Questioning half-truths

In last week’s issue of the Record, Abdullah Awad ’13 wrote in his op-ed (“Modern oppression,” April 14) that Israel’s government is comparable to “an oppressive regime [that] must hide its oppression and utilize propaganda to justify its practices.” This grabbed my attention, but in a bad way. As I sat down to read his article, the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach intensified as I marveled at the lengths that Abdullah had taken to ensure that his article was protected from any criticism. There was a particularly intriguing line: “This article, whether in public or private, will probably be criticized in an attempt to get rid of the opposing voice by those who choose to ignore the reality and remain loyal to Israeli ideals.”

Whoa.

With this sentence, Abdullah has effectively rendered any criticism of his controversial article not only stupid but also oppressive and pro-Israeli ideals (which, according to him, are analogous to the ideals of Nazis insofar as both are made to support the eradication and victimization of people who are different). I think it’s time to call out this opinion piece for what it really is: a half-truth.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a popular topic of conversation and a point of focus for governments ([of the] United States, Israel, Palestine and many more) since Israel came to exist in 1948. There is no question that there have been atrocities on both sides, as my classmates and I have been discussing in Professor James McAllister’s popular political science class, “America and the World After September 11.” It is probably because of these atrocities that certain Israeli actions have been met with condemnation by the United Nations (UN) and have not all entirely been unilaterally supported by the United States, although most have gained that unquestioned support. Abdullah hits that part of the issue almost too intensely, calling the “Israeli regime” brutal, murderous and, of course, comparable to the Nazis. It is here that Abdullah and I diverge.

As a Jewish citizen, my allegiance to Israel is oftentimes unquestioned. I was taught from an early age that Israel is my homeland and that visiting Israel is key to my Jewish identity. So I did just that. In 2006, I went to Israel with my family, our rabbi and some older members of my synagogue. It was an amazing experience, and I’m glad I went. But this doesn’t mean that I support every Israeli action. I, as a Jew, am able to recognize that Israel has screwed up many times. But this doesn’t mean that it deserves the image put on it by Abdullah. Israel, like Palestine, deserves a fair shake. So when Abdullah describes the processes undertaken by Israel to displace, murder and oppress the Palestinians after “the Israeli regime…[took] over the home my family had lived in for hundreds of years” (which isn’t actually true: the UN voted on November 29, 1947 in favor of the Partition Plan to create the State of Israel, so it wasn’t the “Israeli regime” that made the decision to become a state), it does pull at the heartstrings of the reader because it sounds so compelling. If only it were the whole truth.

In his article, Abdullah exploits people’s ignorance by only giving certain alarming facts that may or may not be true regarding the brutalities of the Israeli government. But what he ignores is also crucial: Never does he mention the fact that Israel is targeted by most nations surrounding it. Never does he mention the atrocities committed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which essentially create the same results he finds so reprehensible when committed by individuals in Israel’s name. And finally, never does he mention a solution.

The sad truth is that many people don’t know what is going on when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is brought up. Abdullah’s article does not educate. It manipulates.

If the goal of an article advocating Palestinian rights were to do the former, then a better way to approach this controversial issue would be to put two opposing articles next to each other with similar facts and have the reader judge the validities of their claims for him or herself. That is education, and that is productive. What Abdullah wrote is neither.

In his piece, the image of a birthday party for Israel is accompanied by the idea that “the rest of the world will celebrate with it, whether conscious or not of the reality of the situation.” Sadly, Abdullah is unaware of the reality of the situation as well, because seeing only one half of the picture ignores the other half. By embracing a balanced view of such controversial topics as this one, the College campus can veer away from radical actions (like tearing down posters, or writing hateful articles) and instead can open a dialogue between those who support Israel and those who support Palestinian rights. In the end, it becomes very clear that the two are not mutually exclusive.