Breeding Hatred on Campus: Justice in Palestine Week

Steven Perlin

As a supporter of the freedom of speech and open dialogue, I am not opposed to Justice in Palestine Week. I despise that the hosting organizations use student fees to fund their events, although I understand that everything is all done in a university-approved fashion. The truly disturbing part of Justice in Palestine week is the one-sidedness of the information presented. The perspective of the material leads to reactions that contribute to a community climate that hinders my ability to carry on with my daily life.

The best way to express my feelings is through a story. Last year I was on the 201 bus heading back from the UTC mall. As I boarded the bus, I saw a middle-aged, overweight woman wearing all black sitting on the bench waiting to board the bus. As I sat down on the bus, she followed me onto the bus and took a seat not far away. The bus pulled away from the stop and what began as a bus ride back to campus turned into something far more memorable. This lady began to shout some of the most disgusting comments about Jews. At first I was confused as to her audience, but I soon realized that I was her target. Amongst other things, I was called a “filthy Jew”, a “baby killer”, a “kike” and I was told to get out of the Middle East before she killed me.

After that lady left the bus at the request of the bus driver, I was left in a state of utter confusion. How did she know that I was (a) Jewish and (b) pro-Israel? I wasn’t wearing a kippah, I wasn’t wearing an Israel shirt, and I don’t look overtly Jewish. And then it hit me. The only way that this lady knew who I am is because she must have been on campus during Justice in Palestine Week and must have seen me trying to portray a contrary opinion to the presented information.

Justice in Palestine Week creates a very uncomfortable environment for pro-Israel students, almost all Jewish students, and other people who feel that their space is being invaded. When walking down Library Walk, it is impossible to overlook the giant wall that is supposed to represent the wall separating Israel proper from the West Bank. Painted on this wall are pictures, short stories, and explanations of the conflict. People swarm around passersby like flies, passing out propaganda to spark sympathy and become a supporter of the cause.

The explanations on the wall discuss many different aspects of the Israel-Palestinian conflict all from the perspective of a Palestinian. I am not against the Palestinian narrative, but I am against the way that it is presented. What exactly does this wall stand for? Physically, as mentioned earlier, it is supposed to demonstrate the barrier between Israel proper and the West Bank. The writings on the wall will lead a person to believe that the wall is erected to keep Palestinians out of Israeli jobs and away from Israeli hospitals, whereas someone else might convey that the wall was built in response to keep out suicide bombers that plagued Israel during the Second Intifada. Emotionally, the wall and the people who put it up will convey that it represents the oppression of the Palestinian people. Other people will say that this wall is the emotional representation of grieving parents who had to bury their children after they were murdered in suicide bomb attacks. The real problem is that this other, pro-Israel perspective is not being represented. When the pro-Israel perspective is silenced, it leads people to believe that this conflict is only one-dimensional: the oppressed versus the oppressors.

When something is boiled down so easily into a right versus wrong situation, it is rather easy to create an environment of hate. This lady I encountered on the bus clearly only received one perspective of this conflict. She clearly only walked by the giant wall and was inundated with one perspective. She probably felt extremely sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, as any person with a heart should, but was misguided by such overtly skewed information that she could not empathize with anything that was not immediately presented to her on a large display. Without a doubt, this hatred I experienced was clearly manifested by the creators of Justice in Palestine Week. I am not the person to judge whether or not the manifestation of this hate was intentional or not; regardless of intention, it exists. And as a collection of student groups put on Justice in Palestine Week, these groups should be held to the principles of our university. Instead of stifling dialogue by providing only one side of a two-sided issue, these groups should provide at least some insight into the other perspective in order to prevent the average person from being filled with hatred.

Steven is a junior in Revelle College majoring in international studies.

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3 comments

  1. Where are all the campus-wide initiatives and special funding for Jewish/Israeli student organizations when walls of hate appear on this campus? Where is the administration’s “Racism: Not In Our Community” posters and buttons now? Where are the emails from student leaders, faculty and vice-chancellors condemning those endorsing this hate against Jews, and threatening disciplinary action? Where are the new Israeli Studies major programs? Where are the new General Education requirements requiring students to take courses explaining the history of antisemitism? Where are the required online pro-Israel tutorials in order to get Student Organization funding? Where is the Associated Students AVP of Jewish Affairs?

