© 2012 by H.B. Koplowitz
As a Jew who supports Israel, I applaud Florida Atlantic University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine for posting faux eviction notices on the dorm doors of fellow students to raise public awareness of Israel’s controversial policy of allowing Jewish settlers to move into disputed territories in the West Bank.
Patterned after similar publicity stunts at Yale and the University of Chicago, the fake eviction notices were an effective and nonviolent way to convey the plight of thousands of Palestinians who really have been evicted from their homes to make way for Israeli settlements.
Predictably, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, swung into action, claiming the prank was part of a campaign to “silence and intimidate pro-Israel advocates on campus,” and calling on FAU administrators to “not only speak out against such actions, but to also act to ensure a safe environment.”
In the parlance of the day, the ADL — and other Jewish organizations, who have called the stunt anti-Semitic and a hate crime — are trying to bully FAU administrators into curtailing the free speech rights of Palestinian activists on the campus.
But hold on a moment. Hate crime? This was pretty tame stuff compared to other Palestinian public awareness campaigns that have included massacring Israel’s Olympic team, lobbing missiles into Israel from Gaza, and suicide bombings of Israeli buses and nightclubs. Those are hate crimes.
Also predictably, media coverage has mostly ignored the issue the Palestinians were trying to draw attention to, instead focusing on the demands of the Jewish groups and FAU’s response. Which is a shame, because the Palestinian question needs to be resolved. Israel was born from the ashes of the Holocaust, but just as America’s original sin was slavery — and the genocide of native Americans — Israel’s original sin was the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs before, during and after the creation of the Jewish state.
Israel has fences to mend, but so do Palestinians. As is often said, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to make peace with Israel, instead rejecting all compromises and seeking the annihilation of the Jewish state.
In 1948, when Palestinians were offered a partition state next to Israel, they and most Arab countries rejected it and went to war.
Two years later, when Jordan tried to annex the West Bank to provide a home for Palestinians, they assassinated Jordan’s king.
In 2000, when President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered a Palestinian state to Yasser Arafat at Camp David, the PLO leader famously walked out, sparking the Second Intifada, a five-year reign of Palestinian terror throughout Israel.
And in 2005, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, Palestinians responded by using the land to shell Israeli towns to this day.
No wonder Israel has periodically invaded its neighbors, built walls and expanded settlements to secure its borders. And no wonder Palestinians continue to feel victimized. Since the Palestinian students at FAU have tried to raise awareness of the problem, I would like to make a modest proposal.
Until the Palestinians agree to a two-state solution, the Jewish settlements in the West Bank should be allowed to remain and grow — with the understanding that they will eventually become part of a future Palestinian state. Jewish settlers would become Palestinian citizens, raising their children, growing their businesses and participating in elections in Palestine. And for every Israeli family that moved to the West Bank, a Palestinian family should be granted the right of return to Israel, where they would have the same rights and opportunities Arabs had in Israel.
Probably a non-starter. But a Palestine with Jews would be less threatening to Israel, just as an Israel with more Arabs would be less threatening to Palestine. And as the two states came to resemble each other demographically, maybe, one day, they might merge into a single, peaceful, country.