These past two weeks have been difficult ones for American Jewish college students. It has been Israel Apartheid Week, and across many American college campuses, most of our Jewish students are confronted with “mock die ins”, with student
actors dressed as menacing Israel soldiers “brutalizing” other student actors dressed as hapless, “innocent”
Palestinian civilians and “apartheid walls.”
Jewish students at Emory University have had “mock eviction notices” placed in residence halls, that say “Palestinian homes are destroyed as part of the state’s ongoing attempt to ethnically cleanse the region of its Arab inhabitants.” At Columbia University, Students for Justice in Palestine created a poster of an IDF soldier with horns.
Many Jewish students do not have the knowledge to be able to respond to these horrific distortions. The few who have both the knowledge and the backbone to fight back, do. However, most put their heads down in shame.
The problem is that many university professors have used their desks for one-sided political propaganda rather than giving them a solid education about the region. A tenured professor at Columbia, Hamid Dabashi, tweeted that “Every dirty, treacherous, ugly and pernicious act happening in the world just wait a few days and the ugly name Israel will pup.” (sic). Marc Lamont Hill, a tenured professor of media studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” (Temple supported Hill, but CNN, for whom Hill was a commentator, fired him after he was
accused of giving an anti-Semitic speech at the United Nations.)
I long to equip our students with some basic facts, if I could only teach them for one semester. I would teach them about how the Palestinian Liberation Organization, whose membership is the same as the Palestinian Authority, was
established in 1964, three years before the Six-Day War when the so-called occupation began.
I would teach them about the Oslo Accords, and how Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin had reluctantly agreed to negotiate with Yassir Arafat if he would give up terrorism. I would tell them that after the accords were signed, there was a sharp rise in Israeli civilian victims of Palestinian terrorism, which is now over 1,000 fatalities.
I would tell them how Israel withdrew from all the major Palestinian population centers, putting 90 of the Palestinian population under the Palestinian Authority’s control. I would tell them about the enormous offer Prime Minister Ehud Barak had made to Arafat in 2000, which would eventually have given the Palestinians 91 percent of the West Bank, Gaza and shared
sovereignty of Jerusalem, yet Arafat walked away from the offer and launched an intifada.
I would tell them about the Gaza withdrawal in 2005 and that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, an even more generous offer in 2008, including making all of Jerusalem an internationally controlled city.
Even so, Abbas walked away from the negotiating table.
I would tell them how now Gaza has become a simmering sea of hatred which is unleashed every Friday when mobs try to penetrate the fence and kill as many Israeli civilians as possible. I would tell them about the innocent looking balloon bouquets and kites, meant attract young Israeli children, launched with incendiary devices attached to them, that have destroyed thousands of acres of Israeli agricultural land near Gaza and has created an ecological disaster.
Before anyone casts blame on the democratically elected government of Israel, I would ask them to walk a mile in Israel’s shoes.
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the think tank Endowment for Middle East Truth, or EMET.