Cornell SJP Celebrates Israeli ‘Genocide’ Day on Israeli Independence Day


Photo via The Cornell Review

Today is Israeli Independence Day, but to Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), today is actually Israeli "Genocide" Day. At Cornell's annual Israel Day, a celebration of Israel on its independence day, a group of about 30 SJP students gathered to protest the event for about half an hour. According to those present at the event, the protesters marched down Ho Plaza in four columns and then held a die-in on the patch of grass in front of Anabel Taylor Hall where the celebration was taking place. Most had red tape over their mouths. The protesters held signs reading "Why are Palestinians still suffering for the crimes of Nazis?" and "Christian anti-Semitism-->Zionism-->Jewish Hatred of Arabs-->Anti-Semitism i.e. Colonization of Semites by Semite." One sign read "Your camel can't hide your genocide" in reference to the two camels at the event which students could ride on. A banner read "'Celebrating' 67 Years of Independence Genocide."
Die In

Photo courtesy of Becca Mosner '17

One Jewish student present reported to the Review that SJP activists were aggressively handing out pieces of paper explaining their opposition to Israel, chucking them under booths and tables and forcing them into the hands of other students present. When a police officer told one of the protesters to stop, he reportedly told the officer to “f*** off you motherf***er.”

The literature SJP members were handing out reads: “Israel Day is not simply an innocuous celebration of culture. It aims to galvanize political support for Israel and therefore normalize its human rights violations.” It goes on to explain the “Racism of Zionism” and that “Israeli Independence = the Destruction of Palestine.”

“Those who have remained in Palestine live under a brutal and racist Israeli military occupation, whose continuing settler-colonial policies seek to completely dispossess Palestinians of any right to live in peace and security in their own country, simply because they are not Jewish,” the paper reads. “As students of the United States, we must also recognize that our own society was established through the same violent removal (genocide) of the land’s indigenous people.”

There is no discussion of the fear that the people of Israel live in because of the rockets that reign down on Israel from Palestinian terrorists in constant efforts to kill Israelis, or Israel’s extreme efforts to minimize casualties while Hamas continues to use their people as human shields against any missiles that come their way.

A Jewish student told the Review that the sight of the SJP protesters marching in columns towards the celebration was “terrifying.”

Despite the disruption of the protesters, pro-Israeli students proceeded to celebrate, promoting charitable causes and educating visitors about Israeli and Palestinian history.

A pro-Israel student holds a sign reading "SJP promotes terror groups that: Oppress women/Execute Homosexuals/Persecute Christians

A pro-Israel student holds a sign reading “SJP promotes terror groups that: Oppress women/Execute Homosexuals/Persecute Christians” Photo via The Cornell Review

This type of anti-Israel propaganda is common at Cornell. The Review covered Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad’s recent speech at Cornell in which he argued that “Israel has no right to be a Jewish state.” This professor argued at a speech in 2002 that Israel had no right to exist at all.

The anti-Israel sentiment at Cornell is found on many other campuses across the country. Palestinian students at MIT expressed their opposition to the celebration of Israel’s independence, reporting that the celebration made them “feel unsafe,” and requesting the university remove the event from its SpringFest calendar. MIT considered doing so, but ultimately chose not to.

After standing on the Annabel Taylor lawn for about 45 minutes, the protesters gathered and marched back to the entrance of Willard Straight Hall, where they stood with their banner and signs for about two minutes while photos were taken, and then proceeded to go inside to get popcorn.

30 Comments on Cornell SJP Celebrates Israeli ‘Genocide’ Day on Israeli Independence Day

  1. David Breznick // April 23, 2015 at 10:56 pm //

    Funny how the same groups of students who consistently claim to “feel unsafe” by opposing student groups’ presentations and rallies, have no reservation against intruding into their adversaries’ personal spaces and screaming directly into their adversaries’ faces. This makes me wonder whether the “feel unsafe” plea now widely used to demand that administration cancel opposed events is nothing more than a pretext to suppress free speech on campus.

    While attending college in the early 1980s, I never heard or read that one group of students exercising free speech made another group of students feel unsafe, anywhere in America. And I was paying attention. This is a new invention that I presume has been developed for the sole purpose of attempting to generate sympathy for those whose hidden motivation is considerably nefarious.

