(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
George Washington University’s campus overflows with politically active and opinionated students. Our community takes pride in educational programming conducted by student organizations that benefits all points of view. We believe in engagement and respectful dialogue. Once that dialogue crosses into offensive and ignorant language, it should be condemned as hate. George Washington for Israel, GWI, urges all politically active organizations on neighboring campuses to follow our lead, especially considering recent events at Columbia University.
We understand the frustration of the Black Students Organization at Columbia University. The Black, Jewish, Muslim and both Israeli and Palestinian communities have been subject to a variety of recent events leaving emotions and tensions high. However, the deplorable language about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be seen as acceptable by any party.
Calling Israel an apartheid state is ignorant and disappointing, labeling her actions “acts of genocide” is offensive and false. To compare the struggle of people of color in South Africa to the only democratic nation in the Middle East simply hurts those who lived under true apartheid rule. Misusing powerful terms can be a method of reinventing their meaning. To call Israel an apartheid state is to delegitimize the suffering of millions.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is notoriously one of the most complicated issues in today’s world. No one wants peace more than Israel. Israel’s “hawkish” right-wing prime minister Menachem Begin said about making peace with Egypt, “War is avoidable. It is peace that is inevitable.” To paint the conflict in black and white and label Israel as genocidal undermines any efforts for peace in the region.
To achieve peace we have to work together. We have to respect everyone’s views and be as inclusive as possible.
Learning about the violent rhetoric on Columbia University’s campus saddened us. The anti-Semitic slurs that were splattered across campus escalated the discourse to a level that was neither acceptable, appropriate, or helpful in any way. It is understandable to feel passionate about the subject, yet the moment that passion is expressed through hatred the hope for peaceful discussion and progress becomes extremely bleak.
We will continue to strive for peaceful and productive dialogue on all college campuses across the country engaged in this very important debate.
As student leaders of George Washington University, we send our message of solidarity to Columbia University’s community. We stand alongside them in their struggle against those that slander Israel with hateful discourse.
We stand alongside them in their struggle against those that have done more damage than good to this dialogue.
Finally, we stand alongside them in our shared hope that we may all learn from this experience and work together to help spread peace rather than hate across college campuses.
The authors are leaders at George Washington for Israel, GWI, believes in shedding a positive light on the political advocacy of the relationship between Israel and the United States. As a student organization that represents a set of political beliefs, we fully understand that not everyone will choose to agree with our stance but we hope to continue to foster a respectful dialogue among all parties.