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Tuesday, May 30, 2023 — Houston, TX

Beware of dissenters, reinvestigate the real Israel


Photo courtesy Sydney Rodman

By Sydney Rodman     4/26/23 2:07pm

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

Israel is a special place and arguably the most misunderstood in the world. We will be celebrating Israel’s 75th birthday at Rice, commemorating the occasion with a conference hosted by the Baker Institute on April 27, 2023. It is important to understand that the Jewish connection to the land of Israel goes back thousands of years. Jews were always in this land before Israel was created. As I prepare to graduate, having founded a Students Supporting Israel chapter at Rice, I want students to be informed about Israel and Palestine. There are many people who spew misinformation and will not want to listen to facts because of the false narrative they love to believe.

I want to celebrate Israel, as the ‘‘Israel at 75’’ event at the Baker Institute plans to. However, Students for Justice in Palestine at Rice is demanding to cancel the event.  SJP is a national organization rooted in violence. They call for boycott, divestment and sanctioning of Israel. In doing so, this hurts Palestinians. For example, when Ben and Jerry’s decided to remove their stores in the West Bank as an uninformed political statement, they hurt the lives of the Palestinians they employed. In 2018, SJP at the University of California, Irvine was placed on a two-year probation due to their actions against an Israel culture club hosting a movie screening for “discriminatory and disruptive behavior again against Jewish and pro-Israel students.” I hope students recognize the hypocrisy and danger of their ideas. They are a danger to those with opposing ideas and I hope Rice students can conduct their own research on what SJP does and what SJP says they do around the country. 

The Palestinian Authority used 8% of its budget as of 2017 in order to pay salaries to terrorists or the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis. The deadlier your attack, the bigger payment your family receives. This policy is known as the Pay for Slay policy that the U.S. Congress voted against in a bi-partisan law called the Taylor Force law. Taylor was a U.S. Veteran and Vanderbilt student who was murdered by a terrorist that got rewarded for the killing. The hubris of college students around the U.S. that claim apartheid and war criminality, especially at Rice, do not understand the Palestinian experience. In no way does Israel represent an apartheid and the claim is ridiculous. The boycott, divestment and sanction movement repeats this lie loudly and ceaselessly. I encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with the topic to find out what it’s like to live in Palestine territory and talk to those who they wish to support. I also want Palestinians in the Middle East to not feel displaced and to have a stronger feeling of home, but this should not come at the expense of Zionists who are willing to find ways for both people.

I want to thank Rice for the opportunity to attend “Israel at 75” and a chance to learn more about how world leaders are addressing the conflict in Israel and Palestine. I would have to wait 25 years for Israel’s 100th birthday to know where the next big celebration is and I definitely won’t have an opportunity to attend an event quite like this one ever again. 

I will always have hope for a better future. I will always stay informed. Spreading hate is never the way. Many people act out, but we all have the power as leaders to right the wrongs of past generations. Let’s work to unite people with correct information and a will for peace and collaboration.

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