    – – – – – – – – – –

    Last month, none less than the left’s beloved Amnesty International published its report evidencing Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza conflict. Read all about it here:

    – – – – – – – – – –

    Finally, the often-heard claim that America “was established through the same violent removal (genocide) of the land’s indigenous people.” is not settled history. An alternative theory holds:

    “while the left singles out the settlers of the New World for “stealing” Native American territory, [Dinesh] D’Souza reveals the same land transfers occurred in precisely the same manner among tribes who successively conquered one another. The charge of genocide is debunked when D’Souza explains that far more Indians died from disease than slaughter, and the same lack of natural defenses that made Native Americans vulnerable to European-borne maladies are the ones that made Europeans susceptible to the Asian-borne diseases that devastated Europe. Tellingly, no one refers to the European [bubonic plague] tragedy as genocide.”

    • “intruding into their adversaries’ personal spaces and screaming directly into their adversaries’ faces.” no one at that direct action was screaming or yelling at one, i.e a silent protest.

      corrections for the article: there were 46 students, 8-10 adults from the downtown area

      there was no marching in “columns.” You weren’t even present until the very end of the die-in to even know about how we entered.

      • lol don’t even waste your time trying to correct these people, they’re a joke.

      • The article does not claim anyone was screaming at this event. We can all clearly see the red tape on your mouths.

        What you list as a correction is not a correction. To the author of this article, there appeared to be about 30 protesters. Why would any of us take time to count every single person at an event?

        There were reporters for the Review at the event before SJP marched down Ho Plaza.

        • Two minor points.
          1. The person who said there was “screaming” was a commenter and not the author of the article. Evidently that person attended the event and saw the screaming but to be clear the article does not say there was screaming. Since everything is on video nowadays this should be simple to verify one way or another. Anyone have a video of the screaming?
          2. A person who is reporting an event should take the time to do an accurate count. We are not talking about thousands or even hundreds of people. It is not that difficult to count 30 or 40 people at an event. Even so, it was under 50, which really isn’t much of a demonstration at a large campus.

    • Amnesty International, the same NGO that just recently refused to campaign or speak out against antisemitism. Their credibility is non-existent.

  2. It is a common human trait to deny the genocide committed by one’s own nation or nationality or ethnic group and emphasize the horror of the genocides committed by other ethnic or national groups. I am not sure why that is the case. People should not be afraid of history. The sins of the father are not the sins of the son.
    For example. The Americas were populated by between 40-60,000,000 human beings at the time of first contact with the Spanish in 1492. It is true that first contact lead to the spread of disease which decimated (but did not destroy) much of the aboriginal population. But it is also true that by the 19th century there was a well-organized intentional genocide of native American groups by those who had settled here from Europe. The forcible removal of men, women and children from their homes and the policies that lead to the killing of those civilians were not “natural” events in the same sense as disease is a “natural” event. It was genocide. It was planned and executed by governmental and non-governmental groups.
    Manifest destiny was an idea that could only be accomplished by the destruction and annihilation of people already living on the land. The most classic example stems from the Louisiana Purchase, in which France sold land they did not own to the US. This gave Americans a “legal” right to commit violence against those already living there.
    Germany’s own policy of manifest destiny did essentially the same thing in Europe in the 1930s. The German government claimed the right to land (Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland) that other people were living on. And they displaced or murdered those people to make a homeland for the German population. Lebensraum was nothing other than manifest destiny, German style.
    The land we call Israel today was once inhabited by the Palestinians. The Zionist movement, and later the UN resolutions supporting the establishment of Israel, lead to the forcible removal of these people from their homeland. There are still people alive today who remember when they lived in houses now owned by others. Forced removal is not genocide, however. But it is still forced removal.
    The Armenians, the Hutus, the Ibo, the Jews, the Ukrainians, the Tibetans….the list seems endless.. Denying the facts of genocide and the facts of forced removal of people from their homelands is to deny history.
    Understanding history does not mean reversing history. It does not mean giving back to the Seneca or Cayuga nations the land of the Finger Lakes. Or giving back Israel to the Palestinians who recently lived there. But it does mean that we need to understand that there are many sides to these historical events. And, where possible we should try to rectify unjust situations when the people affected are still living.
    Like it or not, there are legitimate elements of the Palestinian claims. They were driven from their land. They are victims of circumstances not of their own doing. While the Palestinians need to recognize the reality of the Israeli state and it’s right to exist, so ,too, do the Israelis need to recognize that the Palestinians have a right to their own homeland as well.
    Many Israelis and Palestinians do recognize these rights, Similar to may countries, however, the politicians do not stay in office by trying to solve problems. They stay in office by emphasizing differences and pointing to the worst elements of the “other” . Appealing to far and racism and ethnicity, especially in non-diverse nations, is the way to stay in power. Building bridges is harder than bombing bridges.
    Both the students celebrating Israeli independence and those opposing it are free to demonstrate their views. Perhaps we should try to listen to what they have to say even when it contradicts our own preconceived notions.

