On The Frontlines
Recently, an op-ed article appeared in Kennesaw State University’s student newspaper, The Sentinal. It can be found here: https://clubs.kennesaw.edu/sentinel/2012/04/10/israel-a-beacon-of-humanity-or-propaganda/. It is a screed condemning the Jewish students on campus of essentially disseminating propaganda at the behest of the State of Israel, which the author suggests, has a “horrendous human rights record.” My initial response can be found in the comments below the article under Sean DeGan. However, after some students published refutations, the author replied to these with the following. My refutation follows:
The article written by Birbrager and Kahn, while an admirable defense of Hillel, fails to refute the facts are presented in my article. Rather than proclaim I ‘fabricated events, misled and distorted,’ perhaps they could have offered authoritative refutations of the information I published.
I do not deny Hillel attempts to facilitate cross cultural understanding, however ineffective and useless, kickball, barbecues, and capture the flag may be. I do take issue, however, with the organizations complicity in planning and hosting an event that offers a terribly maliced interpretation of reality. Israel Fest, while seemingly benevolent, offered a skewed view of the nation’s humanitarian and refugee resettlement efforts. I, for lack of a better word, marshalled evidence originating both in fact and interpretation from Israeli sources which are offered in the comments section of my previously published article for all to scrutinize. While I have offered serious peer reviewed Israeli scholarly research, the authors of the above articles merely accuse me of lying without refuting my work.
I did not offer a false history and it is incredibly irresponsible to take a position and deny an opposing argument on the grounds that you don’t particularly like it. Rather than oppose my stance on a fundamental basis, offer an authoritative refutation. I will concede provided the sources are credible.
I did not deny altogether that Israel is an ally to some nations in times of humanitarian crisis, but what I do believe is that such a view does not do justice to Israel’s quite terrible human rights record. Assisting in Haitian earthquake relief does not somehow make up for the imposition of military rule over much of the West Bank, nor the routine use of force against peaceful protesters, often times Israeli citizens themselves.
I do not deny Israel allows some measure of political participation to Arab minorities but you would be remiss to assume the role of Arab political parties is secure. In both 2003 and 2009 Israel banned both Ta’al and Balad’s participation in the political process based on trumped up claims that the parties were supporting terror.
One might notice a trend in both of these letters in which the authors choose to deflect the issue, which demonstrates a lack of authoritative knowledge to refute my article. The information offered is based on an ideological inability to see fault in Israel. While admirably patriotic, this is academically abhorrent. The choice to cry foul by pointing a figure at neighbouring states abuses of Palestinian rights does not in any way excuse Israeli abuses. I did not write an article about Jordan or Syria or Lebanon, I wrote about Israel- and to assert that all responsibility lied in the hands of Arab regimes is pathetic at best. The tired accusation of a 60 odd year effort to destroy Israel is also academically irresponsible, as the picture is much more nuanced. For a more accurate understanding of the First Arab-Israeli War and the conflict in general, read a number of publications authored by Simha Flapan, Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, and John Quigley. Each of these authors, while differing in focus, offer a serious and measured approached to the false portrayal of an innocent Israeli David defending itself against the terrible Arab Goliath.
As for my accounts of Arab Refugees and their relationship with Israel, the readers and authors of these articles may want to delve into the works of Ella Shohat, Aviva Halamish, Aziza Khazzoum, Yehouda Shenhav, and Michael Fischbach before accusing me of fabricating what is actually their well respected historical analysis of Mizrahi history.
Finally, the assertion that a resolution of the conflict is also in the hands of the Arabs rests in a biased view that the Palestinians have continuously refused ‘generous offers’ from Israeli leaders. Even former Defense Minister Shlomo Ben Ami’s Scar’s of War, Wounds of Peace: the Arab-Israeli Tragedy unwittingly recognizes the failure of peace talks cannot attributed to the Palestinians.
Fast forward to the recent past, the Arab states came together to offer a peace proposal in the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted in 2003 and re-adopted in 2007, which the Israeli government categorically rejected.
This is not to say, from my point of view, that Israel deserves all the blame; but implying that we must look to the Arab world instead of criticize Israel is unacceptable. Both Israel and the Arab world deserve much scrutiny for their behaviour, but in a nation that has historically given unequivocal support for Israel, we must not let the relationship go unquestioned.
But as Doron Lubinsky, the authoritative voice of Georgia Tech suggests, peace is surely up to the Arabs, not the ever-conciliatory Israelis. As the Palestine paper revealed when they were released, the Palestinian leadership was willing to concede quite serious issues to the Israelis against the wishes of most Palestinians, but of course the blinders we wear prevent us from acknowledging such facts, don’t they Doron?
Again, the entire point of my article was to offer a perspective often ignored in America because it is important to see the point of view of the other, unfortunately many tend to only see what the want to see and deny the facts that don’t support their argument.
If anything here is found to be ‘fabricated,’ please refute it and offer your source.