When promoting Israel on campus, most students prefer to emphasize the positive. They want to talk about how Israeli doctors heal Syrian refugees, how Israeli innovations save lives across the world, and how delicious a good shakshuka can be. They’re tired of talking about the conflict, and who can blame them?
But sometimes the conflict comes a knocking. That’s exactly what happened at Emory University earlier this month when many students returned home to find eviction notices posted on their doors. “We regret to inform you,” the notice read “that your suite is scheduled for demolition in three days.”
The notices were a stunt — the work of Students for Justice in Palestine. No suites were actually demolished. The only thing destroyed that day was the truth.
The notices claimed that “Eviction notices are routinely given to Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation for no other reason than their ethnicity…. Palestinian homes are destroyed as part of the state of Israel’s ongoing attempts to cleanse the region of its Arab inhabitants.”
Well, it’s true. Israel does demolish Palestinian homes. It sometimes does so when one of the inhabitants of the home has murdered Israelis in a terrorist attack. And it sometimes does so when the home was built without legal permits.
One can agree or disagree with these policies. But whatever their merits, these policies don’t punish ethnicity; they punish crimes. Any Palestinian who wants to avoid this fate need only do the following: 1) Don’t murder Israelis, and 2) Get a permit before you build. These are actually good rules for all of us to follow, wherever we live.
For those interested in reality, it’s worth noting that, according to Palestinian Authority statistics, the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza has almost doubled in the last 20 years. If — as SJP claims — Israel is engaging in a policy of ethnic cleansing, they’re doing it all wrong.
This is standard SJP. They start with a truth and then exaggerate it beyond all bounds of reason, cause and effect. And often they just make stuff up. But in so doing, they actually make our job easier. We can highlight their lies. And most students just don’t like being lied to.
We’d all rather focus on the positive. And the positive vision of Israel is compelling. But while there are those out there willing to lie so blatantly about Israel, silence isn’t always our best option. Knowing the truth — and sharing it — does more than defend Israel. It shines a bright light on SJP and other Israel haters. And they never look very good under the glare.
David Brog, MTF Executive Director