    • It is patently false to say Israel has or is committing a genocide against the Palestinians. There is no organized effort to murder Palestinians or ever has been. Before 1948, Zionists from Europe and elsewhere in the world did move to the land inhabited by Palestinians (called Palestine at the time by Europeans). Jews coming in bought land from Arab landowners and began to erect a state system along side the Palestinians. But when tensions came to blows in 1948 because the Palestinians and Arab world could not except a Jewish state in Palestine, Israel came out on top. To say Israel must apologize for this is absurd, and to call defending your new nation from insurgents determined to kill your people a genocide is even more absurd.

      These people called Israel a genocidal state in direct reference to its founding and the 1948 war, which is merely another way of saying Israel has no right to exist. You have to look at the tactics. By calling Israel genocidal (and really calling for the end to its statehood), they win over supporters who would ordinarily, at least at first, turn the other way to a group screaming for the destruction of a country.

      There is of course reason to debate certain Israeli policies towards Palestinians that are ultimately geared towards protecting Israelis, but there is even more reason to condemn what Palestinian terrorists do to Israelis. These students won’t have it. They will scream in your face, curse at you, and attempt to provoke you into physical violence for daring to oppose them. Meanwhile, the Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israeli students never come close to these acts or stoop so low.

      • I completely agree that calling Israel a genocidal state is absurd. And, if the tactics of these students are as you describe them, they are also wrong in my opinion.
        But that does not change the fact that there are two sides to the issue. Sometimes what happens is that we (both liberal and conservatives) dwell on the most radical folks on the opposite side. Then we label all the folks on the opposite side with the broad brush of radicalism.
        My point being that both the Israelis and the Palestinians have legitimate points of view. And that the leaders of both peoples have tended to take extreme views .
        The solution remains the same. A two state solution. Israel has a right to exist. And the US to continue to has guaranteed that right. But the Palestinian people also have a right to their own nation. The US should continue to support Israel and at the same time push them toward accepting the rights of the Palestinian people.
        Until that happens the more intransigent elements of both peoples will continue to dominate.

      • Casey, the Jews are indigenous to Israel. It is actually the Palestinians, a part of the larger Arab nation, who are colonizers in the Levant. No serious anthropologist would ever support the claim that Palestinian *Arabs* are indigenous to Israel/Palestine, any more than white Europeans are indigenous to North America. Conquering and assimilating indigenous people doesn’t accord indigenous status. The Palestinian cause is little more than antisemitism and Arab colonialism disguised in pseudo-humanitarian language.

        • Read the history. It is the Jews, along with Samaritans, who trace their identity, culture, language, and genetic heritage to the Levant. Palestinians are Arabs, who arrived in the 7th century via conquest. Although they have valid rights of longstanding presence, they are not an indigenous tribe. Palestinians are not victims of settler colonialism. They are perpetrators of it.

          • Genetic studies done at NY School of Medicine Genetics Program has estimated that Jews and Palestinians, generally speaking, have similar ancestral roots going back 4,000 years.

            In addition, DNA studies done by Oppenheim at Hebrew University discovered somethings that were quite astounding. Both Palestinians and Jews are descended from the Kurds of Iraq and Turkey. And, even more surprising, Ashkenazi Jews are actually more closely related (genetically) to Arabs than they are to Middle Eastern Jews.

