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Op-ed | An open letter from Tufts Friends of Israel

Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013

Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 03:03


Dear campus,
As all Tufts students will have noticed by now, we are in the midst of Students for Justice in Palestine’s second annual Israeli Apartheid Week. This week is marked by various events and speakers and aims to make the case that Israel is an apartheid state.
We, the board and members of Friends of Israel, firmly believe that the Palestinian narrative is extremely important. Indeed, the pursuit of a peaceful two-state solution will necessarily have to engage with and address many of the concerns SJP is raising.
However, we must emphatically assert that Israel is not an apartheid state. Briefly put, Arab-Israelis have the same opportunities as Jewish Israelis. They serve as members of Knesset (the Israeli parliament), as Supreme Court judges and as prominent cabinet members. The Palestinians within the West Bank, on the other hand, are not Israeli citizens, nor do they wish to be — they have their own national movement, government and civil structures in place. Any unfortunate consequences of Israel’s legitimate pursuit of security, regrettable as they may be, by definition do not indicate an apartheid system.
But most importantly, the realities of Israel are far too complex to be addressed in one week of programming, much less in a single op-ed.
Furthermore, if the Islamophobic and generally repugnant “Islamic Apartheid Week” advertisement and the justified outcry it elicited can teach us anything, it is that indiscriminately throwing around the term apartheid — a term so mired in powerful, hateful emotions — is simply hurtful and attempts to vilify a supposed enemy, rather than promote constructive dialogue.
Labeling Israel as an Apartheid state does not lead to higher discourse — it prevents it. We at Tufts owe it to ourselves to have a serious conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian issue and not just devolve into another bout of op-ed wars and name-calling.
So join us in attending SJP’s events. Listen to their speakers, talk to their members — hear their side of the story. But also know that it is just that: one side of an issue far greater than one week could ever truly do justice. Look past the rhetoric and give this divisive issue the respect it deserves.
We would also hope you come to our events, stop by our meetings, hear our take on the matter. FOI is first and foremost a resource to our campus for anyone who wants to discuss matters relating to Israel. We are open to all conversation, provided that it comes from a genuine desire for understanding, not further antagonism. 
There is enough conflict surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian issue; let us not add to it.
We hope that you all have a meaningful week.
Itai Thaler is a junior majoring in English and is the political chair of Tufts Friends of Israel (FOI). Shira Strauss is a junior majoring in biology and is a member of FOI. Ayal Pierce is a sophomore majoring in computer science and is co-president of FOI. Aliza Shapiro is a sophomore who has yet to declare a major and is co-president of FOI. Friends of Israel can be contacted at

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9 comments Log in to Comment

Fri Mar 8 2013 19:32
dylansaba tells us, "If you ever decide to seriously engage any of my contentions, I will welcome it. Until then, your anti-Muslim tirade is as tired as it is irrelevant."



On page 369 (554 in the Arabic) of the earliest Muslim biography of Muhammad, Muhammad says "kill any Jew who falls into your power":

It's a "charming" story of two brothers, Muhayyissa and Huwayyisa: (To avoid confusing the two brothers, keep in mind that the brother whose name begins with M is the Murderer in the story.)

"The apostle [Muhammad] said, 'Kill any Jew that falls into your power.' Thereupon Muhayyisa bin Masud leapt upon Ibn Sunayna, a Jewish merchant with whom they had social and business relations, and killed him. Huwayyisa was not a Muslim at the time though he was the elder brother. When Muhayyisa killed [the Jewish merchant] Huwayyisa began to beat [his brother Muhayyisa], saying, 'You enemy of God, did you kill him when much of the fat on your belly comes from his wealth?' Muhayyisa answered, 'Had the one who ordered me to kill him ordered me to kill you I would have cut your head off.'...[Huwayyisa] replied, 'By God, if Muhammad had ordered you to kill me would you have killed me?' [Muhayyisa] said, 'Yes, by God, had he ordered me to cut off your head I would have done so.' [Huwayyisa] exclaimed, "By God, a religion which can bring you to this is marvellous!' and [Huwayyisa] became a Muslim."

Fri Mar 8 2013 14:19

I'd no sooner dance with a snake-in-the-grass then take you up on your offer. You being a new-found friend of the Pallywood community where moral inversion and Orwellian logic knows no bounds.

I sometimes think bangin my head against a wall would be more fruitul if it were not for the people who thank me for attemtping to bring truth to an ocean of lies and for fighting man's latest permutation fo anti-Semitism writ large on the Pallywood billboard.

