Recently, it was announced that the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life would be sponsoring the “NYU Fact Finding Mission to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.” As a part of this mission, the Bronfman Center will be sending a group of student leaders to Israel to learn more about the country and culture. To many, this may sound like an exciting new opportunity, and another great part of NYU’s global experience. However, the reality of this trip is that it serves as an initiative to politically and morally manipulate students into supporting Israel, an internationally recognized apartheid state.
Through its feigned interest in seeking a truth in the conflict, this trip represents NYU’s apathy in a human rights crisis that the UN has deemed catastrophic and shocking. For a university that positions itself as both an international and socially responsible institution, NYU cannot accept this. The very existence and facilitation of this trip is not only a violation of the principles NYU holds itself to, but it is also a continuation of support to a rogue nation that has actively oppressed an entire people for generations.
The trip is advertised as an idyllic academic opportunity, but fails to mention Israeli apartheid actions. The trip also makes no mention of Palestine except in relation to Israel, which continues the marginalization of an entire people. While the trip hopes to promote intersectionality and inclusiveness, it only promotes imperialism and apartheid. Marketing the trip as such implies an acceptance or, at the very least, a complacent belief of the false narrative that Israel is a peaceful and friendly nation whose administration should not be in question. This tactic is also similar to the practices of the Israeli tourism industry as well as Hasbara, a Hebrew word for “explaining” used to refer to the propagandized policies and initiatives of the Israeli government. The narrative being created here directly opposes those of many Palestinians, who say that Israel is a violent and criminal nation that has been occupying their territory and brutalizing them for more than half a century.
Ultimately, the NYU Fact Finding Mission to Israel is not a trip that seeks to give students a deeper understanding of the truth about the situation in Israel. It is simply another propaganda initiative by Zionist members of the NYU community, whose intentions are to create lies about the oppression of Palestine and the direct role that Israel plays in that. This trip is also reminiscent of similar tactic used by Acoda, which was a European organization that sponsored similar “fact finding missions” to apartheid South Africa. As a university, NYU must confront this great contradiction of its values because otherwise, it will fail to live up to the standards it sets for itself. As students of a global university, one must be aware of the geopolitical impacts of their decisions, whether they be big or small, intended or unintended, apparent or otherwise. Everything an NYU student does can have international implications. Be warned. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.
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Cole Stallone, an organizer with Jewish Voices for Peace, wrote this op-ed to represent the opinions of the club. Email Cole at [email protected]