It is no mystery that the strongest ally to the United States in the Middle East is Israel. Israel is a dynamic, modern democratic nation with free elections where all citizens can vote. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that allows both free press and free speech, and recognizes the rights of women, homosexuals, and people of all religious affiliations. Israel is a global leader in industry and ideas and increasingly is at the forefront of medical and technological breakthroughs. Yet time and again groups such as Progressive Dane and individuals such as John Mearsheimer try to convince and manipulate Americans into seeing Israel as a illegitimate country, maligned for alleged human rights violations and unwillingness to engage in peace talks.
These organizations try to hoax individuals into forgetting all that Israel has done to create a Palestinian state. Attempts such as the 2000 Camp David peace accords, the 2005 unilateral pull out from Gaza, and most recently, the 10 month settlement freeze all hoped to bring Palestinians to the negotiating table. Instead of following the U.S. approach to pursue continual progresses in an extremely difficult peace process, organizations like the Progressive Dane encourage divestment and invite anti-Israel speakers who espouse for a one state solution.
Divesting from Israel, a country whose values are parallel to the U.S., does nothing to improve the condition of the Palestinian people or work towards promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Calls for a one-state solution reveal a lack of any historical understanding of the region. Supporters of a one-state solution suggest that Israel's creation as a Jewish State, backed by the UN, was somehow illegitimate. Instead, they argue that the only legitimate state can be one state with a Jewish minority and a Palestinian majority. Advocating for a one-state solution calls for the dismantlement of the State of Israel so it can be replaced by a Palestinian nation. By claiming that the sole Jewish State does not have the right to nationhood in a world with Muslin, Hindu, and Christian countries that exist without any challenge is by definition anti-Semitic. This anti-Semitism is further solidified because advocating for a one-state solution shows no political, legal, or cultural knowledge of the Middle East. The two-state solution, on the other hand, is overwhelmingly endorsed by the UN, the U.S. government on a bi-partisan basis, and Israel. To foster a culture of coexistence, brotherhood, and peace we must go beyond blaming just Israel for the ongoing conflict.
Both Israel and Palestine are far from perfect. Yet rather then placing the blame solely on Israel, and advocating for divestment from Israel here in Madison, the community should actively engage in productive measures promoting mutual understanding between the two sides. Rather than spewing biases, all members of the University of Wisconsin, led by the Middle Eastern Studies Department, should commit to pursuing understanding in hopes that as future leaders we can establish permanent peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Jonathan Buksbaum (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a junior majoring in psychology and political science. He is the Vice President of MADPAC, the Madison US-Israel Public Affairs Committee.