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Herbert London: Anti-Zionism At Northeastern

The flame of anti-Zionism burns brightly at Northeastern University in Boston. On the first day of Israel Apartheid Week, Students for Justice in Palestine, a group currently on probation for violating campus policies for acts of anti-Semitism and vandalism, dispersed “evacuation” notices to students residing in the dormitories.

This was a crude attempt to reenact the history of 1948 when Arab residents in the territories were urged to vacate their homes in anticipation of the Arab war against the infant state of Israel. In its most recent form NAKBA or catastrophe (the Arab story of this period) is the justification for “the right of return” and for the attribution of Israel as a colonial state. Never mind that the narrative engages in revisionist history or that even great grandchildren now living in the West are considered Arab refugees or that Jews forced to leave Iran, Syria, Iraq, Yemen. Syria are not considered refugees. The flame burns.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) sent an eviction notice which said, “If you do not vacate the premise by 26 Feb. 6pm, we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings under Code 211.3B.  We hereby release any liability for damage to any persons or effects including gross negligence. You will receive an invoice for the charges of demolition and waste removal soon.”

This faux eviction notice was employed as a reminder of the past. Needless to remind the SJP herd, the one line history about Israeli occupation “for no reason other than their ethnic background” neglects to point out a war was declared in which thousands of civilians were killed and maimed. Moreover, most of “the forced evictions” were promoted by Arab military leaders who assumed residents could return when the war was won.

SJP goes on in its propagandistic diatribe to suggest that “since 1967 Israeli occupying forces have destroyed nearly 27,000 homes and other structures… resulting in the internal displacement of more than 160,000 indigenous Palestinians being injured and killed…” Of course there is a serious blind spot in this analysis: Intifada I, Intifada II, the Yom Kippur War, terrorist acts each year, the 1982 war in Lebanon, the 2001 war with Scuds landing randomly in Israeli towns, Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) – a war to prevent missiles from being fired into population centers. Yes, Israel has defended itself and in the process innocent people have died.

But it is the Palestinian leadership in Gaza that put its own people at risk with a systematic policy of human shields. Palestinian homes are not destroyed to cleanse the region of its Arab population, as SJP argues. In fact, 20 percent of the Israeli population is Arab. Arabs are represented in the Knesset. The valedictorian at Technion University Medical School this year is an Arab woman. She contends that there are more opportunities for women in Israel then anywhere in the Arab world.

It is not merely myopia that afflicts SJP, it is a hatred of the very existence of Israel. For this group of anti-Zionists, there is only one flag that should fly over the territory; it is a Palestinian flag encompassing all the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. In their collective imagination, Israel should not exist.

This is the real struggle. Attempting to redress historical wrongs or perceived wrongs is a pretext for the real agenda. Of course a university must allow for the free and civil exchange of opinion, even naïve and malevolent opinion. But academic freedom does not shield advocates of a hoax against other students. Where does the administration stand when students act irresponsibly? Administrative silence is tantamount to acquiescence. Terrorists know that and students tearing the shield off university policies know it as well. 

Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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