Thu Mar 7 2013 19:09
Bob Roberts (Arafat),

If you ever decide to seriously engage any of my contentions, I will welcome it. Until then, your anti-Muslim tirade is as tired as it is irrelevant. They are certainly injustices in the world that are presently occurring, but that is neither here nor there when it comes to the actions taken by the state of Israel on America's dime. On our time. With 3 billion of our tax dollars annually, and with the full support and consent of the American government.
Please, hold a rally for Syria. I will come. I engage in this issue because of ties to my own identity and because injustice is being committed on a daily basis in my name.

Thu Mar 7 2013 17:18
Shalom & dylan,

While Saudis repress all their people (other than the royal family whom have private $500 million dollar private airplanes) we focus our angst on Israel for deep down we are really just anti-Semites pretending to be humanitarians.

While Pakistanis ethnically cleanse that once Hindu country of its remaining Hindus we focus our angst on Israel for deep down we are really just anti-Semites pretending to be humanitarians.

While Egyptians ethnically cleanse that country of its ancient Coptic community we focus our angst on Israel for deep down we are anti-Semites masquerading as humanitarians.

While Mali Islamists turn Mali into the next Sudan we focus our angst on Israel for deep down we are really anti-Semites dressed up in humanitarian's clothes.

While Yemenis turn that bread basket of the Arabian Peninsula into a place of starvation we focus our crocodile tears on Israel for deep down we are really anti-Semites dressed up in fancy humanitarian clothes.

While Islamists in Southern Thailand kill off over 5,000 Buddhists in the span of a few years we ignore their plight and turn our focus on Israel for we are anti-Semites pretending to be concerned humanitarians.

While Hezbollah kills off what remains of the Christian leadership in Lebanon we turn the spotlight on Israel for they are just Jews and we all know nobody has ever defended the Jews. They're easy pickings and we are really just Brown Shirts pretending to be humanitarians.

Thu Mar 7 2013 17:16
Speaking for myself I do not believe the two-state solution is a solution. Most anywhere one studies Muslims we see deadly conflict with their neighbors and it is instigated by the Muslims. And this includes Muslims killing Muslims where the killing of Muslims by Muslims is as predictable as is the rising sun.

Be it in Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Mali, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Southern Thailand, NW China, Southern Russia, train depots in London, discos in Bali, Embassies in Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere, grade schools in Beslan, the list goes on and on and never ends.

The idea that a two-state solution would work is like telling me I could fly to the moon of my own doing. Muslims have never been interested in peace with Israel and never will be. Their goal is to re-create the Ummah. This goal is stated in their Quran and is amply supported by all the material found in their Hadiths and Sunna.

It - the two-state solution - is one of those idiotic plans put together by people who know nothing other than intellectual pursuits that have as much chance of working in the real world as the Arab Spring had of fostering democracy in the Muslim world.

Thu Mar 7 2013 14:21
Aaron, if you're looking for facts and figures, I invite you to read one of the four op-eds published by SJP this week. I take it you were not at the two movies we have shown, or either of the two lectures. Perhaps you will make it to the student panel tomorrow, but I doubt it.
Thu Mar 7 2013 14:06
This letter writers try to have it both ways:

First: "The issue is complicated. Your acts of expression are preventing higher discourse. We need to have a serious conversation. Let's not have conflict."

But at the same time: "You're wrong and we're right. By the way, we'll tell you what Palestinians want or don't want. And let us tell you what the straight facts are."

Shalom gleichem
Thu Mar 7 2013 12:34
No one is questioning SJP's superior understanding of the issues. The street theater in front of Tisch made your point perfectly clear-- no facts and figures necessary. I for one am shocked from what I learned observing your checkpoint. Almost like the real thing. It's utterly appalling what Israel does, and with CARDBOARD GUNS no less! I say there should be an effort to boycott all cardboard to Israel. No cardboard = no occupation. Thanks for shedding the glowing light of knowledge and justice. SJP 1, Zionists 0.

From the river to the sea, palestine is cardboard free!

Thu Mar 7 2013 10:06
This article seems to imply that SJP picked the word Apartheid out of the blue and decided to label Israel for shock value... This is very clearly not the case. As South Africans who faced the Apartheid system will tell you, the weight of the system is not held in the surface segregation. A political minority (of Palestinians) in Knesset who by law cannot pass anything without a Jewish majority are worthless when thousands of homes are being demolished, when freedom of movement is extremely limited, when young men (and sometimes kids) are being arrested and tortured for throwing stones. You do not address these claims because you cannot. There is a reason Apartheid is such a charged and emotional term, which is that it describes the completed domination of one ethnic group over another! Furthermore, how can you look to peace without addressing home demolitions? 55% of all suicide bombers had their homes demolished as children. Look, I'm sorry if the word Apartheid makes you feel attacked, but that should be no cause to dismiss the allegation, especially when the likes of Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Jimmy Carter are using the term as well. Are you claiming that they are a) ignorant or b) anti-semitic?

"The so-called 'Palestinian autonomous areas' are bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli apartheid system." - Nelson Mandela

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