In The Davis Enterprise of Dec. 27, Tom Elias wrote, “Stop Whitewashing Anti-Semitism.” He describes a theatrical event performed two years ago by Berkeley students; they set up mock checkpoints and demanded that Jewish students passing through identify themselves as such.
This protest demonstrated what happens every day to Palestinians in their land. Elias deplores the decision by both the Berkeley administrators and the U.S. Department of Education to exonerate this act of anti-Semitism. He warns that this decision might enable further anti-Semitism, and even, by extension, he alludes to the horrors of Nazi Germany and the possibility of future hate crimes against other groups.
What Elias never mentions are the reasons for the student protests. Israelis have colonized the occupied territories and continuously entrench their presence. Illegal land confiscation and settlements grow apace; and, in a horrible increase of violence, the Israeli army carries out night raids on Palestinian houses and villages, arresting and often murdering men, women and children.
This army uproots Palestinian trees and burns their fields. Multiple checkpoints restrict any ability to move freely about, to go to work or reach a hospital, and are strangling the economic life of the Palestinians.
In the meantime, Gaza has become a giant, open-air prison without the most basic amenities. Electricity is scarce, and after the recent floods, rainwater mixed with sewage fills the homes. Fresh drinking water is almost unattainable, and the ongoing siege of Gaza keeps the people just above the level of starvation. The living standard is so abysmal that the United Nations has predicted that by 2020, Gaza will be unlivable.
The students’ act was not anti-Semitic. It was a nonviolent method of exposing one part of the atrocious disintegration of human rights for Palestinians in that tortured land. They should be applauded.