Imagine this: you’re fresh out of high school, and ready to embark on your journey towards college. You’re excited—it’s time to figure out what you really want to do in life. You were admitted to your dream school, and there’s hundreds of clubs and student organizations to be involved in. Now, how would you feel if one of those student clubs was an organization that was dedicated to the complete humiliation and utter destruction of your people and homeland? Unfortunately, this is the reality for many Jewish and Pro-Israel students on American college campuses.
American universities, for the past two years, have felt an incredible need to weigh in on politics, specifically leftist identity politics. They’ve endorsed and supported political clubs, protests, boycotts, and even congressional representatives. One hot issue universities have chosen to bear down upon is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For the most part, universities have taken to supporting the Palestinian side of the conflict, resulting in enormous amounts of bias towards pro-Israel students inside and outside of the classroom.
But before I get to the meat and potatoes, I would like to discuss a little history behind the Israel-Palestine Conflict.
It has always been said that Israel is a nation that is 70 years young and over 3,000 years old. That’s because the modern, political state of Israel, founded in 1948, has existed for only 70 years. The biblical and ancient kingdom of Israel on the other hand has existed for over 3,000 years, ever since the Jewish people conducted their Exodus from Egypt and reconquered the Holy Land with Joshua the prophet. After Joshua retook the land from the Canaanite tribes, the Jewish people reunited under one banner, naming it Israel, or Yisrael in Hebrew—after the Jacob the patriarch. This land was to be for the Jewish people, as God had promised Abraham in Genesis.
As centuries passed, the Kingdom of Israel grew. It extended from the Sinai peninsula to include parts of modern day Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Israel, being one of the smallest kingdoms of the ancient world, was subject to colonization from four of the ancient world’s most powerful empires—the Babylonian Empire, the Greek Empire, the Persian Empire, and finally, the mighty Roman Empire. During some time, likely during the colonization from the Greek Empire, a group of people called the Philistines settled in southern Israel, and founded the modern day cities of Gaza, Ashdod, and Ashkelon. The Philistines were mortal enemies of the Israelites, and the two regularly went to war.
*The Philistines are often mentioned in many books of the Torah, the most known one being the book of Samson.*
The kingdom of Israel met its downfall at the hands of the Roman Empire, at the destruction of the Second Holy Temple in 70 AD. After constant revolts and rebellions from his Jewish subjects, Emperor Tiberius decided that the time had come to deliver the killing blow and destroyed the Holy Temple. With the Temple destroyed and the center of their religion humiliated and gone, many Jews left the land of Israel towards the other ends of the Roman Empire. When Hadrian was crowned emperor in 117 AD, he declared that the name “Israel” would be erased from the annals of history. In so doing, Hadrian renamed the land of Israel “Palestine”—the Latinized version of the word “Philistine” in order to humiliate the Jews and sever their connection from the land forever.
I could go on and on about the history of Israel, but you’d be here for days. Let’s debunk leftist myths.
1. At the time Hadrian renamed the land to “Palestine”, A unified, Arab-Muslim people did not yet exist. Islam was not in existence and the Arabs were still pagans in Arabia. No Muslim Arab (except the indigenous Bedouin tribes, who were pagans) lived in “Palestine” during the time the Roman Empire ruled the land. Muhammad had not yet received his revelation from Gabriel, and would not until 610 CE. There never was and never had been a single Muslim Arab living in “Palestine” until the Arab Empire conquered Palestine in 636 CE under Caliph Umar.
2. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque were built on top of the site of the Jewish Temple. Before the mosques were built, the First and Second Jewish Temples stood above Jerusalem. The Al-Aqsa mosque was built on the Temple Mount because it is said it is the place where Muhammad ascended into heaven. Additionally, it was built to show the Arab Empire’s dominance over the land. In modern times, the Jordanian Waqf (Religious Authority) has refused to let the Israeli government conduct archeological digs on the Temple Mount, and has even purposely destroyed relics from the Temple Era.
