Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Ben White at UC Irvine (Cont)
Monday evening, British journalist Ben White made his second speaking appearance at UC Irvine on behalf of the Muslim Student Union. His theme this time was to dispute the idea of Israel as a democracy. In his talk, he brought up issues like the statements of leaders like Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres and others to the effect that Israel had to maintain its identity as a Jewish state. He talked about the housing status of Palestinians living in the Negev. He talked about the Palestinians who wound up in refugee camps as a result of the 1948 war. Basically, White talked about how the Israelis were constantly trying to deny Palestinians living within Israel proper their rights. It was a one-sided presentation of a complicated conflict.
Naturally, as in the afternoon session, White neglected to mention the terrorist threat the Israelis faced from the Palestinians. Naturally, he neglected to mention the plight of Jewish refugees, some 600-800,000 of whom were driven out of Arab lands as a result of the 1948 conflict. Not a mention of that.
In his closing he pushed the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement as something the audience could be involved in. White is a strong suopoprter of BDS.
In the question and answer session, I pointed out this point, as well as the plight of religious minorities in the countries surrounding Israel. I also asked him to talk to the audience about the Jews driven out of Arab lands. In his response, he made the point that it was irrelevant to the subject of Israel’s transgressions, but did state that everyone on both sides who lost their homes and possessions should be given compensation.