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Op-Ed: GW student submission regarding SR-S18-21

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George Washington University

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Op-Ed: GW student submission regarding SR-S18-21

Submission about SR-S18-21

4.16.18

The following is a submission from Jennifer Tischler, GW sophomore, regarding SR-S18-21. This opinion does not reflect the views of The Rival. The Rival does not take a stance.

On April 16, the GW Student Association will take its second annual vote on SR-S18-21-“The Protection of Palestinian Human Rights Act”- a bill outlining why the university should divest from American companies supporting Israel. Despite its name, the bill in question does nothing to do so and only serves to corrode dialogue and oversimplify a complex geopolitical issue. A university student association is not the right place to make symbolic political gestures; discussing such a complex issue in the student senate will inevitably lead to an oversimplification of the situation, which hurts Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the efforts of advocates on both sides.

Bills promoting divestment are dangerous because they promote a narrative that demonizes Israel by asserting that the state is the only source of violence in this multifaceted conflict.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a long, complicated history. Policymakers all over the world debate and analyze the implications of recognizing Israel, the status of Jerusalem and other security concerns. Previous efforts to unilaterally shape the course of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations such as President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel are quickly denounced by advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and yet these same voices also argue for the US to one-sidedly involve itself in the conflict through divestments and other forms of singling out Israel among all other nations in the world.

The divestment bill introduced to the GW SA states an interest in helping “other communities globally,” but this is a dubious claim at best--targeted criticisms of Israel will not accomplish their stated goal, but will only alienate Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus.

How can one argue that the United States cannot individually influence peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians but then also support calls to boycott Israel into submission? This contradicting rhetoric is hypocritical and does nothing to support any possibility of peace in the region. Arguing that the United States shouldn’t unilaterally influence the conflict but then urging domestic boycotts of Israel is counterintuitive. Not only does this double standard dismiss the complexity of the conflict, it actively detracts from any possibility of peace by pushing a narrative of Palestinian oppression that completely ignores the Israeli perspective.

Ultimately, the student senate of an American university is not the right place to discuss such a complex issue. The GW Student Association must deliberate on issues that affect the entire student body, not push legislation that presents a skewed and oversimplified view of such a divisive conflict. Important geopolitical negotiations should be left to Israelis and Palestinians to resolve, not negatively influenced by such damaging BDS rhetoric or this divestment bill at GW.

Dialogue is incredibly important, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should certainly be discussed among the student body at GW. However, passing SR-218-21 through the GW senate is not the right time or place to do it.


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