Duane Paul Murphy
Class of 2019
George Orwell once said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” This exemplifies what college campuses are facing today when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Recently, the University of California system proposed that any criticism of Israel on campus by collective or individual students, faculty, or staff members is considered a form of discrimination or intolerance towards Jewish students, faculty, or staff members. According to a report released by the Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights, of the 152 incidents targeting pro-Palestinian speech on college campuses to which Palestine Legal responded in 2014, half of the cases involved accusations of anti-Semitism that is “based solely on speech critical of Israeli policy”.
In February of 2016 the British Conservative Party announced recent proposals to criminalize anti-Israeli boycotts, divestments, and sanctions by public organizations and institutions such as universities and student unions. Many student organizations and individuals in have faced suppression of free speech and restriction of public demonstrations or actions on college campuses over criticizing Israel and supporting Palestinian rights. From the creation of “safe spaces” to banning speakers or lecturers from college campuses due to their politics, political correctness culture suppresses a variety of ideas or debates in which completely undermines freedom of speech, expression, and discussion.
When colleges invite speakers from all political and social spectrums, it allows open debate and expression on controversial or current issues. It further allows students or participants to have a new perspective or challenge an opponent with facts and critical thinking skills towards a certain issue. So why do conservative or liberal officials within many college systems punish groups or individuals for criticizing Israel’s occupation of Palestine as well as supporting Palestinian rights? They fear it could be anti-Semitic or offensive towards Israelis and people of the Jewish faith. When activists from around the world, including colleges, support Palestine, most of them want to end the Israeli government’s discriminatory and marginalizing policies towards the Palestinians, not the Jewish people. Activists and the international community want to see the Two State Solution in which Israeli settlers must withdraw entirely from the West Bank, all Israeli settlement projects must be halted permanently, the strenuous blockade against the Gaza Strip must end, both states must recognize each other as well as respect their own sovereignty and security, both states must ensure a democratic pluralistic society in which all ethnic and reli-gious minorities as well as women are politically protected and represented, and Eastern Jerusalem becomes Palestine’s capital in which both Christians, Muslims, and Jews have the right to access.
So when people criticize occupation, most of them are not preaching anti-semitism. All they want to do is to urge the Israeli government to withdraw from the West Bank, so a Palestinian state can finally become a reality. If Israel can withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, why not the West Bank?