No doubt about it, Israel lives is in a dangerous neighborhood, surrounded by countries that want her to cease to exist. She faces enormous hate from her neighbors, is regularly threatened with annihilation, and is forced to defend herself too often, most recently this past summer when thousands of missiles were being shot into civilian populated areas. Yet, Israel seeks to extend her hand out to the citizens of those same states, which time and again, attack her.
Even though Syria vowed to annihilate the state of Israel in 1947, even though Syria and Israel have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes and even though all sides in the Syrian Civil War profess a hatred of Israel, Israel nonetheless recognizes its humanitarian obligation to the human beings on the other side of a hostile border. Israel established a military field hospital in the Golan Heights just to serve Syrians wounded during the current civil war and sends the more complex cases to civilian hospitals. There are many Syrians injured in their civil war who wake up in an Israeli hospital having their life saved by the people they were taught to hate.
The Israeli NGO, Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), flies children with congenital heart defects from all over the developing world to Israel to perform free life-saving heart surgery. Every Tuesday, SACH holds an open cardiology clinic for Palestinian children from the West Bank and Gaza. Despite the ongoing conflict, Israelis understand that human life is above politics, and the Israeli government arranges safe border crossings, even during times of active conflict.
Even as the Hamas leadership continues to preach the destruction of the Jewish state, rebuilds their terror tunnels that were destroyed by Operation Protective Edge and test fires new rockets with which to attack Israel, they continue to benefit from Israeli humanitarian aid on a daily basis. Most ironically, days after the war this past summer, Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh’s daughter traveled to Israel for medical treatment in an Israeli hospital.
All of this is not to say that Israel does no wrong. No democracy is absolutely perfect. The pro-Israel community on campus is not blind to the civilian deaths in Gaza this summer, nor do we all agree with every policy of the Israeli government in the West Bank. But making outrageous claims and seeking to demonize Israel on campus and in the media will do nothing to bring peace to a land and to two peoples who desperately need peace and mutual understanding. We choose to celebrate the best of both peoples, and we support the articulated policy of the Israeli and U.S. governments, to allow two peoples to have two states, living side by side in peace and with full security. Getting there is not be easy, but repeating distorted facts and attacking the other side is not going to get us there.
The pro-Israel community at USC has worked to educate countless student leaders on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship as strategic allies because of the countries’ shared commitment to democracy and significant economic partnership. As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel shares a commitment to basic liberties such as free speech, freedom of religion, equal rights for women and the only country that guarantees LGBTQ rights.
The pro-Israel community has raised enough funds to purchase two solar panels for a poverty stricken village in Uganda via a fundraiser for the Israeli organization, Innovation: Africa, has sold bears to support SACH, and is holding a gala for Seeds of Peace — an organization that brings youth from conflict areas, including Israelis and Palestinians, together to try to form a lasting peace. These philanthropic and educational efforts demonstrate the USC pro-Israel community’s shared commitment with Israel to humanitarian endeavors and peaceful resolution.
As students, we are taught to think critically and to understand and other viewpoints. The pro-Israel students welcome you to join us and engage in a constructive dialogue.
Public Relations Director for Israel Leadership Council