basis of their origin (race, ethnicity, nationality, call it want you want) is unacceptable. That is what this is about. Take care. Vidar

  27. Steve of Mevaseret

    Vidar,
    You don’t know the first thing about human rights or about Israel. Israeli Arabs enjoy more rights than any other Arab population in the Mid-East. The only country in the Mid-East with a rising Christian population is Israel. If you don’t believe this statistic, ask your Lebanese Christian friends now in the US. I was performing a heart procedure in a Jerusalem Hospital when a bomb exploded in the fruit and vegetable market. I ended my procedure and raced to the ER. Our hospital received 55 patients in 20 minutes with over 100 patients going to other Jerusalem hospitals. Neighboring Arab armies were unable to destroy us with simultaneous attacks chosen on our holiest of days when our nation was fasting in prayer. Now they sponsor terrorist assault on our civilians leaving bombs in cafes and launching missiles into our cities. After you have provided first aid to your neighbor’s child with a scratch on his knee, preach to me about human rights.

  28. Vidar, I bring up these points not to show historical suffering (I could add much more), but to point out the history that many Jews had no where else to go. Add to that that the some Arabs specifically say the entire state has no right to exist (not just disputed areas) AND they act on that, leaves the question where are those Jews supposed to go.

  29. Steve, thanks for your input. Of course there also many other untenable discriminatory situations in the world, and I’m glad you want to bring attention to those. I hope you find time to act on your concerns with “other Arab populations”, although I’m not sure I understand why you bring that up in this context. Categorizations of that kind are not relevant to me, nor are they to the injustices suffered by Palestinians due to the occupation and the treatment of them as second-class citizens in Israel. Palestinians will never accept apartheid and racism, however much their oppressors attempts to relativize these things. It will not stand, just as Apartheid againt blacks in South Africa did not stand. I wish you the best in your work.

    NYCer, I have lost track of where your thoughts are heading now. As I said earlier, human rights and civil equality for Palestinians is not at the expense of any other group. Human rights are for everybody. That’s why everyone can stand in solidarity with Palestinians, Jews and Israelis included.

    Regards, Vidar

  30. Vidar, you do realize that holding Israel to one part of a UN resolution, namely 242 in this discussion, while not holding Palestinians to it is beyond foolish. Palestinians have repeatedly ruined their own chances for statehood and recognition from the international community. Their situation has become worse due to their own actions. Why would you use 242 against Israel when the Palestinians took 25 years to even acknowledge they would no longer reject it outright, not that they ever agreed to it. Peace with Israel is easily acquired by legitimate, peaceful states. Palestinians do not want or care for International law. By this situation, Isreal, as a legitimate state, has a real threat to deal with and has broken no international laws. Settlements in occupied territory is necessary for their sefety and will be withdrawn once a peace treaty is signed with a legitimate, peaceful state (as they have done in the past). But sadly, Palestinians will probably never have that so building will continue.

  31. Dear “Sigh”. You speak as if the Palestinians had a state. But they don’t, because there’s an illegal military occupation of their land, and that’s the problem. What do you think Palestinians should be “held to” in that respect? It’s been decades since the national Palestinian political leadership formally recognized Israel as a state and negotiating partner. Also, the Palestinian leadership has accepted that a prospective Palestinian state will only comprise the territories outside the ‘Green Line’, 22% of what was Palestine until 1947. Even rejectionist groups such as Hamas, through their participation in the political structures set up on the basis of the Oslo agreement, have implictly acknowledged Israel and made it clear that they will accept a deal in which Palestinians only get control of the West Bank and Gaza.

    I’m really inclined to respect your opinions, but your remarks on Israel’s violations of International law apper like you’re in some sort of denial. As I pointed out above, that question has already been settled at venues such as the UN and the International Court of Justice (see e.g. their ruling about the Israeli apartheid wall in 2004).

    Take care, Vidar

  32. So, just to clarify, since you continuously ignore the important points, you think there is currently no ongoing local threat to Israel (as in, there is absolutely no chance rockets and mortars will be fired into Israeli territory at Israeli citizens today).
    You also believe Israel is the reason no Palestinian state has been created. It’s not due to Palestinian authorities historical unwillingness to cooperate with the UN. Or due to Palestinian aggression/terrorism. Just Israel…

    I’m very sorry for you. You speak of my denial while living in some sort of fantasy world ignoring history unless it fits your agenda.

    Israel has always wanted a Palestinian state and still does. Do try to remember that while spewing your rhetoric.

