Judy Halper
Left is not a dirty word

Dear USA college students

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I am not going to assault you with inconvenient facts. I’m sure you’ve heard them all and already rejected them out of hand.

But can I say, I find you kind of tiresome?

I do remember being young and passionate, even about a fair and peaceful solution to our ongoing conflict. So forgive me if, after more years than I can count of wars, operations, terrorist attacks, Intifadas, and even peace talks that ended in assassination and new elections, I might come off as a bit jaded.

I’m still passionate about it, but let’s face it, from where I sit, I am immersed in more than one side of the issue. I can see that rational negotiation has not worked, nor has the attempt to buy peace by playing two sides off against one another. I do see how this long-standing frustration – the solution pulled out of the oven before it was fully baked, a partial Palestinian entity that is neither completely occupied nor a true state, the continued fighting, left on a low burner until Oct. 7 – has led to extremism on all sides.

And since your country is bankrolling our war, I agree that you have every right to object to your generous contribution to our battering-ram-and-leave-them-hanging style of going about things.

Still, I have to scratch my head when a professor defends the protests as calling for a ceasefire and peaceful end to the war. Because in fact, chanting “Intifada” and waving signs that say “from the river to the sea..etc.” are not exactly peaceful, are they? If you think about it, they are calling for protracted, bloody war.

You might be a proud “anti-Zionist,” but the thing is, we Israelis only become truly proud Zionists when we feel threatened. Zionism – our right to exist and defend ourselves – is not, in the normal course of things, something we discuss or think about, any more than most Americans think daily about the act of stopping immigrants at the border. But massacre our people and lead us into a bloody war, and our Zionism bubbles to the surface. It’s not that most of us support, for example, reoccupying Gaza. It’s that too many of us are willing to see it as a logical consequence.

And genocide? Really? The international court in the Hague didn’t buy that one, and neither should you. It is not only bad propaganda, it justifies all the fetid antisemitic manure you guys are shoveling. People on both sides are clearly guilty of war crimes, but they are our bad leaders, not the general populations.

Honestly, if any of you out there are actually interested in peace, rather than in the fun of smashing things and resisting arrest, you might try listening to Israeli students on the other side of your barriers – the ones waving pictures of hostages. You might find that at least some of them are also calling for an end to the war, if it brings the hostages home. But for them, an end to the war must include, at the very least, an agreement to a prolonged period of quiet.

Rather than chanting “Free Palestine!” – a phrase as empty as today’s Gaza border towns – you might try “Let them return home!” By them, I mean Gazans displaced from the northern half of the strip, hostages held in Gaza and Israelis with homes on the northern and southern borders. That would mean we all have some kind of peace. Rather than supporting further war, you might proclaim your support for the American/Saudi peace initiative that would result in a Palestinian state and a Palestinian government in Gaza that does not keep its people living in poverty in order to fund terrorism.

If you are really interested in peace, as that possibly deluded professor claims, you might try reaching out to the peace organizations in Israel, and to moderate Palestinians, to learn about their work. You might try reaching out to your fellow Jewish students to hear their concerns. You might try to separate the propaganda from the facts, look for the other sides of the half-truths. If it is messy and complicated, rather than black-and-white, it is probably closer to the real situation than what you have been told.

I know that is tiresome. It might take some extra effort on your part. If you are really interested in peace, I’m telling you now, you will need to make a long-term commitment, work with those who are thinking outside the box and talk to those on all sides of the street. And learn to deal with disappointment and frustration.

Or you can smash windows and get yourself arrested, which might be way more fun, but way less effective, unless your main goal is simply to see yourself on TV.

About the Author
Judy Halper is a member of a kibbutz in the center of the country. She has worked as a dairywoman, plumber and veggie cook, and as a science writer. Today she volunteers in Na'am Arab Women in the Center and works part time for Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom.
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