Last week at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) introduced a secretive anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) resolution in the Doctoral Students Council student government and scheduled the vote for the Jewish Sabbath.
This display was nothing new. It is a routine tactic of the distasteful anti-Israel movement to schedule votes on or around Jewish holidays in order to shut out pro-Israel voices. SJP knows that when the facts are heard, their side loses. Despite little notice and a Sabbath conflict, the pro-Israel community at CUNY quickly rallied to defeat the divisive divestment resolution.
During a 60-minute debate over the resolution, liberal commentator and Brooklyn College Professor Eric Alterman, a member of The Third Narrative initiative, spoke against the destructive measure. “If I thought BDS could end the occupation, I would support it,” he said, “But BDS supports the end of the Israeli state.”
“BDS doesn’t care about ending the occupation,” Alterman continued, “They just want to single out Israel for opprobrium. This resolution is about contempt for freedom of speech, and it is about lack of judgment.”
BDS does not resonate on American college campuses, and there’s a reason for that. College students want to make a difference. They want to change the world. They want to be a part of human progress.
The campus community can make a meaningful contribution to peace between Israelis and Palestinians by choosing to be part of the solution. But SJP members and their efforts to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state are not only promoting inaccuracies and falsehoods–they are divisive, and they tear communities apart.
There is a broad international consensus, supported by the vast majority of the Israeli people, that the only path to true reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians is two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security.
If the campus community is going to be part of the solution, we have to bring together people of different beliefs and different faiths. We have to engage in meaningful dialogue. We have to talk about two states for two peoples. We have to empower pro-Israel students to take tangible steps to invest in Israel and promote coexistence. Being part of the solution means being willing to engage in conversations about difficult issues.
But SJP and their allies on campus refuse to be part of the solution. Instead, they are part of the problem. They reject dialogue with pro-Israel students and have a national policy of “anti-normalization.” This unrealistic stance means they are unwilling to accept the idea that those who believe in the existence of a Jewish state are even worthy of engaging in conversation. If SJP had its way, Israel would cease to exist, and 6 million Israeli Jews would have to either flee or live under tyranny.
Over the past month, Israel on Campus Coalition has funded 76 positive, proactive, and solution-oriented campus initiatives. Meanwhile, SJP has continued its hateful anti-peace campaign to drive a wedge between American students and the only free and democratic country in the Middle East.
Israel’s detractors on campus are dishonest, divisive, and are standing athwart progress while pro-Israel students are seeking dialogue, compromise, and coexistence. The pro-Israel movement in America is working towards a solution in the Middle East. SJP and its anti-Israel allies are working for the destruction of the Jewish state.
To be part of the solution, you have to accept the mutual right of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peaceful, secure states. If you can’t accept that basic premise, you are part of the problem.