Israel-related programming should encourage honest conversation

Josh Rosenbaum, Contributing Writer

The following is an opinion piece, and does not reflect the views of the Tulane Hullabaloo

Editor’s note: Josh Rosenbaum serves as the President of J Street U Tulane

As a school where roughly 32 percent of the student body is Jewish, it is natural and appropriate that Israel is a popular topic for programming and discussion on campus. Between the Tulane Israel Public Affairs Committee, Tulane University Students Supporting Israel, the Green Wave Israel Scholars, Hillel and Chabad, Israel-related programming reaches thousands of Tulane students every year. With annual events such as Declare Your Freedom and IsraelFest, as well as the many speakers that are brought in each year, there are many opportunities to support and learn about this cause. What is lacking on campus, however, is a diverse, nuanced and honest conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The existing programs and institutions perpetuate a culture that strictly celebrates Israel’s successes while ignoring its flaws. Celebrating Israel’s successes and passionately advocating for a safe and secure Jewish and democratic Israel do not mean its blemishes should be ignored. Supporting Israel and speaking openly and honestly about the occupation are not mutually exclusive.

Those students who believe so strongly in the future of Israel should be the ones leading this conversation, not stifling it. As supporters of Israel, we cannot be silent as the country we love controls millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Likewise, it is crucial we oppose any possibility of a nuclear Iran, as well as any other force that threatens the existence of Israel and the safety of its people. We need to speak out for both the security of Israel and the human rights of the Palestinians.

We need to deepen the conversations the pro-Israel community at Tulane is having, and start the ones that it isn’t. We need to look beyond simple talking points and destructive polarization, and be loud and active in opposing injustices.

Promoting the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is not opposing Israel; it is being true to the values of democracy, peace and justice.

This week, like many others at Tulane, I will be celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. I will not do so by ignoring the occupation nor the conflict, however. I will do so by celebrating the parts of Israel that I love while seeking positive change. These two can happen simultaneously. I hope you will join me in that celebration, as well as in that call. We all have a role to play.

Josh Rosenbaum is a freshman at  Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at[email protected]