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COMMENTARY: Israel promotes equal rights for all citizens

Scarlet Knights for Israel is disturbed by the recent misleading commentary by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), titled “Excuses must stop being made for human rights violations.” The demonizing column falsely charges Israel as an “apartheid” and “settler-colonial” state. As a student-led group dedicated to promoting a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must ensure that parties in this conflict are represented with dignity, fairness and accuracy.

In Israel, a diverse, liberal and progressive democracy, there is no semblance of “apartheid.” Arabs serve alongside their Jewish counterparts in the nation’s highest positions, including serving on Israel’s Supreme Court, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and the Foreign Ministry as diplomats. Arab and Jewish Israelis drive on the same roads, enjoy equal voting rights and are protected against discrimination under the law. In Israel, a multi-ethnic democracy, all citizens enjoy the same rights regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or creed. Invoking an accusation of “apartheid” diminishes the suffering of Black people in the true apartheid system of South Africa, where a minority of white people ruled and denied the majority of Black people even the most basic of human rights.

Israel is not a “settler-colonial state,” and such a claim reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of a crucial historical context. Jewish people have maintained an uninterrupted presence in Israel that is well-documented for more than 3,000 years, longer than any of the three Abrahamic faiths, never having severed their religious, physical and emotional ties to the land. Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, is recognized as such in international law. Like any well-functioning democracy, there exist flaws that warrant legitimate criticism. But, engaging in soft-core denial of the Jewish people's basic right to their historical homeland, one where citizens of Jewish and Arab descent currently enjoy equal rights to the full extent of the law, is a well-demonstrated example of applying a double standard to the world’s only Jewish state. 

We, students of Scarlet Knights for Israel at Rutgers University, categorically reject any hateful and inaccurate characterizations of the State of Israel. Our group works tirelessly to foster an environment where peace and understanding can flourish, and the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis to a life of dignity are upheld and recognized. Our educational initiatives and events throughout the year revolve around our shared hope for peace and coexistence. We stress the importance of the world’s future leaders engaging in productive dialogue and working toward this goal. We must never allow this to be at the expense of truth.

Scarlet Knights for Israel is a Rutgers organization dedicated to engaging the campus community about Israel and its desire for peace through a diverse array of speakers, events and educational initiatives. 

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