North Texas Daily

Student group discusses nationalist movement

Student group discusses nationalist movement

Student group discusses nationalist movement
November 13
00:09 2014

Dalton LaFerney / Senior Staff Writer

History made a complicated and bloody visit to the forefront of the world’s conscience this summer, as violence and terror in Gaza eclipsed the true essence of the conflict that has lasted for decades. But a deeper, more insightful conversation is alive and well at UNT.

The UNT Students for Justice in Palestine is set on keeping Palestinian nationalist efforts alive. With less than 20 members, UNT SJP is part of the larger National Students for Justice in Palestine.

“The Palestinian narrative is often shut down by Westerners,” English and French senior Andrew Bennett said. “As SJP, part of what we do is amplify that voice, and to let people know that Palestinians exist over there.”

The group meets at 6:30 p.m. each Thursday in Language 114. McBride said the meetings con-sist of open discussions and project planning among the members.

Like the national organization, UNT SJP encourages all students and faculty to boycott Israeli-made products.

“We are a part of Denton Anti-War Network, but we do organize as Students for Justice in Palestine,” history junior Clinton McBride said. “Starting this semester we have really focused our efforts on trying to build the SJP on campus, and making that initiative here.”


An illustration personifying the violence between Israel and Palestine.

History of hostility

The dispute over Israel, Gaza and the West Bank has had a lasting presence in history but intensified after World War I. The U.K. occupied the land from 1917 until 1948, when the U.N. decided on a partition plan that would divide it.

“Some of it would go to establish a Jewish state, and some of it would go to establish an Arab state,” history professor Guy Chet said. “But the Arab leadership in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq rejected it.”

The partition was established, but a civil war broke out immediately. The war ended in 1949, re-sulting in treaties that again divided the land.

In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was formed to regain land and seek liberation from Israeli occupation.

“Often you will hear that the Palestinians resisted the occupation,” Chet said. “That occupation started in 1967, and the PLO was established in 1964. So the Palestinians’ problem with Israel is the 1948 borders — the existence of Israel — not the occupied West Bank or the now-independent Gaza.”

War broke out again for six days in 1967. The result left Israel with the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza and the peninsula from Egypt.

Eventually, the Israelis gave the Sinai Peninsula back to Egypt and offered Gaza but the Egyptians refused. Likewise, Jordan turned down the offer. 

“The Jordanians decided they no longer wanted the West Bank,” professor and Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis said. “In 1969, the PLO tried to overthrow the Jordanian government in the Black September movement. They decided controlling more Palestinians was more dangerous than it was safe.” 

In 2000, Israel offered about 95 percent of the West Bank to Palestine. Likewise, in 2008, the Palestinians turned down a much larger offer from Israel. 

The blame game

The Israelis, backed by the U.S., have been unable to defeat Hamas, a terrorist organization that controls Gaza as result of the 2006 Palestinian elections. McBride and Bennett claim U.S. interests in the conflict are due to imperialist goals in the oil-rich region.

“It’s important for students in the U.S. to take up some knowledge of this issue because Israel would not exist without the backing and funding of the U.S.,” McBride said. “We have a responsibility to make sure that in the name of the U.S., we are not participating in human rights violations.”

Richard Golden is the director of the UNT Jewish and Israel Studies Program, but represents himself as a historian for this article. In an email, Golden and his colleagues Chet, Dennis and political science professor Richard Ruderman wrote U.S. involvement has nothing to do with expansion or oil, but rather with Americans identifying with the Israelis.

“Most Americans feel great sympathy toward a small country surrounded by dozens of countries and hundreds of millions who have tried repeatedly to conquer it,” they wrote. “When Americans look at Israel, they see a people whose values and accomplishments they share, respect and admire.”

The professors said if SJP were interested in justice, they would condemn Hamas, eliminate honor killings of Palestinian women, stop the lynching of gay people, practice religious toler-ance, promote democracy and stop honoring murders.

“Even the Nazis tried to hide their bestial acts of murder and cruelty,” they wrote.

McBride and Bennett said the international media does not properly report the conflict.

“The No. 1 thing the media misses is that the United States is implicit,” McBride said. “Every bomb that is dropped by Israel on the people living in the West Bank was bought by the United States, or one of its allies. The United States is helping to commit genocide.”

McBride said the best way to get educated on the issue is to start with Wikipedia, and there are many resources students may seek from there.

Israel receives $3 billion in aid each year from the U.S., while Israel’s gross domestic product is $291 billion. The U.S. spends $3.3 billion each year in aid to the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

“The Palestinians obtain their missiles and bombs from Iran, North Korea and other nations un-friendly to both the U.S. and Israel,” the professors wrote. “American political backing for Israel has been strong and consistent. Still, the U.S. has repeatedly rebuffed Israeli efforts to block arms deals between the U.S. and other Arab regimes.”

The strife does not have an end in sight, but UNT SJP is open for business, circulating pro-Palestinian understanding and looking for expansion.

“Students have always had a unique place throughout the history of social movements,” McBride said. “There is a common place where people can meet and share their thoughts and ideas about the world.”

Featured Illustration: A map depicting Gaza. Illustrations by Jake Bowerman – Senior Staff Illustrator

About Author

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton is the editor of the Daily.

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