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More discourse, less defensiveness

University is a place to have serious intellectual debates about tough topics

 

I’ve been resisting the urge to comment on the Israeli debate going on in the Gazette. I felt like jumping in would be political suicide (and so I remain anonymous), but the latest issue has been the last straw.

The responses of Israeli apologists to statements made by organizations such as Students Against Israeli Apartheid have shaken me. I was surprised by the amount of denial and excuses they conjured in order to protect or justify blatant discrimination and obvious crimes against humanity.

I’ve been to Israel, I’ve been to the West Bank, and I’ve seen firsthand what the Israeli government and its armed forces have done and are doing to the Palestinian people. However, I do not wish to include everyone into this category; my experience has been that there are Israelis that strongly condemn the actions of others and wish to see a solution that favors both parties.

But I am writing this because I hate to see that certain people simply won’t acknowledge the fact that what Israel is doing is wrong and the BDS movement and Students Against Israeli Apartheid are justified in their accusations and demands. Personally, I do not agree with the BDS movement as such since Palestinians in fact manufacture a lot of Israeli products.

Once you acknowledge the fact that Israel has committed and is committing discrimination and crimes against the Palestinian nation, then I will acknowledge that there have been and still are Palestinians committing crimes against Israelis. Crimes have been committed on both sides, but Israel has brought an atomic bomb to a knife fight. It’s time to take the moral high ground and stop acting like a defenseless child that believes the world is out to get you.

Anti-Israeli rhetoric (to quote last week’s issue) is not and should not be considered anti-Semitic rhetoric. This is one of the biggest obstacles in the fight for an open and honest debate on the Palestinian question. How can you have a decent conversation when every piece of criticism is taken as a personal attack on one’s personal beliefs? It seems to be an automatic defense mechanism and one I’ve encountered several times over multiple conversations, but interestingly one I’ve only encountered at home. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I was in Israel and I was discussing the current issue, my criticisms were replied with decent arguments about self-defense and so on, however when the same conversation (or similar) occurred in Canada, my criticisms were met with hostility and I was labeled as anti-Semitic. We need to talk about the Palestinian question and we need to do it properly. Personal responses and emotions have no place in such a debate. I believe we have a right to bring this discussion to the table and pressure government to reconsider its moral and financial support to Israel. The military-industrial complex is primarily to blame and we can’t let it continue to dictate our policies in the Middle East.

The BDS movement does not in fact speak for all Dal students and neither do other organizations, but I believe that it has a rightful place in a university environment. Over the years we have witnessed a break down in political discourse due to the rise of political correctness. I have debated for a long time to speak my mind about this subject entirely due to the fact that it is an extremely taboo subject to discuss on campus. Universities were once the breeding grounds of political discourse and opinionated discussions but the fact of the matter is that universities now discourage any sort of discussion that could stir controversy for fear of backlash by a few angry groups.

Acknowledge that Israel is committing crimes against humanity and don’t take it personally. I don’t get pissed off when a Europeans bitch about the tar sands or our government’s treatment of Aboriginals.

 

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