There are so many problems with Geoffrey Wildanger’s guest opinion that I don’t know where to begin.
The most alarming is referring to a diplomat as a “propagandist” and a “professional shill” just because he happens to be Israeli. If a Consul General from Palestine or Libya were to talk at UC Davis, would anyone use such terms? Wildanger’s letter is part of a widespread strategy by anti-Israel hate activists to de-legitimize anyone who disagrees with them. Any comment or news article that is pro-Israel, including statements of facts, is called “propaganda” and, thus, should be disregarded, or worse, blindly disbelieved.
Wildanger claims that his group is willing to engage in and have an honest conversation, but if not with Tor or Oren then with whom? If all speakers who are pro-Israel are considered “propagandists” before they even open their mouths, then who are you going to have dialogue with?
Then there is the outright lie that Palestinians have made “tremendous sacrifices” toward coexistence. Please, name one! Coming to Camp David to sign a peace agreement is not a sacrifice, especially if, as Arafat did, one is simultaneously purchasing weapons from Iran and Syria. No sacrifice could be bigger than Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai in 1976, in which Israel gave up two-thirds of its land, the only oil fields in the region – and the energy independence that came with them – and the homes of 7,000 Israelis in order to achieve peace with Egypt. So let no one say Israel does not make sacrifices for peace.
Israel also gave up the Gaza Strip unilaterally in the hopes of making peace and giving the Palestinians a state, making tens of thousands of Jews homeless overnight. The Palestinian response, alas, was a surge in rocket attacks at civilians, most recently being a heat-seeking missile strike against an Israeli school bus carrying children. Hamas still refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist. If the Palestinians actually want peace and co-existence, that should be the first step.
Lastly, there’s the issue of an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. That makes as much sense as boycotting UC Berkeley and The Woodstock Festival to show opposition to the U.S. military. In Israel, as in the U.S., academics and artists are far more likely to be liberal than the average person. The anti-Israel groups on campus here are effectively trying to boycott their Israeli counterparts,including the many Muslim students in Israeli universities. Any boycott of Israel would affect its nearly 20 percent Muslim population as harshly as it would the 75 percent of it that’s Jewish.
For this reason, Al-Quds University in the Gaza Strip does not boycott Israel. Its President, Suri Nusseibeh, himself has come out in very strong opposition to an academic and cultural boycott for the aforementioned reasons. If a Palestinian university in Gaza does not boycott Israel, then how on earth could you justify enacting such a boycott in the U.S.?
Or is Suri Nusseibeh just a propagandist, too?
Entomology graduate student