Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What does SJP mean by "Justice in Palestine"?

Those seeking “justice for palestine” should be more explicit in what they are talking about.

For example, what does it mean to seek justice, but not peace in Palestine?

The symbol of justice is not the scale but the hammer. To someone wielding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But you can’t repair a torn fabric as if were a nail. The tools needed to fix what is broken in the Middle East are not hammers of justice, but the finely honed instruments of peace-making.

Why justice for Palestine rather than for the Palestinians? Speaking of Palestine in these terms reduces a complex issue to a simplistic solution, at the expense of historical and, more importantly, humanitarian considerations. Simply put, “Justice for Palestine” wants to eliminate the State of Israel. People pushing for “justice in Palestine” are therefore more extreme than the Palestinians themselves who have long recognized Israel’s right to exist. SJP ignores the reality of the Palestinians and want to replace it with a more extreme program, one that, real Palestinian interests be damned, is only satisfied when Israel has been wiped off the map.

People who seek justice for Palestine at the expense of Palestinians struggling for statehood in historic Palestine are deluded if they think of themselves as friends of the Palestinians. Their ultra-moralistic approach to politics perpetuates conflict rather than helps to resolve it. 

I have tried to engage SJP on the Boston University campus and called up their representatives to ask why they publicly disparage events co-sponsored by innocuous middle-of-the-road groups such as J-Street or One-Voice that they did not even attend. Their answer was that they don’t attend events sponsored by groups who are in favor of the two-state solution. I can’t believe that everyone associated with SJP has drunk the cool-aid, but the leadership is ideologically closed off and unwilling to engage in open debate. As a group shunning debate, SJP fails to live up to the basic ethos of academic life.

While SJP was recently banned by Northeastern University for reasons of their own, they are still active at Boston University. I hope that they will find a way to open up and enter into a genuine dialogue with other groups on campus. We need a healthy and open debate. To have a genuine debate requires that we are willing to have our assumptions challenged. I have my doubts that SJP is ready for this.

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