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Conversation, Not Confrontation: Moving Forward Together

Posted by Shapiro Ron on February 27, 2012 @ 1:59 am

In preparation for Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine’s ‘Israeli Apartheid Week,’ below is the text for the Columbia/Barnard Hillel Israel Va’ad fact sheet. Click here for the flyer image file.

Sustained Security

  • Since construction of the security barrier began in 2003, the number of terrorist attacks in Israel has declined by 97%.
  • The purpose of the barrier is to establish security, not to create a social divide. It is not the permanent solution.

Economic Progress

  • The Palestine Investment Conference is actively working on new and innovative ideas to advance the Palestinian economy. One project is the planned city of Rawabi, which is in its early stages, and once it is fully built, it will be the first planned Palestinian city.1
  • Ramallah, the largest city in the West Bank, has been undergoing a construction boom, and the large increases in property development are indicators of strong economic growth.2
  • There have also been positive joint economic ventures, such as the burgeoning relationship between the Palestinian city of Jenin and the Israeli area of Gilboa. The two cities have worked to create joint business enterprises and are planning an industrial zone to connect the two cities.3

Working Towards Democracy

  • Since the Oslo Peace Accords, 96% of Palestinians live under full Palestinian civil administration, of which 55% live under Palestinian security control as well.
  • The Palestinian Authority has instituted its own criminal justice system and court structure to try Palestinian people according to their own legal system.
  • The prospect of a viable Palestinian state is moving towards becoming a reality. This state will govern its own people by passing and enforcing its own laws. Israel, judged by its repeated offers to the Palestinians to create a Palestinian state, wants such a state to be created; Israel does not want Palestinians to continue to live under its authority.

Civil Equality

  • All Israelis, including Arabs, have equal rights.
  • Arabs have been elected to every Knesset (Israeli Parliament) since Israel’s founding. At present Arabs hold 14 of 120 seats.
  • Palestinians living in the West Bank can bring cases to the Israeli Supreme Court if they feel that the security barrier causes them excessive harm. In the past, the Court has ruled in favor of Palestinians and ordered the route of the barrier to be moved.4

1http://huff.to/89gSkd

2http://reut.rs/g1j213

3http://www.jpost.com/LocalIsrael/Article.aspx?id=157631

4http://www.jpost.com/topic/Alfei_Menashe


Ivy League Letter to PennBDS

Posted by hannaflesh on February 7, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

This letter, written by Hanna Flesh – Director of Political Affairs, Shira Poliak – Director of Public Relations, and Eric Schorr – President, was sent to the University of Pennsylvania before last weekend as the PennBDS conference was about to begin.

As pro-Israel, pro-peace campus and community leaders from across the Ivy League, we join together to condemn the BDS movement and its conference at the University of Pennsylvania the weekend of February 3, 2012. We salute the pro-Israel organizations and the many Penn students who are spreading awareness about Israel’s religious, political and cultural diversity. Boycotts are an obstacle to peace.  They constrain dialogue by placing all the blame on one side. The BDS Movement fails to recognize Israel’s prior offerings of peace that have been categorically rejected by Palestinian leadership and therefore seeks to vilify Israel.

If the PennBDS organizers were truly interested in a lasting peace, they would have chosen a different path. Boycotting Israel does nothing to help Palestinians improve their own lives, or to help build democratic institutions where few exist.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be resolved through bilateral negotiations and mutual recognition. To create a strong foundation for peace we must support both economies by buying Israeli and Palestinian products alike. We should be supporting organizations like Hand in Hand, which builds integrated schools for Israeli and Arab children so that they can grow and learn together in the same classroom. If those behind the BDS movement truly believe in a two-state solution, they will support measures to bring the two sides together, not draw them further apart.

We, the undersigned, therefore reaffirm our solidarity with the students of University of Pennsylvania and the greater Philadelphia community. We applaud their efforts to tackle the challenges presented by the BDS movement and other anti-Israel campaigns. Finally, we pledge our continued support in defense of the State of Israel, a democratic state and stalwart ally of the United States, on our college campuses and in our communities across the country.

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