As a Jew and Israeli citizen, I too cannot be quiet. I served as an Israeli soldier when in 2005 Israel removed thousands of families from Gaza and northern Samaria, destroying the lives and livelihood of thousands of Jewish Israeli citizens for peace only to get rockets and fear. I have served in the depth of Lebanon to protect the very privilege of a Jewish state. My battle for a Jewish state still continues thousands of miles away in the halls of Binghamton University. The Students for Justice in Palestine did exactly what they came to do — strike fear in students who believe in the right of Jewish self-determination or, as you know it, Zionism. The Zionist response on campus has been to point to all the failings of Israel for the suffering of the Palestinians, but never point to Palestinian incitement, threats and terrorism as a possible hindrance to peace. No one has addressed the hypocrisy of a pro-Palestinian group on campus that believes in a boycott that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is even against, and which believes in attacking and boycotting the Israeli economy and society that employs and protects thousands of Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, Druze, Christians and various other cultures and faiths that call Israel home. A group that does not believe in dialogue, mediation and the hallmarks of peace, but the perpetuation of suffering and violence of Palestinian people as a price for joining the popular academic exercise of biased criticism of Israel. There is no discussion of the hypocrisy of an international body that incessantly levels condemnations against a liberal democracy, but expends barely a whisper against those who perpetuate war crimes on a daily basis. Where is the discussion of double standards applied by the United Nations in the formation of a refugee organization for Palestinians and another for everyone else? Why is Israel the sole guarantor and responsible party for Palestinian freedom and peace? What about Israel’s right to freedom, peace and security?
The debate on Israeli policy must include criticism of Palestine and the U.N. There has to be honest, critical thought of the shortcomings of Palestinian policy and the international players in the lack of peace. I want peace; I earned the right to be weary of peace deals that have turned into terrorism, war and incitement against my inalienable right to live in peace and security. Unlike most other Zionist campaigners and deriders, I have seen the cost of foolish decisions for peace. I have seen friends and loved ones pay in blood the price of life without peace. I’ve seen the rise of the terrorist organization Hamas, which brought the slaughter of Christians and Muslims in Gaza and rockets and terrorism against Jews in Israel. Peace will only come when the Palestinians recognize the right of Jews to inhabit and live peacefully in their ancestral homeland. When the world will no longer perpetuate the suffering of Palestinians as tools to delegitimize Israel. When Jews across the world stand up and say in one voice, never again. Never again, will we pay foolish prices. Never again, will I treat Jewish lives as a bargaining chip with those who do not recognize my right to exist and a world that does not have to live with the consequences. Never again, will I be bullied or intimidated on campus or anywhere else because I want to live freely and securely. Never again.
– Yosef Gerstein is a senior double-majoring in psychology and sociology