Friday, March 19, 2021

  • Friday, March 19, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
In a response to the events at Middlebury College I mentioned earlier, Max Shulman-Litwin, a member of Middlebury's Hillel, wrote an op-ed for the college newspaper explaining why Jews are uncomfortable with Students for Justice in Palestine.

Shulman-Litwin falls into a trap that many Jews do when talking about the Middle East - his arguments are wishy-washy and he agrees that Israel's critics are correct up to a point. Then he expects the readers to follow his nuanced approach of drawing a tortuous line between what they say that he(falsely) thinks is true and where they go too far.

Max's intro to the article points to how poor the entire op-ed is:
The Middlebury chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has created a website that helps us understand the extent of the suffering of the Palestinian people currently and in the past. In this op-ed, I do not deny the merit of their arguments for the rights of the Palestinian people, but I do draw attention to a harmful blind spot in their activism.
He links to the SJP website that calls Israel an apartheid state! Before he even gets to defending Israel or Jews, he essentially concedes the entire argument to those who want to destroy Israel!

Max's whole article follows the same apologetics:
 This, naturally, does not mean that we may not criticize the government of the State of Israel (in which I find appalling flaws)....The state of Israel was meant to provide a safe space in which Jews could flourish free of ethnic cleansing. However, I struggle to find the words to express my lamentation for the manner in which this was carried out; rather than creating a land of emancipation and equal opportunities, those who wished to protect Jews fought fire with fire, protecting the well-being of Jews at the cost of that of Palestinian Arabs who had largely inhabited the region beforehand. The rights of those Palestinian Arabs who did not flee in many manners were infringed upon, and these people have suffered unspeakable inequality and maltreatment for decades under various Israeli administrations. 

Palestinian terrorism, rejectionism, antisemitism - they aren't to be mentioned in an article showing the Jewish viewpoint of the conflict. Only supposed Jewish crimes.

Gee, thanks for your even-handedness. 

And even his criticism of SJP is tempered by the idea that, sure, they don't really intend to be antisemitic when they want Israel to be Judenrein:
SJP claims that Zionism is nothing more than a colonialist ideology, going as far as entertaining the proposal that Jewish nationals return to the lands of Eastern Europe, whose peoples had so horrifically slaughtered their Jewish populations. As a result of this complacency and lack of consideration for the implications of their own demands, even if it is not their intention, SJP harmfully aligns itself with those who hope to cause the further oppression of Jews.
His watering down of SJP's desire to destroy Israel is mind-boggling:
If Palestinians Arabs inhabited the land of Israel/Palestine before 1948, and all Palestinian Arabs and their descendents are to return to their original homes, where are Jews to go as the cycle of anti-Jewish violence and antisemitism persists?...SJP does not even attempt to address this question; while their intention is righteous and ethical, the result of the policies it promotes is tolerant (or, dare I say, encouraging) of the hate that has universally plagued the Jewish people.
No, Max, their intention is not righteous and ethical. The entire point of "return" is to destroy Israel, not advocate for Palestinian rights. Read this book or watch this interview before you decide to defend a hate group like SJP.

Many of the best defenders of Israel - like Einat Wilf or the late Petra Marquardt-Bigman - are decidedly liberal. Many of them oppose settlements. But they know that those attacking Israel do not add caveats and excuses and discomfort to their arguments - they are full throated in their attacks. When Jews and Zionists do not respond in kind, the bystanders - in this case on Middlebury's campus - will naturally conclude that the antisemites are correct, because the "pro-Israel" side is agreeing with half of their premises. 

This article does far more harm than good. 

The Middlebury Campus should find someone who truly understands the issues to write a response showing that SJP is a hate group and that Israel is a modern, liberal, amazing Jewish state that eagerly seeks peace. 

Israel is not merely a "safe space" for Jews. It is the eternal Jewish homeland.  And if you don't understand that, don't act as a spokesperson who can defend Israel and Jews. 






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