3. The Quran does not mention Jerusalem even once. In the Quran, Jerusalem is mentioned 0 times, while in the Torah, Jerusalem is mentioned 660 times. Since this is the case, some Muslim scholars still debate whether Muhammad’s ascension to Heaven took place in Medina or Jerusalem. This, however, is not confirmed in the Quran at all. The idea that Muhammad ascended to Heaven specifically in Jerusalem is a result of centuries of interpretation from Muslim scholars around the world. The Arab Empire conquered Jerusalem and controlled it until 1967, giving off the notion that Israel “stole” Jerusalem from the Arabs.
4. According to the Quran, Allah promised the land of Israel to the Jewish people. One specific verse states, “O my people, remember the favor of Allah [God] upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the worlds. O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back and [thus] become losers.” — Quran, Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:20-21.
5. Israel in fact is not an apartheid state and neither is there state-sponsored racism against Arabs. Israeli-Arabs (Arabs with Israeli citizenship) can walk freely and are welcome to practice Islam or Christianity as they wish. Many hold middle to high class jobs, serve in the military, are hard workers, and do their part into contributing to Israeli society. Palestinians from the West Bank, although not citizens of Israel, are free to apply for working visas and will often travel to Israel to work. Many of these Palestinians are thankful to Israel for allowing them to work within Israeli borders. I have met these Palestinians and I can attest to the fact that they are some of the kindest and warm-hearted people you will ever meet.
6. There never was and never has been an independent Palestinian-Arab state. Prior to the creation of the state of Israel, Palestine was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. At the conclusion of World War One, that control was handed over to the British Empire. Palestinians were already calling for the murder of Jews in Palestine when the British were in control. Once the Jewish rebel groups, the Irgun and the Haganah, pushed Britain out of Israel in 1948, the Arab states of Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon took control of Arab Palestine. Israel and its Arab neighbors went to war a day after Israel declared its independence.
7. The West Bank (known by Jews as Judea and Samaria) is in fact not occupied by Israel. There are three districts in the West Bank: One controlled only by the Israeli government, another controlled by both the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, and the last controlled only by the Palestinian authority. Judea, as the name implies, is the historic land of the Jewish people. For this historical reason, Israel justifies its building of settlements in the West Bank.
8. By definition, Palestine is a terrorist state. Hamas, an Islamic Resistance movement and terrorist group located in the Gaza Strip, acts as an active government. On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority rules the West Bank. The PA, lead by Mahmoud Abbas, is a direct splinter group of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) a terrorist group once lead by Palestinian icon Yasser Arafat. The PLO, throughout the ongoing conflict, has been responsible for hundreds of deaths of Israeli men, women, and children. The Palestinian Authority’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, is also a terrorist group.
*The PA has been known to pay salaries to terrorists who murder Israelis, prompting the US Congress to pass the Taylor Force Act. Taylor Force was an Iraq-War veteran killed in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016. The act says that no American funds will be given to the Palestinian Authority until they agree to stop paying convicted terrorists. *
9. The BDS movement does not actually help Palestinians—it hurts them. Since many Palestinian-based shops and companies are located in Israel, any boycott on Israel indirectly affects Palestinian businesses. Furthermore, Israel is Palestine’s biggest trade partner. Every day, Israel sends humanitarian supplies to their neighbors in the West Bank and through the Erez Crossing into Gaza. Unfortunately, many of these supplies are seized by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and used to create terrorist infrastructure or to boost the Palestinian leaders’ insatiable appetite for greed and control.
Now that we’ve debunked some myths, let’s unmask the villains. The main culprits of causing anti-semitism on college campuses is two, student-led organizations: Students for Justice in Palestine (better known as SJP) and the Boycott Divestment Sanction movement, also known as the BDS movement. The BDS movement aims to target Israel financially, while Students for Justice in Palestine takes to create an impact on campus directly. In other words, BDS works behind the scenes, while SJP really looks to be running the show on campus. SJP will focus on organizing elaborate protests, disrupting pro-Israel clubs, and causing a ruckus while BDS will advocate for the university to end study abroad programs in Israel and for the university to refuse doing business with Israeli companies, and even advocate for the refusal of taking funds and donations from supporters of Israel and popular Israeli figures.
