Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:
he notion that anything goes when it
comes to the battle to de-legitimize and
destroy Israel is once again disturbingly
apparent in the lead-up to the "Second
National Student Conference on the Palestine
Solidarity Movement" to be held at the University of
Michigan Oct. 12-14. The conference is sponsored
by SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality)
and is a who's who of local and national
Muslim and Arab-American organizations.
Beyond a call for Israel's return to its 1967
borders and the unlimited immigration of
millions of Palestinians into those borders, a stated
goal of the conference is "the end of the Israeli occu-
pation of ... all Arab lands."
This is a clever way of saying the elimination of the
State of Israel because SAFE considers all of Israel to
be built on occupied Arab land. To achieve this goal,
the organizers pledge "solidarity with the popular
Palestinian resistance ... unequivocally."
While rushing to pass judgment on Israel, SAFE
rejects passing any judgment on the "resistance,"
claiming "it is not our place to dictate the strategies or
tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their
struggle for liberation."
In short, they commit themselves to support
Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Palestinian Islamic
Jihad, Fatah or any repressive, hateful, anti-Semitic,
murderous, anti-American terrorist organization or
nation supported by Palestinians. To SAFE, Israel is
evil, but those who cheered Scud missiles striking Tel
Aviv, Egged buses being blown up or the attacks of 9-
11 are beyond reproach.
Putting philosophy into action, SAFE has invited
suspended University of South Florida Professor Sami
Al-Arian to speak at the conference. A U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization
Service affidavit states that he
founded groups to enable terror-
ists to enter the United States.
One group — considered the
American arm of Islamic Jihad —
hosted speakers who, according to
the INS, would "condone violent
acts against Israel, and
Israelis, and Jews and
Western targets" and
solicit money to sup-
Conference organizers claim
there is nothing anti-Semitic
about their efforts, but we are not
convinced. While in the past,
anti-Semites argued that Jews must be stopped from
practicing a most evil and immoral religion, today's
anti-Zionists argue that Jews practice the most evil,
immoral and racist nationalism.
Harvard University President Lawrence Summers
made sense in his courageous Sept. 17 statement say-
ing that the incessant singling out of Israel for con-
demnation — specifically, citing campaigns urging
divestment from companies doing business with
Israel, a goal of the U-M conference — is "anti-
Semitic in their effect if not their intent."
U-M President Mary Sue Coleman was right to
oppose divestment in a Sept. 26 statement in which
she added, "We do not believe political interests
should govern our investment decisions." She said the
university approved divestment just twice in its histo-
ry and the conditions that led to those decisions "do
not exist" now. Coleman confirmed that the organiz-
ers followed "established procedures" to hold the con-
ference on campus. But quoting process and ducking
principle isn't enough for the leader of a prestigious
university, especially one with a significant history of
Jewish students, staff and support.
We urge President Coleman to give more thought
before the university hosts this conference and, by so
doing, validates it.
A bright spot are the U-M students, many from
Hillel and other Jewish and Zionist organizations,
who have been actively organizing not only to counter
the conference, but also build understanding and sup-
port for Israel. Their efforts include pro-Israel rallies,
educational forums, newspaper ads, a petition drive
and an "Invest in Democracy, Invest in Peace, Invest
in Israel" campaign to defuse the divestment push and
help rebuild the terrorist-destroyed Frank Sinatra
Cafeteria at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The students' fervent activism and pride in Israel
and Zionism should inspire us all to embrace the pro-
Israel cause. As Hillel: The Foundation for Campus
Jewish Life puts it "Wherever We Stand, We Stand
With Israel!" There's no room at U-M for a speaker
— and the event sponsoring him — with allegiances
to horrific forms of anti-Jewish fervor. ❑
ings an almost daily staple for the last two years.
Arab-Israeli participation in the terrorism fortunate-
ly has been relatively minor so far, but the fear of it is
constant. And, although one in five Israelis is an Arab,
discrimination against that minority shows up in pri-
vate life as well as in public areas, such as levels of gov-
ernment funding for schools, roads and housing.
For all the foolish shrieking about Israel as a "racist,
apartheid" regime, these Arabs are richer,
better educated and vastly freer than most
citizens of the Arab dictatorships that sur-
round Israel. During the years before the
new intifada (uprising) shattered the peace process,
many Arab Israelis joined with other Israelis in work-
ing for both a stronger nation and a lasting peace
with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza.
Reforging that bond will be essential before any
hopes for peace can be realistic, because no nation
can thrive with a fifth of its population alienated.
Some simple steps are in order.
First, those Arabs who feel that the Jewish state
should be destroyed and replaced with a Palestinian
one cannot and should not expect to live comfort-
ably or honorably in a state they do not support. To
the extent that they form an active "fifth column,"
they undermine the ability of their fellow Arabs to
prosper in Israel. And if Israel catches them in active
acts of sabotage, they should be severely prosecuted.
A responsible Arab-Israeli leadership must arise to
explain this central fact to their fellow Arabs.
At the same time, the Jewish majority will need to
redouble its efforts to provide true equality for the Arabs
who accept the validity of Israel. Surely Jews — them-
selves subject to unremitting discrimination for centuries
in European countries that never accepted their loyalty —
understand the predicament of the Arabs in their midst.
Israel's government should name a high-level study
commission to set priorities for elevating the levels of
national spending on services to the Arab minority. This
will be tremendously difficult politically at a time when
most national services are being cut to redirect the budg-
et to national defense against the Palestinian terrorists,
and it will be even harder to hold to such a program in
the future. But it has to happen if Israel is to be the ethi-
cal model for the world that it hopes to be.
It is perilous to preach about the need to assure
full equality of opportunity to loyal Israeli Arabs,
particularly when the advice comes from a country
still groping with that issue for. African-Americans.
But there is no doubt that until the Rami Mahamids
are the rule and not the exception, Israel can have
neither physical security nor moral peace. ❑
Related story: page 14
Who Is An Israeli?
s Rami Mahamid the exception or the rule? In
the answer to that question lies either the best
hope for eventual peace for Israel or the certainty
of an ever-lasting fight with the Palestinians.
Rami is a 17-year-old Israeli who last week bravely
stopped a Palestinian suicide bomber from
attacking a bus in the Israeli Arab town of
Umm el-Fahm. Rami, sensing something sus-
picious about a Palestinian waiting at a bus
stop, summoned police officers, one of which was killed
when the would-be murderer blew himself up.
Rami also was badly wounded. But because he is
an Arab Israeli, police thought he might have been
involved in the bombing and had him shackled to
his hospital bed for two days. When Israeli officials
finally corroborated his story and hailed his hero-
ism, Rami said he had simply done what he was
supposed to do. But, he said, he was hurt and
angered by the original suspicion about him.
Both facets of the teen-ager's experience, the bombing
and the suspicion, are all too common in modern Israel.
Violent terrorism aimed at killing Israelis has been a fact
of life since the country's founding, and suicide bomb-