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October 10, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-10

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"I do not suyyort this divestment. As a matter ofUniversitypoficy, we
do not believe yotiticaf interests shoufdcgovern our investment clecisions."
-University President Mary Sue Coleman in a campus-wide e-mail sent on Sept. 26

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'U' under occupation

Divest from the only democracy in the Mideast?

This weekend's divestment confer-
ence has caused quite a storm. Its
premise is that the Palestinians are liv-
ing under Apartheid. Israel's loyal
defenders are appalled at this.
To illustrate why the conference
organizers start from the point that
Israel is an Apartheid state, I want
t o invoke a
Imagine if the t
in Ann Arbor, u n ae iman
territory of the Ws ank and the rul-
ing authority was not an American
government, but the Israeli occupyig
army: Since University is inthe
West Bank, tbie are fences, tanks,
Israeli soldiers sbarbed wire and roving
attack helicopters everywhere all to
remind everyone who is in charge.
The conference would probably
not invite speakers from outside of
Ann Arbor because there is no guaran-
tee that they could get in. Israel's army
controls the borders and inner move-
ment with checkpoints. The army
checks each person's ID and deter-
mines who can get in and out.
They would know about the con-
ference because one of the conference
organizers would be a spy. She would
be a spy because the Israeli army
arrested her one day while she was in
class in Angell Hall. They detained her
without charges, and kept her there for
two weeks. Before they released her,
they told her if she wants her father to
have a pass to allow him to work in
Ypsilanti, she will agree to spy on stu-
dent activists. Since the unemploy-
ment rate is over 50 percent because of
the occupation, she had no choice as
she thought about her malnourished
brothers and sisters.
The Israeli army officials would
inform the checkpoint guards not to let
anyone associated with the conference
in. They would also round up all the
student organizers involved, and deny
them from entering. Some might be
tortured and their dorms and apart-
ments would be bulldozed.
Since this military occupation has
been going on for 35 years now, the
students know the rules of the games
and the exceptions that ease the diffi-
culty a tad bit. For example, the speak-
ers could be snuck through the Arb,
because State, University, and 1-94 are
blocked off for only Israelis to use.
There is still no guarantee on the
freedom of movement because the
Israeli army implements curfews
whenever it wants. They could decide
on the weekend of the conference that
no one is allowed to be outside of their
dorms, frats, sororities or apartments
at all, except from 1-3 pm for quick
run to Kroger's or the Union for food.
Violators will be shot on the spot.
These rules only apply to Universi-
ty of Michigan students. Within the
campus, there are pockets of Israelis
who enjoy full rights and sometimes

more. They bear arms, breeze through
the checkpoints, vote in Israel's elec-
tions, and have free access to work.
Since many of them think that God
gave them the University, they are
quite fanatical about taking it over.
When they kill protesting University
students, Israeli judges give them light
sentences or community service.
When you complain that this is
and policies
ress another,
gto terror-
ism. you as ow it can be a
response to terrorism if the Apartheid.
came first, they point a gun at you -
an internationally-recognized sign for
"shut up' Then, their supporters in for-
eign'lands clamor on about the need
for dialogue. The United Nations pass-
es resolutions Israel and the United
States ignore. When disgruntled stu-
dents begin protesting, even non-vio-
lently, the occupying army responds
with violence. Since there is no free-
dom to organize politically, violent
underground resistance movements
develop (led by the football players).
After they go into action sometimes
against Israeli civilians, the Israeli
army justifies the occupation in securi-
ty terminology.
When you ask about your rights,
they say their security comes first.
Collective, harsh and unpredictable
punishment and institutionalized
violence is the underlying constant
of this relationship, and the violent
resisters pursue a hopeless "balance
of terror." The University's poor and
impotent president, Mary Sue Cole-
man, gets blamed for everything
because two years ago she did not
sign an agreement that allowed the
army to stay on the University's
campus. Every pundit hailed it as
"the most generous offer" without
realizing that relative generosity
does not mean sufficiency.
There are many more issues that
this hypothetical situation cannot
relay. How can leaving your home to
go to college even compare with
being forced from your home at
gunpoint or the threat of violence so
that foreigners can start a state on
your homeland? This is the defining
moment of the Palestinian experi-
ence; the beginning.
Divestment is not anti-Israel, it
merely says that the United States
should not bolster Israel with the $5
billion a year in aid that it gives.
One of the most prominent anti-
Apartheid activists in South Africa,
Desmond Tutu, wrote that peace will
come after activists direct enough
"moral force and international pres-
sure" on Israel. He added, "divest-
ment is the first, though certainly not
the only, necessary move in that
Youmansis a University alumnus and
a law student at the University of
California at Berkeley

