On March 5th, the organization Harvard Students for Israel sponsored a full-page advertisement in the Harvard Crimson, in which they announced their support for Israel’s state and people.
As members of the new group “Jewish and Israeli Voices against Occupation” and as firm supporters of the Palestinians’ right to live with freedom and dignity on their own land, we are writing to declare that we agree with every point raised by Harvard Students for Israel.
Like the signatories to the ad, we stand with Israel in the name of democracy, freedom and peace. Denial of Palestinians’ self-determination, however, is not consistent with democracy. Imposition of closure and curfew upon a captive civilian population is not consistent with freedom. Intimidation, detention without trial, house demolitions, and the everyday dehumanization of a nation is not consistent with peace.
Like the signatories to the ad, we support Israel’s right to exist in secure and recognized borders. It is Israel, however, that has failed to declare its own borders. Israel’s building of settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land, occurring even now as Israel builds a dividing wall, give succor to Palestinians’ impressions that Israel wants the land of the Occupied Territories without the people.
Like the signatories to the ad, we support Israel’s right to self-defense. History suggests, however, that no amount of military force can restrain a people committed to the justice of its cause. Neither security walls nor checkpoints nor bombing raids will stop those who feel that they have nothing left to lose and no other way out of intolerable oppression. The time has come to recognize that making Palestinians miserable is not a viable counter-terrorism policy.
Like the signatories to the ad, we stand in solidarity with Israel as a democratic ally of the United States in the war against terror. Subjecting people to life under occupation, uncertain each day whether they will be able to leave their house, get to work, or whether the bulldozers will appear in front of their home, is itself a form of terrorism. Israel belies its own democratic principles as long as it imprisons Palestinians in the current state of statelessness. Israel allows Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip neither the right to be citizens of Israel nor the right to be citizens in a country of their own. The condemnation of generation upon generation to the purgatory of life under occupation is a stance that no genuine democrat can accept.
Like the signatories to the ad, we stand in solidarity with the people in the Arab world who work to combat terrorism and make peace with Israel. We also stand in solidarity with people in the Arab world, however, when they say that peace means more than an end to suicide bombings. It also means an end to Israel’s military violence against Palestinians. Real peace is a just peace in which Israel and Palestine exist side-by-side as equals.
Like the signatories to the ad, we hope that all nations in the Middle East will make honest and determined efforts to eliminate sources of terror and tyranny so that lasting peace and solidarity in the region can be achieved. In this spirit, we appeal to the Israeli government and those who support it to end the siege on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the name of peace and solidarity, Israel must take its soldiers and settlers and leave the Palestinian territories, once and for all.
Jewish and Israeli Voices Against Occupation