Students for Justice in Palestine hosted Eran Efrati and Maya Wind, a former Israeli soldier and a critic of the Israeli draft, respectively, to speak about their experiences in the Israeli military, the West Bank, and Gaza on January 16. While this event could have been effective in discussing how to ameliorate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Efrati and Wind used this event as a medium to misrepresent the facts and spread their hateful, baseless, and purely emotional conspiracies about Israel. As a result of inviting speakers like these to come to Tulane, SJP has lost credibility for trying to achieve honest dialogue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Efrati and Wind’s distortion of the facts and negative attitudes while claiming to endorse one peaceful land for two peoples were appalling. First, Efrati gave the audience an inaccurate history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He falsely stated that the violence between the Jews and Palestinians began after 1948, when the modern State of Israel was established. More deplorable was that Efrati and Wind justified Palestinian acts of terror by claiming they are a part of Palestinian struggle for self-determination while living under Israeli rule. Instead of promoting peace, as they so claimed to be doing, their justification of terrorism in Israel and spreading of lies only incites terrorism and strengthens those who want to wipe Israel off the map.
Efrati and Wind really astonished me, however, with their two conspiracy theories. First, Efrati claimed that since the Israeli police trains various police forces from the United States, the Israeli police is “globalizing arrangements and training to oppress us.” This is a ludicrous claim that doesn’t belong in intellectual discourse. It was an emotional statement intentionally said to coerce the audience to detest Israel and its existence. Efrati’s second conspiracy theory accused Israeli Jews of having “sent a delegation [to Arab and Muslim countries after WWII ended] to terrorize synagogues, to burn synagogues, to hurt people and…to tell them the only safe place you have is Israel.” This absurd accusation actually describes the real horrors Jews living in Arab and Muslim countries faced after the declaration of the State of Israel. It was not, however, the “Israeli Jews” who brought this terror upon them, but their Muslim and Arab neighbors. This is well documented in the Middle East Quarterly and the Jerusalem Post, unlike Efrati’s claim. These lies work to portray the goals of Efrati and Wind to delegitimize Israel’s existence and Jewish immigration to Israel.
Efrati and Wind’s goal of this lecture was not to promote peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and they failed to produce a meaningful dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Consequently, it is impossible to digest Efrati and Wind’s lecture without considering how their outrageous presentation reflects upon SJP. By hosting such speakers, SJP promoted a distorted history, which in turn can be used to incite terrorism and hatred for Israel. It’s a shame that the attendees who were genuinely interested in understanding the complex issues of the Israel-Palestinian conflict were instead given a fabricated historical account that justified terrorism and attacked Israel’s legitimacy. It’s clear that SJP does not care about having an honest, fruitful discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. SJP has lost all its legitimacy, but I hope curious students will take the time and take advantage of other opportunities to learn the truth about Israel and the issues surrounding the conflict.