  33. Dear “Sigh,” why do you feel the need to use aggressive and rude language? I’ll ignore that for now, but if you continue down this road I’ll ignore you like some of the trolls who comment here.

    What exactly do you mean by “Palestinian authorities historical unwillingness to cooperate with the UN”? As is common knowledge, the PA leadership is right now on a high-profile campaign to gain increased recognition within the UN. In general, the Palestinian population and its leadership have consistently sought to cooperate with the UN, e.g. in the foundarion of the UNRWA. All the demands of the Palestinian people have been ratified countless times by UN bodies, both the Security Council and the Genral Assembly. The UN is one of the few venues in the global arena where Palestinian rights are taken seriously. The UN has countless agencies operating in the Occupied Territories, where they play an important part in many people’s lives. Therefore, I don’t really know what you are talking about.

    Now, I think many factors will need to come together for there to be a stable peace in Palestine, and they are not all up to Israel. The United States certainly plays a huge role, and other regional players such as Egypt need to clear up their act. Even the PA itself is in serious need of reform. But the decades-long illegal military occupation, with its vast Apartheit system, sieges, house demolitions, army incursions, unlawful arrests, usurpation of resources, settler violence, checkpoints, torture, curfews, espionage, separation wall, etc. – plus the discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel – are the principal obstacles to a just peace.

    Vidar

  34. So you have no knowledge of PA, PLO, and Arab nations rejection of UN proposals and resolutions over the past 70 years?
    You have no knowledge of any ongoing local threat to Israel?
    Maybe you really don’t know what I’m talking about, but it’s pretty clear to me why there is no Palestinian state and Israel isn’t the cause.
    Israel may be harsh when dealing with dangerous people, but Palestinians have themselves and local arab nations to blame for their current situation. Why did it take so long and so many bodies for them to agree Israel deserved to exist alongside a Palestinian state (re: UN proposals and resolutions)? Israel has wanted that all along.
    Your so-called “apartheid” situation does not match up to the camparison you are drawing. SA used apartheid to discriminate based on race and were not under threat. Israel has constantly been under threat and discriminates against terrorist criminals (not based on race, but danger). How can you seem to care so deeply about a situation and not know the history involved?

  35. Hi again Sigh. You mention no examples of the PA or PLO rejecting UN resolutions or proposals, so again I simply can’t know what you’re referring to.

    Why should/would Palestinians recognize Israel’s existence “alongside a Palestinian state” when Israel prevents Palestinians from having a state in the first place by refusing to ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian land? Some would say that such a recognition should be mutual. But Israel has never recognized Palestinian statehood. Yet, as I explained to you, the PLO leadership recognized Israel and the two-state solution long ago. This process of recognition began in the early 1970s and culminated in the Oslo accords, in the mid-1990s.

    All oppressive regimes use scaremongering, a rhetoric of threat, to justify their actions. That was precisely the rhetoric of the white South-African establishment during Apartheid; the same type of argument was used to defend slavery in the US. Somehow it always seems that it’s too dangerous, if not the end of the world, for oppressed people to have equal rights. But it’s not! We are all better off. That’s why so many Israeli and Jewish groups and individuals are in support of human rights for Palestinians.

    Take care. V.

  36. To equate the actions of the Israeli Government to what took place in South Africa is insulting to those who suffered from Apartheid. The Israeli government made the decision to completely remove itself from the Gaza strip in hopes that it would facilitate constructive peace agreements. Money and aid was pumped into the Gaza strip, and instead of creating an economy and the infrastructure for a Palestinian state, the newly elected Hamas party decided to take money and supplies and dedicate it to the destruction of Israel. It is in their charter.

    Attacks started, with the last straw being suicide bombings. So a wall and embargo was put in place. No more suicide bombings on buses or in the markets.

    Now, Hamas chooses rockets and tunnel raids to kill civilians. They would rather propagate a century-old argument than to settle down and take steps towards peace. And they’ve been winning. They’ve sucked Israel into yet another fight it didn’t want, and it sucked Vidar Thorsteinsson into another false sense of vigilantism. A heart in the right place, yes, but foolish enough to believe lies in the media and continual one-sided journalism. Hamas oppresses its citizens with the same foolishness that it oppresses Israeli citizens, leaving Israel to respond, and ultimately, innocent Arabs who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    So I ask you: Instead of a crusade against the one place on Earth that is safe for our Jewish friends, why don’t you shift your focus to HAMAS, the terrorist organization which has fractured and harmed the Palestinian people? I really don’t see what an off-campus organization like Hillel has to do with it.

