Why are American Jewish groups so intent on defending illegal Israeli settlements and other human rights violations?
(Jewish Voice For Peace) -- By Sydney Levy and Yaman Salahi --
A coalition of nearly 20 Jewish groups, ranging from the right-wing David Project and the Jewish National Fund to the liberal J Street, is distributing a misleading statement condemning a Student Senate bill at UC Berkeley. The ground-breaking bill calls for divestment from companies that profit from the perpetuation of the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. They refer to the bill as "dishonest" and "misleading" and "based on contested allegations."
Yet it is their letter that is both dishonest and misleading.
The bill, available here (http://blogs.asuc.org/2010/03/18/announcements/sb-118-amended-passed ), is based on extensive, footnoted research.
Yet this coalition of Jewish groups does not contest any of the facts. Without offering any evidence, they dismiss findings by reputable organizations like the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. Instead of condemning these human rights violations, they prefer to misinform the public by suggesting that it is somehow wrong to “take sides” against universally recognized injustice. In so doing, they effectively defend illegal Israeli settlements and the Israeli military occupation that continues to disrupt everyday features of Palestinian life: education, health care, economic life, and art and culture...
They claim that the bill "unfairly targets the State of Israel." But Israel is the country building the settlements and administering the occupation. And it is one of the world’s best known human rights abusers that is not already sanctioned by the United States --which provides Israel with over $3 billion annually. Who else should the bill address?
There is no reason not to name Israel when it violates human rights, but these groups suggest that students should instead pass a bill with no teeth, a bill that merely condemns human rights violations in general without referring specifically to Israel. But it is absurd to suggest that students do not already condemn those violations in the abstract-or have not already worked to apply similar standards to countries like Sudan and South Africa and will not apply them similarly to other countries in the future. The bill merely applies widely held principles to a particular situation.
In effect they are calling on students not to apply the same principles applied elsewhere to Israel. These groups want us to ignore reality and to allow Israel to be the one and only human rights violator that escapes accountability and condemnation. Perversely, they themselves are guilty of singling out Israel in order to defend occupation and the unjustifiable oppression of the Palestinian people.
The statement acknowledges no wall, no home demolitions, no Israeli settlements, no Palestinian suffering. All of these, the letter calls "discrete incident[s] without consideration of the larger picture." How many more decades of occupation and dispossession will it take for our nation’s major Jewish organizations to issue a statement calling these injustices what they are, an inhumane and morally indefensible system of occupation?...
The misinformation campaign targeting UC Berkeley follows the same script that was used in 2008 to defame similar efforts by the Presbyterian Church, which endeavored to ensure that it was “invested only in peaceful pursuits.”
Then, a similar coalition accused the Presbyterian Church of “one-sidedness” and in much more explicit terms, anti-Semitism. In other words, they re-cast the very idea that one should be “invested only in peaceful pursuits” in Israel-Palestine as biased or racist.
This year the Presbyterian Church is considering divestment from Caterpillar because of the company's refusal to take responsibility for the destruction its bulldozers create in the West Bank and Gaza. The Simon Wiesenthal Center cast all logic aside and accused the church of engaging in "nothing short of a declaration of war on Israel." This kind of hyperbolic language is untrue, harms civil discourse, and only serves to hamper the efforts of those rightfully opposed to the demolition of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of Palestinian orchards.
Now in Berkeley, a constellation of Jewish organizations has regrettably mobilized its resources to stand in the way of yet another progressive victory. The letter’s deliberate distortions call into question whether the signers would support any method of monitoring, discouraging, and preventing Israeli human rights violations...MORE...LINK
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