Monday, December 10, 2007

Bill Affirms Strong Relationship Between Two Countries, Highlights Ideals

I commend the ASUC Senate for recently passing a bill affirming the strong and positive relationship between the United States and Israel. The issue before the Senate was an important one for all Americans. It’s unfortunate that the ASUC president, in vetoing the bill, let his own personal politics and lack of understanding about the bill stand in the way of the will of the senators and the students who elected them. That one person trumped the collective decision of the Senate is unsettling, but at the same time draws attention to a meaningful bill that deserves recognition.

The bill highlights a multitude of shared ideals on which the two countries are based, including freedom of conscience, speech, assembly and press, as well as equality and tolerance for all people. Israel is a beacon of liberty, a country where women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights and political rights flourish. Israel is the only country in the region with legal protection for gays from discrimination, uncensored media and full freedom of speech and assembly. Additionally, 45 percent of women are in the workforce, the same as in the United States.

Together, the United States and Israel have taken many strides and made many sacrifices toward peace, including treaties with Egypt in 1979, Jordan in 1994, and the Palestinians in 1993.

The bill also illustrates the longstanding historical context of a positive United States-Israel relationship: Since Israel’s independence, every U.S. President has supported a strong relationship between the two democracies. Jimmy Carter articulated that “The survival of Israel ... is a moral imperative. That is my deeply held belief ... a strong secure Israel is not just in Israel’s interest. It’s in the interest of the United States and in the interest of the entire free world.” Both the Democratic and Republican parties consistently champion the benefits of the relationship. And most importantly, both the American and Israeli governments are echoing the sentiments of their people, as the overwhelming majority of Americans and Israelis back the relationship.

The bill before the ASUC was about affirming core values and a desire for peace between two nations who share a natural bond. To see my student government take a stand on an issue of international significance makes me proud to be a UC Berkeley student. It’s reassuring to know that at a school once in the spotlight for its political and social activism, students are still speaking and their voices are still being heard. Despite an attempt by the ASUC president to conceal the merits of the bill behind a veil of personal politics and misinformation, the Senate made it clear that the bill stands on its own.

-John Moghtader, co-founder of Tikvah SFI.

Daily Cal article on the passing of the bill:

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