Defending Palestinian Rights Requires Knowing What Rights They Have

By  Bennett Ruda  |  Jewish Press 

Rooting for the underdog may be noble, but it is no guarantee that you know what you are talking about.

In November 2016, Ami Horowitz did one of his “Ami on the Street” interviews, this one covering “How white liberals really view black voter.”

The issue was voter ID’s and the first half showed him interviewing students at UC Berkeley, where the students claimed:

  • African Americans are less likely to have state ID’s
  • Minorities are less likely to have ID’s
  • African Americans don’t live in areas with easy access to DMV’s
  • African Americans don’t have access to the Internet
  • African Americans don’t have the money to pay an Internet Service Provider
  • African Americans don’t know how the Internet works

The second half of the video takes place in Harlem — and needless to say, the African Americans interviewed thought the Berkeley students to be wildly uninformed, if not racist themselves.

I was reminded of this video when I read about the College of Arts and Science at NYU, where a proposal for a BDS resolution was brought by Rose Asaf last month.

A student countered:

“BDS infantilizes Palestinians, removing any responsibility or agency from their end…It hinders the prospects of a mutually agreed-upon peaceful solution and ultimately hurts the wrong people, namely, the near 50,000 Palestinians with jobs at risk if their firms are sanctioned.”

Asaf however, insisted that major Palestinian trade unions approve of BDS:

“It is neo-colonial and paternalistic to tell Palestinian workers what is best for them when they are telling us what is best for themselves — and that is to support BDS”

Asaf’s claim does not actually refute the point that boycotts would harm Palestinian Arab jobs.

The reference to unions approving of BDS just implies that Palestinian Arab workers would be willing to lose their jobs — assuming these unions actually reflect the opinions of the workers.

But do the union leaders actually represent the Palestinian Arabs and their interests? Do Palestinian Arabs really support BDS?

The case of SodaStream seems to disprove Asaf’s point.

SodaStream employed more than 500 Palestinian Arab workers in East Jerusalem and the “West Bank” — Forbes puts the number of Palestinian Arabs employed at 900.

Those 500+ workers did not care where the plants were located, and when pressure forced SodaStream to move, those workers lost their jobs.

Are Asaf and those unions any more knowledgeable of what Palestinian Arab workers want?

For that matter, is what those workers want even a priority of the supporters of BDS?

Supporting the evidence that Palestinian Arabs are willing to work in Israel and even in the settlements is a July poll carried out by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre, in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. It found that a sizeable majority of Palestinian Arabs in both the West Bank and Gaza have no problem working in Israel:

Another example is the ignorance of those who claim to speak out on behalf of Israel Arabs in claiming that Israel is an apartheid state.

While Israel is not perfect and there is a lot of work still to be done, many of those who claim to defend the interests of the Arabs are apparently unaware of the following list compiled by Elder of Ziyon, illustrating the extent of integration of Arabs into Israeli society that has been achieved:

There are Arabs in the IDF such as:

  • Colonel Ghassan Alian, Commander of IDF Golani Brigade
  • Yusef Mishleb – IDF Major General
  • Annett Hoskia, an outspoken Israeli Zionist, whose 3 sons have served in IDF.
  • Shibel Karmy Mansour, announcer Israel Army Radio

In the Israeli judicial system there are:

  • George Kara, who led a 3-judge panel that convicted an Israeli ex-President.
  • Salim Joubran, Israeli Supreme Court Justice
  • Jamal Hakrush, Israeli police deputy commissioner.

And then there is academia:

  • Dr. Jacob Hanna, Biologist and stem cell research at Weizmann Institute
  • Dr. Rania Okby, first female Bedouin physician in history
  • Dr. Hossam Haick, World renowned scientist and inventor of innovative cancer-detection techniques
  • Dr. Aziz Darawshe, Director of Emergency Medicine, Hadassah Medical Center – Ein Kerem
  • Masad Barhoum, Director General of Western Galilee Hospital
  • Professor Alean Al-Krenawi, President Achva College, University of the Negev
  • Ashraf Brik, Professor at Ben-Gurion University, winner of Israel’s 2011 “Outstanding Young Chemist” Award
  • Omar Barghouti, Doctoral student at Tel Aviv — while a leading Arab advocate for academic boycott of Israel.

In politics and diplomacy:

  • George Deek, recently appointed Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan
  • Naim Aradi, Israel’s Ambassador to Norway
  • Reda Mansour, historian, poet and former Israeli ambassador to Ecuador
  • Jamal Zahalka, received BA, MA and PhD. Member of Israeli Parliament & leader of Balad political party – while describing himself a victim of “Israeli racist Apartheid”
  • Majalli Wahabi, Former Deputy Speaker of Israel Parliament, and acting President of Israel in 2/07

In popular culture

  • Walid Badir, Israeli football star/Capt of HaPoel Tel Aviv
  • Mira Awad, Actress, singer & songwriter – represented Israel at 2009 Eurovision Song Festival
  • Nissren Kader, Winner of Israeli singing competition
  • Lina Makhoul, Chosen by Israeli viewers — 2013 Winner of “The Voice”
  • Rana Raslan, Former Miss Israel
  • Lina Machola, Miss Israel Universe
  • Niral Karantinji, Winner of Israel’s Next Top Model
  • Salma Fayumi, Israeli nurse and runner-up in Master Chef Israel
  • Lucy Aharish, Israeli news anchor/TV host

As in the case of the Ami Horowitz video above, there is a lot of ignorance out there in the claims made by people claiming to be looking out for the humanitarian rights of Palestinian Arabs.

But also a lot of malignance as well.

It’s almost as if the Palestinian Arabs are not their primary concern of some of these critics of Israel.

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