Letter to the Editor 2/13/14

When Remi Kanazi, a Palestinian-American activist and poet who spoke at Vassar on January 28, says one “cannot simultaneously talk about peace and support the Israeli state,” he is saying Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish nation. That is the problem with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Its leaders aren’t simply seeking an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. They seek a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a Judenrein Middle East.

It is not a coincidence that the BDS movement is particularly strong in Europe, which has seen a frightening increase in anti-Semitic violence in recent years. French Jews are fleeing and immigrating to Israel, not because they want to leave France or because they love Israel, but because they are terrified of violence directed against them at home.

A Palestine with borders extending to the Mediterranean Sea would be another Arab country Jews would flee for their lives. When the leaders of the BDS movement demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees, they ignore the fact that Sephardic Jews, half the Jewish population of Israel, fled or were expelled from Arab lands between 1948 and 1967, their property confiscated. Lucette Lagnado ‘77, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, describes in her award-winning book, The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, how she and her family were forced out of Egypt in 1963 with the equivalent of $200 and some belongings (not including valuables) packed in suitcases. Unlike Lagnado, who settled in Brooklyn, NY with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, most Jews expelled from Arab lands went to Israel, where they lived in tent cities until housing was constructed.

Kanazi said during his performance at Vassar that he has no use for pro-Israel organizations like J Street, an organization that advocates dialogue with Palestinians and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The reason is because he and the leaders of the BDS movement do not seek peace with Israel but want to eliminate it instead. The student group and departments at Vassar that supported bringing Kanazi to campus and gave him a platform for his bigoted views are indirectly advocating the destruction of Israel. Why is there such an obsession with eliminating the only Jewish state in the world?

Your article is woefully misnamed. A poet who does not believe in dialogue does not advocate peace.

 – Karen Rappaport ‘78

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