From the outside, BDS and SJP might look like any other typical leftist movement—- a nuisance to deal with, but stupid and insignificant enough to ignore. However, below the annoying demeanor of Students for Justice in Palestine is something much more sinister.
Numerous times, SJP has called for the berating and degrading of Jewish and pro-Israel students on college campuses. Recently, at UCLA (University of California-Los Angeles), a campus infested with anti-semitism, anti-Americanism, and BDS, pro-Israel students were hosting a club which celebrated the three indigenous peoples and religions of the Middle East—Kurds, Arabs, Jews, and Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, respectively. Palestinians were not on that list of indigenous peoples, much to the disappointment of the university’s Students for Justice in Palestine. SJP students barged into the meeting, shouting insults and chants from all sides. As tensions rose, the SJP students ripped the Israeli flag down from wall, and proceeded to shove the pro-Israel student in charge. The university did nothing to punish the disruptors.
*As of a few months ago students have filed a complaint to the UCLA administration, prompting them to take action on the situation.*
Like many other radical left-wing movements, SJP disguises itself as an activist group for social justice. However, one can point out this fiasco in the way they protest and some of the phrases they use and say.
One of SJP’s favorite chants is, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” I have attended an SJP protest undercover, and I can tell you for a fact this definitely gets annoying after chanting it for thirty minutes straight. This may seem like a literal statement, as Israel’s border extends from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, therefore being the land the Palestinians desire.
However, this is a nod, a tip of the hat if you will, to an anti-Semitic phrase used in Hamas’ charter and by many of Israel’s mortal enemies. The Hamas covenant states that one day the Palestinians will drive the Jews into the sea and all of them would drown. This was the same exact phrase used by Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon in 1948, when they foreshadowed the coming Independence War as “worse than the Holocaust” and described it as “The destruction of Israel and the end of the Jewish people.”
Further, and perhaps in one of the most disturbing cases, SJP chose to disrupt a moment of silence being held by Jewish students on Yom Ha Shoah, the Jewish day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust. SJP did what it does best—the practically frothing-at-the-mouth pro-Palestine students hurled insults and called the Jewish students “Nazis”.
Hamas has publicly issued a statement endorsing and supporting Students for Justice in Palestine and the BDS movement, prompting them to “keep up the good work.” When an internationally recognized terrorist organization supports what you’re doing, you should know that you’re definitely doing something wrong.
This blatant and disgusting disrespect is at the very core of SJP’s anti-Semitic campaign in college campuses across the United States. To my disappointment and the disappointment of many other Jews, many universities have allowed SJP to infiltrate their campuses in the name of “social justice” and free speech. The key thing to know is SJP’s weapon of choice—ignorance.
Students for Justice in Palestine feeds off of the ignorance of the people around them. Most of those side with SJP and BDS only know what their leaders tell them—and no nothing about the side they are opposing. In fact, at an AIPAC conference I attended this past year, a Bangladeshi student told his story and about his involvement in SJP, and his journey to renounce his involvement. The cure to his ignorance? Dialogue, he said. When he finally agreed to sit down with an Israeli student and learn about Israel, he realized that his hatred for Israel was misplaced. The secret weapon for conservative Jews to defeat SJP is knowledge and attempting dialogue with pro-Palestine students—as we’ve all heard the famous saying, knowledge is power.
This may seem like a problem that solely affects Israel, but we can apply the same tactics in the fight against SJP and BDS to other radical leftist movements in the United States such as Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the Women’s March/feminist movements. If we can expose that ignorance and create a sense of open dialogue, then maybe we can bring others to light on these issues so that they might learn to renounce their hatred against those who are opposite of them.
To conclude, I would like to say that I have no issue with the promoting of Palestinian human rights. Palestinians are people who have been put in an unfortunate case against their will and who have been used as political pawns by their terrorist leaders for too long.
If you’re advocating for the freedom of these people from the choking grip of their leaders as well as advocating for dialogue and peace with their Israeli neighbors, then by all means, I can jump on that train.
Elliot Avigael is the Editor In Chief for theDailyLead.