Open Dialogue. Letter to Student Protestors

Ömer Faruk Yıldız | Pexels
Ömer Faruk Yıldız | Pexels

For any Student open to genuine reflection:

Let me start by saying that, I firmly believe that Universities have always been, and should remain, bastions of diverse thought, where a variety of perspectives and ideas come together to foster deep reflection. These Institutions, temples of knowledge, must uphold the principle that everyone, regardless of their ideology, has the right to express themselves freely. It is essential to honor diverse perspectives, as everyone has a legitimate right to express and advocate for their viewpoints, as long as this occurs within a framework of mutual respect. Unfortunately, this principle was conspicuously absent on some campuses in the last weeks.

I remember when you used your social media platforms to promote #BlackLivesMatter, #StopAsianHate, #MeToo, #MarchForOurLives, #LoveWins, #ClimateStrike, #TakeAKnee, and so many others.

I was deeply moved by your heartfelt response to the tragic events surrounding George Floyd‘s untimely death. You raised your voice in support of racial justice, showing profound empathy. Your advocacy didn’t stop there; you also took a stand against the rising anti-Asian sentiments and violence, championing unity and respect. Your commitment to gender equality was just as passionate. You supported survivors of sexual misconduct, vocalizing your support and demanding accountability. You further extended your advocacy to pushing for safer schools, aligning with young voices calling for gun reform. Your elation was palpable when same-sex marriage was legalized—a moment you celebrated as a victory for love and equality. Inspired by the urgent need for environmental action, you participated in global strikes, underscoring our collective responsibility to protect the planet. When athletes took a knee to protest racial inequality, your support mirrored your deep belief in justice and equality. Your indignation was clear when you learned about acts of corruption going unpunished, leading you to strongly condemn the government, as you find corruption utterly unacceptable. Through all these actions, you have shown an unwavering commitment to advocating for a fairer, more equitable world.

Nonetheless, I can’t forget, that you were also present in the face of radical Islamic terrorism, sharing the all-too-common “pray for…” images, deeply saddened by the thought of how many cities could fill in that ellipsis. (i.e.: Paris, Brussels, Orlando, Nice, London, Manchester, Barcelona, Berlin, Istanbul, Stockholm, Vienna, and so many others)

But, on October 7th, I found myself asking: Where were you? I needed you more than ever, yet you were nowhere to be found. It seemed like you had abandoned me in all these fights. Where had you gone?

Hala Photography | Pexels

This brings me to a crucial question: can we truly ignore the fact that for the past 19 years, nearly 600 thousand people have been living under the oppressive rule of a radical Islamic and terrorist regime? Is it justifiable to have turned a blind eye all these years? This is the stark reality in Gaza, where Hamas holds power. To fully grasp their identity, I recommend studying their founding charter. Hamas is a terrorist organization with a clear goal to annihilate, kill, and destroy, driven by a deep-seated hatred and a mission of destruction. How can anyone justify chanting “We are Hamas“?

Let me tell you a little more: In the Gaza Strip, racial minorities find no justice. Also, interracial marriages are banned, with individuals of African descent facing all forms of discrimination. Also, under the rule of Hamas, women are utterly deprived of rights. Issues such as labor equity, safe abortion, or protections for victims of sexual crimes are non-existent. In Gaza, women are virtually powerless without their husband’s permission, assuming they even dare to seek it. It is an extremely hostile environment for women, where making even the most basic decisions, like choosing their attire, is not in their control. They live in constant fear that any suspicion of infidelity from their husband could result in being disfigured by acid, leaving them scarred for life.

Just think about the fact that Hamas strictly enforces the death penalty for individuals found to be engaging in same-sex relationships. Homosexuality, under their terrorist regime, is met with the severest of punishments, including public execution following a process that lacks any semblance of a fair judicial procedure or the right to defense.

On top of these grave human rights violations, Hamas’s political faction is deeply entrenched in corruption, disregarding the needs of the wider population. This self-serving attitude is palpable among Palestinian leaders, particularly those affiliated with Hamas, who demonstrate scant interest in resolving the ongoing conflict. Currently, they luxuriate in the opulence of five-star hotels in Qatar or Turkey, openly flaunting their lifestyle. The World Bank reports that over the last twenty-five years, Palestinian leaders have received more than 40 billion dollars earmarked for public welfare. However, scant evidence exists of these funds being utilized for constructing mosques, schools, or hospitals. Who do you think funded more than 500 kilometers of tunnels proudly used for warfare? Even Gaza-based journalists have shed light on this misappropriation of resources, risking imprisonment to voice their dissent and uncover the truth.

While this text is not aimed at drawing comparisons, I want to express my profound respect and admiration for individuals who advocate for noble and just causes, yourself included. With that same spirit, I kindly request your acknowledgment and respect for the legitimacy of my cause: Zionism. As a proud Jew, I stand firm in defending Israel’s rightful existence.

Alfo Medeiros | Pexels

Let’s get one thing straight: Israel does not need your support to thrive. The Jewish people have been around for over five thousand years, overcoming countless obstacles along the way. We’ve seen civilizations rise and fall before many others even existed, and we will keep going strong, no matter what challenges come our way, whether the World stands with us or against us. Although, I kindly do ask one thing of you: please avoid causing harm.

Opposing the only democracy in the Middle East is not just harmful, but also contradicts the very values you claim to uphold. Denying Israel, a sovereign Nation, the right to defend its people and borders goes against the principles upheld by Nations in the free world. Most importantly, questioning the Jewish people’s right to self-determination is a serious issue.

It is abundantly clear that, like all peoples, the Jews have an undeniable right to their state—a fact that cannot be disputed. Similarly, Palestinians also have the right to self-determination. Despite numerous historical opportunities, such as the Peel Commission in 1936, the UN Partition Plan in 1947, the 1967 offer followed by the “three NOs” of Khartoum, Ehud Barak’s plan in 2000, and Ehud Olmert’s plan in 2008, Palestinians have consistently rejected these opportunities.

