The Middle East continues to fester in religious extremism and murderous, undemocratic regimes. This is not new, as
the region has become increasingly turbulent since the fall of the Ottoman
Empire. However, most cases of injustice toward the region’s subjected peoples remain unknown to college students.
Recently, the murderous terrorist group, the Islamic State (ISIS), besieged a place called Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in
Damascus. From what is known, the Palestinian Arabs in the camp still lack
food, water, healthcare and other basic necessities as a result of the
deplorable treatment in the midst of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military crackdown on the opposition.
Adding insult to injury, many Palestinians
have been beheaded by ISIS and remain under torturous conditions that the United Nations Security Council has
determined to be “beyond inhumane.” This only
demonstrates a fraction of how
the Syrian government has inflicted misery on the Palestinian population since the start of the war over four
Despite these despicable conditions
against Palestinians in Syria, both Azmi Haroun PZ ’15 and Nicolas Tourani PZ
’15 decided to focus their energy on blaming “hawkish regimes” and Israel’s false
“occupation” for the lack of Palestinian self-determination and dignity in
their opinion piece in last week’s issue of TSL.
In a clear demonstration of selective
outrage, these gentlemen failed to assert a single critique of the Arab world,
of Palestinian leadership and of other non-Western states for the mistreatment
of the Palestinian-Arab populations.
In defending the indefensible “Israeli
Apartheid Week,” Haroun and Tourani direct their anger and frustration toward Israel, and effectively the West, instead of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the rest of the Arab
states. Contrary to what
the mainstream media tells us, those regimes have oppressed Palestinian Arabs
under horrific conditions for decades. Some of these crimes cannot hold a
candle to Israel’s alleged crimes, despite Israel’s numerous attempts to give Palestinians a state of
Much to my dismay, Haroun and Tourani
continue the same dangerous pattern set forth by ‘progressives’ and groups like
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), altogether avoiding cases of injustice
against Palestinians outside of Israel and the disputed territories.
SJP operates under the misguided pretenses that the Jewish state is wholly responsible for Palestinian Arab hardship. While SJP markets itself as a human rights group, the organization only does so in a half-baked manner. Their anti-Israel tunnel vision acts at the expense of the millions suffering under Arab and Palestinian rule.
The organization “aims to promote justice, human rights, liberation and self-determination for the Palestinian people.” If that was truly the case, however, why can’t we see SJP condemning Lebanon’s apartheid laws against Palestinian refugees? Or how Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the Arab world to bomb the Gaza Strip?
The immoral double standard against the
only Jewish state is my major critique of SJP’s “Israeli Apartheid Week.” They
do not teach the 5C community, or any college community for that matter, about
the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict in an honest, accurate or factual way.
Does it not matter that the allegation of ‘apartheid’ is a lie? Does SJP care that Israel
did not murder four young boys on a Gaza beach, that instead Hamas staged the
story to libel the Jewish state?
What matters to ‘progressives’ is the
“white European Jew oppressing the non-white, indigenous Palestinian”
narrative, a libelous
falsehood and an intellectually dishonest claim with no merit. This storyline
equates Jewish resistance against the Nazis in Warsaw to the genocidal Palestinian
terrorists’ form of ‘resistance,’
which translates to killing thousands of Arabs and Jews without remorse.
On several occasions, I have called for
better ways to tackle the challenges between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
One cannot truly stand up for the Palestinians without condemning their
leadership that embezzles millions of dollars in aid, ultimately preventing Palestinians
from socioeconomic mobility.
Additionally, it’s impossible to discuss
the merits of a peace agreement between both sides when Palestinian negotiators
compare a democratic state to a murderous, genocidal and radical Islamic
Instead of discussing feelings and
narratives, we must discuss the conflict on factual and legal grounds. Most
importantly, we need to understand the legitimacy of both the Palestinians and
the Israelis who truly want to live in peace. This is not the narrative that
“Israeli Apartheid Week” brings to the Claremont community.
This event silences the other side of the
story by delegitimizing the Jewish state, the Zionist movement and Jewish
students who actually wish to see justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.
SJP has every right to express its opinions. However, it should not abuse its rights by spewing double standards
and borderline anti-Semitic commentary at the expense of the only Jewish state.
Perhaps SJP should reconsider its methods, especially when Palestinian Arabs are being
persecuted, oppressed and brutally killed within Palestinian-controlled areas
and within the Arab world. As a community, we must do a better job at
addressing human rights abuses in the region. It should start with holding
non-Western powers accountable for their ruthless crimes against the
Elliott Hamilton PZ
’15 is majoring in economics and minoring in politics. He is the former
President of Claremont Students for Israel.