Debunking false narratives and racist remarks about the Israeli occupation of Palestine

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Blogger Rafaella Karadsheh couldn't disagree more with an opinion piece recently published by UU alumni Jos Hummelen, titled "Why UU should invest in ties with Israel". She finds his arguments misleading and problematic.

In this blog, I would like to react to the opinion piece recently published on DUB by alumni Jos Hummelen. While I recognise that publishing a Zionist response is to be expected from a journalistic perspective, the article is full of false narratives and racist remarks.

I will address a few of the countless microaggressions and misinformation in this article, and explain why they are problematic. Firstly, Jos continuously refuses to identify Palestinians, instead referring to them as ‘Arabs’, a tactic often used to erase the Palestinian identity when Zionists call for their expulsion (which occurs despite evidence that the Palestinian identity and people have existed dating back to the 17th century).

The article also spreads the false narrative that Palestinians (or ‘Arabs’) are treated equally in Israel.
"There is no hint of racial segregation in Israel, nor on Israeli campuses," he wrote. Firstly, Palestinians are heavily underrepresented in Israeli higher education, a reflection of the restricting policies and power imbalances in place. Educational inequalities and discrimination towards Palestinians is prevalent, with such inequalities being greatest among kindergarten education. Secondly, there is an illegal ‘separation’ wall that quite literally separates Palestinians living in the West bank from Israel. It is riddled with countless military checkpoints in addition to its presence would argue that there is, in fact, racial segregation in Israel. As expected, this wall has severe impacts on thousands of Palestinians. Notably, Jos also explained that there are no similarities between apartheid South Africa and Palestinians under Israeli occupation, a statement disputed by many scholars. You can read more about the similarities and differences here, here, here, and here.

I don’t even know where to begin with the phrase “alleged human rights violations”. It is single-handedly the most demeaning and undermining statement I have read in my life. A whole population has been facing discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and genocide for over 70 years and these are labelled "alleged" violations? A quick Google search will show hundreds of violations that occurred within the past few months alone. I could easily write an essay deconstructing each microaggression present in this text, but I’ll assume that my few examples backed by academic sources prove the point.

Moving onto the blatant macro-aggression that I am shocked was included. “Israel is not located in Scandinavia, but in the Middle East, where dictatorial regimes use chemical weapons on their own populations, where rampant corruption and bloody tribal conflicts are the order of the day.” Again, I don’t even know where to begin. The stereotype of a "violent Arab" is not foreign, but I thought we reached a point that 1. Everyone can recognise this is racist; and 2. Everyone can recognise why this is racist. This narrative normalises discrimination and maltreatment of Arabs and serves to legitimise it (also not to mention, is incredibly false and plays into the perception that non-western countries are "uncivilised").

Being a Jordanian Arab, words cannot even begin to describe how hurt and angry this sentence makes me, but to be completely honest, the fact that this sentence was published on a public platform (without anyone realising how racist it is) scares me. By publishing this piece, and actively choosing to keep this sentence in, DUB signals itself as a inhospitable place for students of colour, and spreads the message that such statements are okay within UU’s contexts. It is not okay.

To simply put it, this article was an extremely disturbing series of racist in incorrect propaganda statements masked as a "response piece".

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