Former San Diego State professor, Charles D. Smith, recently gave a lecture on the Balfour Declaration's centennial anniversary. The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by England recognizing the ancient state as home of the Jewish people.
In the lecture, he and moderators, Professors Farid Abdel-Nour and Jonathan Graubart, undermined the contemporary Zionist movement and did not provide a balanced history of the development of a Jewish nation.
Smith addressed the declaration in the context of the early 1900's, while ignoring the current state of the Middle East, claiming the declaration was the foundation of the Zionist effort to return to the land that was considered ancient Israel.
"Without the Balfour Declaration, it's very doubtful that Israel would exist today," said Smith.
Smith's claim disregarded any historical evidence associating the Jews with Israel. He also claimed the Holocaust is the only reason the Jews deserved their own sociopolitical land.
Tamar Arieli, the Murray Galinson-Israel Institute visiting professor at SDSU's Jewish Studies Program suggests the Balfour Declaration is not the most significant document awarding the land to the Jewish people.
"In Israel there is a voice that sees the Balfour Declaration as relevant to a degree, but it's not the main document from which the state draws its legitimization.
"The legitimization of the State of Israel stems primarily from ancient Jewish history in the land of Israel and continuous religious ties and settlement to the land. The United Nations Partition Plan is a secondary level of legitimization, representing international consent to Jewish statehood in Palestine alongside an Arab state," said Arieli.
When asked about Palestinian terror against Israelis, Smith implied that terrorism cannot be defined.
"Terrorism –– like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder," he said.
There is no way to justify terrorism. There is no way to justify random killings of unarmed citizens, even amid political disagreement.
He said the brutal murders made by the Palestinians are due to the Israeli occupation in Judea and Samaria — making it seem that killing innocent people is fair so long as there is a belief of injustice.
"The Israelis call it terrorism, even if it's against truth...(The Israeli Defense Force) also defecated over property to let people know that the Israelis had been there," he said.
Terrorism is an attack on civilians intended to make a political statement. The Palestinians who murder innocent Israelis engage in such activity.
In addition to an education system that glorifies murdering Israelis as the highest honor, certain Palestinian television shows encourage Palestinian children to "get rid of all the Jews, Allah willing." Young Palestinians who carry out terror attacks are celebrated as martyrs — their hatred towards Jews and Israel is celebrated.
He even avoided responding to a comment regarding the money that Israel has given to the Palestine Liberation Organization. The money is being misused by Hamas to build terror tunnels in schools and hospitals.
A professor as esteemed as Smith should not make false claims. He vilified the IDF by using a gross generalization. The IDF, overall, is a humane military organization that seeks to defend the citizens of Israel and assists other countries when struck by natural disasters.
The Palestinian Authority compensates its citizens who carry out deadly terror attacks against Israelis. But according to Smith, terror can only be associated with the Israelis.
Smith even claimed that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization, despite being officially designated as such by the United States.
Professor Abdel-Nour added to the propaganda-filled lecture by discouraging Smith from answering questions offered by audience members supporting Israel.
As someone who's considered an expert in the Israeli-Arab conflict, Smith failed to include the Palestinian narrative and patronized them instead. He alluded to the idea that the Palestinians have been left helpless since the establishment of a Jewish nation. He should have given more attention to the Palestinian narrative while suggesting a plan to bring about greater coexistence in the territory –– which should be the goal of any history expert.
SDSU's students and faculty members deserve to be given an honest, unbiased account of
Middle Eastern history, one that accurately represents all sides of such a complicated issue.