“Occupation 101” was neither brilliant nor wonderful. It had a hateful, one-sided message that the Jews are the only aggressors and the Palestinians have no blame for the lack of peace in Israel, that any terrorist action is just a result of the so called “occupation.” The fact is the movie was littered with anti-Semitism and omissions of dire truths about U.S. foreign aid to Israel and aggression pursued by the Palestinians onto the Israelis.

Yes, the Jews did settle in Palestine in large waves after World War II. However, Jews have lived in Palestine for the last 3,000 years. Nearly 200,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine between 1882 and 1929, with an additional 250,000 before the Soviet Invasion of Poland in 1939. The Jews are not occupiers; they are just regrouping to the area they have always called home.

The movie portrays the Jews as the only aggressors, while casting the Palestinians as the only victims. This is a pure falsity. On the first day of Israel’s independence, five Arab nations declared war against the country. Two others later followed suit. The movie may have been correct in saying that the Palestinians have neither tanks nor an air force, but they forgot to mention that the Palestinians have support from people who do. In 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against an Arab army consisting of 300,000 troops (compared to Israel’s 264,000) and 816 aircrafts (compared to Israel’s 200) that were preparing to attack Israel. Nine-hundred and ninety-nine Israelis were killed in suicide bombings between September 2001 to May 2006 alone. Over 160 rockets have been fired into Israel by Hamas over the last week. During the Hezbollah-Israel War, 4,228 rockets were fired into Israel as over 250,000 Israelis were forced to evacuate northern Israel. The argument that returning all the land that was taken in the 1967 war will bring about peace is false. While it is a step in the right direction, obviously the Palestinians and the Arabs fought Israel long before it gained the lands the Palestinians now want for a state.

The United States has given generous donations to Israel since its beginning, totaling $100 billion over the last 59 years. However, Israel has been using much of this aid to purchase weapons for the United States, creating jobs in our country. Furthermore, Israel is the United States 19th-largest trading partner, and bought $14 billion worth of U.S. goods last year (they received less than 3 billion in aid that year). It has invented popular products such as instant messaging programs and the Pentium II processor. The country is also are also a strong contributor to medicine development for the cure of cancer, with two Nobel Laureates in the field. The fact is foreign aid only constitutes 1 percent of our budget every year. Cutting foreign aid is against our diplomatic interest. While the film claims that the little money given to Israel could go to other programs, there are other things that could be cut, such as the $24 billion spent this fiscal year alone in Iraq, which in a sense is also foreign aid.

The film echoed of anti-Semitism. It often used propaganda to portray a bad image of Jews. The filmmakers would play dark music when showing the Israeli military being an aggressor, and then use the exact same music when showing Orthodox Jews praying. This is clearly anti-Semitic. No, it is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. After all, Israel has 19 political parties, all of whom are critics of how Israel should be run. However, it is anti-Semitic to over criticize Israel for defending itself, and it is anti-Semitic to portray Orthodox Jews praying and soldiers killing people in the same light.

The fact is, Israel is not the sole aggressor in the Middle East, and the Palestinians are not as righteous as the movie portrays them to be. The victims of the aggression are the Israeli and Palestinian people. The aggressors are the extremist factions in both groups. The Palestinians AND the Israelis live in fear, not just the Palestinians. Peace can only be brought about by both nations. Israel alone cannot bring this peace; it will take efforts from both sides to create peace. Salaam Alekum, Shalom Alechem.