            The bottom line is that one cannot use “ethnicity” as a basis for the Israeli or Palestinian states. And , since this land has changed hands so many times..Egyptians, Sumerians, Greeks, Jews, Romans, Muslim empires, British, etc. it really matters not who had it when. It would be like saying that the British should claim NY based on their past control, or that the Iroquois should claim NY based on the past or that russia can claim Alaska.

            Clinging to outdated ethnic justifications only solidifies people into positions that prevent reasonable compromise.
            Today Israel is a nation that exists. It needs no historical justification. Neither do the Palestinians living today who deserve a state also. Te problems that exist today will not be solved by either side clinging to the past.

          • The genetic studies you’ve posted are accurate. Palestinians and diaspora Jews do share common genetic origins in the Israelites. The key difference is in identity and culture. The Jews have held onto theirs, despite being displaced from their homeland centuries ago. The Palestinians, on the other hand, now identify as Arabs and act in the interest of Arab/Muslim hegemony (which is essentially the main reason they opposed Zionism in the first place). When you embrace the mantle of the conqueror, adhere to their culture, speak their language, etc, indigenous status is lost. Being indigenous is as much about tribal identity as it is about ancestral ties, and Palestinians have not only rejected their indigenous Israelite identity, they are trying to expel/murder/suppress those Israelites (i.e. today’s Jews, and the State of Israel) who never forfeited theirs.

            Overall, my point is that if one supports indigenous rights (as SJP claims to do) then they must also support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland, which they do not. Indigenous rights are starting to be acknowledged and respected on a worldwide basis, and if one is to be consistent about it, they must also support the Zionism and the continued self-determination of the Jewish people in their native land. And although I agree that Palestinian have a right to statehood, they don’t have the right to oppress, expel, murder, or control indigenous people.

          • Benyamin. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I guess this is where I differ from both sides. I do not think the concept of “indigenous rights” makes any sense. I agree with you that both sides have a right to their own nation. A right to exist. But keep in mind that many people of various ethnicities, Jews, Arabs, Poles, etc. do not consider their past heritage so important. Many Jews held onto Jewish identity, but many did not. Many have taken on identities as Germans, Americans, etc. as their primary allegiance. Same with Palestinians. Some like to trace roots back to their ancestors, others could care less.
            I guess my primary point is that these “ethnic ” identities end up being exclusive and lead to hardened political positions on both sides.
            And in my experience 95% of ALL people just want to live in peace,make a reasonable living, raise their kids and be left alone. One of the reasons for the success of the US in the area of “freedom” might be because we never were developed as an ethnic state, but a multicultural one. Never trapped by ethnic mythology.

        • Binyamin, I agree Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people. I never denied that.

    • the difference between what the Europeans did to the Native population in the US and Israel is that the Jews were never a colonizing outside force. Jews have been in this land for thousands of years at some level…even after they were expelled, Jews have always come back to live. When the land was Palestine…both Jews and Arabs were Palestinians (read newspapers and documents from that time). So to try to equate a colonizing force with the Jews coming back their own homeland is a false equation. And if you are going to look at the Arabs who lost their homes when Israel became a need to look at all the Jews who were expelled from Arab countries…at the same time…but had a home to go to Israel has integrated everyone who wants to be, and were not living in ‘camps’ 60 years later waiting for Israel to be destroyed s they can ‘go home.’ And, finally…except for the land called the ‘west bank’ that was won in war…all the Arabs who choose to live inside Israel have full rights there. If the pro-Palestinians in these groups were not so aggressive and ugly, perhaps there would be a chance for dialogue.

      • What you say is largely correct. But you might add that many areas that the Israeli government had agreed belonged to the Palestinians were subsequently taken back. By illegal Jewish settlers who justified taking the land of Palestinians by their religious beliefs. Currently somewhere between 300,000 to 400,000 or more Israelis are living on land that was originally (at the creation of the Israeli state) being lived in by Palestinians. . These settlements have taken the best agricultural land and the best potable water supplies. The ICJ ruled them “illegal” as far back as 2004. While these are in violation of Israeli law and international law the Israeli government has not dismantled them. Within Israel this has continued to be a source of tension.

