The Five Percent

Most Israel advocacy groups tell you that your aim is to reach the “ninety-percent” of people-because five-percent are already on your side and the other five-percent you’ll never convince. Sadly, I realize now I should’ve listened to this advice. However, being that earlier this week the highly active Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on my campus announced that students should wear Palestinian colors and “hattas” in condemnation of Israel’s actions this past weekend (which were just in response to the first Syrian gunfire fight since 1973 and 300 rockets shot at the South this past week), I decided to counter it with a request of the student body to wear their pro-Israel clothing. One member of SJP personally contacted me as a result, and for the purpose of this article I will allow her to remain anonymous. But she really gave me a full insight into the distortion her people breed.

She started off by telling me I had no business asking the student body to wear pro-Israel clothing since “its not like Israel or Israelis are being oppressed. They are free to come and go, do what they want, vote, be safe in their homes. And if they feel like they are not safe, then all they have to do is go down to their own underground home bunker in their basement. The people of Gaza don’t have underground bunkers to go to when the fighting starts.”

She referred to bunkers as if they were like a luxurious coveted hotel, waiting to be slept in by the Israeli public. Like it was no big deal that rockets were raining down on your children, just hop into your bunker. You’ll be safe then. Like in the seven seconds between the siren and the rocket, you’d be running to safety so you can sit like the Prince of Egypt in your bunker castle. Right.

She also made it sound like it was Israel’s responsibility to provide Gaza with bunkers. Dearest girl of SJP, Israel gave up Gaza in a land-for-peace initiative in 2005. If you don’t have bunkers, it’s your own fault. Go ask your democratically elected governing body Hamas to go build you some. Then tell them to stop shooting rockets at us. Thanks.

But she wasn’t listening to reason. She decided she’d rather elaborate about the blockade on Gaza-deemed legal by the international body I might add-and gave a list of excuses as to why it was okay that Gazans were firing rockets at Israel. Her excuses included the fact that the “Gaza strip is the most densely populated area in the entire world, and they go through the blockade, the deaths, the human rights violations everyday. If you look on the link [from B’Tselem-a left wing source] I sent you, it says 2,235 Palestinians were killed because they took part in hostile activities. It’s not like they can leave Gaza, and get away from the fighting. People are fighting because what else can they do? Can they get up and leave Gaza? Can they help themselves?”

Oh so wait. Let me get this straight. If things don’t go your way, you kill people? You threaten? After we gave you land to go build yourselves your own infrastructure, you shoot? That’s very very humane. And completely logical.

Alas, I was getting nowhere. Yet she persisted. And then she got angry. Once the name calling started, I knew I was in the right, though. I knew that I’d gotten through her arguments and now all she was left with was her barely hanging belief and empty words.

Words such as, “Just calling Zionists people would be a compliment,” and “you freaking retard,” and, my personal favorite, “You were brought up in a dark room with no windows with no contact or information about the real world.”

No sadly, I wasn’t. Indeed you were.

She then started picking on Israel’s allies, quite animatedly I might add. As if she was plotting this herself. “One day, the United States, is going to say, “screw it, Israel is not worth it,” and you’ll be all alone in the world. And then! Guess what happens? The Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza will outnumber the Israelis.”

It’s nice to know she has such aspiring foreign policy plans.

I could go on and on. But, unlike this conversation of which I have the entire transcript of since the silly girl wrote this all to me in a facebook message, I will not get you as worked up as she made me. I will leave you with this though: Israel groups are a necessity on every college campus. However, when your Israel group tells you not to reach out to the 5%, they mean it. The heartache is just not worth it.




About the Author
Melanie Goldberg is a current student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She also serves as the research assistant for Versa: The Israeli Supreme Court English Language Repository, and founded a chapter of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights on her campus. Most recently, she was one of the recipients of The Jewish Week's "36 under 36" award.