Dec 082008
Authors: Ian Bezek

My comments from last week about Israel generated a lot of attention, so I thought I’d devote a whole column to the subject, starting with taking a closer look at the birth of modern Israel.

I’ll begin by quoting Mahatma Gandhi, who in 1947 said, “The Jews are a persecuted people worthy of world sympathy and India sympathizes with them . . . The Arabs are a great people with a great history and therefore if they provide refuge for the Jews without the mediation of any nation, it will be in their tradition of generosity.”

I share Gandhi’s views. The Jews had obviously suffered greatly and deserved sympathy. However, sympathy alone didn’t give them the right to seize land Arabs had owned for 2,500 years.

Gandhi specifically said that the Arabs could choose — not be forced, but choose — to give Jews refuge and it would have been a great generosity. Israel didn’t have a right to the land; it was the Arabs’ decision to make, and they chose not to give the Jews land.

While Israel claimed to have bought the land from the Arabs, their claim rings hollow. The Palestinians that had lived there for centuries didn’t see a dime of the proceeds. The land purchase was about as valid as America’s so-called purchases of Native American land.

Gandhi was asked in 1947 what “the most acceptable solution to the Palestine problem” was. Gandhi replied, “The abandonment wholly by the Jews of terrorism and other forms of violence.” Israel proceeded to terrorize Palestinians as they illegally drove the Arabs from their land in 1948 creating hundreds of thousands of refugees leaving with little more than the shirts on their backs.

Despite stealing the Palestinians’ land, the new Israeli leadership promised the conquered native population, “full and equal citizenship and due representation.” Israel has completely failed to deliver this promise.

According to the American non-profit organization Remember These Children, since 2000, 118 Israeli children were killed by Palestinian attacks, while 1,045 Palestinians were killed by Israelis. Israel is building an illegal wall to protect itself from the Palestinians, though clearly Israelis have been far more violent recently.

Israel has also received 65 United Nations resolutions condemning their demolition of Palestinian homes (18,147 so far), unlawful attacks on neighbors, illegal deportations of Palestinians, and their failure to abide by the Geneva Convention to name just a few. We needed a lot fewer than 65 UN resolutions to go to war with Iraq.

Also, while the Israelis claim to provide equal opportunities for Arabs and Jews, the facts speak otherwise. The Palestinian unemployment rate is 23 percent according to the CIA World Factbook, while the Jewish unemployment rate is a mere seven percent; if that isn’t discrimination, nothing is.

Just imagine the outrage if the unemployment rate for Chinese-Americans was 23 percent. We would rightfully create programs to give Chinese a greater chance in society and come up with ways to stop discrimination against them.

However, Israel does almost nothing to help Palestinians escape their horrid living conditions. It is not surprising that a tiny minority of Palestinians would turn to violence or crime when one out of every four Palestinians can’t get a job.

It’s hard to work when Israel denies Palestinians even the basic right to free movement. A fellow student who traveled to Israel described to our political science class how she’d seen Palestinian women carrying their children in their arms being held at gunpoint while waiting for hours to get through a security checkpoint.

This sort of human rights abuse needs to stop, and America needs to stop showering arms and money on Israel until it does.

Ian Bezek is a junior economics major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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