The Mission Statement of the Sec-
ond National Student Conference on the
Palestine Solidarity Movement calls for
"an end to the Israeli system of Apartheid
and discrimination against the indigenous
Palestinian population." The State of
Israel, the only Jewish state in the world,
is nonetheless a multi-national, multi-reli-
gious and multi-racial state and is the
only democratic polity in the entire Mid-
dle East. Yet, it is accused of "Apartheid"
and "discrimination." Such accusations
are not leveled against those Jeffersonian
democracies such as Saudi Arabia, which
permits no Christian or Jewish religious
services on its soil, restricts the rights and
-movements of women, and allows no citi-
zenship by naturalization. Not against
Syria, the fiefdom of the al-Asads who
slaughtered 10,000 people they did not
like in the city of Homs; where the ubiq-
uitous secret police make any political
conversation highly dangerous; and
where Jews were segregated and perse-
cuted until most were allowed to leave a
few years ago. Not against Iraq, whose
Kurdish and Shi'ite populations have

been gassed and poisoned (not by the
American military) but by that paragon of
democratic leadership, Sadaam Hussein.
Nor against Egypt where Coptic Chris-
tians and "infidel" foreigners have been
murdered by Islamists, where academics
have been jailed for daring to question
aspects of the regime. Not against Jordan
which killed more Palestinians in a single
month (September 1970) than Israel has
between 1948 and the present. It's not
even worth mentioning Qaddafi's Libya,
or the Sudan. Not a single Arab state is a
democracy and most systematically dis-
criminate against whatever racial, reli-
gious and ethnic minorities are still there.
But let us scrutinize Israel, as the
"Student Conference on the Palestine Sol-
idarity Movement" claims it will do.
"Apartheid" is not simply a nasty word to
be thrown at people you don't like. It has a
specific meaning. It means state regula-
tions that institutionalize by force a sys-
tem of segregation and discrimination, as
instituted in South Africa in 1948. In
Israel, Arab and Jewish Israelis live most-
ly apart, attend different schools, and do
not mix socially. But this is largely by
their choice, as each group seeks to pre-

We are not soldiers
In debates over the Middle East situation at the University, both the Jew-
ish-Israeli and Arab-Palestinian sides have tended to act and speak as if they
held a monopoly on truth and justice. Our campus will reach a far greater and
more meaningful understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when we
abandon claims to absolute righteousness and stop trying to shout the loudest.
Consider this: Even in the event that one side won the media war and was able
to convince the campus community that blame only lay in the other camp,
nothing would change in the Middle East, Campus activism cannot fight a
war for the future of either Israel or Palestine; we exercise control over neither
their governments nor the'people reliant on them.
This does not belittle-our involvement in the issue. For personal, political
and moral reasons the future of the region is close to many people's hearts,
and this intense concern presents an opportunity to educate ourselves and oth-
ers on this issue of such pressing global importance. However, we need to use
the privilege of being University students to do far more than replicate on our
own campus the most extreme ideologies of the conflict. One goal of a col-
lege education is to expose students to different perspectives and expand their
vision of the world. Instead of this, the polarized debate has caused many to
focus on honing their arguments in order to advocate their position better.
Such unilateral advocacy is a fruitless path because the region's prospects
depend on the shared work of building a just future for both peoples. As part
of this process, both sides need clearly and unequivocally to condemn vio-
lence against civilians. Those unable to do that cannot be part of a productive,
thoughtful dialogue. The current situation is the product of cycles of violence
and intransigence on both sides. As a campus we must reject any policy that
seeks to assign blame solely on one side or the other.
It is as crucial for groups on campus to embrace ways of working together as it
is to reject unacceptable attitudes. In order to do this, both groups need to feel that
there is someone to work with on the other side. If we are to move beyond rehash..
ing of old arguments, both sides must learn to be self-critical. In a war, an un-indoc-
trinated soldier is a threat, but we are not at war. We are at a peaceful university
campus and so must extend our questioning past the classroom and into our own'
spheres of influence. To reject internal questioning because of perceived extremism
on the other side is to deny one's intellect; to ignore suffering on the other side out
of a sense of solidarity is ultimately to undermine one's own humanity
Questioning is scary. It is easier to be sure of the answers than to try and
understand the complexity, shared suffering, and intertwined aspirations that
are at play. But if we study the situation with our minds wide open, we may
become an example of how college students can rise beyond, rather than
remain prisoners of the region's violent history.
Levine is an LSA sophomore and leader ofthe Progressive Israel Alliance'