        This does not “justify” the attacks by Hamas, obviously. Any more than killing civilians can ever be “justified”, But we need to keep an open mind that there are two sides to this issue. The fact that Jews were forcibly removed from areas in Europe and the Middle East in the past does not justify Israelis moving other people from their homes today. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        The only viable solution is a two state solution with secure and permanent boundaries.

        • Joseph, putting aside some of the inaccuracies in your post (i.e. that the Jewish motivation for living over the green line is religious, when many are actually secular and move there out of a desire to live on their ancestral lands), I hope you recognize that SJP doesn’t support the two state solution. They’ve made it clear that they want one state from the river to the sea….an Arab state.

          • Although they claim they want a secular state that favors no ethnicity, I think we know what the outcome of that would be. Israel/Palestine would just turn into another Lebanon.

    • Comments from a Progressive Israeli-American.

      You say, “The Zionist movement, and later the UN resolutions supporting the establishment of Israel, lead to the forcible removal of these people from their homeland.” Sorry. You need to hit your history books again (or ignore the websites where you’ve read this.0

      The history of the mass displacement of Palestinians starts in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 (known as a-Nakba, or The Catastrophe, by the Palestinians). As soon as Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced to the World the birth of a new Jewish state (in accordance with the U.N. resolution of Nov. 29, 1947), Arab armies from every direction descended upon Israel with the aim to rid it of all the Jews. We were fewer, poorer, and weakened — many soldiers were recently-liberated Holocaust survivors. Still, we prevailed. At the end of the war we ended up with more land than had been allotted by the U.N. and borders that were quite different from the original “Partition Plan” of 1947. As the Israeli forces were gaining, many Arabs escaped, left their homes and possessions and ended up in refugee camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Jordan and Egypt did nothing to improve their living conditions and so they remained, living in squalor, until 1967, when we came under attack again, and this time we conquered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since then, we never did anything to improve their living conditions, either, but that’s another sad story.

      Yes, there were killings of Arabs in 1948 (we lost an equal number of people) and a massacre in Dir Yassin, for which Israel finally apologized this year. But for the most part, there was no “forcible removal” of Palestinians en masse. The 1948 war was a battle for the survival of the remaining Jews post Nazi Germany. We happened to win. It was a war, not a genocide, nor an act of ethnic cleansing. The Holocaust had ended only three years earlier. Try to put yourself in our shoes.

      The atrocities came later, when the Israeli right wingers decided that all the land from the sea to the River Jordan belonged to us and started settling occupied territories and removing Palestinians from their homes (which were bulldozed willy-nilly) to make room for the new Jewish villages and cities that grew fast and wide. Of that I’m ashamed — and angry, but all that happened long after the establishment of the Zionist movement and the War of Independence.

      Is Israel innocent of war crimes? Far from it. But its sins don’t come close to those described by anti-Israelis and anti-semites. And when you look at ISIS and its actions in recent months, you may come to understand what we’ve been facing all these decades. At any given moment, there are thousands of missiles (many of them long-range) pointing at Israel from Hezbullah in the north and Hamas in the south. What should we do? Pack our things and go back to Hungary or Poland or Morocco? This is our country and we’re here to stay.

      I just hope a two-state solution happens in my lifetime. But for that we need leaders with brass ones — not just in Israel, but in Palestine, too.

      • Yael…in reference to your first paragraph I would suggest you restudy the writings of Herzl and ben-Gurion and Rabin’s memoirs.
        In 1895 Herzl wrote that the Jews should prevent the Palestinian Arabs from working, denying them employment, thereby forcing them to find work outside the borders of the land he wanted to claim for the Jewish population…but to do it “discreetly and circumspectly”
        Ben-Gurion noted at the Zionist Congress in Zurich in 1937 that the new Jewish settlement would not be possible without the transfer of “Arab fellahin” in large numbers. He supported forced transfer.
        In 1940, the Director of the Jewish National Funds Land Department, Joseph Weitz, wrote that the large scale transfer of all Palestinians (with the exception of Bethlehem, Nazareth and old Jerusalem would be necessary to make room for the new homeland for the Jewish people. “Not one village must be left…not one tribe….There is no other solution “…(to establishing a Jewish homeland).

