On April 21st, Rami Faraj authored an article titled “An unsafe campus climate,” featured in The Michigan Daily in which he dismissed the barrage of insults targeted at pro-Israel students and death threats received by CSG officials. He went on to accuse Jews (codeword: Zionists) of theft: “you have taken our lands, taken our rights, and are now taking our seats in classrooms.” These accusations are based on gross distortions of historical facts. Sadly, they also manifest an underlying philosophy of hatred and intolerance, which seems to be a common trait running throughout the Arab world–hatred of Sunnis or Shiites or Christians or Hindus or Jews or any human being who does not subscribe to a particular set of beliefs.
For centuries, there has always been a Jewish presence in Israel, particularly in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Safad, and Ashkelon. This was long before the Romans conquered Judea and renamed it “Palestine” to dejudaize it. Contrary to Mr. Faraj’s assertions, the Jews of the First and Second Aliyot (1882-1903 and 1904-1914) lawfully and openly purchased land from Arab landowners. They fertilized what was said to be non-arable land, established peaceful Kibbutzim and were happy to employ hundreds of Arabs looking for work.
Aggressive wars initiated by Arab countries that vehemently rejected the two state solutions set forth in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008 not only took land from the Palestinians, but also created the first and second refugee problems. Jordan (like Egypt) actually rescinded citizenship of all its refugees, ultimately leaving Israel to absorb the refugee crisis created by their wars. Jordan even booted the PLO out of Jordan several years after the 1967 War. Even today, the catastrophic war in Syria–another Arab war that Mr. Faraj ignores even though it is occurring right before our eyes and has created (and continues to create) enormous human suffering–has given rise to a massive refugee problem for Turkey. The suffering of Palestinian Muslims has been the direct result of actions by tyrannical leaders of the Arab states that have practiced discrimination against Palestinians for decades and which have used the conflict in the Middle East to divert the attention of their own subjects from the sorry state of their own condition.
In contrast, Israel has treated its Muslim and Christian residents in a manner that would be unheard of in Arab states. Indeed, Muslim residents of Israel vote in elections and serve as members of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), justices on the Supreme Court and soldiers in the army. Palestinian students comprise 20% of Israeli university students and many pursue successful careers in medicine, law and business. If Mr. Faraj still believes in a mythical Israeli plot to debase the status of Palestinians, he is welcome to contact the Technion Medical School’s valedictorian of 2013, Mais Ali-Saleh, a Muslim Palestinian woman and staunch opponent of BDS.
Israel has gone to great lengths to reach an agreement with the Palestinians on a two-state solution. Not too long ago, that proposal was rejected by the Palestinian leadership under Yasser Arafat (who stole many millions of dollars from the Palestinian people and deposited the money in offshore bank accounts for the benefit of his family), and then embarked on an intifada against Israel that accomplished nothing but misery that has been disproportionately borne by the Palestinians.
Mr. Faraj’s claim that the Jews do not qualify as an “oppressed people” is, in a word, absurd. Perhaps he should study a little bit of modern European history and become acquainted with the activities of Adolf Hitler. His actions were the subject of open trials at Nuremburg and caused displacement, torture and execution of millions of human beings. Or perhaps Mr. Faraj should focus on the openly hostile and violent discrimination practiced by Sunni Muslims against Shiite Muslims and vice versa. Or the executions of, and destruction of property belonging to Christians and Buddhists in places like Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Syria. How many millions of human beings have died because of this hatred and intolerance over the last 30 years in wars with Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria? This is a very clear historical record of hatred, intolerance and yes, discrimination, but these facts inconveniently require Mr. Faraj and the BDS movement to look in the mirror.