A Factual Response to Amna Farooqi, the President of the J-Street U National Board

Amna Farooqi, the President of the J-Street U National Board, recently wrote a blog post entitled, “Worried about Intersectionality? Oppose the Israeli occupation.”  Intersectionality is the study of intersecting social identities and their connections within systems of oppression.  On campus it can be seen when different groups of students, who identify as oppressed, join forces.

Farooqi explained how, “intersectionality helped me to make sense of my experiences as a Muslim woman of color.  As I grew up and wanted to oppose racism, sexism and other systems of oppression, I came to college looking for a place to exercise my values…” In her post, Farooqi argued that anti-Israel activists are gaining support from progressive students because Israel has been denying Palestinians basic civil rights, and their right to self-determination.  In other words, the “occupation” is a form of oppression, and not consistent with progressive values, and that is why Israel is losing support among progressive groups.  In reality, the sole reason intersectionality is “successful” is because student activists push false propaganda depicting Israel as non-liberal, while simultaneously covering up the crimes of hate and racism entrenched in the Palestinian leadership.

Farqooi stated that, “no reasonable, honest person can deny that Palestinians deserve civil rights and self-determination, which they have been deprived of for almost 50 years.” Farqooi’s statement makes withdrawal from the West Bank sound simple.  Yet her statement immediately raises some obvious questions.  For example, when Israel withdraws, who takes over?  Will it be the Palestinian Authority, whose president wrote his PhD dissertation blaming the Holocaust on the Jews?  Or will it be Hamas, which calls for a New Holocaust?  The unpleasant reality is that even if the PA were given a state, Hamas would most likely violently overthrow them.  This means that the intentions of both groups have to be considered equally when Israel weighs the security costs of withdrawing from the West Bank.  Regardless, whichever group fills the vacuum, Farqooi’s argument is still built on pure propaganda.

Farqooi’s primary false premise is that a State of Palestine already exists, and is being, “occupied.”  The truth is, there has never been a Palestinian state, and therefore, it is not possible for it to be “occupied,” by definition. The correct legal designation is “disputed territory.”  So the discussion is not about an existing occupied Palestinian state, but rather about whether the first Palestinian state in history is going to be created. If that were to occur, Danny Ayalon points out that it would be “an interesting twist of history, that it will be the Jews who will give the Palestinians a state. They never had a state. So we (the Jews) are giving up, really, our homeland.”  So Farooqi is also making the false claim, that the Palestinian leadership has met the necessary requirements to be granted the first Palestinian state, which they haven’t.

In addition, her claim that Palestinians have been denied civil rights and self-determination by Israel is just an outright lie.  In 1996, the Israelis attempted to grant the Palestinians both of these conditions by allowing the first Palestinians elections. Farooqi’s claim that Palestinians have been denied civil rights for fifty years implies a false historical narrative, which is that the Arabs living in that area had civil rights, until Israel gained control of the West Bank.

A more accurate historical statement would be that the Arabs living in that area were denied civil rights for 1,400 years under different Islamic rulers, and it was not until 1996, with the help of Israel, that they were allowed their first civil election.  So, the discussion is not about the denial of civil rights, but rather, about the creation of civil rights, or the creation of the first Arab society in that area to grant civil rights.

In these elections, many Palestinians believed that the government they were electing would be the first of an independent state.  However, that process fell apart when the Palestinians elected Yassar Arafat.  Arafat chose to reject an offer of statehood, and instead started an intifada.  Again, in 2006, there was a new election, and the Palestinian people voted in Hamas, whose stated primary purpose is to destroy Israel. The organization World Public Opinion summarized the elections, “The decisive victory of the militant Islamic group Hamas… has raised the question of whether the Palestinian public has become aligned with Hamas’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist and its stated goal of creating an Islamic state covering all of historic Palestine.”  In other words, Farooqi could not be more wrong.  The Palestinians have not been denied civil rights for fifty years, they were granted those rights twenty years ago, and they chose to exercise those rights by electing men who have zero concern for civil rights, but rather are interested only in the destruction of Israel.