    Right. No where. UCSD is run by corrupt hypocrites and liars.

  2. Propaganda · ·

    Every regime uses propaganda to ‘propagate’ its interpretation, or one that is favorable to its interests. It’s not evil in and of itself, but it’s worth being able to spot it for what it is. All governments and agencies eventually find it necessary to present a particular image of their action or ideology. From this perspective, it is easy to see who benefits from this recasting of the wall narrative:

    “whereas someone else might convey that the wall was built in response to keep out suicide bombers that plagued Israel during the Second Intifada”

    No rational person supports suicide bombing, or bombing in general. But it is interesting to see how different nations deal with the prospect of this tragedy. Many nations have beefed up their security, stepped up their domestic intelligence efforts, etc. Israel chose to build a wall around its, let’s face it, oppressed population. Israel has also taken the farmland and water resources of the Palestinians for themselves to immiserate and starve them. These are both examples of collective punishment, a terrible page out of Nazi history that Israel should be working to put in the past, not to reincarnate. Even setting collective punishment aside, it is a crime against fundamental human rights to restrict the freedom of movement of a civilian population, whatever the intentions are. It is a violent solution because the wall has the same effect as an army using force to pen people in, and because starvation feels like a never-ending 1-2 punch in the gut at its best.

    Whatever you think of Zionism or Israel as a whole, the separation wall is an object of global shame for Jews like me who believe we should be taking our inspiration for problem-solving from humanitarian and scriptural sources, not Nazi Germany. That was a totalitarian regime that always sought to punish instead of redress grievances because they knew that they couldn’t give an inch without compromising their systems of control as a whole. Israel has the potentially democratic systems of civil society that allow it to investigate the grievances of Palestinians and build a non-violent solution for everybody. Until they do, it is the duty of humanitarians, including anyone who believes in tikkun olam, to build mini replica walls and show us the uncomfortable truth.

    This question of the unpleasant effects of seeing a wall on campus reminds me of a spat between the Minnesota Vikings and a sports writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Seems the Vikings head coach asked the writer to stop saying such terrible things about the team. The writer said, “Stop being terrible.” If we don’t want to be made uncomfortable by seeing a reminder of the evil things being done in our name, we need to raise our voices to stop those evil things. That is the way.

  3. Aww, too bad I didn’t see this earlier and then we really could have had it out.

    So yes, you quoted me quite well in my description of the necessities of the wall. It was built to cut off suicide bombers points of entry into Israel.

    You claim that no rational person supports the idea of suicide bombing. But I disagree on the premise that you have to right (nor does anyone else) to define rationality. It could be said that Hamas’ objectives are, as it roughly says in their charter, to kill all of the Jews. And they choose to kill the Jews by blowing themselves up in the pursuit of their goal… which makes their action rational.

    You say that different nations choose to deal with “the prospects of this tragedy” in different ways. I would now ask you exactly to which tragedy you refer. I presume that you are talking about terrorism, which is much different than suicide bombing (although suicide bombing is a form of terrorism). So in the wake of 9-11, sure the US beefed-up security because it was dealing with an enemy that was mostly international or very scattered at the domestic level. However, it was clear that the suicide bombers were coming from the West Bank, so the Israeli government built a wall to keep the suicide bombers out (and it worked). Now lets look at Iraq, where there are growing suicide attacks. Iraq is unable to build a wall around the suicide bombers because they are coming from scattered locations and also from both religious sects. And without their wall, people are still being blown up. So NO, there is no good example that you can provide us to prove that other countries under similar conditions have found ways around using a wall.

    I am giving you a chance, right now, to give me a scriptural source about this topic please. Research your ass off because we both know that you only use this illusion to your knowledge about Judaism and that “tikkun olam” phrase in order to pretend that you know something about a topic you so clearly know nothing about.

    And Israel does things in the name of Israeli citizens. So unless you’re an Israeli citizen, Israel doesn’t give a shit about you (unless you want to make Aliyah or donate money or spend money).

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