  37. In a formal statement to the General Assembly on 15 October 1968, the PLO rejected Resolution 242. They would not accept peace while any Jewish state divided their land. Even though this area has historically been jewish land long before it was even called Palestine (only called Palestine after Romans conquered it).
    Vidar, maybe it’s time to read more than just what BDS gives you. Like many in college, your passion exceeds knowledge.

  38. Concerned Mother

    Vidar, how convenient of you to say you lost track of my thoughts. Let me make it simple. Where are the Jews supposed to live? European countries wouldn’t take them back after WWII, and the US would not take them all in. So if you want to demand that Arabs have the right to push Jews out of Israel, explain where they are supposed to go. Please do not say they should all live there peacefully. The UN partitioned them in 1948 and the Arabs tried to push them out.

  39. Concerned Mother

    My bad, Vidar, it was 1947. On 29 November 1947, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the adoption and implementation of the Plan as Resolution 181(II). The Jews accepted the UN plan. The Arabs did not.

  40. Concerned mother: I have never advocated “pushing Jews out of Israel”, have never entertained that thought, and I would never utter such a despicably cruel and stupid thing. Is this what you have been lead to believe about the Palestinian solidarity movement? As I have alluded to in previous comments, we are people of all stripes (Jews and Israelis included) who support *equality* for Palestinians, not special treatment, or the imposition of suffering on others.

    As for your history analysis, I don’t know if by the “the Arabs” you mean the Palestinans? I wonder, because they were never asked about the 1947 partition plan (nor were any of Israel’s neighboring Arab states). Hence, they were never given a real opportunity to either accept or reject the partition plan.

    Sigh, like I said in my last answer: the PLO began its process of reconciliation with the state of Israel in the 1970s, so it’s not surprising, nor an an argument against anything I’ve said, that you found a rejection of resolution 242 dating from 1968.

    To the person who commented under my name above: Please stop using my name when you make comments.
    You’ve entitled to your opinion of the comparison with South-Africa, but I’d rather go with what Bishop Desmond Tutu has said on that topic, no disrespect to you.
    As for your observations, they are both confused and misinformed. Firstly, you fall prey to the talking point that Israel has “withdrawn” from Gaza. That is patently false, Gaza remains under illegal military occupation. It’s true that since 2004 there has been no permanent military or settler presence inside the strip, but that doesn’t change the fact that Israel maintains an occupying power, in the recognized sense of international law, through its domination of borders, airspace, and sea access. Israel has thus implemented a draconian siege, preventing Gazans from obtaning basic commodities, medicine, building materials and other things, and barred them from operating an airport and a harbour. I know it’s hard for some people to understand this, but perhaps a metaphor can help: Imagine in a prison. Inside the prison, people can move freely as the space allows. Yet, the control of walls, doors, windows and exists by prisonguards is what makes it into a prison. This is the situation in Gaza.

    As if to underline your misinformed perspective of the whole thing, you hopelessly confuse the chronology of things. Suicide bombings by Hamas took place in 1993-1997 and 2001-2004. The withdrawal of settlements and army outposts from Gaza was in 2004. As for the Apartheid Wall, that’s not even in the Gaza. It’s in the West Bank, and its construction began in 2001.

    I have no fondness for Hamas, but they are not the root cause of this conflict. The underlying cause is the occupation, as I have explained with examples in numerous comments above.

    Now I feel that I have begun to repeat myself, so I’m going to stop commenting for now. Thanks to those who responded to me in a civil manner. I encourage you all to show up for some of the events organized the Committee for Justice in Palestine, and the BDS Campaign.

