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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

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4 comments Log in to Comment

Sat Mar 9 2013 12:05
Gosh, Thomas, it's a good thing you didn't use black Zimbabwe as an example instead, but given the hatred and Jew-hatred all Palestinians are brainwashed with from infanthood until they die what makes you so confident Zimbabwe isn't a more likely outcome, and why would you suggest Jews take the risk of living with a religious group that fans the flames of their genocidal dreams?

It's easy for you to glibly write suggestions. But, then again, you have no skin in the game and everyone's entitled to an opinion. That's why they're worth the cyberspace they're written on.

Thu Mar 7 2013 17:55
There are two UN refugee agencies in the world: First is the United Nations
Relief and Works Administrations (UNRWA) for 5 million Palestinian refugees
(which includes the descendants of the original 500,000 Palestinian refugees
from the Israeli War of Independence) which employs 30,000 workers. The UNRWA
has resettled no Palestinians.

The second refugee agency is the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), which assists every other refugee in the world-including 100
million displaced people during the last 50 years-and employs 7,000 people. The
UNHCR has resettled tens of millions of refugees.

Looking at these numbers, one would think that the cause of the Palestinians
is somehow morally superior to that of all other war refugees. After all, why
have so many more workers been assisting a dramatically smaller group of
people? But if the Palestinians are unique it is only because of their moral
inferiority, as they are the only group of refugees that regularly commit acts
of terrorism against innocent civilians.

Another obvious question: why hasn't the UNRWA resettled any of the
Palestinian refugees? The answer, of course, is that the surrounding Arab
states would rather have these refugees remain a thorn in Israel's side, than
help them start a new life. The UNRWA is happy to oblige.

Wed Mar 6 2013 10:38
Moreover, though SJP as an organization does not support one particular solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, individual members certainly do support particular solutions (whether one or two states). SJP seeks to point out that there is a problem which needs to be addressed in the region, and to provide students with information about various proposed solutions. Which solution is most effective is a decision left to students. This does not mean that SJP does not seek a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Also, my apologies for the typo in my last comment. "There", not "their".)
Wed Mar 6 2013 10:33
It appears that the author is thoroughly unfamiliar with the case of apartheid South Africa, the parallels of which to Israel/ Palestine he is quick to reject. If he was more familiar, he would recognize that after the fall of Apartheid in South Africa, a one state solution was created. Under this solution, Afrikaners, the previously dominant group, went on to live in peace and indeed prosper beside their black counterparts. Their is no reason to believe that such a mutually beneficial arrangement cannot be achieved in a one state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The question of "Where would all the current Israelis go?" is a non-issue. There's already a successful example of how to resolve this question. Israelis and Palestinians can live peacefully in one state, as Afrikaners and black South Africans do.

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