Pro-Israel students, under the guidance of The David Project, recently joined the “Sh*t [people] say” internet craze on YouTube with their own video, “Sh*t People Say About Israel”. Filmed at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the film clearly takes aim at supporters of the Palestinian cause and patronizes them as ignorant and misinformed. But the video fails on so many levels. Let’s see what kind of “Sh*t” these student hasbarists have to say.
1. Israel doesn’t even want peace.
If it did, it probably wouldn’t be incarcerating children or building concrete barriers through Palestinian villages or preventing Arabs from marrying Israelis or arming fanatical settlers colonizing the West Bank or demolishing homes or tearing through olive tree groves or shooting high velocity tear gas canisters at the faces of unarmed demonstrators.
2. I heard everyone there is in the army.
In Israel, military service is compulsory for all citizens above the age of 18. Recruits serve between two and three years and are given the opportunity to extend their service. Clearly, not everyone in Israel is in the military at any given moment, but the mandatory service means that most adult citizens have, at one point or another, served as an active military unit involved in the maintenance of a condemned and illegal occupation of Palestine.
Mind you, there does exist a refusenik subculture in Israel, but unless these individuals refuse to join the military for religious reasons, they are often stigmatized and prosecuted under Israeli law. Maya Wind, for example, spent forty days in a military prison for refusing to join the Israeli military on the basis that she could not agree with the military’s illegal activity towards the Palestinian people.
3. One time I visited Canada for a break. Do you ever visit your neighbors for vacation?
What these students fail to do is realize that Israel’s self-imposed isolation is an immediate consequence of it’s own strategies. It’s no wonder that after pointlessly invading Lebanon, killing Turkish nationals, destroying Palestinian natural resources, shooting Egyptian military guards, training assassins targeting Iranian scientists and fathers, and occupying Syria’s Golan Heights, Israel’s political and economic ties with its neighbors have waned. The question that should be asked, however, is if Palestinians are allowed to visit their literal neighbors because part of Israel’s systematic abuse of human rights involves denying Palestinians the right to move, even between villages in the West Bank. B’Tselem and other human rights groups have performed extensive research on Israel’s roadblock system in the West Bank and around the Gaza Strip.
4. Are you in the army?
See number 2.
5. Is it Hamas or hoomoos (hummus)?
It’s neither. This ignorant attempt at mocking an Arabic word is about as classy as this video gets.
6. Can women vote in Israel?
Yes, and they can vote in many other countries too — including Palestine. Sure, women’s rights aren’t up to par in countries all over the world, but Israel should not take that to mean that it’s off the hook. In a 2009 report published by the U.S. State Department, “the [Israeli] Government, through the Chief Rabbinate, discriminates against women in civil stats matters related to marriage and divorce”.
But on the topic of rights, why not ask about the rights immigrants, particularly Ethiopians, are permitted in Israel?
7. Do you speak Jewish?
I’m certain no sane people do because it isn’t a language. But to insinuate that this question is asked by those supportive of the Palestinian cause is an insult. If anything, those individuals invested in human rights are equally invested in respecting people of all faiths and backgrounds.
8. I think we should boycott hoomoos (hummus).
This jab at the growing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement means only one thing: boycotting apartheid is becoming mainstream. I commend the actors for including this line because it truly is laughable at best. BDS isn’t a movement against hummus. It’s a nonviolent and effective plan of action against those who profit from Israel’s abuse of human rights. It just so happened that Sabra Hummus’s ties to the Israeli army (through its parent company) were recently revealed.
9. Ehh. Noo?
10. Israel uses unproportionate force against the Palestinians.
In 2011, the United Nations published a report condemning Israel’s use of disproportionate force after using “direct live fire against unarmed demonstrators” commemorating the Nakba. During the 2008-2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip, Israel killed more than 1400 Palestinians including upwards of 926 civilians (although the Israeli military claims only 295 were killed — which is still 295 too many). The civilians, namely the 300 or so children, posed absolutely no threat to Israel, and their deaths are all testaments to Israel’s disproportionate use of force against Palestinians. These are but a few undeniable realities.
11. Jews have no connection to the land of Israel.
But of course they do! Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East that limits its democracy to Jews.
12. Do you have a GPS on your camel?
This joke, another in poor taste, is an excellent example of classic hasbara strategies. Generally, camels are stereotypically associated with Arabs and Bedouin. Here, however, Israel takes advantage of the stereotype, attaches it to itself, and uses it to victimize Israelis as also being on the receiving end of ignorant camel jokes.
14. Is everyone there a rabbi?
Of course not. But is everyone in Gaza a member of Islamic Jihad or Hamas?
15. (Licking Sabra hummus foil top) Mmm, Hamas.
See number 8.
16. What’s a rabbi?
Again, to include this in a video clearly targeting social justice and pro-Palestine activists implies their ignorance which is insulting and, more importantly, incorrect.
17 – 21. You mean Palestine. / Palestine? / Palestine? / You mean Palestine? / (While swinging shovel into car) You mean Palestine?
What? Does Palestine not exist? Are you on Sheldon Adelson’s payroll? And what’s with the woman pretending to smash her car window with a shovel? Is that supposed to be an impersonation of someone who puts in the effort to call out Israel’s attempt at colonizing Palestinian land and erasing its history and identity?
And now it gets dramatic.
22. No, we mean Israel, because Israel wants peace.
If Israel really wants peace, is it logically fitting for it to threaten Iran with an invasion? Does it make sense for Israel to maintain control over who gets to visit Muslim holy sites and when? Is evicting families from their homes or bulldozing their homes before their eyes an act of peace?
23. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.
Last I heard, half a dozen Arab nations revolted against corrupt dictators (who, interestingly enough, Israel had no problem befriending). Tunisia’s elections have moved along smoothly and Egyptians demand nothing less. But please, reread number 11.
24. Jews have been in Israel for three thousand years.
And they’ve also lived all around for periods almost as long as that. Do Jews, then, have a right to claim the entirety of Europe? Or how about North Africa where many of them lived in comfort during the Fatimid dynasty in the tenth through twelfth centuries?
25. Israel wants peace.
See number 22.
26. Hamas doesn’t want peace.
Don’t shift the blame. According to an infographic published on the Israeli military’s blog, the rocket threat posed by Hamas resulted in 44 deaths between 2006 and 2011. This amounts to 0.02 people killed per day. Meanwhile, in twenty-two days, Israel killed more than 1400. This breaks down to at least 64 Palestinians killed by Israel per day. It is a shame that humanity has is being discussed in terms of statistics, but the numbers are quite telling. While Hamas may not want peace with an occupier and invader of its land, Israel certainly does not want peace either, and it does not in any way have a track record of showing otherwise.
27 – 30. Peace. / Peace. / Peace. / Peace.
Okay, we get it, you’re thirsty for peace. But peace is a successor to justice, something that you will no longer be able to ignore.