OPINION: Pitzer College should suspend its study abroad program at the University of Haifa

Recently, various members of the Pitzer College faculty pushed for a motion that would end the institution’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa. This moratorium, if enacted, would remain in effect until “(a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.”

I have neither the space nor the credentials to present an accurate history of the Israeli-Palestine conflict here, so I will make no such attempt. I will simply say that ignorance on our parts is no excuse, and considering the entire history of the conflict and our roles in it as Americans will surely not hinder the path to peace, but will only illuminate it.

To that end, I would encourage you to reach out to many of the activists on campus who seek nothing but a just peace in the Levant.

As my friends who are unfortunate enough to be exposed to my political rants will confirm, I am much more critical of countries like Saudi Arabia and the United States than I am of Israel. If we had an exchange program with some college in Riyadh or shudders Liberty University, you can bet there’d be an op-ed piece. And it’d be a hell of a lot snarkier than this one. (“Wouldn’t it be a shame if Ted Nugent won an all-expenses-paid one-way trip to the Turkish embassy?”)

Israel-Palestine is, rightfully, an extraordinarily charged issue on both college campuses and in real life alike. I haven’t quite figured out the calculations of how the right-wing in America has become so unwaveringly pro-Israel while simultaneously increasingly anti-semitic. But if you’re willing to make the mental gymnastics required to believe that women should be put on trial for having an abortion while also believing that a 12-year-old holding a toy gun deserved to be murdered by the police, I suppose you can be induced to think a lot of things.

State propaganda be like that.

Non-violent resistance has a rich legacy in this country. I think back on Dr. Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1963, the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, MA (which my late great-grandmother used to tell stories about), and Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem.

These are radiant examples of autonomous individuals standing up for themselves and their aggrieved neighbors. With the exception of toppling democratically elected governments in Central America, there is nothing quite as American as peaceably making one’s voice heard.

I do not see this Pitzer motion as a coup. I see it as merely a coalition of concerned citizens who wish to make the world a more equitable place.

Furthermore, I will not sit here and pretend like I know what it is like to be a Palestinian or an Israeli. What I do know as a Pitzer student is when a group of the most educated and worldly people in the entire nation feel there is an injustice to be rectified, we should listen to their voices and allow ourselves to be part of the solution.

That’s why we should support this motion.

This is not about singling out one particular country out of all the 194 that aren’t Iceland. The truth is, dearest reader, I don’t care for governments or nation-states all that much. I care about people, and it’s clear to me that’s what this whole issue is about.

At this stage in the unraveling of global capitalism, no governing body could be bothered to give a flying ballsack about the people it is charged with the role of protecting: not Netanyahu’s cabinet, not the PA, not even the current administration of neo-fascists carting America toward its inglorious denouement at an ever-hastening speed.

I want Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israeli citizens. I want the Likud party to stop the illegal settlements on occupied territory. I want all traces of antisemitism, especially after the horrific attack in Pittsburgh, purged from the world. I want Islamophobia eliminated, too. I don’t know of any reasonable person who doesn’t want these things.

If these are overtly political sentiments and are tantamount to be “pushing an agenda,” then so be it. We all want world peace. But unless we’re willing to give, it’s not going to happen.

Sean Burke PZ ’21 would like to thank not only God, but also Jello Biafra.

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