Letters to Editor, Opinion


With the passing of every year, Israel Peace Week becomes that much more of a grotesque irony. Two years ago, Students for Israel, the host of this inauspicious event, had to combat the continued international ill-will following Israel’s massacre in Gaza, in which Israeli fighter jets bombed the world’s largest open-air prison camp (thanks to Israel and their loyal ally, the now-deposed Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak) and killed 1,400 Gazians, many of them women and children. Shamelessly, Students for Israel glossed over this “crime against humanity,” as the international jurist Richard Goldstone (himself a self-proclaimed “Zionist”) suggested in his UN-sanctioned investigation of the Gaza War, and instead chose to hand out Chinese fortune cookies filled with “fun facts” about Israel.

This past month, in fact, two such things have been uncovered in the U.S. press. First, U.S. officials suggested that the Israelis were behind the targeted attacks on nuclear scientists (all of them engaged in civilian nuclear development work), contracting out the work to a U.S.-designated terrorist group and former Saddam ally, the MEK. Then, U.S. intelligence documents noted that the Israeli Mossad had acted as CIA operatives and recruited Jundallah (a radical Sunni group with affinities to al-Qaeda) to kill Iranian government officials. Even the Bush administration, the documents suggested, were furious with this.

If Students for Israel were at all interested in a “democratic, peace-seeking Israel” as their website suggests, then their advocacy would be obvious. For instance, instead of propping up the fictitious accounts of Israeli goodwill to its neighbors (such as the water-sharing plans with another favored Arab dictator, King Abdullah II of Jordan), the group would advocate for a nuclear-free Middle East – such as the one that 64 percent of Israeli Jews supported in a WPO Poll this past December. That position would make sense and serve a purpose, as it has been the U.S. and Israel who have been the staunchest opponents of a nuclear-free zone in the region. Interestingly, too, it was Iran, all the way back in 1974, who first championed the idea of such. Perhaps, then, Israel Peace Week would do well to play catch-up with Israeli Jews, who do have to live in a hostile environment engendered by their country’s militant posturing, and explicitly advocate for Israeli nuclear disarmament and Iranian nuclear transparency. Very quickly, I promise, Israel Peace Week would find the allies they so desperately seek on campus.

Perhaps, too, Students for Israel could advocate for the U.S. and Iran to renew diplomatic talks at the highest level, as such reconciliation will help Israel avoid prolonged conflict. This would align well with the sentiments of Israeli Jews as well (the ones Students for Israel are ostensibly representing), 57 percent of whom do not favor an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. That would, of course, mean breaking with the notion among some Jewish-Americans that they understand the “existential threats” facing Israel better than Israeli Jews themselves. If playing politics with other people’s lives (Iranian and Israeli in this case) is not standard fare for Students for Israel, however, then Israel Peace Week will focus on encouraging an environment conducive to U.S.-Iranian talks based on mutual respect.

Finally, Israel Peace Week could advocate for an end to Israel’s aggressive posture in the region. Despite all the talk of the “existential threats” Israel faces, it is without debate that Israel occupies the mantel of military supremacy in the Middle East (outside of the U.S.). That fact highlights the true threat from Iran to Israel: a nuclear-armed Iran would limit Israel’s freedom-of-action in the Middle East. But that “threat” need not be one – especially if Israel will be the peaceful nation Students of Israel proclaim it to be. Rather than seek freedom-of-action, which allows Israel to bomb Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, etc., with virtual impunity, Israel can accept the Beirut Declaration of the Arab League (for which Iran has also signaled approval) and rejoin the community of nations in the Middle East.

Words have meaning, and it looks like we will have to wait another year before this darkest of ironies – Israel Peace Week – loses its color and takes its namesake seriously.


  • Tyler Cullis

LAW 2014


  1. Accept the Beirut declaration…ok…let’s see. First Israel must completely give away the Golan Heights. So lets just subtract 454 sq. miles from Israel already minuscule 8630 total sq. milage. Not to mention getting rid of 450 sq miles of a nice buffer zone between Israel and Hostile Syria that already rushed the border and attacked the Israeli army and civilians earlier this year. So that seems like a good idea.
    Next order of the Beirut Declaration: Israel must complexly remove themselves from occupied arab territory. I agree that is a good idea. But doing this right now will likely hurt the Palestinian citizens more than help them. the Palestinians are living under their own Palestinian government which as actively been making their situation worse since, and ten before, the death of Yasser Arafat. continuously making their lives worse and worse to hurt Israelis public image, and to their genius it has worked. but the truth is they are hurting themselves. Let the Palestinian’s create sound governmental institutions with moral and ethical leaders willing to make peace hen I guarantee Israel will remove themselves.
    And in return for all these things, the Arab Declaration is just too generous. the arab states will “consider” the Israeli-palastinian conflict over. Two, they will establish normal peaceful relations with israel. Generally in the past, Land for Peace negotiations tend to not work out in Israel;s favor. Once Israel no longer has the Golan Heights what land is there even to give. Israel can not give up land, a physical entity, for peace, which is intangible and can be broken at any second…and likely will be broken.
    Good idea Tyler!

  2. The sad thing is, you’ve got so few allies on this issue. I suggest reading Henry Siegman’s Financial Times Op-Ed on the Arab Peace Initiative. Siegman is, I assume you know, the former Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress.

