Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 03:03
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 TuftsFOI@gmail.com.