I am the parent of a student who called me about a school event celebrating Israel’s Independence Day. Our family lived in Israel for 12 years, returning in 2004. While living in the seaside Jewish town of Caesarea, we enjoyed the benefits of Israel’s independence and the strong support it receives from the United States.
But we also began to witness what the birth of the state meant for the indigenous population and have become activists working for the civil and human rights of the Palestinians. Since returning, we have read noted historians including Israeli academic and historian Ilan Pappe and feel that the true story of the events of 1947-48 is rarely told. Documented cases of ethnic cleansing and worse occurred to the Palestinians during the episode in time your school is celebrating, partially with school funds.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, activist and editor of Tikkun Magazine, is offering to come to the college to help enlighten your students and open up a broader discussion related to the conflict. I’m sure campus groups, including Hillel, would welcome the opportunity to engage in respectful conversation and hear a side of the conflict rarely discussed.
As a parent who pays tuition for my daughter, I do not appreciate my dollars going towards an event that celebrates the independence for some, but a catastrophe for many others.