Zach Stern

Recent J Street U Leader Ignores Facts, Misleads Readers

The recent president of Boston University’s J Street U chapter ignored key facts and misled readers about international law as she blamed the Israeli government for the recent kidnapping of Israeli civilians in her recent Times of Israel article.

Holly Bicerano, who led BU’s J Street chapter this past school year, blamed the recent kidnapping of three teenagers by Palestinian terrorists on the Israeli government and misled readers about “settlements” and their relation to international law. She took the misleading position that Israeli policies are to blame for Palestinian acts of terror and implied that if Israel changes its actions, the Palestinians will live in peace with the Jewish state.

Bicerano argued that the Israeli government deserves part of the blame for this terrorist act because it supports a bill that would make it more difficult to release convicted murderers from prison. She implied that if the Israeli government did not anger the Palestinian terrorists that committed this crime by making it difficult for terrorists to be released from prison, they may not have committed the crime in the first place. She argues this while ignoring the fact that Palestinian leaders consistently tell their people to kidnap Israelis.

She also proved her own point to be controversial by stating that Palestinian militant groups have tried to abduct Israelis 44 times since 2013 – long before the government’s support of the bill this week. In other words, even without this bill, Palestinian terrorists still tried to abduct Israelis roughly every other week.

Additionally, by blaming Israel’s common-sense actions to prohibit the release of murderers from prison, she ignores key facts on the Palestinian side that hinder peace and promote harming Israeli civilians.

Here are just a few crucial facts she overlooked in order to place the blame on the Jewish state:

Bicerano also left out key historical facts that show how appeasing the Palestinians has never led to peace. The fact is that Israel has tried many times to appease the Palestinians and other Arabs with the hope of stopping terrorism. Here are a few examples:

  • In 1993, Israel signed the Oslo Accords to give the Palestinians power in Judea and Samaria (the ‘West Bank’) and Gaza. Israel became the first country to give the Palestinians a government and power.
  • In 2000 and 2008, Israel offered the Palestinians a state in Judea and Samaria, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem, becoming the first single country to ever offer the Palestinians sovereignty. Neither Egypt nor Jordan offered them territory while in control of Judea/Samaria and Gaza before 1967.
  • In 2000, after years of fighting terrorism in the area, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon with the hope of finally achieving peace with militant groups in the region.
  • In 2005, Israel disengaged from Gaza to encourage the Palestinians in the area to make peace.

But none of these good-will gestures worked. Here are the results of each Israeli action toward peace:

  • The Palestinian Authority uses its control of Judea and Samaria to promote the hatred and killing of Jews.
  • The PA rejected a state of their own in 2000 and instead led a campaign of terror that murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians.
  • Hezbollah now controls southern Lebanon and has murdered Israelis and has tens of thousands of rockets pointed at the Jewish state.
  • Hamas intensified its terrorist attacks from Gaza as soon as Israel withdrew.

Despite the history of the Palestinians reacting to Israel’s good-will gestures, Bicerano’s article still implies that if Israel provides yet another good-will gesture by making it easier for Palestinian terrorists to get out of prison, the Palestinians will stop kidnapping Israeli citizens. And despite explaining how the Palestinians tried 44 times to kidnap Israelis before the government supported this bill, the article still holds the Israeli government responsible and still implies that if Israel appeases the Palestinians, they will stop kidnapping civilians.

Whether intentional or not, Bicerano also held Israel to a double standard by condemning Israel for doing what any normal country in the world would do: making it difficult to release convicted murderers from prison.

Bicerano also misstated international law and how it applies to “settlements” in Judea and Samaria. She claimed that all settlements are illegal.

International law regarding settlements in disputed territories says that a country “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The Israeli government never deported or transferred anyone to these settlements. All Israelis who live in settlements moved there voluntarily, which is legal under international law.

Bicerano used an erroneous interpretation of international law to unrightfully criticize the Jewish state and blamed the Israeli government for an act of Palestinian terror committed against Israeli civilians.

This should raise a red flag regarding what the student leaders of J Street support.

About the Author
Zach is the Managing Director of ZOA Campus, the campus branch of the Zionist Organization of America. Before working for the ZOA, he worked in Israel advocacy in Tel Aviv. Zach is a graduate of the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism.