'Die-in' protest anti-Semitic, counterproductive to peace

In Monday’s opinions piece entitled “Photo published of ‘die-in’ shows inappropriate bias,” Abeerah Wasti writes that during a recent anti-Israel demonstration put on by the Rutgers-New Brunswick chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at Brower Commons, “Zionist organizers made fun of people lying on the ground, placing pamphlets on their bodies and placing their feet near their faces.” As someone who was present at the event from the beginning to the end, I can tell you first-hand that this is a blatant lie and never occurred. Furthermore, Wasti writes that pro-Israel students were dancing to celebrate the death of Palestinians.  This is a gross misinterpretation of their intentions, which were merely to celebrate their love for Israel, not the death of anyone. You would be hard-pressed to find a single pro-Israel student who does not find the death of innocents on either side tragic.

Wasti makes an effort to paint Students for Justice in Palestine as a pro-Palestinian organization interested in “celebrating Palestine and its people.”  My question is this: How is lying down in red-stained T-shirts pretending to be dead celebrating the Palestinian people? Is it not just another attempt by “pro-Palestinian” activists to demonize Israel?  

Wasti attempts to argue that being anti-Israel should not be equated to being anti-Semitic. I agree. In fact, as a strong supporter of the Jewish state, I am at times critical of the Israeli government, which, like any government, is not perfect. However, with regards to SJP, the organization Wasti defends, the line between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic is very thin. SJP claims to be concerned about the Palestinians’ human rights, yet time and again singles out the lone Jewish state for criticism while ignoring other states that mistreat Palestinians. As a senior who has followed SJP’s events for four years, never have I seen SJP rally for the 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon barred from citizenship, desirable occupations and property ownership. Never have I seen SJP protest the Jordanian government for discriminating against millions of Palestinians, including forcibly detaining them in refugee camps and annulling many of their citizenship rights. Never have I seen SJP demonstrate for the thousands of Palestinians who have been slaughtered in the Syrian civil war. The fact that SJP repeatedly singles out Israel for condemnation while ignoring the vast human rights violations against Palestinians in other countries makes me question whether SJP is truly concerned about the Palestinians or whether their motives lie elsewhere.

Furthermore, during the die-in, SJP members openly shouted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free.”  This statement refers to the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including the Jewish state. This statement clearly affirms that SJP openly supports a Palestinian state in place of Israel, effectively reversing 1948 and eliminating the Jewish state. A statement like this and the fact that the only state singled out is the Jewish one is testament to the anti-Semitic nature of SJP.

Overall, the pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrations that took place at Brower Commons were schismatic and unproductive. Instead of pointing fingers, both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine activists should make an effort to recognize that flaws exist on both sides. Instead of one-sided demonstrations that often encourage hate and divisiveness, we should work as a student body to promote dialogue and the exchange of ideas in a respectful, productive way.

Zev Newman is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history with minors in art history and Jewish studies.

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