Op-Ed | Radicals: revolution without solution
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 09:03
I have previously called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) a radical organization that should reconsider its operations. I would like to reassert this because of a very important point: one should not advocate revolution if they do not have a plan for how things should be run after the revolution.
Take the Iranian Revolution: before the Revolution, throngs of demonstrators assembled to protest the Shah’s continued rule and to demand his abdication. One mobilized group, made mostly of young people, recognized that the Shah was a dictator and that they needed a better government that was more responsive to its people.
However, after the Shah was taken down, a new dictator rose in his place. The Supreme Leader imposed Islamic culture on all and provided an unfavorable environment for the flourishing of democracy. This case shows that revolution did not lead to democracy, like many supposed it would, because there was no agreed-upon plan for what to do after the revolution. By emphasizing taking down the Shah instead of how to replace him, society became more repressed rather than more free.
I compare SJP to Iranian history to stress that people should focus on solutions instead of revolutions. SJP does not offer a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Instead, they only criticize Israel. This has dangerous implications. First of all, this makes it seem like the only solution to the conflict is a one state solution with no Israel and only Palestine. Is this possible? No! Where would all the current Israelis go? It’s as if this solution is expecting them to disappear, along with the institutions and development that they established.
SJP also claims that they are informing the public and sparking dialogue. How are they sparking dialogue when they do not offer a solution? Instead they are reiterating their contempt for Israel over and over again. Instead of sparking campus debate, they are sparking campus animosity. Radicalism leads to radicalism. In the Daily on March 4 there was a one-page advertisement showcasing Islamic Apartheid Week. This, on the surface, seems to implicitly connect the Islamic religion to violence. This is another radical idea that was sparked because of SJP’s — and Israeli Apartheid Week’s — in-your-face one-sided policies.
By not offering a realistic solution and falsely claiming to motivate discussion, SJP is alienating many students, including myself. I support a two-state solution and am against Israel’s human rights abuses, but SJP’s actions make me want to distance myself from Palestinian support groups. I am angered by Israeli Apartheid Week for many reasons (I think that many Arab countries should, under this definition of apartheid, also be called apartheid states), and I once again am angry with SJP. Members of this organization need to rethink their actions or they risk increasing radicalism on this campus and alienating themselves.
The revolution they call for can produce something worse than they expect if they do not offer a solution. Raising awareness of human rights abuses (and there is a lot of awareness on this campus) does not lead to a long term, sustainable solution. SJP is not part of the solution — they’re part of the problem.
Robert Persky is a sophomore majoring in international relations. He can be reached at Robert.Persky@tufts.edu.