    Peace out, Vidar

  41. Steve of Mevaseret

    Vidar,
    You can repeat your false analogy with South Africa’s apartheid regime until the cows come home. Jews have returned to live in the land of Israel from all corners of the world converting a sparsely populated desolate wasteland into a thriving, advanced and moral country–“a light unto nations”. We have not invaded or colonized another’s land, but restored Jewish sovereignty in our own land. My neighbor collects coins in Judea (the “West BanK”) with a metal detector and hand shovel. He does not need to dig deep to find Jewish minted during the Great Revolt against Rome. My wife enters the valley below our home(Nachal Chalilim)with a friend after a heavy rain to discover pottery leached from the soil. One of the more preserved pieces was dated by the Israeli Museum to be 2000 years old, although not museum quality. We have a jar full of colorful mosaic stones. This is our land and our heritage. You base your opinions not on scholarly work, but on cheap propaganda. Contrast the life of the Jewish nation under Roman rule before the Jews were exiled and the name of our country changed to “Palestine” with the state of desolation and despair that is described in detail by the Missionary William Thomson in his book “The Land and the Book, Southern Palestine and Jerusalem” written in 1882, at the time of Zionist return. Thomson writes “Much of the country through which we have been rambling for a week appears never to have been inhabited, or even cultivated; and there are other parts, you say, still more barren. How could a land as small as Palestine, and with so much waste territory support the vast population assigned to it in the Bible?” [pg 97]. Do you really expect 8 million Jews (with 500,000 living on the right side of the “Green Line”) to abandon their homes because of your boycott? Are you planning to divest from your computer because its Intel chip was made in Israel? Do you know that Intel just invested 6 billion dollars to upgrade its plant in Kiryat Gat? Your BDS campaign cannot compete with our “Start-Up Nation”. Do you know that the majority of Palestinian Arabs left in 1948, before the Arab nations attacked us. This land belongs to the tenacious and we are not going anywhere.

  42. stop using my name when you make comments

    Again with the awful metaphors, huh? Most of the aid into Gaza has been Israeli. Trucks upon trucks of food, everyday. I agree that a blockade is harsh, but it isn’t nor does it have to be permanent. It remains conditional based on genuine peace efforts, not based on any race or prejudice. You could absolutely choose to cherry-pick instances where Israeli Jews chanted some rude things or quote some religious nuts who want to kill Arabs. Those Jews do not represent the majority of Israeli Jews, Arabs, or Christians. They are also part of the problem. I’m actually going to bring up the settlements because I’m not found of them: they are illegal and the Jewish settlers there are some of the worst.

    You again spoke of an “occupying” power. That’s known as an embargo, and it will subside when Hamas decides not to destroy their neighbor and instead decides to shake hands. You heard of the concrete that Israel supplied for constructions? It was used for kilometers of tunnels, which were used oddly enough, to conduct raids into Israel to abduct citizens. Hamas is in fact the root of the problem; Arab nations are distancing themselves from them and know that progress will not come from their violence.

    Steve thinks Israel should be solely Jewish. That’s not right. Some great stuff is happening over there between the different religions. I call attention to the Arab-Israeli collaborations out there because they of course would not be covered in the media. Everyone over there with their head screwed on correctly wants nothing more than peace.

  43. Steve of Mevaseret

    Dear “stop using my name”
    You need a lesson in the English language. I never said that Israel should be solely Jewish and have maintained friendly relations with my Arab physician colleagues as we treated Muslim, Christian and Jewish patients alike in major Israeli hospitals in Rehovot and Jerusalem. As a reserve officer in the IDF, I certainly have more interest in peace than you do.
    Shanah Tovah.

  44. “Why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from American Muslims, or any Muslims or any liberals?
    But if Jews have a legally established homeland Muslims and Liberals and their ilk will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What explanation can be given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are subjugated.
    For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe.
    Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who once lived there. According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land belong to the Buddhists?
    Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical.
    And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re told, the land the Buddhists are on belongs to Islam.
    And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and they should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims since Islam deserves all lands.
    Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions have been killed in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims gang-raped in Sudan all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims. All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess. They can go to South Sudan, but wait a minute, now Muslims are killing the people of South Sudan too.
    And Kashmir? The same. Despite Hindus having lived there for 3,000 years – something like 2,000+ years before Mohammed was born – Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it? Muslim logic, I guess.
    And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam too. Did you know that? It’s true. Just ask a Muslim or a liberal if you prefer. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death to prove their point.
    Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as clear as day? Of course it does. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on their stage.

  45. Steve,

    Sorry for the confusion, I saw “This is our land and our heritage.” and focused on that one sentence. But please, keep elaborating on your experiences and perhaps on some of the collaborations that are going on.

    And yes, I major in Public Affairs, not English 🙂

  46. Not meant to be Vidar

    Sorry Vidar, not intended to be you again. Autofill is to blame.

  47. I just want to say that I am very proud of the Israeli Activists on this page today, sticking by their guns and using their propag… I mean Hasbara tactics in this discussion. I’ve seen a few awesome comments and pointers like the “Israel treats Arabs better than Arabs do” and the “supporting BDS, a nonviolent show of solidarity, is anti-Semitic” and of course, the oldie but goodie, the “Jews have come back to their ancient homeland that was promised to them by God, and even though that doesn’t stand in any form of any modern court, that’s okay”

  48. I especially love the guy that split the people that live in the holy land into “Jews, Arabs, and Christians” as unbelievably ignorant that is, it might provide some good confusion to the people reading the comments, and confusion, of course, is always pro-Israeli.

