What a Call for the ‘Liberation’ of Palestine is Really Saying

In an astounding display of journalistic malfeasance, on January 6th you published an editorial entitled “The Wellesley News Calls for the Liberation of Palestine.” In it, you not only lauded the repellent, anti-Semitic Boston “Mapping Project,” but also called upon the entire Wellesley community to commit itself to the odious Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which seeks to weaken and eventually destroy the Jewish state.

You began your editorial by crowing your unqualified support for Wellesley’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and it is obvious that you have parroted their historically and factually inaccurate narrative concerning the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, revealing that you are either misguided or blind to the facts of the conflict, especially as portrayed by SJP and its supporters.

While you disingenuously announce that you “affirm that Jewish people have a right to feel welcome and secure at Wellesley and around the world,” you are apparently unaware that on the 200 or so campuses where SJP has chapters, the incidence of anti-Semitic speech and behavior increases exponentially. In fact, the AMCHA Initiative, a campus anti-Semitism watchdog organization, has found that “[r]eports analyzing antisemitic incidents in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 indicate a significant increase in actions which directly harm or threaten Jewish students, including physical and verbal assaults, destruction of property, harassment discrimination and suppression of speech, at schools with an SJP or similar anti-Zionist chapter.”

Obviously, if you relied on SJP for background information for your one-sided, biased editorial, the image of Israel you paint as the world’s worst human rights offender was bound to reflect that inaccurate, ahistorical, and inflammatory view. But as journalists, you might have considered what the thunderous reaction was when in April your peers on the editorial board at the Harvard Crimson published a strikingly similar editorial to yours in which they called on the Harvard community to support the BDS campaign and similarly cataloged the many alleged predations of Israel. Had you read some of the written responses—written by Harvard alums and others in media around the world —you would have seen that while you certainly have the right to reveal your journalistic ineptitude and caustic bias against the Jewish state, if you base your column on propaganda and a misreading of history and fact, you will have to answer to the many readers of your work who will challenge your narrative with truth, reality, and actual facts on the ground.

Your calling for a BDS campaign to be unleashed against Israel demands that, among the many and various calamitous examples of human strife and suffering occurring around the world, Wellesley should focus on and commit to denouncing only one: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And more than that—just as the Third Reich and Arab League before them—you wish to target Jewish businesses, organizations, and educational institutions, and expel them from the world community. You want to single out only Zionism and Jewish self-determination as being singular evils in the world. If you apply a double standard to Israel, holding it up to a standard of behavior not expected or required of any other nation, denying only Jewish self-determination while advancing and being a cheerleader for Palestinian self-determination, that behavior conforms to the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism of what, in the contemporary context, can be indicative of anti-Semitism.

It also would have behooved you to similarly notice the enormous negative response to the publication of the Boston “Mapping Project” in June. The BDS Boston Facebook page, which promoted the map, enthusiastically cheered on this fantasy of oppression, as you did in your editorial, wildly claiming that the map  “aims to show how institutions in the Greater Boston area implicitly and explicitly support the occupation of Palestine. Institutions such as colleges and universities, prisons, military contractors and financial entities are linked through monetary support or partnerships and collaborate to support Israeli apartheid.”

What you apparently chose to ignore was the language that makes it clear the intention of the map was not just to pinpoint the malign agents of oppression included there, but to provide a guide by which that structural oppression can be “dismantled” and “disrupted,” as they put it. In fact, the Mapping Project was a call for dangerous, even violent, action. “As we built this project,” the BDS Boston post announced, “we were constantly asking ourselves: What actions can BDS activists take to meaningfully narrow, if not cut off, supply lines of material and ideological sustenance flowing from the Boston area to the zionist [sic] state? How can we impose a real material cost on the zionist [sic] project, from where we are located, in order to make it more possible for Palestinians on the ground to liberate themselves [emphasis added]?”

The Mapping Project went beyond that, first by focusing more broadly on the predations of Zionism, and, more odiously, linking a bucket full of Jewish communal organizations and others as furtive, conspiratorial agents of oppression, not only concerning the long-suffering Palestinians but also including other groups victimized by this Jewish cabal by colonization, land theft, racial injustice, anti-black policing, and a long list of alleged offenses blamed on Zionism, Israel, and, ultimately, Jews.

Since the very title of your editorial called for “the liberation of Palestine,” the tactics outlined by the map must have appealed to you, since they were conceived of as a way of weakening support for and eventually extirpating Israel itself. The plea in your editorial to employ the corrosive BDS campaign as a part of the cognitive war against the Jewish state again reveals that you are either ignorant of or indifferent to the actual stated intention of that movement: “liberating” Palestine can only mean the elimination of Israel completely and the removal any annoying racist Jews from what is now current-day Israel and replacing it with yet another Arab majority state in which Jews, assuming they survive the inevitable carnage of such a liberation, would now live in dhimmitude as second-class citizens in what was formerly a Jewish sovereign state.

