This was an inside article appearing in the Thank Columbus for Fall Break issue.
Auditorium Clogged with Idiocy
Israeli Peacenik and Palestinian Terror-Sympathizer Bash Israel
On Thursday, October 3rd, Islah Jad of Birzeit University in the West Bank and Yoav Peled of Tel Aviv University came to Cornell to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sponsored by the Peace Studies Program, the Center for Ethics and Public Life and the Einaudi Center, it quickly degenerated into a series of bold-faced distortions and outright lies designed to smear Israel.
Professor Jad began her lecture promising to deconstruct parts of the discourse relating to the conflict. She lamented that terrorism is never analyzed or examined. Professor Jad feels that this is simplistic. Obviously, she’s spent very little time on college campuses since September 11th where “understanding and analyzing” the motivations of terrorists is all the rage.
The professor then offered a totally revisionist, completely false recounting of the Camp David Summit. At this summit, Ehud Barak offered Arafat over 95 percent of the West Bank, virtually all of the Gaza strip, partial resolution of the refugee problem, and even offered the Palestinians control over the Christian and Muslim quarters of Jerusalem. Yasser Arafat’s response to the offer was not an acceptance, not even a counteroffer but a beginning of the current intifada. Everyone, from Bill Clinton, to Bill Clinton’s envoy Dennis Ross confirms that this is precisely what happened. It dispelled any notion that the current Palestinian leadership was interested in peace and it ended the illusion on the part of Israelis that such a peace was imminent. Professor Jad, without offering any evidence to back up her claims, declared that there was no legitimate offer and that Dennis Ross, a Palestinian sympathizer by the way, was lying,
Professor Jad devoted the next part of her incoherent lecture to a discussion of Israeli actions after September 11th. According to Jad, Prime Minister Sharon has used self-defense rhetoric in acting militarily in the West Bank. What a revelation! She specifically mentioned the March 29th invasion of the West Bank as an example of unjustified Israeli military action. Of course, she did not mention what led to such an action in the first place- the Passover bombings that killed several dozen Israeli citizens. Indeed, in Professor Jad’s world, all of Israel’s actions should be seen in a vacuum, without regard to the Palestinian terror that leads to them.
Other points raised by Professor Jad are just weird, although they’ve been heard before. She stated that suicide bombings are carried out by extremist groups within Palestinian society and are not condoned by the leadership. This is false. The Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades has carried out many such attacks and it is affiliated with Arafat’s Fatah movement. Moreover, Arafat himself has taken virtually no steps to crack down on Islamic Jihad and Hamas, even though his advisors have conceded that he could do so if he wanted to. She bemoaned the “Jewish Settlements” in Palestinian territory. This is the most common refrain from peace activists: that the first step to peace is an elimination of Jewish Settlements in the West Bank. One wonders, however, how they would react if someone proposed the expulsion of the one million Arabs from Israel proper as a precondition to peace. It would be condemned, as should Ms. Jad’s racist views.
Finally, Professor Jad responded to the impending war with Iraq with the always original, ‘We’re doing it only for oil’ argument. If weapons of mass destruction, were the issue, Jad notes, America should be going after Israel since Israel has nuclear weapons and a far greater arsenal than Iraq. This repulsive and anti-Semitic moral equation argues that nuclear weapons in the hands of a Democratic Israel that has been slowly divesting itself of land over the past 35 years is just as dangerous as nuclear weapons in the hands of a genocidal madman like Saddam Hussein.
Professor Peled was no better. In a lackluster speech, he sought to explain every occurrence in the conflict over the last 25 years or so through an economic prism. Peled argued that economic liberalization under the Likud Party in the 1980’s and an influx of foreign investment after the Oslo agreement, led to a degradation of the welfare state. Those Israelis who lost their social services became radicalized and wanted to disrupt the peace process to bring back the welfare state. In other words, capitalism is to blame!!
Peled summed up the current state of the peace process with this astonishing quote: “The tragedy, from a perspective of peace, is that the Israeli public won’t think about anything but their physical survival.” To which I suppose the vast majority of Israelis would respond, ‘Guilty on all counts, Mr. Peled.’ Normal people, when they’re under attack by religious fanatics, like to defend themselves. Peled likes to write theses blaming capitalism.
After about twenty minutes of economic determinism that had me fighting off sleep, Professor Peled offered his grand solution to the thirty five year old conflict: End the Occupation. Wow, what originality! Give this man a Nobel Peace Prize! Of course, any thinking person knows that the Israeli occupation has little to do with violence against Israelis. The PLO itself was formed in 1964, three years before the occupation. The Arab World, beginning in 1948 with Israel’s formation, has simply never been able to live side by side with a Jewish state. Besides, if terrorism will end with an end to the occupation, Peled needs to explain why the last two intifadas came after Oslo, when the Palestinians had their best chance at a state, and after 2000, when Barak pulled out of Lebanon and offered Arafat territorial concessions unprecedented in their generosity.
The question and answer session offered a little relief from the stupidity bandied about by the speakers. One questioner asked Jad to make a statement about suicide bombings, to which Jad responded with an infinitely long recitation that seemed to include everything except an actual condemnation of the bombings. Another questioner correctly pointed out that after Oslo in 1993, there really was no occupation; 99 percent of Palestinians were directly under Arafat’s control and this certainly did not stop terrorist attacks. Peled responded by arrogantly scoffing at the questioner, stating that it was wrong, and offering no reason why it was wrong. Jad offered her usual meandering, hysterical rant that failed to address the question.
The highlight of the day, however, came when an elderly gentlemen stood up near the end of the question and answer session. He offered a scathing rebuke of the panel, urging the audience to consult sites like www.memri.org, to learn the truth about anti-Semitism in the Arab World. He also pointed out the revisionism of Jad’s account of Camp David and the aftermath of the Oslo Accords. Finally, he noted that Israel had tried land for peace with their offers at Oslo and Camp David and that the Palestinians had a little trouble with the “peace” part. Amidst this infusion of common sense, the panelists seemed to squirm, no doubt uncomfortable with the fact that truth had actually found its way into the academic monolith they had so carefully constructed.