Let’s get one thing straight: The issue at hand isn’t about the land itself. We need to remember that back in 2005, the Israeli government took a unilateral decision to pull out of the Gaza Strip. This move saw the Israel Defense Forces evacuating hundreds of Israeli families, many of whom are still without homes to this day, all in the pursuit of peace at any cost. This evacuation process included digging up Jewish graves, clearing out synagogues, and knocking down homes, essentially wiping out any Jewish presence in Gaza. Fast forward 19 years, and Israel now finds itself next to what is left of a terrorist stronghold, as was painfully evident on October 7th.

While Israel is by no means a perfect Nation and its government has seen both failures and successes, this does not justify denying its right to exist or to defend itself when attacked. And how effectively does Israel defend itself? Exceptionally so. Israel is committed to using all its resources to protect each of its citizens, including the 2.08 million Arab Muslims who are every bit as Israeli as any Jew. Yet, there are calls for a “proportional” response. But what constitutes proportional? Should Israel need to fire over 13,000 missiles at a defenseless Palestinian civilian population to match attacks? Or fire 3,500 missiles to Iran and Lebanon? Should the Israel Defense Forces cease giving warnings of their military strikes so that civilians can evacuate? Should they abandon the knock on the roof technique? Israel makes huge efforts not to violate the Laws of War.

M. Abubakr | Pexels

When comparing the Israel-Hamas War to other conflicts like the Battle for Mosul in 2017 and the Russian-Ukraine War, it’s important to note a significant difference: the ratio of civilian casualties per bomb dropped is notably lower. To provide context, during the Battle for Mosul, around 3,846 civilian deaths were recorded alongside the use of 1,400 munitions, resulting in an average of 2.75 civilian deaths per air strike. Similarly, in the Russian-Ukraine War, there were 27,449 civilian casualties attributed to 11,300 missile and drone strikes, yielding an average of 2.43 civilian deaths per air strike. In contrast, in the Israel-Hamas conflict, with approximately 35 thousand civilian deaths (assuming Hamas is truthful, which we know it is not) and around 67 thousand precision bombs dropped by the Israel Defense Forces, the average civilian deaths per air strike stands at a significantly lower rate of 1.9. This highlights the comparatively reduced impact on civilian lives per bomb deployed.

Valued students, I find myself struggling to grasp the rationale behind your selective moral stance. Why do you choose which battles to engage in? It appears to me as a significant misunderstanding, perhaps an unintentional oversight. Surely, you acknowledge the universal importance of upholding human rights in all situations, without exception. Yet, I am puzzled by your defense of the heinous actions of the radical Islamic terrorist group Hamas. How could anyone justify declaring, “We are October 7th! We are Hamas!”? This group, notorious for oppressing the Palestinian people, currently poses a threat to me, my family, and my friends here in Israel, as well as every Jewish individual worldwide. They would not hesitate to put our lives in danger if given the chance, including yours as an American, paradoxically. This is unacceptable. Enough is enough.

For God’s sake! Israel is a democratic, first-world Nation where Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Druze, Copts, Samaritans, Armenians, Russians, Americans, Bahai, Ethiopians, Sudanese migrants, Thai migrants, Jews, and many others coexist peacefully. 

In 1969, Israel was ahead of its time, appointing a woman as Prime Minister. In Israel, men and women have equal opportunities, working together in the Israel Defense Forces and government. Israel is ranked twenty-fifth worldwide in gender equality.

Israel, the World’s only Jewish state, is notable for its high levels of inclusivity and tolerance. Its Declaration of Independence promises equal rights to all citizens, irrespective of race, gender, or religion—unlike the founding charter of Hamas that you must have read by now. Israel is known for its support and protection of the LGBT+ Community. Moreover, Israel prides itself on its democratic values and robust judicial system, where Jewish and Arab judges and officials enforce the law side by side. This commitment to justice was exemplified when an Arab judge sentenced a former prime minister to prison for corruption, demonstrating that no one is above the law.

Alisdare Hickson

In terms of its foreign relations, Israel has recently celebrated normalization treaties with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Bahrain, which have opened new diplomatic paths. This underscores the Nation’s ongoing commitment to peace and coexistence, a testament to its belief that peace is not only possible but achievable. Finally, Israel does not celebrate war nor teach its children to hate as Hamas does; it seeks peace and works towards it, even as it ensures its survival and continuity.

I do not seek for everyone to agree with me, but I do want to extend a genuine invitation to each of you to have real conversations, to listen, and to try to understand perspectives that might be different from your own. Let’s resist the urge to discredit or dismiss others just because their viewpoints challenge our beliefs. Instead, let’s embrace the diversity of perspectives and have constructive conversations that lead to empathy, understanding, and progress.

Together, we must work towards ending violence in all its forms, and strive to create a World defined by peace, justice, and respect for human dignity. Achieving lasting peace requires dedication, understanding, and a firm commitment to dialogue and reconciliation. Despite the obstacles at hand, we must hold onto the belief that peace is possible and that Israel’s long history and resilience are enduring.

May our combined efforts pave the way for a better and more harmonious future, where everyone, regardless of their background or beliefs, can live with dignity, security, and mutual respect.

With hope and determination,

Professor Ilan Eichner

About the Author
Lawyer, Law School Profesor, Zionist activist, and writer, specializing in the geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East. His work, published in various esteemed journals, focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, offering in-depth analyses that blend historical, legal, and ethical insights. Known for his ability to unravel complex geopolitical issues, he provides insightful and nuanced viewpoints on contemporary challenges in the region.
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