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Davis, California

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Guest Opinion: Dialogue is not possible with propagandists

“All we want is to talk. All we want is dialogue.”

Everywhere one turns today this is the cant of the powerful. Gaddafi wants to talk to the rebels, to negotiate a ceasefire that allows him to continue to rule Libya uncontested. The Tea Party wants to dialogue with the Democrats so they can negotiate how many elderly people will be forced into poverty and denied health care, how many poor people will no longer have access to Food Stamps, how many unemployed people will have no unemployment insurance and how many young people will have no access to public education.

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict these calls for dialogue are nothing new. Israeli politicians and Palestinian politicians have been flying to the United States to negotiate peace since the 1970s. As everyone knows 40 years of negotiation has not brought peace.

What has it brought? In Gaza it has brought, most recently, a siege, one which cuts off access to basic medical supplies and even food. It also brought a war in which around 1400 people were killed, at least 400 of them children. In the West Bank it brought the construction of large networks of settlements, connected by Jewish only roads that cut off Palestinians’ access from their community. It also brought the Wall, dubbed a separation fence. This is a mainly concrete wall 26 feet high that, according to the World Bank, will de facto annex 38.8 percent of the land in the West Bank.

All this has occurred at the same time as dialogue.

With a history like this, one can understand being resistant to dialogue.

The headlines recently are filled with great stories of people around the Middle East rebelling against dictatorships, and with horrifying stories of the continuing aftermath of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. It is only toward the back of the newspaper where one will read that 18 Palestinians in Gaza, 9 of whom are confirmed civilians, have been killed by Israeli bombs recently.

This was the immediate cause of the protest of Akiva Tor’s visit to UC Davis. But this was not the only cause. Tor is a professional shill for Israel – that is the job of a Consul General. He is a propagandist. He is not a scholar, a policy analyst or even someone interested in a good debate. His job, pure and simple, is to propagandize for Israel. To have a debate with him would have been dishonest. We made our position clear on fact sheets handed out both before and after the event. We are more than willing to talk with anyone who wishes to engage with us as equals and to have an honest conversation. We have no wish, however, to be condescended to by propagandists.

The past 40 years of failed negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians – a time in which the Palestinians have made tremendous sacrifices in the failed hope of co-existence, as made apparent due to recently leaked diplomatic documents – shows that, in pursuing peace, a new tactic is necessary. For this reason I, and many of my friends and colleagues in the movement toward a just solution for Israel-Palestine, have signed on to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (www.pacbi.org), whose mission is to copy the same tactics that helped bring about a solution to Apartheid in South Africa.

Only together can we pursue a just peace for all, but we can only truly work together when we stop letting propaganda stand in for facts, and when we stop believing that people in power speaking down to students constitutes a dialogue.

– Geoffrey Wildanger

Graduate student, art history

15 COMMENTS

  1. Read up on the massacre of 1947. I don’t really care what the UK thought was a good idea. It was unfair. There were protests by Christians and Jews to the Mandate in 1919/1920 (I’m not a history major- please excuse my inexact dates.) When Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived peacefully together in that region for so long, why is there a need for Jews to suddenly have a country just because the Christians in Europe were racist against them. Palestinians had nothing to do with that so don’t take it out on them. The arguments for Israel are so bogus. Why are there so many Jews that protest Israel and no Muslims protesting Palestine? There was peace before Israel. Even Israelis can’t stomach the sociopathic shit their military does..did you hear of the 4 Israelis who were arrested because they would not complete a mission that they felt was too inhumane for them to stomach? That’s what I would do if I were them. I wish all Israelis and Americans would wake up. And I wish that pro-Israel folk would stop trying to accuse those who won’t look the other way while our country funds terrorism of anti-Semitism or Jews who do so of self-hate. It’s bogus.

    I never argued that Palestine was an independent state. I am saying that there was peace before Israel was created and Palestinians were forced out.

