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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Why I, as a Jewish member of MCSG, voted for resolution 13

Why I, as a Jewish member of MCSG, voted for resolution 13

“The north of the Gaza Strip, more beautiful than ever, Blow up and flatten everything, delightful. After we are done, we allocate the lands of Gaza to the soldiers fighting and the settlers who lived in Gush Katif.”Israel’s Minister of Heritage, Amichai Eliyahu

“It is an entire nation out there that is responsible, it is not true this rhetoric about civilians not being aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’etat.”Israel’s President Isaac Herzog


Last week an anonymous opinion piece was published in The Mac Weekly titled “Antisemitism is rising on campus, in MCSG and elsewhere.”  In this article, the authors defend Israel’s violence, deny that Israel is an apartheid state and accuse Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) of supporting antisemitism through Resolution 13. The article defends war crimes, apartheid and genocide on behalf of Israel, justifying these by pointing out that Hamas is bad. Hamas is bad, but that does not justify Israel’s ongoing genocide. The article also argues that genocide and apartheid are inaccurate terms to describe the situation in Gaza, but I believe both these terms are accurate. Israel continues to work toward the destruction of any Palestine, and has legally enshrined segregation akin to America’s segregation and the apartheid of South Africa. To deny these terms, as the other article did, is offensive to those who are being targeted and destroyed by Israel and to me as a Jew because when I say never again, I mean never again.

While the Israel-Palestine conflict is complicated and has a long history, some things are not complicated. The attack by Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7th was horrific and wrong, and the ongoing Israeli bombing and siege of innocent Palestinian civilians is horrific and wrong. Anyone who disagrees with that does not value all human lives. Rising antisemitism and Islamophobia are real issues, but the former is not present to any degree in the Macalester for Palestine coalition. The coalition has worked to make sure that antisemitism is not tolerated at their events. As a Jewish person, I have personally not experienced any antisemitism in the pro-Palestine community at Macalester, and there is an active effort to make sure Jews are included in this activism. This is not to deny that antisemitism is a problem, and that it should be fought against. But to only bring it up as a counterargument to Palestinian freedom is disingenuous and inaccurate to our campus context.

Resolution 13 called for Macalester to end their partnership with two Israeli universities. I did not vote for this resolution because I’m antisemitic. I am proud of my Jewish heritage; I have friends and family in Israel and a cousin in the IDF. It’s with this in mind that I can firmly say that criticism of Israel is not antisemitism. The resolution is not against Jews, but against the state of Israel and their ongoing genocide of Palestinians. The state of Israel does not represent all Jews, and as a Jew I would be quite appalled if the views of a right-wing ethnonational state were assumed to represent me. 

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding of the petition that was endorsed by MCSG in Resolution 13. The petition does not call for a ban on Macalester students studying away in Israel. I do not believe that it is Macalester’s place to tell students where they can and can’t study. Where I feel Macalester can and should intervene is in their direct relationship with these two particular Israeli universities, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Haifa. Macalester has ongoing partnerships with a limited number of universities, and it is up to Macalester to choose which universities get that privilege and partnership. The petition states that “Israeli universities have contributed to militarism, the development of oppressive infrastructure, attacks on Palestinian education, racism and open support for Israel’s war crimes.” The students of Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Talpiot military program are specifically recruited and trained to serve in this special IDF unit. Hebrew University has pushed to confiscate Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem for the purpose of building further university properties

Macalester allows students to study at programs that we do not have a direct partnership with, and thus the resolution would allow for students to continue to study in Israel.

The other article mentions that Israel is not the only nation with an awful human rights record, which is true. If we have relationships with other universities that support their nation’s war crimes, I would also call for Macalester to end their partnership with those universities. There has been some organising around looking into our partnerships in China, and if those universities have ties to the ongoing Uyghur genocide. I would encourage further activism to make sure Macalester ends its relationship with all programs that are complicit in war crimes and genocide.

So far I have referred to Israel’s actions as genocidal. This is a weighty term, but one I stand by. The United Nations and International Criminal Court defines genocide in the Rome Statute as such:

“For the purpose of this Statute, “genocide” means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 

  1. Killing members of the group 
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group 
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part 
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”

Israel is indisputably guilty of the first three of these points and I argue that they are also guilty of points four and five. Depriving Gaza of food, clean water, medicine and power is imposing measures that are meant to keep the Palestinian population low. Additionally, if children want a chance of living over 30 years, because of Israeli destruction, they must leave Gaza. This is just one example of the forced displacement of Palestinian children. We have to ask: is Israel trying “to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”? Yes. 

The Likud party, which is the party of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netenyahu and has been one of Israel’s dominant parties for decades, has and continues to call for the destruction of any Palestinian state. Controversy has arisen from Palestinian activists using the phrase “from the river to the sea,” but not much has been said about the Israeli version of that. The very first line of the original Likud platform is:

 “The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable and is linked with the right to security and peace; therefore, Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.” 

This is an unambiguous statement saying that the land should be entirely Israeli, meaning the destruction of Palestine. 

