SJP UC BERKELEY BACK DOWN FROM A
Commentary by Lee Kaplan, DAFKA National Director
I reside in Berkeley, California, so seeing and dealing with strange people is not that unusual. On Thursday, May 4th, I wandered over to the campus because the students were celebrating the upcoming Israel Independence Day and I figured I might also score myself some falafel for lunch.
While on campus, I spied the Students for Justice in Palestine gang and their table. The SJP at Berkeley has diminished quite a bit in the last year or so. They used to have massive demonstrations on campus, even bussed in other pro-Palestinian groups like the GUP at SFSU to have demonstrations on campus. Their allies in the ISM also are less active and I think part of that is because DAFKA and Stop the ISM has exposed them
many times for not being truthful, as well as the lection of Hamas turned most Americans off (it’s about time).
One SJP student handed me a flyer while asking me if I wanted to celebrate Israel’s independence. I figured he was being sarcastic since I was sporting my IDF fatigue shirt.
The flyer of course described Israel’s day of independence as the al Nahkba (“the catastrophe” in Arabic). The flyer also contained the usual exaggerations and falsehoods passed out by the SJP, such as claiming there were 700,000 Arab refugees in 1948 (the
UN back then put the number at 460,000 of which approximately 170,000 were quietly repatriated between 1952-82). Another student, a sweet young thing, informed me sarcastically she only held “intelligent” conversations (apparently ones that engage in falsified historical information) and told me the refugee number exceeded one million!!!
In fact, from 1948 to 1950 the Arab League and UNRWA allowed any Arab who wanted to sign up as a refugee from the war with Israel to declare himself one. This meant free food and clothing courtesy of the US taxpayer and the UN. In fact, Arabs who had jobs, homes and businesses were allowed to register as refugees even if they did not live in the refugee camps, but could go there for free supplies. Walid Shoebat, a Palestinian himself, recounted to me once how among the Palestinian Arabs it inspired envy to find one of them with a refugee card they were allowed to pass on from father to son for free food and clothing from generation to generation. As tented refugee camps made their way into cinder block constructed homes, “refugee camps” like Jenin became normalized cities. Don’t get me wrong, some of the Arabs still live in poverty, but that was from their own leadership stealing from them. The PLO is, in fact, swimming in money even today.
And Israel, believe it or not, will not let them starve.
Silly me, I decided to talk with the tall young man who was passing out the literature. He regaled me how everything was Israel’s fault, the usual litany. He said he did not support
the Palestinian government, Fatah, because they were thieves, and claimed he did not like Hamas either (a good sign?). But then he claimed the Palestinian people want no war with Israel. He even claimed that he did not want Israel to cease to exist. However,
the Hamas election win, everything was the fault of Israel. The fact that 69% of Palestinians in their own polls condone suicide bombings escaped him. And when I asked him about the Palestinian Authority not arresting terrorists, that was also Israel’s fault.
You see, Israel by arresting terrorists who murder Israeli children, are really responsible
for those terrorists not being arrested by the Palestinian Security Services. That is, if Israel stopped arresting them, they’d stop murdering Jews. Who can dispute such circular logic?
This is the new tactic of the ISM and SJP crowd. They claim they do not want to destroy Israel, but only want the alleged refugees to have the right of return PLUS a Palestinian
state. The right of return says that any Arab, even a laborer, has the right to go live inside Israel’s 1948 border in the same spot his ancestors lived. Most of these Arabs are the descendents of dead refugees and not refugees any more. The ones who may still not have a home could settle in a new Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza, but no peace until Israel allows another 5 million Arabs inside the Green Line so they can outnumber the Jews and vote Israel out of existence. What about that Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza? Oh, they will take that too, but it must be made free of Jews, or the Jews must be killed in the interest of “peace,” peace coming when Israel is finally Arab dominated Palestine.
The SJP kids had a banner to contradict the Jewish kids’ celebration nearby. “Israeli Independence from what?” the banner asked. I explained to the SJP students who did not know the answer: “Independence from Great Britain, the same as the Arab states did.”
As I started pointing this out, the young fellow began calling me a “racist.” This race baiting tactic is classic now among the SJP and other PLO support groups on US campuses. You see, the West Bank and Gaza must be Jew free, but any Arabs who will tip the majority inside Israel to overwhelm the Jewish population are an absolute and
non-negotiable. Now that’s true apartheid and the Arab countries are famous for it.
He also said I claim every Arab is a terrorist. Well, DAFKA has Arabs in its ranks, and I’ve never said all Arabs are terrorists. But the inability to see shades of gray in an issue
is one thing the SJP kids are incapable of: if you can’t refute something with facts, attack
your opponent personally and lie about him.
I handed the kid my card and offered to hold a debate with the SJP on campus, DAFKA vs. anyone in the SJP. On seeing my name he said, “Oh, Mr. Kaplan! I know you and your tactics, you call everyone a terrorist and lie about them.” Sigh….I walked away.
As I was leaving campus I ran into a old friend of mine, a Palestinian on campus, who I saw almost every day for fourteen years when I worked at UC Berkeley. We were catching up on old times when the young man who declined my offer to debate approached us.
“I don’t think you want to talk to him,” the kid said to my friend. “Why?” my friend asked. “If you knew what he says about Arabs you wouldn’t want anything to do with him.” The smear was on.
I explained to my friend the discussion I had had moments earlier with the young man and how he refused to stage a debate. My friend asked him in Arabic, “Are you a Palestinian?” The kid replied in Arabic, “I’m a Syrian.” My friend more or less brushed him off. As he said to the kid while referring to me, “That’s his political opinion, and I’ve no reason to not be friends with him.” The kid left.
What this points out is the situation on US campuses with Arab-American students who still pander after the goals of Arab despots like Gamal Nasser; Israel must become Palestine. A Jewish state is nothing less than al Nakhba, a catastrophe. To this SJP member the fascist Arab regimes must be assisted in their goal to destroy the Israeli democracy where Jews have a refuge from religious persecution. At the same time they call everyone who does not support their own particular racism against the Jews as
Are all Arabs terrorists? No, certainly not. But anyone who calls Israel’s founding a
catastrophe because Jews achieved their independence certainly is a racist in the sense of being an anti-Semite. It is pure sophistry to say otherwise. And here in America, on a US college campus, I was still considered a friend to talk to by a real Palestinian Arab as an
American-Arab student, whose family roots were in Syria, tried to support the goals of the totalitarian Syrian regime from which his own parents probably fled. Pan-Arabism is all that matters, and that is what keeps many of the Palestinians poor. That is, American campuses are places to keep the conflict roiling with the unending goal of dismantling Israel by overrunning the Jews, be it by the right of return or by war. This is why we must take the campus and the nation back with the truth from such people.
My offer to debate the SJP still stands. It won’t be easy to debate me because I really know my stuff.. I gave the kid the card to my office and told him to let his buddies know about my offer. I’ll keep you readers posted if the SJP has the guts to do it, but, frankly, I doubt they will. Now they are running scared on US campuses as students from groups like DAFKA expose their elliptical lessons and misinformation. The happy news is DAFKA is growing and will be on more campuses this year to change things. Judging by the SJP crowd at UC Berkeley, its finally happening.
I’m ready for the debate, but not holding my breath.