Michael Harel stated in his Sept. 13 column that “anti-Semitic groups should not be given a platform on college campuses,” per the title of his piece. While this is undoubtedly true and anti-Semitism should never be tolerated, accusations that Students for Justice in Palestine is anti-Semitic are unfounded. Underlying his article is the implication that criticizing the Israeli government is tantamount to being anti-Semitic. Harel continuously — and dangerously — conflates anti-Semitism with legitimate concerns and protests of harmful actions enacted by the Israeli government.

It’s no secret that the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces disenfranchise, harm and even kill Palestinians who protest their treatment and assert their right to exist there. Beyond protestors, the average Palestinian’s life is made harder due to the conflict. Some such difficulties include a constant presence of armed Israeli military personnel on occupied Palestinian territories, military checkpoints that make travel more inconvenient than it needs to be for Palestinians and a blockade that controls the flow of goods coming in and out of Gaza. One investigation even recovered government documents showing that the Israeli military actually calculated the minimum number of calories that people in Gaza need to consume to avoid malnutrition. Critics say those calculations were presumably used for limiting the food supply.

Numerous incidents of Israeli soldiers beating and shooting Palestinian protesters have been publicized on social media. On March 30, thousands of Palestinians marched toward the Israeli border in protest and were met with Israeli troops opening fire, killing at least 16 Palestinians and injuring over 750. This was just one day of protests of a six-week campaign, which resulted in the deadliest days of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza War.

Given this information, Students for Justice in Palestine’s platform standing against the “ethnic cleansing, destruction, mass expulsion, apartheid and death” enacted by the Israeli government — the snippet that Harel asserted is anti-Semitic — is simply stating opposition to actions that are easily confirmed by a quick Google search. It is not anti-Semitic to shed light on these factual pieces of information. I wonder why Harel states that “no conflict is one-sided,” yet neglects any mention of the Israeli government’s violence in a column centered around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Further, the National Students for Justice in Palestine’s official “vision” on its website does not even mention Israel — it only declares solidarity and support for Palestinians. In its “Points of Unity,” its sole mention of Israel is an assertion that the group seeks to end the Israeli occupation of Arab lands and to extend full rights and equality to Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. Again, does this amount to anti-Semitism?

This topic is highly sensitive and contentious, and Harel is right in stating that the conflict is highly complex. However, calling legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government “anti-Semitic” is unproductive when so many instances of anti-Semitism are really occurring, even at Binghamton University, like when a drawing of a swastika appeared on campus last fall. Therefore, taking aim at a group standing for Palestinian rights all the way across the country — among the countless anti-Semitic incidents that continue to happen — is questionable at best.

Moreover, Harel recounted an anecdote about an event he attended in Israel at which he watched the World Cup with both Palestinian and Israeli families in a uniting and heartwarming display. Although this anecdote clearly had a deep impact on Harel, he could benefit from using that experience to reconsider his stance. He is concerned with emphasizing the humanity in both Palestinian and Israeli people; perhaps he could sympathize with the Palestinians’ position and recognize the Israeli government’s culpability.

I, too, understand that students must be diligent when receiving any kind of information, as we have a penchant for intellectual curiosity. Because of that, I encourage everyone to read up on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. However, no amount of literature can “spin” the Israeli government’s violence against Palestinians, and it is not anti-Semitic to say so.

Sarah Molano is a senior double-majoring in English and philosophy, politics and law.