Tritons for Israel set up tables and displays on Library Walk from May 13 to May 16 in support of their annual Israel Solidarity Week. This week-long event follows the previous week’s Justice in Palestine Week, another event centered around the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and partially served as a response to inaccuracies perceived by members of Tritons for Israel in regards to information given during the Justice in Palestine events.
The Israel-Palestine Conflict, an ongoing struggle for control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, has been at the forefront of world politics since the state of Israel was established in 1948.
Orr Toledano, Tritons for Israel president, was one of the people who believed that some discussions held during Justice in Palestine Week were inaccurate.
“I’m Israeli. We’re also talking about my people,” Toledano told the UCSD Guardian. “Some of the things said about my people were very offensive that I saw last week.”
The Muslim Student Association at UCSD, organizer of the Justice in Palestine Week, did not respond to requests for comment by the Guardian for this article. However, in a previous article, a member from the MSA said that “a lot of people have a misunderstanding (on the situation), so we are trying to create awareness.”
Toledano’s comments come after several contentious moments from the Justice in Palestine Week took place, including vandalism of two Graffiti Art Park paintings in support of both Israel and Palestine, as well as alleged Hillel counter demonstrators being present during the event on Library Walk.
A member of the MSA claimed to the Guardian in a previous article that the Hillel counter demonstrators were hostile in their confrontation during Justice in Palestine Week. However, UCSD Hillel, which supports and mentors many Tritons for Israel students, has maintained that the safety and well-being of all students is a priority for them.
“Our mission is to encourage students at UC San Diego to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel,” read a statement by UCSD Hillel issued to the Guardian. ‘Now and always, we help all of the students we work with to navigate campus resources available to them, empower them to lean into the productive discomfort and critical inquiry so integral to the college experience, and exercise their freedom of expression and freedom of speech.”
In an attempt to diffuse the tension, Toledano took the week-long opportunity to address alleged falsehoods and present how Tritons for Israel viewed the issues.
“We’re here to show what we see as the truth, the facts on the ground. This is not to claim that we’re just pro-Israel. We are pro-Palestinean; we’re pro-peace. We’re – most of us here – are pro-two state solution,” Toledano said. “And look, our opinions range on a wide variety of issues […] but we are here to say that this is how we see Israel. This is how we see what’s happening there.”
According to the Israel Solidarity Week description page on Facebook, the week-long tabling on Library Walk aimed to “represent the Israeli narrative.”
Their tabling mirrored that of Justice in Palestine Week’s, with various panels explaining many aspects of the Israeli side of the argument, including Zionism, highlighting Israel’s history of peace agreements, and showcasing Israel’s dynamic religious landscape.
Evening events, such as a screening of “The Green Prince” – a film highlighting measures taken by the Israeli government to fight alleged terrorism – and a Skype conversation with the Interagency Task Force for Israeli Arab Issues, were also planned throughout the week.
Though the groups had separate events, Tritons for Israel and Students for Justice in Palestine have previously engaged in conversation regarding controversial issues such as the Israel-Palestine conflict. According to Toledano, members of Students for Justice in Palestine have frequented their events and have engaged in dialogue with Israeli students.
In his interview, rather than use “debate” to explain the week’s events, Toledano used “conversation” to refer to the dialogue between those who are pro-Israel and those who are pro-Palestine as the word does not convey hostility but rather logic and thought.
“We want to engage with people, we do not want people to feel hurt. Now look, these issues are a little tense for some people,” Toledano said. “But it’s about going in and being willing to have a conversation, to talk about peace, [and] to talk about coexistence.”
Aside from their annual Jewish Solidarity Week, Tritons for Israel periodically hosts other events centered around the Jewish culture and lifestyle for students to attend.
Photo courtesy of the algemeiner.