I consider myself pro-Palestinian and pro-peace in Middle East. I am a supporter of Israel who has always advocated Israel’s efforts to make peace, because I know that a successful, autonomous Palestinian state would be the best thing for the State of Israel and the Palestinian people.
The current “pro-Palestinian” anger on campus, however, is counter-productive. The agenda of most “pro-Palestinian” activists around the world is really anti-Israel, not pro-Palestinian and certainly not pro-peace. The following arguments will differentiate between real Palestinian supporters and those who are just anti-Israel:
A true supporter of Palestinians would not blame the “Nakba,” the suffering of Palestinians during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, on Israel. An honest narrative would include the fact that Israel fought a defensive war. A true supporter of Palestinians would protest the armies of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq for starting that war and, in the process, creating the Palestinian refugee problem. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, after that war, Egypt and Jordan occupied what would have been the Palestinian state. But some activists seem to only label Israeli presence in disputed lands as occupation.
After that war, it is true that Palestinians fled throughout the Middle East. Those who stayed in Israel, however, became citizens with complete civil and political rights. For example, 10 members of the current Israeli parliament are democratically elected Israeli-Palestinian Muslims. Meanwhile, Arab countries have kept the Palestinians suppressed. Jordan is 70 percent Palestinian but is ruled by the minority Hashemites. Palestinians have zero influence on the monarchy’s decisions. The Arab world’s treatment of Palestinians is a travesty for real supporters of Palestinians but an inconvenient fact for anti-Israel activists.
In today’s conflicts with Israel, the Palestinian leadership has hurt the Palestinian people and has taken no steps toward peace. In 2005, Israel left the disputed territory of the Gaza strip. There was not a single Israeli soldier or Israeli citizen left. The Palestinians could have used their new, undisputed territory to start building a functioning economy and society. Instead, Hamas launched a coup against the secular Fatah movement, using the brutal tactic of throwing political rivals off buildings. Since then, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets toward Israeli civilian areas while taking cover behind Palestinian civilian areas. Where is the outcry from the world’s so called pro-Palestinian activists against Hamas?
You will also hear activists protest U.S. military aid to Israel. If they really cared about Palestinians, however, they would acknowledge that military aid is necessary for both sides. American aid allows Israel to buy and develop the most precise weapon systems in the world, which minimize collateral damage. Hamas fighters protect themselves by hiding in civilian neighborhoods, yet Israel is able to target them with relative success. The United States and Israel, who care for ordinary Palestinians, actually try to minimize civilian casualties. But anti-Israel activists do not pay attention to this nuance, they just protest Israel’s right to self-defense.
When discussing this issue, it is important that one pays attention to context. Propaganda relies on us not seeing the big picture. For example, this week we will hear that many more Palestinians have died in this conflict than Israelis. Fourteen times more Germans died in World War II than Americans. This is not a comparison to WWII, but do isolated numbers in war tell us anything about the moral characteristics of either side?
Over 8,000 rockets have been fired at civilian areas in Israel over the last eight years. One can criticize Israeli policy, but any sensible person would understand that Israel has to defend itself. As President Obama said: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.”
A true supporter of Palestinians would look at the big picture. While the Arab world has neglected the Palestinians and Palestinian leaders have taught children to strap explosives to themselves, one country has employed Palestinians, sent humanitarian aid to Palestinians and offered independence and peace to Palestinians. That country is Israel.