UC support for Israel should continue

In a profoundly poignant and erudite speech on Sept. 17, Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers expanded on what he saw as a growing anti-Israel bias throughout the world. Indeed, the increasing fervor against the right of a Jewish state to exist should strike anyone as unusual.

“”[I thought] the question of the right of a Jewish state to exist had been settled in the affirmative by the world community,”” Summers said before going on to discuss growing doubtfulness on the words. And he seems to be right.

Summers asked us to consider some of the global events of the last year: synagogue burnings, physical assaults on Jews, or the painting of swastikas on Jewish memorials, all taking place in nearly every European nation. Particularly disturbing is the trend of supporting candidates who denied the significance of the Holocaust. In France and Denmark, politicians with such persuasions reached the runoff stage of elections for the nations’ highest offices.

What Summers also brings to our attention is that “”profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities.””

In accordance with other “”progressive intellectual communities,”” our very own UC faculty has created what they call the “”University of California Faculty Petition for Divestment from Israel.”” Boasting 196 UC faculty signatures as of Oct. 2, 2002, — 23 from UCSD — the divestment campaign calls for “”the University of California to divest from Israel, and from U.S. companies that sell arms to Israel.””

Israel is just one of the many nations to receive U.S. foreign aid. Let’s not forget that Israel is arguably the only true democracy in an area rife with dictators and fascists and has only gone to war for defensive purposes. (Don’t forget the Gulf War, during which Israel sat idly by at the request of American leaders in hopes of solidifying the Arab coalition against Saddam Hussein.)

Maybe we need to pay attention to the other side of this great conflict to understand Israel’s plight.

A report released by the Israeli government titled “”The Arafat Papers”” details Yasser Arafat’s involvement in the sponsoring of suicide bombers and terror. In fact, a main finding of the report concluded, “”Yasser Arafat was personally involved in the planning and execution of terror attacks. He encouraged them ideologically, authorized them financially and personally headed the Fatah Al Aqsa Brigades organization.””

It was none other than Arafat himself who said, “”Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else.”” Is it then any wonder why we need to support Israel? If not, an entire nation and people will be wiped off the face of the planet. And some people are actually willing to let that happen.

Facts and Logic About the Middle East, a nonprofit educational organization, supports U.S. aid to Israel. The organization argues that the $2.8 billion in aid is fiscally reasonable because “”Israel’s military and political importance [as the only real democracy] in the Middle East and its strategic position stabilize the entire area … [all] without having a single American soldier stationed in its territory.””

Clearly, the benefit of sending money to Israel rather than having to send thousands of American troops to keep the peace — putting American soldiers’ lives at risk and costing us even greater sums of money — is well worth it. The situation should be viewed in terms of preventative and not reactionary aid.

One of the main beliefs, and indeed an argument right at the beginning of the UC Divest petition, is that “”continual military occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory by Israeli armed forces and settlers”” is unacceptable.

F.L.A.M.E. challenges this notion by pointing out that “”Israel acquired the territories (the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza) in defense of an aggressive war waged against it. No country in history has ever been asked to return such territories. Do the Poles return the huge chunk of Germany that they acquired in the wake of World War II? Do the Czechs return the Sudetenland? Do the French return Alsace-Lorraine?””

In this call for the return of the “”occupied territories,”” those in opposition to Israel say that peace will only ensue once territories are returned. But I ask them, if Israel was once attacked at those boundaries where there were no occupied territories (in the first of six succeeding offensive wars waged against Israel), what makes them so sure it won’t happen again? More and more, that argument seems a first step in the destruction of Israel, not a resolution of peace.

All in all, why is Israel constantly being held to a different standard? If no other nations are being called to return territories won in war, much less won in a defensive war, then why is Israel being asked to do so? The bottom line: War is not a game where you can say, “”Oops, do-over.”” War is for keeps. A nation going to war against another nation has to realize the consequences.

Those who play around with extreme intentions of genocide are doomed to revel in the consequences and accept the outcome. War is serious, not something to be toyed with, especially when the purpose is a crime against humanity — the removal of a people and their nation.