Why the Supposed “Unimpacted” Party Is Involved

Americans are contributors to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Students for Justice in Palestine at Guilford College is a relatively new club that seeks to educate the campus and humanize a geographically distant conflict. We seek to address the connection between our lives and those under occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We also hope to answer the needs of the many Palestinian refugees forced to flee their homes and live across the globe. I am writing this article in hopes to convince particularly white American college students that they’re actually deeply involved in the conflict despite the geographical distance.

When discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is common discourse that the damage is too far away, too unrelatable and that American college students ultimately have no impact. Furthermore, to increase the lack of involvement, there is a general apathy amongst modern college students, from those who assert that they care about social justice to those who don’t. Those who assert they care often don’t act; therefore, I have no qualms in claiming them apathetic. If one’s values are used to grant them mere social capital, then I assure you the caring is fairly limited. However, I am not interested in just pointing fingers of dismissal and critique; instead, I hope to prove that the seemingly “unimpacted” party is actually fairly involved, throughout history into the modern day.

Let me begin with eugenics — the ideological foundation of the Holocaust. Eugenics is a puritan ideal that spread originally in American legal documents and later were adopted by Hitler and his Nazi army. The Puritans sought a white supremacist nation and used the theory of eugenics to justify the native genocide here on American social.

This brings me to my next point: we live on colonized land. When addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as modern-day colonialism, we see a native removal through exile and slaughter much like in the Americas.

Beyond eugenics having a home in the U.S., we should also take note that the U.S. was critical in deciding where to relocate the Jews. There were discussions around placing them in Ethiopia before deciding on the “religious home of the Jews” which was admittedly easier to sell. The Jews didn’t function as mere colonizers like the Brits and Spaniards here in the states; they were relocated after the Holocaust. Eugenics has been used to justify the extermination of the “less-than” human in many conditions. It’s a white supremacist notion seeing Anglo and Scandinavian features as supreme.

Anti-Semitism is quickly growing in the West — in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Yet every time “Anti-semitism” is used only in relation to Israel, the realities are minimized. Islamophobia is also rampant in the U.S., Canada and Europe justifying marches, threats and murders. This requires education of the white-Christo member of society, as well as the white, secular member, because they’re clearly involved, opinionated and acting on their notions.

Most importantly, your tax dollars fund the Israeli occupation; your consumerism funds the military termination of small Gazan children and long-time desperate, dehumanized adults. American economics heavily entwine with our most-funded ally, Israel. This following election will aid in determining how we view peace in the region, or if it is even on the table and a part of discussion.

Furthermore, Americans associate with humanitarianism and human rights are being regularly, daily, hourly violated in the region. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights there is a principle called the “right to return” which intends to allow people to return to their country of origin. Hospitals and schools have been bombed, emptied and terrorized by the Israeli Defence Forces. The illegal settlements break international law, which many Americans turn to for an understanding of global justice.

Quaker Values lend themselves to social justice and seeking inward. Ramallah Friends School, a Quaker high school located in Palestine, has given us many impassioned students that have much to teach about what it’s like to live under occupation. There is Quaker responsibility for Guilford to answer to this conflict in an intuitive, compassionate, non-normalizing way. There is nothing worth normalizing about ethnic cleansing, division based on race or pure nation-states. The Puritan ideal of an entirely white America failed, but we live with the consequences of our strides today. Let us interact here and abroad with power dynamics and give voice to humanization of conflict.

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