I am writing as a UT graduate, a Jew and a member of the Austin chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace to express my admiration for the Palestinian and Palestinian solidarity activists who introduced the divestment resolution, AR 3, to UT’s Student Government. I am also writing to express my frustration with the claims made by AR 3 opponents.
Rather than focus on the resolution’s content, opponents argued that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement of which AR 3 was part seeks to destroy the state of Israel.
This is not true. BDS seeks to ensure the human rights of and a peaceful existence for Palestinians by making three demands of Israel: End the occupation of Arab lands, which for almost 50 years has displaced and traumatized Palestinians as well as Syrians and Bedouins; ensure that non-Jewish and Jewish citizens of Israel have equal rights, which coincides with basic principles of democracy; and allow Palestinian refugees, who were forced to flee their homes in 1948, to return.
At no point does BDS discuss Israel’s future. Rather, Israel’s supporters and apologists have decided that, if Israel were to meet BDS’ demands, it would cease to be a Jewish state. Perhaps they are correct, but they ignore one crucial point: BDS’ demands are good. If Israel cannot do right by Palestinians and still maintain its integrity as a Jewish state — if Israel must oppress an entire people in order to survive — then Jews and non-Jews alike must question Israel’s right to exist.
Opponents of AR 3 also sidestepped the resolution’s content by arguing that the resolution’s passage would create disunity on UT’s campus. In so doing, they asked the University to unite around injustice.
This is a false union, for injustice always divides and generates discord. AR 3 supporters sought a different sort of unity, one grounded in compassion and peace. I pray that, though AR 3 did not pass, it will motivate UT students to educate themselves about Israel’s occupation of Palestine and cultivate in themselves an enlightened sense of compassion for oppressed people so that this vision of a just unity can become reality. Until then, Palestinians and their supporters will keep fighting the good fight.
Pace is a UT alumna and member of the Austin chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.