Saturday, March 21, 2009

Standing Up For Zionism and Justice at UC Berkeley

The following is an editorial published in the UC Berkeley student newspaper, the Daily Cal, written by Yonatan Weinberg. Yoni is a member of the pro-Israel student group Tikvah.

In a previous post we circulated a speech by another one of the Tikvah students, at the beginning of the recall process against ASUC student Senator John Moghtader that has now been shown to have been based on outright lies by pro-Palestinian students. Yoni's Op-ed, like Matt's speech, needs no further comment except "Yasher Koach".

Israeli Apartheid Week Mirrors Recall

By Yonatan Weinberg Contributing WriterFriday, March 20, 2009

We're in Berkeley, where I know the Bible isn't very popular, but I think a line from Deuteronomy has suddenly become very relevant to students at Cal. "Justice, Justice, you shall pursue" it reads, and now, more than ever, is the time to pursue justice.
During the first week of March, Tikvah: Students for Israel put on Israeli Peace and Diversity Week. We hosted a variety of events celebrating the diversity that exists in the State of Israel as well as the nation's desire for peace with its neighbors. We hosted Israeli basketball star LaVon Mercer, an African-American who moved to Israel to play professional basketball and who, after falling in love with the country, decided to become an Israeli citizen himself. We had displays on Upper Sproul Plaza educating people about the unparalleled LGBT rights in Israel and the country's tremendous aid to refugees. We also screened a movie about an Ethiopian boy who escaped to Israel, where a Jewish family took him in as their own.
While we sought to engage the campus in a positive series of educational events, a different group, Students for Justice in Palestine, was once again spreading hate, misinformation and negativity across our campus. When they weren't misleading students about what's going on in the Middle East, they were busy spreading vicious lies about a fellow student in a malignant effort to further their extremist agenda on our campus. Israeli Apartheid Week and the SJP-CalSERVE led recall of John Moghtader are more linked than you might think, and they reveal a disturbing trend that exists on our campus. We have allowed malicious lies from SJP and their cohort CalSERVE to go unchecked for far too long. These destructive and divisive groups are forcing Berkeley in a direction that we don't want to be going.
In the face of injustice, we Cal students cannot simply look the other way. We cannot simply accept that what we hear is the truth. Rather, it is essential as independent thinkers to seek out the truth, to stand up, and to challenge. The SJP-planned, CalSERVE-promoted, smear campaign against Israel during Israeli Apartheid Week mirrors their smear campaign against Senator Moghtader: They simply spewed lies about a person or party and hoped that they would stick. And as we've seen lately, their claims about what happened on November 13th in Eshleman Hall turned out to be false.
It's ironic that the Students for Justice in Palestine have complete disregard for justice. Justice is not smearing an innocent man for personal gain. Justice is not lying to the student body and wasting $20,000 of student fees to achieve your own dastardly schemes.
It is time for the students of UC Berkeley to stand up and make a statement. We demand honesty from our ASUC officials, not the enabling of corruption and injustice like those that were committed by the dangerous CalSERVE machinery, from current President Roxanne Winston down to executive candidate and SJP member Kifah Shah. We demand honest reporting to UCPD, not the blatantly falsified reports that were given by students desperately trying to implicate John. Finally, we demand honesty when student groups promote their causes, not the predictable hate-filled rhetoric that took place during Israeli Apartheid Week.
Let us hope that we can learn from the corruption and deceit that SJP-CalSERVE plagued our campus with this year. We must hold them accountable. It is our responsibility to leave this campus in better shape than when we arrived. We must throw out the wrong, and pursue what is right. Justice, Justice we shall pursue.

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