It is also worth analyzing the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” To some extremists, this does mean the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of all Jews from Israel, and I vehemently disagree with this idea. When I, and most pro-Palestine activists I have spoken with, say, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” we mean that all Palestinians, those in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, will be free. To me that does not mean the destruction of Israel, but rather a one state solution, with democratic rights, freedom and equal protection for all, under a new “Israel-Palestine” state (or whatever name is decided upon). This may not be a likely future, but it’s one we should strive for. Articulating specific and humanitarian goals is important in our activism and would let all Palestinians “from the river to the sea” to be free.

Right now, “from the river to the sea,” no Palestinians are free. In Gaza, Israel, in collaboration with Egypt, has maintained a blockade for 16 years, bringing unimaginable amounts of pain. 1.3 million out of 2.1 million Palestinians in Gaza (62%) are food insecure, made worse by Israel denying Gaza the right to fish their own waters. Power and water facilities in Gaza are repeatedly destroyed. 78% of piped water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption. There is an average of 11 hours of blackout per day. In the West Bank, Palestinians are not allowed freedom of movement, leading Palestinian villages to be separated by illegal Israel settlements, and Palestinians are constantly killed by IDF and settlers with no justification. 

Within Israel, the select number of Palestians who have not been forcibly displaced during the Nakba and Intafadas, face rampant discrimination. This is not just bigots acting out, but is encouraged and endorsed by the Israeli government. In Israel, unlike other “liberal democratic” states, Jewish people have more legally enshrined rights than Palestinian citizens. Israel has laws designating certain areas as “Jewish localities” in which Palestinians who are full citizens of Israel are not allowed to live or work. This fact was denied by the previous article, but is enshrined into Israeli law.  We cannot stand by when Israel has an apartheid going on within the West Bank and Gaza, as well as within its own borders and amongst its own citizens.

Hamas is a terrorist organization, and their attacks on Israel, as well as their disregard for their own civilian’s lives, are awful. Israel and the IDF are also terrorist organizations. Both of these things can be true. We all saw the horror of Oct. 7th, when 1,200 Israelis lost their lives, of which 845 (70%) were civilians, according to the Israeli government. I condemn this horrific loss of life. But we must also acknowledge that for years Benjamin Netenyahu and Likud have supported Hamas as a way to discredit the Palestinian movement and ensure that Palestine does not achieve statehood. Israeli representatives themselves claim to have killed about two civilians for each Hamas member. Currently, the Gaza Health Ministry estimates the death toll from Israeli attacks to be about 16,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, the majority of whom are likely civilians. The IDF is supposed to be one of the most advanced armies in the world, yet can only take out military targets alongside an unacceptable number of innocent Palestinians. 

 It is unacceptable that we as a nation, and as a school, continue to arm and invest in this genocide, and that some defend the slaughter and destruction of Gaza. Israel as a nation is trying to achieve the destruction of Palestine. We must stand up against genocide everywhere. We can not stand by; we cannot make exceptions. 


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  • E

    Emma KopplinDec 8, 2023 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful piece, Cooper. I admire your thorough response to R13 and last week’s op-ed. Your assertions continue to push Macalester towards the realization of its values of social justice and internationalism. We are lucky to have you as a part of MCSG. 🇵🇸 Free Palestine!

  • D

    David CDec 8, 2023 at 12:14 pm

    >>Rising antisemitism and Islamophobia are real issues, but the former is not present to any degree in the Macalester for Palestine coalition. The coalition has worked to make sure that antisemitism is not tolerated at their events. As a Jewish person, I have personally not experienced any antisemitism in the pro-Palestine community at Macalester…<<


    Just… wow.

    and… I'm almost afraid to ask, but at what point would the author feel antisemitism was active at Macalester? At what point would they feel they had experienced antisemitism? This is a serious question. Is there anything that would be so blunt, toxic or violent that it would be recognized as antisemitism?

    A few more questions.

    If someone says "I'm not antisemitic!" does that automatically mean they aren't?

    If someone is does or says antisemitic things but they are doing so in a twisted effort to support the rights Palestinians, does that make their statement not antisemitic?

    Is it possible for someone to support the Palestinian cause and NOT be antisemitic?

    Is the raging antisemitism seen today and for the past few weeks at Macalester College in anyway helping a single person in Gaza?

  • J

    JakeDec 8, 2023 at 11:47 am

    Excellent piece. Free Palestine!

  • G

    GGDec 8, 2023 at 12:36 am

    the phrase from the river to the sea is also used by a known and recognized terrorist group calling for the extermination of the Jewish people. It’s great that protesters have tried to make it mean something else, but when a group like Hamas has used it routinely with a specific connotation, it then loses the meaning for “liberation” and becomes genocidal.

    You mention that you support and are looking into a potential resolution in regards to Mac’s relationship to the partnerships in China; why weren’t they included in the first place? Why weren’t other nations who actively commit human right’s violations included as well? Why just Israel and why now? Why not before?

    It is fine and well to support the Palestinian people, they by no means deserve what is happening to them. It is however interesting that people forget who runs Gaza and that they do not care about the civilians. They actively put them in harms way while they live in luxury and fly private planes. Why has there been little to no mention about Hamas as an organization? The death of the people of Gaza is horrific, but is by no means a genocide, as many people seem to like the throw that term around. The IDF is not intentionally seeking out to destroy civilians. There have been attempts to minimize those casualties, but it is hard when Hamas refuses to allow them to leave and puts their military equipment in civilian structures and uses international aid to build tunnels rather than improve the lives of the people they are supposed to protect.