Op/Ed: To those who attended Israel gala
“While students celebrate Israel, we mourn.”
Recently, AU Students for Israel, Ameripac and J Street U hosted an on campus event called the Israel Gala, where students could learn about the pro-Israel clubs on campus and eat “Israeli” food.
But what is there to celebrate?
This summer, more than 2000 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Operation Protective Edge. That’s two thousand mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends.
Palestinians live under occupation and apartheid. There have been over 27,000 Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. These settlements are illegal under international law and force families out of their homes and into refuge. They cannot return. Palestinians are not allowed to live or work in the majority of the land that used to be theirs.
They are put under constant scrutiny and brutality by the military that protects Israelis. While we go to school and stress over midterms, Palestinian students sit by empty chairs that used to seat their fallen friends. One Palestinian child has been killed by an Israeli soldier every three days, and that’s before this past summer. The United States gives billions of dollars a year to Israel and this is how Palestinians live.
So forgive us for not embracing Israel or its culture. While students celebrate Israel at events like these, where they will probably tell you is apolitical, we mourn. We mourn for Palestinians and their families who have to simultaneously get over their lost loved ones and rebuild their own lives that were destroyed. We mourn for those living in both Palestine and Israel who are traumatized by the violence this summer, before this summer and ongoing.
This is a challenge to students here. When you see the gala, or if you decide to go it, take some time to think about what you’re celebrating. You may think you’re simply enjoying some falafel and meeting new friends, but going to events like “Israel Gala” means you’re turning the other direction from the violence and injustice we try so hard to eliminate.
American University Students for Justice in Palestine