    I really don’t appreciate your hysteria, disgust, all-caps, cussing, etc. If you want to have an adult discussion then by all means, I, being a product of higher education, am all ears, homey. And my views are not extreme. They may not be the norm in America, but I would argue that many American views on foreign affairs are considered extreme, arrogant, and inconsiderate to the rest of the world. There are many famous books written by Americans and European journalists even that give a realistic (not the kind of stuff Obama would tell you) account of what’s going on over there. I do not get my info from extremist publications. I would consider these mainstream and unbiased. To the best of my knowledge, it seems that pro-Israel arguments only come from extreme publications (ie Fox news, sources with agendas). I have no agenda except to stand for human rights. I am not Arab, I am not Jewish. I am the daughter of a man who worked for the NSA for 24 years. And this man knows more than the vast majority of Americans know about what our government does overseas- probably more than you do.

  2. You should also read up on how Israel initially worked to create a two state several decades ago, because if anyone understands the desire to have a homeland, it’s the Jews. They wanted an independent Palestine but the other Arab nations rejected the plan because they have no desire to see Israel exist period.

    Well take it up with Europe then because the Jews NEVER INVADED by force. Holy hell I am amazed at how people can be totally unaware of history and yet form such a strong opinion one way or the other.

  3. Katie are you frelling kidding me with this: The biggest question to me is, “Why does Israel exist in the first place?” Israel got their land by massacring unsuspecting Palestinians.

    READ A DAMN HISTORY BOOK.

    Israel was created by BRITAIN out of territory they claimed from the Ottoman Empire (The Turks) during WWI. The land was divided into Jordan (which is the majority of the land) and Israel. There were no Israelis slaughtering Palestinians to steal the land. It changed hands through third parties. Oh and if you really want to get technical…there actually has never been an independent Palestine state. It went from the Romans who called the land the PHILISTINES to the Ottomans to the Brits.

    I am disgusted that you are supposedly a product of higher education and yet you only seem to know what is published by extremist viewpoints.

  4. Basically, I want to know why we are now talking about blow-by-blows of terrorism from both sides. And how are Palestinians who are victims of Hamas relevant to this discussion?

    When we look at blow-by-blows there is no answer, but there are undeniable truths to how business has been handled by Israel. Honestly, we all know about the illegal settlements that Israel has been continuing to build. We all know about the bulldozing of Palestinian houses. There is no retaliation in these acts (just to name a few).

    The biggest question to me is, “Why does Israel exist in the first place?” Israel got their land by massacring unsuspecting Palestinians. Just as Jewish people in Germany are not to blame for the utter desolation that fell upon Germany following WWI, the Palestinians (nor any Arab group) are not to blame for the horror that fell upon the Jewish race in Europe during the Holocaust. Both the Jews and the Palestinians, however, were racially distinct from the angry group and were perhaps easy targets.

    One last thing I wonder about, when we talk about the idea of retaliation or causation when evaluating Israel’s terror tactics, is why do we all stand by when our own Americans are the victims of Israel? (I wrote more about this before but in a couple keywords: Rachel Corrie, USS Liberty). Do we care so much about oil that some innocent blood even from our own citizens is worth keeping Arabs in their place? I cannot even fathom how Americans let our government go on supporting this tyrant nation. It’s sick. And I think our support is a national security threat.

    Why are we sending 8 million dollars a day that we don’t have (and which our students, teachers, poor people, etc. could put to better use) to support terrorism abroad? It seems highly unlikely that our support is not posing a huge national security threat. If I knew that the terrorists bulldozing my home were getting their weapons from America, I’d probably want to wage war against America.

    To me it seems to be common sense.

  5. Funny that the SF Gate notes that Hamas police were the ones that arrested the killer. Hamas in that article denounces the killing. No where does it say the group has anything to do with Islam. Want to go with the facts ArabMuslim? Stick with them.

    Israel has not halted any settlement constructions. Akiva Tor himself stated that Israel is not interested in placing a moratorium on settlement building.

    Here is a report from B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, on the bombing of Gaza. They report 773 civilians and 248 police officers killed in police stations out of a total of 1,387 casualties. They only report 330 actual combatants killed. http://www.webcitation.org/5niCUh4K4

    Why did the bombing of Gaza start? Israel says because they were attempting to stop rocket fire. Why did the rocket fire start? Because Israel broke the ceasefire. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7709603.stm

    Finding a solution does not entail bringing one side of the speaker to the table. That’s presenting one side. In order to spark a dialogue, you need both sides at the table.

