The guest opinion published on Oct. 7 was truly appalling. To read that the Palestinian flag symbolizes “the murder and genocide of millions of innocent Jews and the ethnic cleansing of Judea” is offensive, tragically misleading and flat out wrong. Palestinians had no part in the Holocaust. Yes, Jews may be a minority, but by taking on the role of oppressor, it is difficult for Palestinians to sympathize with their past struggles.
I am not aware of a time that campus has viewed Israeli students as “secondary citizens.” However, I have clearly seen the effects of the Israeli government on Palestinians, and it is literally a harsh reality that a status of secondary citizenship does not even begin to cover.
There are different roads for Palestinians and Israelis, depending on the license plate of the car and your identification. Israelis have the luxury of driving on smooth, newly paved, clean roads. On Palestinian territory, the dirt roads are dug up by the Israeli government to limit transportation in and out of villages. A Palestinian’s ID number dictates where he or she is permitted to travel. For the majority, this means they must make three or four bus transfers, walk some, then find a taxi with the correct license plate (a total of about two hours on a good day) to travel the distance of Davis to Sacramento. That’s if the soldiers at multiple checkpoints are feeling generous.
Yes, while listening to their iPods, smoking and drinking coffee with AK-47s strapped across their chests, Israeli soldiers delay each car while they banter and decide if they should let it pass. Sometimes, soldiers will let all but one or two family members enter the city. This may be prohibited by law, but it happens on a daily basis.
With little consistency in travel through checkpoints, a Palestinian is lucky to find a job to support his family. Fathers and husbands scramble for whatever scarce labor opportunities they can obtain because at times they go weeks without reaching their place of work. The Israeli government is essentially forcing this perpetual poverty on the Palestinian people. Remember that each settlement built, despite pledges to halt them, strips the Palestinians of homes and farmland crucial to survival. Visiting two summers ago, I met a man whose land had been cut in half. The Wall is now his backyard and half his income and food he fed his family with was slashed by an Israeli official drawing on a map.
When I share these stories, people that have visited one part of the country often dismiss them as abnormal cases. If you travel through Israeli territories, you wouldn’t see this. Arab Israelis have a different status, opportunities for jobs and the comforts of bustling cities that don’t look much different than our cities here. But they are anomalies, exceptions to the rest of the country. Beverly Hills looks a lot different than New Orleans after Katrina, correct? I have traveled from Jerusalem to Haifa, through a fair portion of the country, and I have witnessed the spectrum of how people live. The Arab-Israeli conflict is complex and I would never pretend to have a solution, but equating Jews in Davis, California to the Palestinians in the Middle East is absurd and ignorant.
Let’s also remember that Jews and Israelis are not necessarily the same thing, just as Palestinians are not always Muslim. I am not anti-Judaism, but I am anti-Israel, the same way America is anti-terrorism. I do not agree with the occupation and the techniques Israel uses to suppress a people that were exiled from their homes by the decisions of Western governments.
In an essay written in 1947, King Abdullah of Jordan explained the situation simply: “It is exactly the same position you in America take in regard to the unhappy European Jews. You are sorry for them, but you do not want them in your country. We do not want them in ours, either. Not because they are Jews, but because they are foreigners. We would not want hundreds of thousands of foreigners in our country, be they Englishmen or Norwegians or Brazilians or whatever.”
So, while the guest opinion said that the Palestinians may want a country that Jews cannot visit, let us first remember that the Israelis have actually created a country where Palestinians often cannot visit their holy city and arrests are made without reason. Peace is impossible when land and basic rights are ripped from under the feet of a human being.
Junior, international relations and communication