Monday, February 10, 2014

Today's College Student Article

Brandon Faske is the Editor-in-Chief of Tulane University's student newspaper, and has been a Huffington Post blogger since the beginning of 2014. He has brought his understanding to Israel now with the question of "is it possible to be pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian?" This topic is something that Matt and I have discussed in the past, but as usual, Faske is only asking that question to pro-Israel people. It's a typical argument we haven't seen in a while: leftists asking "pro-Israel" people to be more understanding of the Palestinians and their arguments, with no reciprocation on the "pro-Palestinian" side. Faske's article continues in that noble tradition, but at least he admits "a right to exist as the Jewish homeland. It is an open, and relatively thriving democracy in a region where such entities struggle to exist," before he goes after American Jews for not getting taught the whole story as children. Unlike him, presumably.

Then he takes a step into something he doesn't know about:
"The fear in acknowledging Israel's flaws is that such recognition opens Israel up to criticism, whether warranted or unfair. The combative arena that houses the Israel-Palestine discourse too often divulges into a world of "pro- and anti-", "argue and retaliate.""
No, actually, that's not it at all. As I have mentioned before, the reason why "pro-Israel people" don't prefer to discuss Israel's flaws is not because they don't acknowledge they are there. Denial is a trait of the other side. The reason why we don't like to discuss Israel's flaws is because every flaw is used by the opposition as proof that Israel shouldn't exist. There's no quid pro quo, no balance, no discussion of Israel's misdeeds followed by a discussion of Palestinian misdeeds. Israel's detractors insist in hijacking the conversation and never letting go of the "attack" button. Which is exactly why Faske's next point is so naive:
"Wouldn't it be nice for "pro-Israel" students and leaders to admit that Israel occupies the West Bank and limits the rights of Palestinians who call it home while Palestinian advocates admit a failure of leadership by their political representatives who have rejected three peace agreements?"
First of all, I am highly skeptic that pro-Israel students and leaders wouldn't agree that Israel is occupying the West Bank. But like I said, there's no quid pro quo. Palestinian advocates on campus will never criticize Palestinian leaders except to tell them that they aren't radical enough. Therefore they wouldn't say rejecting three peace agreements was a bad thing at all. What Faske doesn't understand is that there is no balance here. There is no one on campus who is truly "pro-Palestinian," there are only those who are pro-Israel and those who are anti-Israel. If he's wondering why Palestinian advocates won't criticize the Palestinians, maybe he should do some research and find out what their agenda truly is. It isn't Palestinian rights. Faske admits this further down the column but won't take the necessary next step to draw his conclusion.

At this point he retreads the well worn path of ASA, BDS, Sodastream and Scarlett Johansson, which I see no reason to repeat yet again. He admits that although Sodastream does great things for the Palestinians BDS still sees it as a target because it's Israeli. He also points out that Abbas doesn't support BDS, only of the settlements, and rehashes the myth of the "demographic threat."

Here is his conclusion:
"Israel is largely what is right in the Middle East. Israel must continue to be the country that best advocates for the rights and liberties of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and all minorities regardless of creed while remaining a hub for innovation and economic opportunity. In order for this to happen, it must remain open to fair rebukes from supporters and detractors alike."
 Unfortunately his last sentence undermines the rest. There's never been a point where Israel hasn't been open to "fair rebukes." It's just that most of the time, especially on campus, the invectives screamed at Israel are neither "fair" nor "rebukes." Perhaps Faske should have done a little bit more research before writing this column.

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