serve its distinct culture. No doubt, there Middle Eastern and Muslim country.
is also some element of mutual hostility Nor is Israel the only country that is
here, but if, say, Mexico had been attack- occupying lands claimed by others.
ing the United States for 53 years - as China, Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Spain,
her Arab neighbors have been doing to France and numerous other countries
Israel - do you think Mexican-Ameri- control not only land, but people who
cans and other Americans would be seek independence. Indeed, among
embracing each other? When Japan these countries Israel is the only one
attacked the United States in 1941, the that has offered statehood, first in 1948
American government interned thousands when the Palestinians rejected the U.N.
fy we f o ~th wld ve given them a
ese origin. Isae ha I d f#h'arg, in d n ate and chose
sort with its over 900,000 Arab citizens* instead to invade Israel. Again in the
who constitute about 20 percent of the~ y 2000 Palestinians: were offered a
population and who, unlike black stte, rejected it and employed terror-
South Africa, enjoy full legal andivil 'r>
rights. "Apartheid?" Balderdash!
ights "rhe"ais?" Baerdsmi romo Like all other democracies, Israel is
Is Israel "racist?" Racism is promo. an incomplete and imperfect one. Was
ing and defending the interests of one a adimperft m W9s
raceto the d 9e0 4AY s, ve 4 .vralf the popula-
100 0 Ethi ians and other "po les of ion, women anid n -many Americans of
100,0 Ethins a ther "peoplesrofa African descent, did not have the right to
color' It includes at least a quarter of a vote. Israeli Arabs have legal, but not
million non-Jews who have come from social equality. The educational, medical
the former Soviet Union, and thousands and other facilities that serve the Arab
of Christians from many countries, a pulation are not as good as those in the
small group of Vietnamese boat people, Jewish sector. Only after more than half a
Druze, Circassians and others. Among century was the first Arab appointed a
the Jews themselves several races are to minister in the Israeli government. Both
be found, as any casual passerby on an Arabs and Jews must do much more to
Israeli street can immediately see. overcome what is probably growing Arab
Ironically, our idealistic colleagues so alienation from the state, and surely that
hell-bent on righting Israel's wrongs and will be done if and when the main barrier
condemning her for human rights viola- to better relations, the Palestinian-Israeli
tions are attacking the one state where dispute, will be resolved.
more Arabs have the right to vote in free . As to the Arabs living in the terri-
and fair elections than in any other state in tories, they have been given golden
the Middle East and perhaps the world. In opportunities to establish their own
1999, 75 percent of the 429,000 Arabs in state alongside Israel. Their putative
the electorate voted, a bit down from pre- leadership has betrayed them time and
vious years but about twice the turnout of again. Some of their religious and
the American electorate in its presidential political leaders persist in the strategy
elections (you know, the elections in ofi"aller prsit in We st
which the guy who gets the most votes of "all or nothing at all": We must
loses). About 28 percent of them voted for wipe out the Jewish state and its Jews
predominantly Jewish parties! entirely and establish our own state on
As Alan Dershowitz points out its ruins. Since 1921 this strategy has
(Harvard Crimson, September 23, led to nothing at all, except misery,
2002), "Israel has the only independent poverty, frustration, hatred, killing -
judiciary in the entire Middle East. Its and not of Arabs alone. Clearly, there
Supreme Court ... is the only court in are difficult issues to be resolved in
the Middle East from which an Arab or Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
a Muslim can expect justiceaas many These include the future of the settle-
have found in winning dozens of victo- ments, the establishment of democrat-
ries against the Israeli government, the ic and non-corrupt Palestinian
Israeli military and individual Israeli self-governance, the prevention of ter-
citizens. I challenge the proponents of rorism, and the achievement of
divestment to name a court in any Arab greater de facto equality by Israel's
or Muslim country that is comparable Arab citizens.
to the Israeli Supreme Court - Israel is Alan Dershowitz has proposed an
the only country in the region that has alternative for divestment for his uni-
virtually unlimited freedom of speech. versity: "Let Harvard choose nations
Any person in Israel, whether Jewish, for investment in the order of the
Muslim or Christian, can criticize the human rights records. If that were
Israeli government and its leaders. No done, investment in Israel would
citizen of any other Middle Eastern or increase dramatically, while invest-
Muslim state can do that without fear ments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan,
of imprisonment or death. Israel is the Philippines, Indonesia, the Palestin-
only country that has openly confronted ian Authority and most other coun-
the difficult issue of protecting the civil tries of the world would decrease
liberties of the ticking bomb terrorist. markedly." Regents of the University
The Israeli Supreme Court recently of Michigan, organizers of the con-
ruled that despite the potential benefits ference, are you listening?
of employing non-lethal torture to
extract information, the tactic is illegal. Gitelman is a professor ofpolitical
Brutal torture, including lethal torture, iencesand the Preston Tisch
is commonplace in nearly every other Professor of Judaic Studies.


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The Department Of Philosophy
The University Of Michigan

Claude M. Steele
Lucie Stern Professor in the
Social Sciences Stanford University
The Specter of Group Image:
Its Unseen Effects on

Claude M. Steele
Professor of Law and Philosophy
University of Pennsylvania
Professor of Economics
Boston University




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