Students for Justice in Palestine were back out on Locust Walk this Passover for their annual Israel Apartheid Week. It’s always productive to have a free exchange of ideas, especially when it pertains to important geopolitical issues such as the fate of Palestinian refugees – perhaps the least fortunate group of people in the current world.
But in encountering SJP’s Apartheid Wall or panel discussion featuring a genocide advocate, one may have found its members unwilling to speak to anyone who disagrees with them. Or maybe that’s just me. Fortunately, SJP co-chair Ajjit Narayanan penned a Daily Pennsylvanian guest column clarifying the group’s stance.
Whether the state of Israel constitutes apartheid is too ridiculous to argue seriously. One would have to distort the definition of apartheid beyond recognition, and then lie and misrepresent the situation. Still, Ajjit wants us to “scrutinize” Israel with “the same critical lens as other nations,” so let’s do that.
In her guest column in The DP, Ariela Stein correctly points out that Arabs and Jews in Israel shop in the same stores, receive care at the same hospitals, and serve in the Israeli military, parliament, and supreme court side by side. On the other hand, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are prevented by law from pursuing careers in medicine, engineering, and law. Palestinians and other ethnic minorities also face legal discrimination in Egypt, where labor laws actually restrict the salaries and amount of jobs that can be offered to foreigners. (These are but two examples – I encourage you to read Ariela’s column for more.)
For his part, Ajjit provides a list of 35 Israeli laws he doesn’t like, but none of which are actually discriminatory. Read all 35 – none of them mention Palestinians or legalize taking any action against a person due to religion or ethnicity. Most of the laws in question constitute heightened security or counterterrorism measures (understandable in a nation that experiences upwards of 14 terrorist attacks per month on average), which a Palestinian rights group argues could be abused by law enforcement to target Palestinians. Other laws refer to Israel as a Jewish state, which should not be conflated with discrimination unless the author is willing to similarly condemn the Syrian Arab Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, or the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, or Pakistan.
Ajjit and SJP are also troubled by Israel’s security barrier (the so-called “apartheid wall”) that reduced terrorist attacks by 90 percent and its military blockade of Gaza, whose ruling authority Hamas calls for the slaughter of all Jews and annually launches thousands of rockets at Israel despite Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the region.
Students for Justice in Palestine were so troubled by Israel’s security barrier that they built a wall of their own:
SJP doesn’t want us to scrutinize Israel with the same critical lens as other nations; SJP wants us to focus our lens on Israel and ignore even its closest neighbors.
Ajjit assures readers that “Our events critique Israeli policies, not Judaism or the Jewish community,” which would make sense if he didn’t shamelessly conflate Judaism with Israel a few paragraphs later. He refers to Israeli settlements as “Jewish-only towns,” when a more accurate description would be “Israeli-only towns,” since there is nothing preventing non-Jewish Israelis from settling there.
Evidently, SJP’s events also inspired a sympathizer to post a meme – on Penn’s meme page on Facebook – depicting himself wishing his “Jewish friends” (not “Israeli friends”) a “happy Passover” while setting them ablaze with fiery breath, in a “[shout-out to] Israeli Apartheid Week 2018.”
SJP would like to have it both ways, claiming that attacking Israel as a political entity is not necessarily anti-Semitic (which is fair), but also that Jews are a privileged lot who should be forced to answer for Israel’s actions whether or not they live there or agree with them.
Case in point, when I went to the Apartheid Wall event, I was treated to this doozy:
“[The 1929 Hebron Massacre] was largely influenced … by the displacement that was happening because of Zionist immigration … the way that they were doing that was displacing a lot of people. That’s what created the frustration, along with the fact that there was no political autonomy for Palestinians; the Zionists created a lot of it.”
For historical context, the Hebron massacre was a slaughtering of nearly seventy Jews, many of whose families had been living there for centuries, by the Arab Muslim majority. Many of these Jews had never lived in Europe, had brown skin, and spoke Arabic. Still, in the mind of SJP, these Jews should apparently be held partially responsible for their demise, because an entirely different group of Jews came from Europe, and thus must have automatically been privileged:
“[Palestinians] didn’t have the same political coordination as the early Zionists, [who] were coming into a European-controlled area, and they knew the European models.”
It doesn’t matter that these so-called European Jews were themselves being violently expelled from Europe for being racially inferior. The fact that they even came from Europe makes them colonizers; and furthermore, an entirely separate group of people should be held accountable for their actions. This isn’t merely excusing bigotry – it’s using bigotry as an excuse.
Nor should it be forgotten that both blaming Jews for their socioeconomic successes and fortunes (“privilege” in the modern leftist lexicon) and holding Jews collectively responsible were the exact tactics employed by the Nazis and other anti-Semites.
Students for Justice in Palestine claim they want to have a productive dialogue with the goal of improving the lives of Palestinian refugees. Unfortunately, this cannot happen while they continue to fling absurdly hyperbolic rhetoric, selectively ignore the actions of other countries and groups that are contributing to the refugee crisis, and hypocritically slam Jews with textbook anti-Semitic bigotry under the self-styled mantle of social justice.