  49. Is it wrong that I think it would be funny if Vidar personally went to the West Bank to help Palestinians. They would take one look at him, bind and blindfold him, and attempt to ransom him. The Israeli govt might send some army special forces in to save him, but they already shot him when he tried to stop PLO security guards from torturing a palestinian teenager accused of collaborating with Israel. And that would be the tale of Vidar…
    I’m so bad…

  50. Steve of Mevaseret

    Hasbara coach:
    “Im tirzu, ain zo agada” If you will it, it is no fairy-tale spoken by Theodore Herzl in the 19th century.
    Visit our country and you will experience for yourself the miraculous transformation of a deserted wasteland into a modern and moral nation by hard work and humility and by those who have sacrificed their lives to defend our nation.

  51. Not meant to be Vidar

    Steve, don’t feed the trolls.

  52. Steve of Mevaseret

    Sorry “Not Meant” but you must answer the hate speech of those like Cruz Bonlarron-Martínez who pretend to be human rights advocates, but no nothing of human rights and even less of the Jewish nation. Blinded by hate, like the Nazis they call for a boycott of anything Jewish, even an innocent Jewish student organization like Hillel.

  53. To “Hasbara coach” who commented on Oct 7, 3:12pm:

    I have been to the West Bank on three seperate occasions in the last twelve years, travelled there extensively and met and worked there with countless Palestinian, international, Israeli, and Jewish activists. Never once have I been harrased by anybody there other than Israeli soldiers, police and settlers. So much for your funny little joke.

    Kind regards, Vidar

  54. Steve of Mevaseret

    Unfortunately Vidar you have picked the wrong side of the human rights equation.
    During the war in Gaza, Arab members of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) went to a victory rally –for Hamas! Can you imagine a victory rally for Israel occurring in an Arab country? After Egypt’s crushing defeat in 1967, the Egyptian Government did not have any Israeli POWs. They rounded up the Jewish students at high schools in Cairo and Alexandria and paraded them in the streets as though they were Israeli POWs to be stoned. You can read the personal account of Rami Mangoubi, “My Longest Ten Minutes”, published in the Jerusalem Post. Rami and I studied together at MIT and I am glad that he finally published his family’s painful story.

  55. To “Vidar”,

    If you don’t like my jokes, maybe you should stop lying and completely ignoring good information people are leaving here. Attempts have been made to have a discussion, but you prefer to tow the BDS party line while not really debating anyone. Making jokes about your laughable status in the palestinian “community” is all Hasbara Coach has left. I guess you could actually debate the other commentors…, but since we know that won’t happen, Hasbara Coach will just continue saying stupid things. Do not challenge the might of Hasbara Coach!

  56. “I give you a new commandment, to love one another as I have loved you”….Jesus Christ

  57. Israel War Veteran

    So long as organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah are dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, I will remain a supporter of Israel’s right to defend itself at virtually any cost. I reject the trendy academicians who equate support for Israel with “racism” or “apartheid” or “human rights violations” and would have Israel be defenseless in the face of terrorist assault. The Palestinians have no economic or political future so long as they affiliate with Hamas and similar terror groups. And as supporters of the Palestinian people well know ( and as many respected international observers have stated overs the years) that the Palestinian leadership, such as it is, has repeatedly squandered many opportunities to make a true peace with Israel. So now, after many years, Israel’s attitude has hardened once again. So be it. The current leadership of Palestine offers only more war and deprivation, they have no plan for a prosperous future for their own people, and certainly none for the Jewish state.

  58. Cruz Bonlarron-Martínez, Do you realize that almost every religion on the earth has tried to eliminate the Jews at one time or another. Arabs especially. I support any killings of Muslim’s that have tried to kill Jews for over 1000 years. Dear God young man take off your liberal blinders and understand the ways of the world

  59. Truth: The core problem is so-called Palestinians and most Arab nations still don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. They’re still fighting the 1948 war. It is the Jews that have been expelled by the 20 plus Arab countries since 1948.

    Lie: European Jews have taken Palestinian land.
    Response: Jews have right to have one country in the 20 plus Arab nations of N.Africa and Middle East. Jews have lived continuously there since time immemorial and if anything have preceded the Arabs as Abraham has Muhammad.

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