    I’ll quote briefly from his piece:
    “The Israeli response to this tectonic change in Arab psychology and politics was worse than rejection: it was complete indifference, as if this 180-degree turn-round in Arab thinking had no meaning for Israel and its future in the region…The Three Nos of Khartoum have been replaced by the Three Nos of Jerusalem: no negotiations with Syria, no acceptance of the Arab initiative and, above all, no peace talks with the Palestinians.”

  3. The person who commented above is an apologist for colonialism. Israel cant give back territory they stole through a war with agression with syria because they will have less land? or because of a threat of the civilian refugees who tried returning and were shot by the Israeli army?

    and Israel cant give back the occupied territories because those stupid backwards palestinians wont be able to govern themselves anymore?

    This kind of language is the reason why there is a growing movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel.

  4. “The sad thing is, you’ve got so few allies on this issue.”

    Pretty rich coming from you, considering the American public is *overwhelmingly* on the side of Israel. A Gallup poll released this week indicated that twice as many Americans have a positive view of *Saudi Arabia* as have a positive view of the Palestinian Authority. A totalitarian, Christian-oppressing, terror-supporting bunch of gas-grubbing monarchists–a group that hits every anti-American button in the book–is far more popular than the representatives of the Palestinians. Israel has a 71% favorability rating, comparable with countries like France and India that Americans consider democratic allies; the Palestinian Authority has a 19% favorability rating, falling just 2 points ahead of Syria, which is sitting pretty at 17%.

    The poll information can be found here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/152735/americans-give-record-high-ratings-several-allies.aspx

    The American public not only doesn’t agree with you, but at every opportunity they have rejected anti-Israel programs like BDS by an overwhelming majority. For you to suggest that pro-Israeli people have “few allies” is so patently absurd that it bears asking what reality you’re thinking of when you say that.

    As for you, Mr. Fanon, it would stretch reality to describe the BDS movement as “growing.” It hasn’t had any meaningful success in ten years of existence, and it has been riddled with scandal after scandal, mostly about fraud. BDS is so deeply unpopular–except in certain highly radicalized localities–that its mere appearance prompts a pro-Israel shift by whatever organization the BDSers are trying to subvert this time.

    • If Israel and its allies on campus were not terrified over the prospect of “losing” the U.S. public, then we wouldn’t be bearing witness to the desperation emanating from Tel Aviv these days, e.g., the fact that Israel is sending 100 diplomats to campuses across the country to combat Israel Apartheid Week. I am familiar enough with the Israeli press to know that this is a constant issue for Israelis: the international ill-will towards their aggressive posture in the region, as well as the continued program of ethnic cleansing in parts of the West Bank (i.e., the settlements and the removal of Palestinians from East Jerusalem), is starting to spill over to the one place in the world that matters – the United States.

      The sign of this desperation is right in front of our noses, too: Israel Peace Week. Prior to 2010, Hasbara Fellows didn’t see college campuses in the U.S. as hotbeds of Palestine activism capable of threatening Israel’s privileged status in American eyes. The fact that they started to direct their activities towards the campus scene signals that their confidence is waning. I’m also familiar enough with Students for Israel strategy on college campuses that they have begun to feel alienated from the student body and are redrafting their whole strategic approach to winning over other student groups.

      As for the polls, they don’t address the matter. If we want to be frank about it, a sizeable percentage of that number stems from Christian Zionists, whose beliefs on Israeli Jews border on the Hitleric (i.e., Jews will be exterminated during Rapture). If that’s an ally, that’ll be the strangest pair of political bedfellows I’ve ever seen.

      • Oh my, don’t we have delusions of grandeur. The mighty Israeli state is running in fear of a couple dozen professional protestors, is it? The fact is, “Palestine activism” involves a tiny, unrepresentative portion of the student body, but is so focused on getting attention that they produce a disproportionately large number of anti-Israel stories in the news and whatnot. Therefore, they require more effort to counter than their numbers would indicate. Don’t flatter yourself by saying that it’s because your cause is popular that Israel is devoting efforts to countering “Palestine activism:” it’s because “Palestine activists” are attention whores who pretend that they represent more people than they really do, and they are extremely successful at such whoring.

        As for being alienated from the student body, I’m sure SJP’s program of “no dialogue” is being super successful at attracting members, because nothing says “we believe in academic freedom and constructive criticism” like “we don’t believe in talking to the enemy.” You might attract some people that way, but those will be people that already agree with you: you won’t win anyone over who hasn’t already made up his mind.

        If we assume “Christian Zionists” are roughly coequal with “evangelical Christians,” then they make up about 26% of the US population; Jews make up another 2% of the US population (even if we charitably assume that all Jews view Israel favorably, though SJP’s membership would indicate otherwise). Where’d that other 43% of the US population that see Israel favorably come from? Moreover, do you realize how foolish you sound when you dismiss the opinion of a quarter of the US population? They are not some tiny radical group that counts for nothing (unlike some other people in this conversation): that’s 1 in 4 people in the country.

        As for Hitlerian allies: Hamas? That Western “progressives” continuously make excuses for a reactionary, totalitarian religious movement that has actively squashed the principles of liberalism in territory it controls truly boggles the mind. Freedoms of speech and religion, democracy, protection of minorities, and gay rights are important for “us,” but not for the Palestinians under Hamas?