Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The World is Larger than Berkeley

After Jewish students suffered harassment and hate speech (including outbursts of "f--- Israel!" and "You think you are the Chosen People and can just kill people!") from members of Students for Justice in Palestine at SJP's "die-in" several weeks ago, members of Tikvah took their grievances to the ASUC Senate in order that appropriate action might be taken against the haters. However, through the course of several Senate meetings, it became obvious that Tikvah was not going to find the sympathies of UC Berkeley officials; on the contrary, Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard made it clear that he is willing to condone acts of terror in order to justify hate speech coming from Israel-haters. According to the minutes of the Senate meeting on March 5,

Regarding hate speech and what that really meant, and what hate was, he would ask if it was hateful to say “f[***] Israel”? And it probably was. Was it hateful to say “Palestinian terror”? Probably. There were always two sides to every single story around dialogue. And the truth was always somewhere in the middle.

Obviously no progress towards justice can be made when the arbiter asserts that condemning acts of terror against Israeli civilians is not only a bad thing, but is just as bad as denigrating the entire country of Israel simply for existing.

On the bright side, however, Tikvah's efforts are not going unnoticed internationally. Several days ago, published an article on its website about the struggle being taken on college campuses to ensure that a truthful image of Israel is conveyed to the public, and out of the campuses mentioned, UC Berkeley received top billing. As Aish is an internationally renowned organization, this article will be read and internalized by people all over the world. If UC Berkeley officials are not going to align themselves with the cause of justice on our campus, at least people across the United States and the rest of the world will do so. To read the full article, click here:


berkeley student said...

The "chosen people" comment shows what kind of people we are up against. These brownshirts have no toleration for Judaism and its teachings. The onslaught against Israel is only part of the campaign to prevent Jews from peacefully following their religion.

Tom said...

half the board members of SJP ARE jews with plenty of relatives in Israel, and most of the non-jewish members have been involved in jewish-arab dialogue groups of different kinds. One of the Arabs set up a Facebook group called "Antisemitism is stupid", another met with the head of the Israel Action Committee at the time and set up a joint group to encourage jewish-arab dialogue on campus. Several of the non-jews have learned Hebrew or studied jewish history. You have absolutely no proof that any of the comments that you attribute to SJP members ("chosen people
" etc) were actually said by a member of SJP, if they were said at all, but you continue to repeat this over and over again, and then accuse others of hate speech.

Israeli Apartheid Week, according to the flyers distributed by SJP over all the week, was intended to draw attention to systems of separation between jews and arabs and between different groups of palestinians, and to call for freedom from these systems and more unity and togetherness between jews and arabs. This is precisely how the "from the river to sea" chants should be interpreted, as call for freedom for both jews and arabs in Palestine/Israel. The hatred is only in your minds. Wish you could see that.

Amit said...

If I recall, the full "from the river to the sea" chant to which you are referring goes
"from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." Since, obviously, Israel lies between the river and the sea, the underlying message of the chant is that Israel ought to be destroyed. The hatred is in our minds? You can say "antisemitism is stupid" and parade Israeli Aparthied Week as legitimate criticism of Israel, but as long as you're calling for the destruction of Israel, your pleas against antisemitism are meaningless and your criticism of Israel is antisemitism.

Tom said...

claiming that certain political structures should be changed is not equivalent to supporting "the destruction of Israel". None of us, neither jews nor arabs, is promoting a "campaign to prevent Jews from peacefully following their religion" - in fact we're spending this week planning our joint Seder on Saturday.

We certainly do not wish to prevent our relatives and friends in Israel from doing the same. The political institutions we want to change are the ones which discriminate between Jews and Arabs. For example, a Palestinian born in what is now Israel has no Birthright program to encourage her to go back to her homeland. Israli Arabs are often prevented from getting housing in jewish-only areas( I would never equate these structures of discrimination with some essence of judaism, so calls to be free of them should not be seen as antisemitism in any shape or form. This is precisely what we advocated during that week, and what we continue to advocate.

amit said...

Don't tell me that you support evacuating Jews from the West Bank...if you do, you are holding a double-standard. Why can't there be "Jewish-only" areas if there can be "Arab-only" areas?