We, Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine (BUSJP), take issue with multiple claims made in an op-ed from BU Students for Israel (BUSI) regarding your article on “Israel Peace Week” and our own group’s nature.
Firstly, BUSI claims “Israel Peace Week” (IPW) is not political. In reality, IPW is a nationwide pro-Israel response to the global “Israel Apartheid Week,” and is purposefully timed to coincide with the latter. IPW is promoted and sponsored by the Hasbara Fellowships program, which exhaustively trains college students to argue Israel’s case on American campuses.
But it leaves us scratching our heads. Why did none of the IPW events concern the concept of “peace”? Why were Palestinians not mentioned in any event description? What does “peace” refer to? A “piece” of stolen land? A “piece” of the Apartheid Wall? A “piece” of Palestinian children, torn apart by Israeli airstrikes? When representatives of Zionist organizations at BU were approached to co-sponsor our event Palestine 101: #NotAReligiousConflict by providing a panelist to speak about Palestinian human rights, none offered a peaceful hand. Thankfully, we are able to have Rabbi Joseph Berman join us from the national organization Jewish Voice for Peace. The event will take place this upcoming Tuesday, March 24th at 7:15 p.m. in School of Communications – Room 101 at 640 Commonwealth Ave.
The hypocrisy of “peace week” is highlighted by the Israeli public’s recent reelection of the racist Benjamin Netanyahu, who will soon form a government with the even more horrifying settler advocate, Naftali Bennett. Before reelection, Netanyahu campaigned throughout the settlements, promised a Palestinian State would never appear under his leadership and used racist tropes about Israel’s Arab citizens in order to gather enough votes. Around two thirds of the Israeli public voted for Netanyahu or parties which are indifferent to and complicit in his apartheid-like policies.
The jury is out. This is the ultimate rejection of “peace,” a rejection that has been obvious to many of the Israeli government’s critics for years. Instead of defending the abhorrent government, groups like BUSI have been reduced to handing out free t-shirts and promoting wonderful images of Masada at sunrise, Tel Aviv’s tech sector or Arab Israeli “cooperation” in the Israel “Defense” Forces.
Last summer, over 2,000 Palestinians including over 500 children were killed in the Gaza Strip, according to human rights organizations. This is far from self-defense. For BUSI to advertise a talk from an IDF soldier, a representative of an entity committed to defending this massacre and breaching international law, during “Israel Peace Week” is shameless. Events like these offer a direct look at a much larger strategy to promote “Brand Israel” and whitewash the criminal activity of the IDF. “Israel Peace Week” is an insult to the intelligence of BUSI members and BU students as a whole.
Secondly, in regards to a panel that took place last fall, BUSI claims BUSJP did not send a representative because “the gesture would recognize the state of Israel.” At this, we can only laugh. BUSI ignores the diverse views of our members and purposefully misconstrues the tactic of anti-normalization. BUSJP recognizes that the fate of Israel/Palestine is not up to any group in the U.S., but Israel and Palestine themselves, and that our role is to pressure the former through divestment, advocate for human rights and empower people to make a resolution possible.
One of the questions for the panel was “Is Hamas a terrorist organization?” Good question. Where was “Is the IDF a terrorist organization?” or “Why do we fund Israel?” BUSI enjoys the outside support of Hillel and Birthright organizers whereas SJP is a diverse grassroots organization of American and International students from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic and most importantly, Palestinian backgrounds.
If anyone in the BU community would like to discuss the pros and cons of the degradation, humiliation and occupation of millions of people in the name of “security” and demographic preservation, they are more than welcome to attend our meetings or get in contact with us.
Peace, from Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine
Editor’s Note: Though this letter refers to the building at 640 Commonwealth Ave. as the School of Communications, it is in fact called the College of Communication.