        Perhaps it is YOU who need to go back and read a bit more thoroughly. As I said in my original posting. The Zionist movement, which had been calling for the transfer of Palestinians for many years, and the UN Resolutions supporting the establishment of Israel on land ALREADY OCCUPIED by Palestinians, LEAD to the forcible removal of these people (over 50,000 at first and subsequently over 200,000). Denying history does not lead us to solutions.

    • josephurban=Please do not attempt to compare or create approximations between the Arab-Israeli situation and the US/Indigenous American situation in North America. The expropriation of the American Indigenous Holocaust Narrative by Arabs from the Levant, right down to attempting to approximate the genocide of a Continent of Peoples, with the Arab nationalist confabulation (at best) and rank, lying Jew Hatred at worst that goes on. We have to deal with the likes of a Salatia thinking that his not being hired for a position in a Native Studies Program (for which he is unqualified) constitutes a denial of free speech, because of this “stuff”. Academia has gone crazy in their destruction of Academic Integrity when it comes to this subject, pandering to ignorance and an unreal sense of Arab “victimization” which has created a whole frenzy of Jew Hatred that is as immoral as it is untruthful. And Arabs are hurt by this, more than anything else. And the illness has spread to the rest of the Islam Supremacist world. But don’t compare, in any which way or form, the two experiences.

      • Mara…History is history. Genocides are genocides. Land changes hands. People who used to live on those lands have been moved. That is an historical fact. Each situation is different but they have similar characteristics. Frankly, I am not sure which of my posts you are responding to. I am not sure how calling for a two state solution is “Jew Hatred” anymore than it is “Arab Hatred”. Could you be more precise as to what, exactly, you are referring to? Or have you confused my post with someone else’s?

  3. BDS is neither about human rights or co-existence. The goal from the outset has always been to dissolve Israel and replace it with an Arab Palestinian state, thereby restoring the country to Arab colonial domination. Omar Barghouti himself made this clear when he openly boasted of his desire to “euthanize” Israel, and that the outcome of BDS would not be a two state solution, but “a Palestine next to a Palestine”. Other prominent BDS supporters, such as As’ad Abu Khalil, were even more candid, saying that “justice and freedom” for Palestinians is “incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel”. And what would happen to the Jews in such a state? Only time can answer that question, but given the obscenely high rates of antisemitism throughout the Arab world, it is safe to say that deportations and massacres (against Jews) are far more likely than anything resembling peaceful co-existence. This, however, is of no concern to the BDS movement or its sympathizers.

    Second, although the dominant narrative in Israel/Palestine discourse is that Palestinian Arabs are the “true” indigenous occupants of the Holy Land, a cursory glance at the history of the region paints a very different picture. Palestinian Arabs, as their name directly implies, are a subgroup of the larger Arab nation whose origins lie in the Hejaz province of what is now Saudi Arabia. Their presence in the Levant largely dates back to the 7th century AD, when Arabian armies colonized a significant portion of the Middle East and nearly all of North Africa. And even though today’s Palestinians share a considerable amount of genetic material with diaspora Jews, indigenous status is lost when one fully adopts the mantle of the colonizer. Throughout their conquests, Arabs have oppressed, subsumed, and eliminated countless indigenous cultures while imposing their own via brute force. Israel was just one of the many regions that came under Arab colonial rule, and Jews (at least those who remained after the earlier Roman occupation) were just one of the many indigenous peoples they subjugated. The Dome of the Rock was deliberately built on the site of the fallen Temple, and was intended to be a symbol of humiliation to the Jews.

    Nowadays, revisionists might tell you that Jews and Arabs lived together harmoniously before Zionism, but this is far from the case. Jews who lived under Arab rule were “tolerated” minorities, and nothing more. In other words, they could live and practice their religion peacefully only if they accepted complete social and legal inferiority to Arabs/Muslims. And this, more than anything else, is the key motivation behind Arab opposition to Israel. Zionism is a movement for equality and national freedom for Jews in their homeland, and is therefore a direct threat to Arab hegemony. Long before there was a military occupation, settlements, checkpoints, and a Nakba, Arabs all over Palestine (which was then ruled by Ottoman Turkey) were slaughtering Jews because they (Arabs) balked at the very idea of living together with them as equals. “Palestine is Arab land and the Jews are our dogs” was a frequent chant heard during pogroms, especially the Nebi Musa riots of 1920.