  6. Mr. Wildanger

    I must say that I respectfully disagree with you. Our responsibility as university students is to optimize our opportunities at Davis to ensure the best possible education. Typically this pertains to a lecture setting, but also exists in the rare opportunities to hear from guest speakers. You may believe that Akiva Tor presents nothing but propaganda, however he delivers a side of a story that is necessary in understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Likewise, it is important as university students to also hear the other side of the story in order to form our own understanding of the situation. Once all sides of the conflict have been heard, it is then necessary to engage in the dialogue you speak of. I commend you and agree that “together can we pursue a just peace for all” but we must develop an understanding before engaging in dialogue. However I disagree that questioning Tor would have gotten the protest no where. Our secondary role as college students is to challenge authority. Abdul Malik Ali said in his speech on Social Reform last quarter to challenge our university. While I may not agree with Ali’s support for Hamas, I believe that he made a valid point. In order for us to better this world and create a change, it is important to question and challenge our predecessors.

    I would also like to address certain points you made about dialogue not helping progress in the peace process. As a result of diplomatic discussion in 2004, Israel withdrew from Gaza in an effort to show the sacrifice it was willing to make to gain peace. As a consequence, Hamas began raining rockets over southern Israel putting hundreds of thousands of lives in jeopardy. More recently, Israel has halted settlement construction to meet at the table with Hamas to discuss negotiations, but Hamas fails to show no interest in negotiations. History shows that Israel has time and time again showed its willingness to make steps towards peace, but where is Hamas?

    You mentioned that Israel cuts off access to basic medical goods and supplies. Where are you getting this information? From what I have read and from what I understand, Israel has made a significant contribution in helping develop Gaza. http://www.cicweb.ca/scene/2010/06/israel_aid_to_gaza/. You may be referring to events such as the flotilla, however Israel needs to regulate the ports of Ashkelon to secure the safety of the Israeli citizens. On multiple occasions, the IDF has seized ships that hold the very rockets that fall on the southern part of Israel. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/15/us-israel-ship-idUSTRE72E2RR20110315.

    Furthermore you said that Israel was responsible for killing 1400 people, 400 of which were children. I would also like to know where you got this source? Fathi Hamad, Interior Minister to Hamas, has recently admitted to the true numbers behind operation cast lead, in which a majority of those killed were Hamas militants. The minister broke down the numbers to be 709 known militants, 295 civilians, and 162 unknown’s. http://www.hudson-ny.org/1738/finally-a-hamas-leader-admits-that-israel-killed It is also important to consider the fact these are casualties of war. A loss of a loved one is never excusable, however there is a difference between war casualty and deliberate murdering of innocent civilians, as was the case seen in the murdering of the Fogel family. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/14/fogel-family-massacre-israelis-palestinians I think it is also important to show that Hamad has also publicly promoted the use of civilians as shields to Israeli attacks during times of militancy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTu-AUE9ycs

    While we may have different beliefs on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we share a common bond of finding a peaceful solution through dialogue. I hope that my response does not spark any anger, rather a drive to continually learn to further our education to help find an answer to this very old conflict.

  7. I believe this is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, Mr. Wildanger, as you are a propagandist yourself, sir.

    You accurately state that innocent Gazans were killed by Israeli bombs recently. But as a propagandist, you purposefully redact the reason for the bombs: rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, including one that struck a school bus full of kids (and that one was laser guided.)

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2011-04-07-gaza-missile-injuries_N.htm

    Did you know that Hamas kidnapped and beat a Pro-Palestinian activist, a member of the International Solidarity Movement? http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/pro-palestinian-group-activist-kidnapped-by-gaza-islamists-1.356013

    Or that a pro-Palestinian activist was killed in the West Bank by Palestinian militants? http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4052643,00.html\

    For years you and others have taken up the Palestinian cause without ever acknowledging the atrocities committed by Palestinian militants, against not only Israelis, but also fellow Palestinians.

    Now, you may be forgiven if you, like many others, have been fooled by the very propaganda you espouse. It is possible that you, Mr. Wildanger, have been purposefully kept in the dark of what happens in Palestine. If this is true, you can be forgiven for not knowing. How could you.

    However, if you are aware of Palestinian terrorism, militancy, freedom fighting… whatever you want to call it, that kills innocent Israeli men, women and children, Jewish, Christian, and Arab. If you you are aware of this, and ignore it,then you are just a pot calling the kettle black.

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