“We offer our support to those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, due to the continual violence in occupied Palestine,” you wrote in one of your virtue-signaling paragraphs. But your implication that the Palestinians’ weakness somehow makes their cause and actions automatically virtuous and just—merely due to their lack of power and influence—is another trap progressives fall into which sanitizes the morally indefensible actions of terrorists like Hamas who justify their homicidal behavior toward Jews.

And it is telling that not once in your lengthy ode to liberation did you mention the terroristic thugocracy of Hamas in Gaza, which has showered Israeli civilians with rockets and mortars since 2005 in an effort to murder Jews. And where, in 2019, for example, the Palestinians spent $343 million of the foreign aid showered upon them to pay terrorists who had murdered Jews and their families gruesome bounties in a “pay to slay” program to effect that “liberation” for which you so vocally and unashamedly lend your support.    

You purport to have noble motives, but all context is lacking in your debate, you have contorted facts and history to justify your anti-Semitic expression, and you have proceeded with willfully blind certainty and determination to demonize Israel and ignore any of the defects of the Palestinian cause. And by encouraging and excusing the use of violence against Israelis as a means of achieving Palestinian liberation, you, together with others in the thrall of Palestinianism, will also be morally complicit in the inevitable deaths of Jews, a probability that you seem to have justified as an acceptable cost of achieving social justice for the oppressed.

Your puerile fantasy imagines the “liberation of Palestine,” but what do you assume such an event would actually result in? When you carelessly refer to a liberated Palestine are you talking about the West Bank and Gaza, areas that would comprise a new Palestinian state? Or are you really describing and eagerly imagining a liberated Palestine that BDS supporters and their fellow travelers in the Arab world and the West actually seek, namely, a Palestine that includes, and subsumes, present-day Israel?

The Palestine that you and your fellow travelers refer to, this factitious creation that was never a sovereign state, of course, includes Tiberias, Haifa, Sderot, and Jerusalem, the holiest city of Judaism. But does it also include Tel Aviv, which in a hundred years was transformed from sand dunes into an architecturally, economically, and culturally vibrant city the size of Miami? What happens to Tel Aviv in the liberation of Palestine? Every Jew leaves, as they did in Gaza, or they are purged and slaughtered as they were in 1948 when Jordan “liberated” Jerusalem by murdering Jews, destroying synagogues, desecrating graveyards, and burning Jewish property in their effort to suffocate Israeli statehood?

Could Israel even survive a liberation of the Palestinians, even encompassing only Gaza and the West Bank, assuming the Palestinians agree to such a territorial settlement? Israel knows, because of its experience after cleansing Gaza of all of its Jews, that instead of working on the creation of the beginnings of a state for themselves in Gaza, the Palestinians allowed Hamas to transform Gaza into a terror enclave from which to continually assault Israel, something which Israelis understandably imagine could happen again were the West Bank, in addition to Gaza, to be totally controlled by the PA, Fatah, or even Hamas.

Conveniently absent from your editorial, as is common with activists’ condemnation of Israel, is any questioning or critique of Palestinian agency, responsibility, behavior, political decisions, or even the nature of their culture and society. You feel very comfortable, sitting in the safety of your Wellesley offices, hectoring Israel to tear down its security wall, welcoming millions of Jew-hating Arabs into its country as citizens, abandoning territory it rightfully owns or won in defensive wars, telling Jews where they can and cannot live, and otherwise making any concession you and other critics of the Jewish state demand of Israel, even to its own detriment and physical safety—consequences you apparently could care less about in your relentless quest for social justice for the long-aggrieved Palestinians. You even have the breathtaking nerve to call for an end to Wellesley’s Birthright trips, a program that pays for Jewish young people in the U.S. to visit and connect with Israel as part of their Jewish identity. Are you similarly calling for an end to exchange programs with China which enslaves Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps, or Iran which executes gays by hanging them from cranes, or Saudi Arabia which enforces gender apartheid, or even with the Palestinian territories where last week homicidal Palestinian bigots beheaded a gay man who had been in the protective custody of Israel and left his body in the street?

The most concerning aspect of your pernicious editorial is that you called on the entire Wellesley community to engage in a targeted hatred for only one state, and you presented your argument as if it were based on facts and history when in actuality it was crafted from contortions, lies, half-truths, and a misreading of history and fact. Perhaps your editorial should have run along with another written by defenders of Israel, one which presented an alternate view, so that readers could sift through each and come to a conclusion about which argument was more truthful and compelling. But you did not do that; you presented only one view as if it were the only truth, when in fact it was based on lies and untruths.

That you used Wellesley’s newspaper for your biased screed violates the very essence of journalism and your responsibility to your readers, and you have seemed to have given credence to Bertrand Russell’s observation that “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”