J Street U Director Daniel May released the following statement as “Israel Apartheid Week” takes place on college campuses around the United States and Canada:
J Street and J Street U are dismayed by the counterproductive polarization that “Israel Apartheid Week” once again brings to campuses across North America. Reaching an end to the conflict and achieving two states – a secure, Jewish, democratic Israel and a viable, independent Palestine – demands recognition of the serious sacrifices required of both parties and the profound loss suffered on both sides. Instead, Israel Apartheid Week’s inflammatory language undercuts debate, alienates significant numbers of students, and reinforces a false zero-sum paradigm where being for Palestinians requires being against Israel. We reject this premise in its entirety. A country where an Arab judge recently presided over the conviction of a former Jewish President cannot with any intellectual honesty be compared to apartheid South Africa. That does not negate the fact that an immense amount of work remains to be done to provide full equality of, and economic opportunity for, Israeli Arabs and ensure sovereignty, self-determination and democratic civil rights for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. As friends of Israel, we must realize that ending the conflict and ensuring both Israeli and Palestinian self-determination is the most effective way to undermine efforts to delegitimize Israel. Speaking out against Israel Apartheid Week does not excuse us from facing up to our own choice as a community: constructively address the existential threat to Israel’s long-term interests and the moral problem posed by the continued occupation, or watch as an untenable status quo eats away at Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic home and further isolates Israel in the international community. J Street U works on behalf of two states not just because the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is the only way to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic homeland; but also because our commitment to the values of democratic freedom and self-determination extend to all people. We see these commitments — to Israel and to human rights, democracy, justice and equality — as interdependent and inextricable. Our work on campuses around the country aims to create the broad constituency needed to encourage bold US action to bring about peace. Actions and events that accuse one side or the other of sole responsibility for the conflict and demand a zero-sum approach to the issue make that work all the more difficult, and all the more necessary.