Students for “Justice” Promote Ignorance and Injustice

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Dear Editors,

This past Wednesday, members of the student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) dressed in mock Israeli Defense Force uniforms and blocked the entry of students to McHenry Library until those wanting to enter the library produced “proper identification.”

This has been a consistent act every year in an effort to demonstrate how Israel’s security checkpoints supposedly work. UC Santa Cruz has a long history of student protests, including the most recent ones opposing UC tuition hikes. Unfortunately, while SJP may have had the best intentions, its demonstration damaged our proud tradition of social justice activism by spreading ignorance and perpetuating injustice.

The checkpoints SJP opposes exist because racist terrorist organizations like Hamas murdered and maimed thousands of Israeli civilians in the 1990s and early 2000s. I have to wonder, what does this reality have to do with our situation here at UCSC? My friends and family in Israel are physically threatened in a way that we rarely if ever experience as students here on campus.

The truth is that the Israeli government’s safety measures are there because they keep innocent people of all backgrounds alive every single day. I recognize that these checkpoints and other aspects of the conflict create daily hardships for many Palestinians, but I refuse to accept SJP’s misrepresentations of the conflict and dehumanizing portrayal of Israelis.

SJP’s protest may have been an attempt to force students to step into the shoes of Palestinians, and I can understand them wanting to make a political statement. But to do so by physically preventing any student from entering the library at a time when most of us are studying for upcoming final exams is wrong, especially when the protest spreads ignorance.

We are not living in a place where racist terrorist groups are oppressing their own people, disguising themselves as innocent civilians and trying to murder us. If SJP is truly for justice, why is it baselessly blaming Israel for everything while not saying a word about the injustices Palestinians suffer at the hands of their own leadership? This approach perpetuates the status quo instead of promoting progress.

If SJP wants justice, it should stop spreading ignorance, perpetuating injustice, silencing students and disrupting our attempts to study. Instead, it should join other passionate students such as those in the campus group Slugs for Israel in a productive dialogue, in which we can educate each other and discuss how we can work together to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace and justice for both peoples. That would be the just way to handle this.

Josh Frank is a member of Slugs for Israel and is a fourth-year history major with a concentration in Middle East studies.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Groups such as Hamas, ISIL, Al Quieda, or Boko Haram are always the direct product of colonial ventures, like the Jewish occupation of Palestine, through which millions are subjected to extreme forms of violence, displacement, poverty, and further dehumanization/erasure through discriminatory legislation, forced cultural repression, and often ruthless genocide. SJP’s blockades were designed to emulate the IDF’s excessive amount of policing/surveillance of Palestinian bodies so as to enforce Zionist superiority and racial segregations held to keep Palestinians impoverished and suffering. The IDF murders countless Palestinians as part of a larger genocidal project for claims to land, and to ignore how power is operating in this long-term conflict is to reinforce the same ignorance that allows for the justification of murders of black and brown bodies at the hands of the police in the U.S.