Letters to the Editor do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.
The Daily Free Press story “Palestinian student advocates protest festival celebrating Israel Independence Day” quoted a pamphlet distributed by anti-Israel demonstrators charging that the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) is “a known Islamophobic organization,” and cited a report from the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The journalist failed to get any comment from CAMERA and, regrettably, published the libelous charge as fact.
We — a Muslim and a Jew — are united in CAMERA’s essential cause of promoting the facts about the Arab-Israeli conflict and domestic issues inside Israel, and we deplore the irresponsible actions of the BU protesters, members of Students for Justice in Palestine and inaccurate assertions in the article.
CAMERA, a nonpartisan media monitor and educational institution, sponsors programs at scores of universities. Many Muslim speakers and writers, who are interested in a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, work with CAMERA. All of us, of different faiths and backgrounds, hold to a core belief — that reconciliation and mutual understanding cannot be based on a foundation of lies.
Unfortunately, lies that inflame prejudice abound in too many publications and discussions involving Israelis and Palestinians — including in public demonstrations such as the one at BU.
First, the falsehoods by CAIR: The group regularly smears as Islamophobic those simply citing undeniable, well-known facts about the genocidal aims of Hamas — an organization calling openly for the annihilation of Israel. CAIR’s intention is, it seems, to silence free and open discourse and it would like, no doubt, also to distract from facts about its own unsavory record. CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008-2009 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development trial, the largest American terrorism funding case to date, charged with raising $12 million for Hamas, a U.S. government-designated terrorist organization. At least five former staff or lay leaders from CAIR have been indicted, arrested or deported on weapons or terrorism-related charges. One, a co-founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter, received a 65-year prison sentence.
Just as SJP tries to mislead the campus community with false claims about CAMERA and CAIR, the group makes itself unreliable in bogus charges of Israeli apartheid, which were featured in its posters. As an Israeli Muslim, and a former diplomat in the Foreign Ministry, I, Ishmael Khaldi, am just one of many thousands of Arabs who participate at all levels of government, industry, academia, media and culture in the most free nation in the region, Israel — an island of tolerance and hope.
It’s an insult to black South Africans who suffered under true apartheid, who were segregated black from white, denied all rights and tormented on the basis of their skin color to compare the situation of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians on the West Bank to these genuine victims.
As Palestinian human rights expert Bassem Eid has said, the apartheid charges are absurd. He adds that SJP appears to have no real interest in “justice” for Palestinians. If they did care about Palestinian lives and fortunes, they would oppose the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns that are harming them, throwing many hundreds out of work and depriving families of income and medical coverage. Such was the case when the SodaStream company was hounded by boycott advocates, among other enterprises.
BU students who observe SJP members shouting about Israeli apartheid and calling for [Boycott, Divestment and Sanction] may want to ask why it is that an Israeli Bedouin and a Palestinian human rights activist consider their charges false and their campaigns counter to the interests of Palestinians.
Additionally, congressional testimony just days ago noted a link that perhaps reveals why SJP so often reverts to physical intimidation rather than rational argument. Maybe BU students should also ask SJP members for an update on Hamas, and their views about the terrorist organization.
For those interested in moderation and genuine dialogue, who truly want understanding between Israelis and Palestinians and who agree that inflammatory falsehoods and bullying only make peace harder to achieve, we encourage you to join with CAMERA in promoting full, fair and accurate information and open discussion of the full range of issues that thwart the achievement of neighborly relations in the Middle East.
Ishmael Khaldi and Aviva Slomich, [email protected]
Ishmael Khaldi is a Muslim Bedouin diplomat and counselor in the Israeli foreign service.
Aviva Slomich is international campus director for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).