THE SANTA CLARA
October 24, 2013
Brad Parker, guest speaker at a Culture and Conflict Forum event on campus last week, just broke the hearts of a few dozen audience members.
An attorney for Defense for Children International Palestine, Parker and Josh Ruebner, a former Middle East analyst for the Congressional Research Service, held a discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The discussion centered on Ruebner’s book, “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace,” and the U.S.’s role in brokering a negotiated deal between Israel and Palestine to further the so-called “peace process.”
Parker’s message was simple: Educate the public about the systemized trial of Palestinian children in Israeli military courts in the Occupied West Bank. This includes the torture that these children and their families undergo.
As it turns out, the Israeli military court system in the West Bank manipulates minors into the confession of exaggerated crimes through means of physical harassment, psychological torture, solitary confinement and food deprivation.
Families are left terrified with no idea of where exactly their children are or how long they will be detained.
In the end, this works as a pretty effective deterrent for younger siblings, preventing them from making anti-Israeli statements or showing up at peaceful demonstrations.
These abuses are in addition to the increasing number of Israeli settlements on traditionally Palestinian territory, which has even earned the ire of the United States.
After an hour and a half of blood-boiling frustration with the tribulations that families in the West Bank undergo, the discussion turned to — you guessed it — the “What You Can Do” section.
And that’s when the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement came up.
I’d first heard of the movement last year when I stumbled across an article about the University of California, Berkeley. It flaunted the surprising passage of a bill that basically stated that the campus would divest funds from any corporations or organizations associated with the Israeli military and its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.
To be blunt, as protest, it reduces the amount of money that goes to Israel.
I’d always been interested in these “divestment bills,” but after a decent amount of time and research, I’ve finally figured out what exactly the bill does on university campuses (though they are not the only location or organization where human rights supporters have tried to pass the bill).
It is not so much about taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it is addressing particular wrongs committed by one side.
Israel’s military is a Middle East powerhouse, and while their concern for security is understandable, for too long it has given them license to do what they want, in the name of national security.
BDS is basically a movement undertaken and supported by Palestinian support organizations that calls for and seeks to implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until the nation withdraws from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and grants full rights to Palestinian civilians and refugees.
The U.S. has been one of the strongest supporters of Israel since Israel’s founding in 1947, and Israel is the U.S.’s strongest supporter in the Middle East, especially now that Egypt is in deep turmoil.
The fact that the U.S. supported or at least remained neutral in instances of Israeli aggression such as the Suez Crisis and Six Day War makes even their disapproval of Israeli settlements and abuses worthy of note.
Supporters of the bill talk about pressuring an end to the illegal construction of settlements on Palestinian territory, while opponents of the bill call it out on its focus on Israel and claim it to be too one-sided.
But the purpose behind the bill remains clear — its intention is to decrease human rights abuses and violations in the West Bank and Gaza via a method undertaken by the U.S. and other nations in their approach to apartheid in South Africa.
Talk about history repeating itself.
Nhada Ahmed is a freshman political science major.