23/04/2009

At Durban II: A shift is needed on American campuses

At Durban II: A shift is needed on American campuses

By Zach Novetsky

We must all thank Ahmadinejad for legitimating our long-said message to the world.

For too long, Israel has been singled out by the United Nations: the special committees established to investigate the actions of Israel and only Israel; the endless resolutions passed against Israel; the special status granted to Palestinian refugees, which allows them to remain refugees despite being citizens of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and yes, Switzerland too.

I spoke with a Palestinian refugee just the other day who had citizenship in Canada before moving to Switzerland, where he now resides as a full citizen.

And yes, he is still considered a refugee (by the oblique and unique definition reserved solely for Palestinian refugees but not the millions of Jewish refugees expelled from the Arab world). Yes, he still receives American tax-dollars, European tax-dollar and Israeli tax-dollars, which are funneled through the UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency). However, he is lucky that he is a male refugee, and that his father was a male refugee because refugee status is patrilineal: if his mother had been a refugee and married a non-refugee, he would not be considered a refugee. Shocking that the United Nations tolerates (funds!) such overt gender discrimination. Don't believe me? Read James Lindsay's (former general counsel and legal advisor to the UNRWA) scathing exposé of this organization, entitled "Fixing the UNRWA," available free online.

But let me tell you a different story because the story of the United Nations disregard for evenhandedness and justice is getting old. I want the world to know that this week, the Jewish people and the real victims of this world won a Pyrrhic victory. And I believe it was largely because of the students and activist groups who were present at this conference, who made their presence known and their voices heard (Why didn't more organizations from America send students to protest this debacle!?). After all, it was the clown who made the cover of every newspaper in the world, whose message was simple enough and profound enough to expose the masquerade of Durban II to the whole world - politicians and laymen alike. Of course, the countries who walked out during Ahmadinejad's speech should be commended but their action should have been compulsory.

During my time spent with the European Union of Jewish Students (especially the French students), I have seen a passion for action that shames the campus activism in America, where a real and unjust war is being waged against Israel. Yes, there are exceptional students in America who do great things but sadly, such characters are rare. The EUJS students are not concerned with "not sounding politically correct" or "being ostracized by the larger community" because they fervently believe in the political correctness of their message.

There must be a paradigm shift on campuses across America: Jewish students need to stop being complacent, remaining silent and acting cowardly when libelous events like Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) sprout up on campus. When the charade that is IAW began, it was unknown; now, it is on more than seventy-five campuses. Why is there no American Union of Jewish Students uniting nationwide to combat this farce? Why are there no students ready to dress up as clowns, peacefully disrupt and expose the parody of IAW? There must be a revolution on the American campus, composed of creative students who are both human rights advocates and defenders of Israel. I want to begin this much-needed revolution. Tomorrow at 12PM to 1PM (Friday April 24th) in New York City, I have called for a protest at the United Nations (being organized on very short notice by my admirable friends). Everyone should wear clown wigs and red noses to symbolize the masquerade that was Durban II. Silence has never been an effective message and it must never be our message; I hope that we will remain silent no more.

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