We write to commend your recent statement outlining your position on Israel/Palestine. We recognize the difficulty in speaking out about those positions, particularly under conditions in which community institutions frequently speak on behalf of the entire Jewish community. In particular, your condemnation of “Israeli policies of military occupation, expansion of West Bank settlements, failure to take action against settler and soldier violence, demolition of Palestinian property, unequal distribution of resources, and policies that restrict Palestinian movement” is a heartening and important statement of recognition of the severe and persistent oppression experienced by Palestinians in the West Bank.
We were also pleased to see the call for “further dialogue” around Israel/Palestine, for contrary to misconceptions, SJP does not oppose all forms of dialogue; rather, SJP objects to dialogue that does not recognize the blatant power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the systemic violations of Palestinian human rights that occur as a result of Israeli policy. Although we take issue with parts of the statement (such as the false equation of stone-throwing with armed violence, a pretext that has greatly facilitated Israel’s imprisonment of Palestinian children as young as eight years of age), and though we encourage you also to apply a critical lens to Israel’s treatment of its own Palestinian and minority populations, as well as to recognize the Palestinian right of return, we are glad that your statement acknowledges Israeli policies of occupation as causes of severe and systematic human rights violations. We wish you many positive and fruitful conversations around Israel/Palestine within your communities, and we invite you to speak to us and attend our events and teach ins.
Finally, we also hope that these future conversations will include the topic of divestment. Because the statement references the imperative to “acknowledge and work to prevent the pain and suffering arising from this conflict," we hope that the undersigned will be able to appreciate how calling for the withdrawal of university funds from companies that profit directly from the violations of Palestinian human rights condemned in this statement is a relevant and necessary tactic that we as students can pursue with the best of intentions.
Students for Justice in Palestine