    And this leads me to my third point, Jews are an indigenous people of the Middle East. In stark contrast to the BDS narrative which depicts Jews as foreign colonizers from Europe, the Jewish diaspora is an indigenous population of Southwestern Asia, with deep ancestral roots spanning more than 3000 years. Israel’s rebirth in 1948 marks the first time in history that a displaced indigenous people were able to retake their ancestral lands from a colonial power. The indigenous status of the Jews is easily verifiable through genetic, cultural, anthropological, archaeological, historical, and linguistic evidence. Furthermore, today’s anti-Zionists conveniently forget how Jews in Europe were perceived by indigenous Europeans prior to the 1960’s. European Jews, aka Ashkenazim, were hated precisely because they were non-white, non-European “Orientals” from the Middle East. Notable examples of this can be found in the writings of Kant, Hegel, Proudhon, Voltaire, and many others, including those who were (by all accounts) philosemitic.

    My fourth point pertains to the allegation that Israel is built (or in this case, rebuilt) on “stolen land”. The Palestinian narrative usually goes something like this: “European fake-Jewish Khazars just showed up one day, slaughtered our people, and stole our homes”. In truth, this is a highly distorted and borderline chimerical depiction of the events leading up to and culminating in the war of 1948. The Zionist returnees had no army, no guns, no tanks, and no plan to systematically uproot the Arab residents. In fact, the mainstream of Zionist thought (including Theodor Herzl, Albert Einstein, David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weizmann, etc) favored co-operation with the Arabs and a bi-national Jewish-Arab confederation. The Weizmann-Faisal agreement is one key example. Anti-Zionist revisionists, in their fervent zeal to demonize Israel, conveniently forget this.

    Further, the population of Ottoman Palestine at the time was less than a million, in an area that now holds well over 10 million people. The Zionist Jews made a habit of purchasing unused land (mainly from absentee Arab landowners) and cultivating it themselves. And as statistics from the period clearly demonstrate, many of today’s Palestinians arrived during the British Mandate, usually as hired labor and refugees who sought to take advantage of the reinvigorated economy. Eventually, Palestinian Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini, a notorious ally of the Nazis who petitioned for the Final Solution to be brought to the Middle East, began inciting riots and attacks on the Jewish population in Palestine (e.g. Nebi Musa riots, Jerusalem pogrom, Hebron massacre, etc). Despite that, the Jewish community in Palestine didn’t arm themselves until the 1940’s, following decades of massacres and pogroms aimed at ethnically cleansing the Jewish population. After the British (who initially supported the Zionist project before siding with the Arabs in 1939) left the region, the UN decided to partition Palestine into 2 states, one Jewish and one Arab, drawn along demographic lines in order to settle the dispute. The Jewish community accepted this plan, but the Arabs rejected it. Instead, they declared war on the nascent Jewish state in the hopes of ethnically cleansing the region of Jews, promising the Arabs who have fled (mostly out of fear) that they would be able to return and then loot and despoil their property. The plan was to crush Jewish independence and divide the land between Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

    The war of 1948 had tragic consequences, not only for the Arabs (some of whom were indeed expelled), but also for the Jewish population. Although a sizable Arab minority remains in Israel, virtually all of the Jews over the green line (that is, the West Bank) were expelled by the Jordanian army. Had the Arab armies won the war, the same fate would have befallen every Jew in the Middle East.

    So before openly aligning themselves with the BDS movement, it is important for students, faculty, and people of conscience all over the globe to know what they are supporting. Divestment from Israel is an investment in colonialism, not human rights.

    • Binyamin….Very thorough response. Let me suggest a few things.
      1. It is easy to find the most radical elements of the “other” and try to generalize from those elements. There are Palestinians who want to destroy Israel. And there are Israelis who want to kill Palestinians. That is a fact that cannot be ignored. For example, the Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman called for the “beheading” of those who oppose his political party inn Israel. And Netanyahu himself , on election day, warned that ARABS were coming out to vote (Citizens with a right to vote). After winning the election he backtracked and apologized. But the message was clear. Arabs are not welcome.
      Both sides need to tone down their rhetoric and seek a two state solution. Otherwise they are condemning their children and grandchildren to war ad infinitum.

