David Sloviter: Making peace involves dialogue with opposition

  • University of Massachusetts Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. gazette file photo

Published: 11/8/2019 4:31:31 PM
Modified: 11/8/2019 4:31:18 PM

Kudos to UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy for taking a public stand against another one-sided pretense at dialogue.

The latest event to justify the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is no more open to discussion and opposing views than the last one organized by the same people. The freedom of speech that the chancellor so rightly champions will have no place at this event.

The BDS movement makes no attempt at fairness. It denies any responsibility on the part of the Palestinians for their problems. It also denies the humanity of Israelis as it attacks the Israelis for what BDS characterizes as the racism and bigotry of Israeli policy. There are, without question, many Israelis who stereotype the Palestinians and have no sympathy for their plight.

Does that wrong-headed attitude in any way justify the BDS supporters from behaving in the same way? Their lack of fairness and stunning hypocrisy is appalling. There are differing views and freely expressed opposition within Israel to the policies of the Netanyahu government. There is no comparable freedom within the Palestinian community.

The average Israeli simply wants to live in peace and safety while taking care of their families and building a better life. They want to live free from the fear of sudden rocket attacks and terrorism. They do not harbor inherent hatred for the Palestinians, but rather see the Palestinian issues as the source of threats to a peaceful life. I believe the same desire for peace, safety and prosperity also applies to the average Palestinian. When the Palestinians renounce terror and accept Israel’s right to exist, then real progress to solve problems can be made. But no progress can be made when dialogue is one-sided and attitudes like BDS dominate. Moshe Dayan, former Israeli Defense Minister among other posts, said, “If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”

And you don’t solve problems and open minds by only talking about how awful your opposition is, but by dialogue with your opposition.

David Sloviter

Amherst




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