There is no place for vandalism anywhere on our campus or on our beloved mural, period.
Last week’s guest opinion was titled “Mural vandalism should be viewed as sign of peace, unity,” which, in and of itself, is paradoxical. The title strives to make a connection between an act of vandalism, which the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary describes as “willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property,” and an act of peace. Any average law abiding citizen can agree that “malicious destruction or defacement of public property” is not a sign of peace. What has occurred on our campus is indeed an act of deliberate vandalism in every meaning of the definition.
This specific incident of spray painting upon the image of the dove is reflective of degrading instances of vandalism of Palestinian homes by Israeli soldiers. For Palestinians, it implies a deliberate endorsement and support for the sustained occupation and repression of the Palestinian people. If the individual or group responsible truly sought peace they could have approached it in a much different manner. It is a sign of disrespect motivated by an unknown, but questionable agenda.
Second, the Jewish community and Israeli people are not the targets in the recent campus outrage nor are they the targets in the movement to Free Palestine. What is being targeted is the lack of thought that went into the blatant defacement of the mural, and the ignorant comments made in an Op-Ed that attempted to justify the perpetrators’ actions as being done in the name of peace, love and unity. The support of the international community, as well as backing from several multicultural organizations on campus all reflect a shift in favor of the Palestinian people’s struggle for just treatment and basic human rights.
Furthermore, to use the term Israeli interchangeably with the Jewish people, and Israel with the religion of Judaism, is irresponsible and simply not true. Such acts perpetrated by the Israeli government have even summoned rabbis and Jewish groups, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, to speak out in defense of the Palestinian people and condemn the aggression of Israel’s military and governmental policies.
Third, to attribute any crimes by individuals to an entire group by claiming that hate crimes across the UC system fall into the hands of Palestinians and Muslims is careless. Indeed, such crimes do not fall into the hands of all Jews and Israelis either. Should all Germans be held responsible for the sins of Hitler and the Nazis? Should all Americans be blamed for the genocide of Native Americans and the brutal horrors of slavery?
I will be the first to agree that any form of hate should be rooted out and condemned. The blame however, should be targeted to those responsible, not broadly brushed across entire communities. This is true for all sides, and if we do not learn this lesson we are doomed to repeat the history and sins of the past. The perpetrators may never be discovered and punished, but what is important is that the justifications of their actions never take root on this campus, or any campus. Vandalism is vandalism, period.