Students for Justice in Palestine should erect a bridge rather than a wall

We as Americans share certain values. Most important among these values are an appreciation of diversity, both in population and in expression. These values are echoed at ASU. It is a testament to the tolerance and appreciation of diversity at ASU that all forms of expression are encouraged and supported, including a recent symbolic demonstration by the Students for Justice in Palestine.

SJP erected an “apartheid” wall up on Hayden Lawn at the Tempe campus in order to mimic the security barrier that Israel has placed on its border with the West Bank. SJP called it an “apartheid” wall because the real one was allegedly built in order to insulate Israeli citizens from Arabs, keeping the populations separate and attempting to give Israelis more preferential treatment. However, there are a number of problems both with the idea of the security barrier being an “apartheid” wall, and with the way in which the way SJP portrays Israel because of it.

First of all, the barrier, as its name suggests, was built for security. The security barrier was erected along the border of the West Bank in response to the massive amount of terrorist attacks perpetrated against Israelis during what Palestinians term the “Second Intifada.” The infiltration of suicide bombers into the state of Israel made the barrier a necessity to keep the citizens of Israel safe from arbitrary and horrendous attacks.

With this mind, the accusation of the wall being an “apartheid” wall is erroneous for two reasons. First, the word “apartheid” directly references the system of segregation that existed within South Africa until the mid-1990s. However, this does not hold true in the case of Israel. Arabs that are citizens of Israel have equal rights, as both Israeli President Ruby Rivlin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have stressed of late, and the Declaration of Independence of Israel makes clear.

But besides this, the immorality that the “apartheid” wall label implies is also falsely based. In fact, it would be highly immoral for the state of Israel not to take every measure necessary to protect its citizens. Israel has a moral obligation to its citizens to protect them, whatever ethnic or religious background they may have. This means that if the wall is what is necessary to stop indiscriminate terrorist attacks on its people, the state of Israel is justified in erecting it.

In truth, the “apartheid” wall that SJP constructed highlights a much more serious fault line in the university side of the Arab-Israeli conflict: the fact that the doctrine of SJP is more in line with the very atrocities that they accuse Israel of being party to, and is extremely hypocritical. SJP exercises its freedom of expression with its building of a model of Israel’s “apartheid” wall. And yet the doctrine of SJP and those that support it would be intolerant of the expression of others.

What do I mean? SJP and another organization, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, both use tactics that seek to end the “occupation” of Palestinian lands by the “apartheid” state of Israel. BDS has been known to support the actions of Hitler because he hated Jews and wanted to wipe them from the face of the earth. Some also claim that both organizations are linked to Hamas, which has been declared a terrorist organization by the U.S.

So then, the Students for Justice in Palestine should probably change their name. Why? Because they do not live up to their title. If the group were truly in favor of justice for Palestine, they would highlight the terrorism, human rights abuses and corruption that are practiced by both Hamas and Fatah, rather than trying to demonize the state of Israel as an occupying power. They would focus on helping their people escape the oppression of the autocratic leadership of the Palestinian territories rather than on Israel, which often tries to help the Palestinian people.

I personally would like to see an invitation from SJP to have a dialogue about the reasons why they felt the need to build an “apartheid” wall with Jewish students on campus. I don’t mean a one-sided rant against Israel. I mean a clear and open dialogue that brings all the issues out in the open and seeks to address the valid grievances that SJP voices.

Israel is not a perfect country and definitely has room to improve, and therefore it would be good to hear legitimate concerns from SJP. Perhaps in the environment that ASU provides within the values that America holds dear, solutions can be found that would never be possible were they to be attempted in the Middle East.


Reach the columnist at jbrunne2@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @MrAmbassador4

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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