It is not often that I respond to op-eds that attempt to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, there exist a myriad articles that share Tanner Larkin’s efforts to disparage support for Palestine. But what seeps through the cracks in the well-written piece is a subconscious appeal to partiality that I cannot simply disregard.
Two things must be established before I delve into Mr. Larkin’s claims. The first is the fact that Israelis, Jews and Palestinians all have an equal right to exist, and that the politics of where they should exist is the emblem of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The second is the fact that questioning the legitimacy of Israel as a state may arise as anti-Zionist, but does not equal anti-Semitism. As Oxford professor Brian Klug brilliantly contends:
“It is one thing to oppose Israel or Zionism on the basis of an anti-Semitic fantasy; quite another to do so on the basis of reality. The latter is not anti-Semitism. … When people who side with Israel cross [the line from fair to foul], they are not necessarily anti-Muslim. And when others cross the line on behalf of the Palestinian cause, this does not make them anti-Jewish.”
Now to turn to Mr. Larkin’s criticism of student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and GU Forming a Radically Ethical Endowment. It is a stretch, and indeed a dangerous endeavor, to deem them anti-Semitic. Natan Sharansky’s “3D Test” is enigmatic and must not be used as lightly as it was in his article to assess the support for Palestine on campus. For if we were to follow Mr. Larkin’s broad criteria in applying an Arabized version of the “3D Test” to student groups such as the Georgetown Israel Alliance and J Street, we would be forced to consider them anti-Arab in the most repugnant of ways. And that is not what they are, are they?
Furthermore, to suggest that “Israeli policies” — which have not only killed hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children, but have also promoted the marginalization of an entire race and the perpetuation of B-class and even C-class citizenry — deserve nothing more than “scrutiny” is to devalue the lives of those who have suffered and died under the Israeli regime, including Ethiopian Jews. It is also worth noting that the definition of Zionism goes beyond just “the ideology that there should be a Jewish state in the Jewish homeland,” and that when SJP’s Apartheid Wall calls Zionism “racist,” it does so to shed light upon the severe favoritism that constitutes modern Zionist thought.
Indeed, a 2014 poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute found that “Three-quarters [of Zionists] want the government to prepare a practical plan to encourage Muslim Arab-Israelis to emigrate” from Israel. Seventy percent of Zionists in Israel support “a boycott of Arab businesses” and “less than 38 percent believe economic cooperation between Arab and Jewish Israelis” is important.
It is also crucial — and I cannot stress this enough — to understand that just as Israelis regard that piece of land their homeland, Palestinians do so as well. This concept may prove difficult to grasp to some, but it is a reality. Israelis and Jews for Palestine groups — which are widespread — acknowledge that. Others, blinded by hypocrisy, do not.
It is impossible to deny that anti-Semitism exists, just as racism toward Arabs exists. I also refuse to deny that it must be reviled and immediately put to an end should it appear on our beloved Georgetown campus or elsewhere. At the same time, however, I will not allow the image of Palestine-supporters to be tarnished in the name of favoritism on this campus. After all, in the words of Mr. Larkin: “If progress toward peace is to be made, both sides must learn to acknowledge each other’s point of view.”