Hat tip to my friend Ted
During this month's annual Nakba* Week at UC-Irvine (my term), my friend Ted happened to engage in a conversation with some members of the Muslim Student Union, which was sponsoring the week of anti-Israel events. Ted same that of three MSU members he spoke to only one identified himself as a Palestinian. He then asked the others exactly what stake they and other MSU students who were not Palestinian had in the conflict. Well, we know, of course that the standard answer is that the MSU is committed to social justice anywhere in the world and all that stuff. The question, however, is valid. If you are an American Muslim of Pakistani, Iraqi, Afghani, Egyptian, Syrian, Iranian, or any descent other than that which is called "Palestinian", why is this one issue so important to you-so important that you hold a week of anti-Israel events every year? Why all the BDS movements on one college campus after another to divest from companies doing business with Israel?
Even if you agree to the proposition that Israelis and Jews have no valid claim to the disputed land, please explain why you are all over this issue and not involved in protesting a whole sea of human rights abuses that are going on in the very lands your families immigrated from. I also apply this question to organizations like CAIR, MPAC, ISNA, ICNA, and a host of other US Muslim groups made up of people from many diverse nationalities.
Why Israel? Why not protest the persecution of Christians in Egypt or Syria or Pakistan or the persecution of gays and Baha'i in Iran, for just a few examples? What about the constant horrors going on in Sudan? How about the horrors being perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria? What about what Libyans did to four Americans in Benghazi? I have yet to see any university protests about that.
If it's "occupation" and "stealing land" you are worried about, why not protest Russia as it carves up Ukraine piece by piece? I have yet to see any BDS resolutions against companies doing business with Russia on any college campus. How about a boycott of Stolichnaya vodka?
Now I will answer my own questions. The reason is simple. The one commonality here between the Palestinians and American Muslims of so many different national origins is religion. The Palestinians are overwhelmingly Muslim. That is the connection. The connection in the US and Europe is the same as it is in the Middle East. Israel is a Jewish state in a sea of Muslim nations that will never accept Israel existing as a Jewish state. Why? Read your history. Read the Koran and its many damning references to Jews (and Christians). Read the Hadith. Read about the life of Mohammad, the Prophet and warrior. Is it any coincidence that as we speak, Christians are being persecuted and driven from Muslim countries? They would be doing the same to the Jews except the Jews were already driven out of the Arab countries in 1948-1950 and are now largely in Israel-protected from Arab attack by a strong military-not to mention that ever so evil "Apartheid Wall" that keeps Israelis and Palestinian suicide bombers apart.
Do you really think that the surrounding Arab countries give a hoot about the Palestinians, whom they have kept cooped up in squalid refugee camps ever since the 1948 fighting? Hardly. They are considered a nuisance and troublemakers. They are useful only as permanently displaced refugees to use against Israel as propaganda in world forums. Why have these Palestinians (Arabs) not been allowed to assimilate into Arab countries as citizens (exception: Jordan)? Why is there to this day a permanent UN refugee agency for Palestinians only (UNRWA)?
It is all hypocrisy. The next time you talk to one of these people crying about the fate of the Palestinian people, ask them why they have no similar outrage for all the other conflicts going on in the world. Bottom line: This conflict is not about who owned which plot of land 70 years ago. It is about religion.
* Nakba- The Arabic word for catastrophe, which has been coined to refer to the creation of the state of Israel.