Miko Peled on palestinian rights

K'reisa Cox

Suppression by multiple international governments

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, Miko Peled proclaimed that Israel should rightfully be called Palestine.

This declaration, though given to a small audience in Eaton Hall, is still significant coming from the son of an Israeli general.

Born in the Israeli side of Jerusalem, Peled drew on his experience as an adolescent growing up in a Jewish, patriotic family in order to detail the degree to which the Israeli and Palestinian experience is seperated.

“It’s like two different worlds,” he said, describing the difference between the two sides of the city. In Israel, the streets are clean, the homes spacious, the schools safe, and the people Westernized. But travel a few miles away, and you be transported to a completely different environment.

Palestinian life is one characterized by dust, displacement, uncertainty and unrest.

Peled’s unexpected perspective allows for a unique window to be opened into the conflict, as it is often difficult to discern what political angle any given report is trying to push.

However, Peled could not be farther away from what others might expect. This drew me into his story, as I realized he might be able to tell me something politics had not allowed me to fully comprehend.

By October of 2016, 94 Palestinians had been killed and 3,203 had been injured by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, according to the UN’s 2016 World Report.

These large numbers begin to paint a picture of the experience of the average Palestinian.

More numbers reveal additional aspects of Palestinian life, including the fact that approximately 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.9 million people rely on humanitarian assistance, and the 65,000 currently displaced people who lost their homes during a 2014 Israeli military operation and have not been given permission to rebuild.

However, Peled didn’t come to campus to talk about numbers. Actually, he didn’t come to talk about either Israel or Palestine.

Rather, he came to talk only about Palestinians in the context of the international community, and more specifically to hold global influencers accountable, because the war between Israel and Palestine is in no way confined to those two nations.

In reality, the United States is actually a big player in the conflict.

The United States allocated $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel for the year 2016, an equivalent of $20 million a day. The U.S. government also gave $400 million in both security and economic support to the Palestinian authorities.

Giving military aid clearly does not lead to solutions, but rather prolongs the duration of the conflict by condoning and enabling the violence.

The U.S. doesn’t just exert influence internationally, but at home as well.

In his new book, “Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five,” Peled details the story of five Palestinian-Americans who had been leaders of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation. Until 9/11, the Holy Land Foundation was the largest Muslim charity in the United States.

However, in December of 2001 the federal government shut down the organization due to implications that the support HLF was giving to Palestinian communities was indirectly aiding Hamas, a terrorist organization responsible for several suicide bombings and other attacks in the Israel-Palestine area.

In his book, Peled says that “The prosecution’s theory was that, by supporting needy Palestinians, HLF had ‘freed up’ Hamas’ own assets to fund terrorist attacks, and that if Palestinians knew that HLF would provide support for their families if assistance became necessary, they would be more likely to become suicide bombers,” though there was no explicit financial link between the two organizations.

Despite much controversy surrounding the procedure of two trials given to the men, they were given lengthy prison sentences that they continue to serve to this day, even though there was no concrete evidence brought against them.

The fact that this case is so little known, and that the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians is not common knowledge shows the dangers that apathy towards this situation can bring.

As the confrontations continue to escalate, its time to consider how we in the international community are responding, and start being intentional with how we exert influence. As Peled said in his lecture, “by doing nothing, we are all guilty.”

There is significant injustice happening both at home and abroad in terms of collecting the facts.

I came away from Peled’s lecture with an appetite to learn more about this situation. By listening to the stories he told, I realized that though I have read a lot about the conflict in books, they could only take me so far. In order to understand the situation, you have to meet real people, and see the direct effects of their experience.

I think this is what the American public is missing. We either don’t know the facts, or we don’t see beyond the numbers. We get caught up in media blurbs and don’t search for further information.

Americans need to start getting educated about what the situation truly is, and begin to dig deeper into what the effects of our actions truly are.

Both sides often say in the media that they want a sustainable solution; I think it’s time to start getting serious about identifying political barriers that prevent productive conversation.

It’s time to start asking, what is my role?

How can I help?

I’d encourage every student to attend lectures similar to these. Learn from people whose experience is different from yours, and see situations through new eyes.

It will only provide opportunities to grow.