      2. While we need to learn the history of this conflict that does not mean we go back and relive the past. It matters not one bit who had control of this land in the past. Every piece of land on earth has changed hands hundreds or perhaps thousands of times. And there is no such thing as a “pure” Jew or “pure “Arab”. These ethnic groups have intermingled for centuries. Genetic evidence does not lie. To suggest that any group alive today is “indigenous” relies on mythology, not scientific reality. So any racial or ethnic claim on any piece of land is simply imaginary. Today, the government of Israel controls the land. It belongs to Israel. And the Palestinian issue must be resolved in the 21st century, not the ancient past.

      3. Was Israel built on “stolen land”?The eye of the beholder. To those herders who were removed from their land, I suppose they would say “yes,I was living there and they forced me out.” To those who felt they had legal title to the land they would say “no. I have legal title.” Again, it is irrelevant to the current situation. The land I live on was “stolen from the Seneca. But now it is mine. I have title. Which brings us to the problem of the illegal settlements.

      4. There is no doubt that the British colonial power played both sides of the issue. They made promises to both sides and then left. And no doubt that the Arabs tried to destroy the new nation of Israel. More than once. So Israel has every right (in fact, common sense) to be wary . Now, however , almost 70 years later entire generations have come and gone. and while Israel has developed (with the help of the US) into a modern state, the Palestinian people have not. They have no political power as an independent entity. The sins of the father do not fall on to the son. The only solution to the endless conflict is a stable two state solution. The other alternative is constant violence.

      5. A question. If not a two state solution, what? Are the Palestinians condemned to live as refugees with no political autonomy ? On a reservation system? Is Israel to live in a constant state of war and violence? Being attacked by radical elements across the border? To my way of thinking the most effective solution is one that empowers a Palestinian state while maintaining Israel’s right to thrive. Not just exist. There are moderate elements on both sides who want this. But, as we see in our own nation, it is very easy to propagandize and demonize “the other”. And politicians do it all the time.
      There are people who are trying . Not just playing politics. For example:

  4. The Start up Nation is very special, only we can do a genocide which includes population increases of hundreds of percents by our “victims”. I suggest that the Haters of Israel have other motives. That they have to try to use the terminology our experiences against us, with no grain of truth speaks for itself.
    I have never gotten a straight answer when asking for an alternative scenario for Israel, Palestine in terms of the region.

  5. Ideesha Kopf // April 27, 2015 at 4:25 pm //

    To quote one of your great “prophets”on the subject of American Gecnoide Denial – i.e of its own genocides committed, and by extension the privilege of (surely rich Cornell) students with a lot of time on their hands to enter the sport of Amercan Genocide Denial, Chomsky

    “First, the denial of genocide appears (without a single published reaction) in one of the most prominent intellectual journals of left-liberalism; so we are discussing easy tolerance of denial of colossal genocide (by “our side”) by your associates and friends.

    Second, the denial of the slaughter bears directly on events taking place right now, before our eyes. To mention just the most obvious, at this very moment miserable refugees are still fleeing from the wreckage of the virtual genocide (and in this case the term is accurate) in the Guatemalan highlands under Reagan and with British support and probably participation, never acknowledged, and part of the general denial of extraordinary crimes. And they are being subjected to horrifying treatment, which I presume I need not detail. That’s right now, this minute. I happen to have very direct familiarity with it, but it’s well enough known so that denial becomes even more grotesque.

    We witnessed more casual denial with the shameful choice of the name “Operation Geronimo,” which elicited anger and disbelief in civilized countries like Mexico, though I saw virtually nothing here or in England. And the remnants of these programs of “extermination” (to use the word of the most distinguished perpetrator) are surviving in misery in reservations, right now.”

    You have too much time, money and democracy. Watch out for the islamist cement coming your way. Hating Israel is a cool rite of passage and part of your identity formation. Look to your own country for genocides – or is the scale of killing too vast for your American sensibilties

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