A true cessation of the conflict would involve the Palestinian leadership recognizing the self-determination of the Jewish people.  And even though it’s nice that Farooqi personally recognizes the existence of a Jewish state, she gives the false impression that the Palestinian leadership has been willing to recognize Jewish self-determination.  The reality is that the PA President has repeated over and over that he will never accept a Jewish State.

There is another hidden assumption, which is that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is somehow preventing the Palestinians from creating a democratic state.  Of course, this is the farthest thing from reality.  After both Palestinian elections, corrupt leaders came to power, which tried to cancel further elections.  Basically, the PA functions like many corrupt Arab dictatorships, while Hamas is often compared to the Taliban, and is currently allied with ISIS.

All of which raises the question, in the midst of this intersectionality of oppressed groups — what progressive values does the Palestinian leadership represent?  Let’s review a list of some primary liberal values, and see how Israel, The PA, and Hamas compare:

  1. Treatment of minorities:
  • Israel grants full rights to Arab-Muslim citizens.  According to Freedom House, Israel is the only “free” country in the Middle East.
  • Gaza is Judenrein (Cleansed of Jews), while Hamas has effectively sought to ethnically cleanse Christians from Gaza. In Gaza, out of a population of 1.5 million people, due to continued persecution, the Christian population has dropped to about 1,000 to 3,000 people.  ICEJ reports, “The small Christian community in Gaza is living in fear.”
  • Rather than condemn the situation, in 2016, the PA President expressed his desire to recreate it.  He called for all Jews to be removed from a future Palestinian State. He stated,  “This is our land and all the settlers must leave and they will leave as was the case in the Gaza Strip.”
  1. Women’s rights:
  • Israel has already had a female Prime Minister and its female citizens share the same rights as male citizens.
  • Under the PA, honor killings have increased, and very often go unpunished.
  • Hamas attempts to impose strict modesty laws, including wearing the Hijab.  Hamas has declared it illegal for women to ride on the back of scooters, to dance, to visit male hairdressers, and to smoke hookah.  In addition, Hamas is funding ISIS, who are well known for kidnapping sex-slaves.
  1. LGBTQ rights:
  • Israel has the biggest pride celebration in continental Asia, at times drawing more than a 100,000 people.
  • The PA and Hamas both persecute homosexuals.  According to wikipedia, “Gay Palestinians frequently seek refuge in Israel fearing for their lives, especially fearing death from members of their own families.”
  1. Treatment of African people:
  • Israel brought a large number of Ethiopian Jews, suffering persecution in Africa, to Israel, where they are full citizens.
  • Hamas are active, modern, African Slave-traders.  Hamas works with Bedouin tribesman who kidnap thousands of African refugees in the Sinai Desert.  Hamas profits from a slave network worth over half a billion dollars.
  1. Children’s rights:
  • Israel is currently training 0 child soldiers in military camps.
  • Hamas is currently training 13,000 child soldiers in military camps.

Progressive students supporting the Palestinian leadership, and demanding that they be given a state, is like vegans standing in support of a slaughterhouse.  And yet, these are the students who sometimes denounce Israel.  But, that is because of the false propaganda spread by people like Farooqi.

If Farooqi were to try to sell intersectionality using the facts instead of fabrications, it would looks something like this:

Hey Christian students, would you like to support a group which forces Christians to convert to Islam?  Hey female students, would you like to support a group which arrests women for smoking?  Hey gay students, would you like to support a group that might imprison you, if your family doesn’t kill you first?  Hey black students, would you like to support a group that sells black people into slavery?

The truth is, I am not worried about intersectionality. I am worried about propaganda.  I am worried about a student spreading the lie that the one government in the Middle East with progressive values is the enemy of those values, while at the same time claiming she,“wanted to oppose racism, sexism and other systems of oppression.”  I am worried about a student who magically forgets to tell other students about the crimes of racism, sexism, and oppression entrenched within Palestinian society.

About the Author
Daniel Swindell is a Zionist. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Missouri, and has studied in Yeshiva.