The goal of any activism around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be to achieve peace through mutual understanding.

The Georgetown Israel Alliance works toward this end by hosting events that display the wide variety of viewpoints surrounding the conflict. Last semester, GIA hosted Roots — an organization that facilitates dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank — to discuss the legitimate, yet conflicting, narratives from those living in the region. GIA has also hosted a diverse group of American and Israeli politicians, activists and academics to discuss the conflict and answer students’ questions about the issue.

GIA has tried to build dialogue by including diverse viewpoints surrounding the conflict. However, the annual “Israel Apartheid Week” does not take the same thoughtful approach. The events and display in the Intercultural Center last week showed a one-sided, divisive narrative, baselessly denigrating Israel as an apartheid state in an attempt to delegitimize the Israeli narrative and the Jewish state.

Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and a place where Jewish refugees can freely practice their religion, unlike the countries they fled from. Its Christian, Muslim, Druze, Bedouin and Bahá’í citizens practice their religions without fear of persecution. As The Economist notes, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, and women serve in the military and have the same legal rights as men. The LGBTQ community annually holds the only pride parade in the region — one of the largest in the world.

This democracy includes strong democratic institutions, as Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit recently recommended indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for corruption, demonstrating a system of checks and balances absent from all other Middle Eastern countries.

Despite this, last week’s events placed blame exclusively on Israel for the current conflict, an argument that contrasts with reality. When Israel unilaterally withdrew all soldiers and settlements from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinian Authority had a golden opportunity to demonstrate its ability to govern. Instead, Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, came to power via free and fair elections but has refused to hold elections since.

Now, life in and around Hamas-controlled Gaza is worse for everyone: For Palestinians who are unable to speak up against Hamas’ oppressive regime for fear of being tortured or killed, for Israelis who are killed by Hamas rockets and for Israeli children who take cover in bomb shelters inside their elementary school playgrounds. Israelis and Palestinians alike would be well-served by an end to Hamas’ brutal control of the Gaza Strip.

Life is worse in the West Bank, too. Mahmoud Abbas is now in the 14th year of his four-year term as Palestinian Authority president. The PA invests minimally in schools and infrastructure. Rather, the PA spends $300 million annually to pay terrorists who kill Jews, using what they call a “martyr fund,” as David Makovsky, former senior adviser to the U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and Ghaith al-Omari, former adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team and then-Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, note in a 2017 Washington Post op-ed.

The point is not that fault lies only on the Palestinian side, but rather that last week’s events excluded any mention of fault by the Palestinians, demonstrating the one-sided nature of Israel Apartheid Week. It zeroed in on Israel as a one-dimensional scapegoat for a complex, multi-dimensional problem. The week fails to build peace; rather, it tears down one side of the narrative.

To bring peace to the region, real negotiations must occur between two partners, not enemies. Glossing over the Palestinian narrative and Palestinian suffering contributes to the unsustainable status quo. Thus, GIA has held events featuring both Israeli and Palestinian voices with a variety of perspectives on the issue.

When it comes to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict, “it has to start from us, people to people,” as Shadi Abu Awwad, a Palestinian living in the West Bank, said at GIA’s Roots event last November.

We encourage our peers to continue engaging in conversations and recognize the diversity of narratives surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As an organization, GIA pledges to continue advancing those conversations by bringing ideologically diverse speakers to campus and providing platforms for deeper dialogue. One-sided, divisive narratives will not bring about peace. Mutual understanding is the only path to achieve that goal.

Maya Rabinowitz is the Co-President of the Georgetown Israel Alliance and a sophomore in the College. Alec Camhi is the Political Chair of the Georgetown Israel Alliance and a junior in the College.

 

3 Comments

  1. Beer baron says:

    The Ocean is the Ocean and the Palestinians (who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity) the Palestinians.

    I don’t really expect either to change much in my lifetime.

    • Marwan Zayed says:

      Wow you really studied your Zionist propaganda. You need to reconsider your thoughts about Israel being the only democracy in the middle. It controls the lives of 12 million people but only allows 7 million to vote. Also you forgot to mention the law it passed where it gave more rights to the Jewish citizen over the non Jewish citizen. I can go on and on abouthow Israel is an apartheid state. Like there Jewish only roads. There Jewish only towns. How their are Israel government leaders who call to throw out all the Palestinians from there homeland. Which they are doing till this day. So when you speak of Hamas their are Israel parties that are equally evil. They get elected all the time. You talk about Hamas rule in Gaza how about Israel siege. That the UN has called it the largest open air prison. And said it will be uninhabitable in 2 years. They count how many calories the allow into the Gaza Strip as to not starve them. But to keep them hunger. You complain about rockets that are shot into Israel that probably has killed 20 people while Israel use all the latest technologies to kill thousands of innocent Palestinians. Real negoations you call for it you have a prime minister that says their will never be a Palestinian state on his watch. Israel has been becoming more radical and rotten from the core. All due to the most brutal occupation in modern times. As Desmond Tutu stated the Palestinians are living worse conditions then the Blacks did in South Africa. So while talking may help it will not move the Israel’s to do the right thing and let the Palestinians have their own state or one state for all. Until it is pressured to. So Go BDS!!! If you question my last point if they were ever planning on giving back the land why all the illegal settlements?

      • 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs. That’s huge! 20 PERCENT! What percentage of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia are Jewish?

        Why are you angry at an Israeli government that protects their citizens? Are you in favor for more Israelis dying to even the death count?

        Why didn’t Jordan, Egypt, and Syria establish a Palestinian state from 1948-1967? Why was the PLO kicked out of Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait? If Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait expel the Palestinians for supporting terrorism and insurgency why do you expect Israel to not do the same?

        There are 22 Arab countries. What is the point of the Arab League if the 1948 Arabs are living in refugee camps?

        There are more Arab Citizens of Israel (~2,000,000) than there are in Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain (and the majority of Jews in Israel are from the Arab Countries).

        There can be ARAB Republics of Egypt and Syria. ISLAMIC Republics of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Saudi ARABia + United ARAB Emirates. But Israel can’t be a Jewish state?

        Israel isn’t perfect, but Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Morocco (Western Sahara) have hundreds of thousands of Arabs killed but only Israel is evil?

        Israel gave the Sinai back to Egypt in exchange for peace—hopefully one day the Palestinian leadership can love their children more than they hate Israel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*