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Letter: Two state solution referendum is preferable to divestment

To the Editor:

In Kyle Price’s ’20 recent op-ed, the author opposes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel. As a Jew, I’m reluctantly against BDS and fearful that it could become a camouflage for blatantly anti-Semitic activities.

That said, Price’s article is shockingly oblivious to the existential problem that propels radical solutions like BDS. Notwithstanding the op-ed’s vigorous defense of the allegedly equal status of Palestinian-Israelis, it is a smoke screen to avoid peering into the abyss — the status of about five million Palestinians who reside in the West Bank and Gaza.

For over 50 years these individuals have been occupied or blockaded by the Israeli state. Their numbers exceed the population of 27 states in the United States. This population is stateless, lacks freedom of movement and has grossly inadequate access to water, electricity and medical care. It is consigned to poverty.

Though one can build walls so you can’t see them and pretend they don’t exist, they profoundly exist to me. I have visited and shared meals with them and heard about their aspirations and frustrations. I have felt love and fear for their children. Like many of us, they awake each morning, take their kids to school and go to work. They love their children no less than we love ours. Yet for many of them, the future is beyond bleak.

The thought that some people are worth less than others is the root of our worst problems. The separation wall and blockade against Palestinians entering Israel makes it seem as if Israel believes Palestinians are less deserving than Israelis and Jews. We cannot be oblivious to the inhumane desperation of five million souls and still think we are civilized. Empathy is the oxygen of morality.

It is unproductive to play the blame card. There’s plenty of blame on both sides. We cannot change the past. Let’s create a better future.

In Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence, it identifies itself as a Jewish, democratic State. Right now, it is not fully either. Only the establishment of a Palestinian state can fulfill this promise. The current Israeli government has fought every attempt at a two-state solution.

The Knesset moving closer to annexing the West Bank, which may follow Israel’s April elections.  Israel is pursuing an unconscionable path that will lead to more moral indignation and international isolation. Increasingly it will be termed an apartheid state. The radicals will gain adherents until a two state solution is agreed and enacted.

Thus, the UCS referendum should be refocused to provide a resolution supporting a two State solution, rather than one promoting BDS and the dangerous precedent it sets.

Stephen Robert ’62 P ’91 LHD (hon.) 2004, former chancellor of Brown


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