By Miriam Pollock
Student group Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP) disguised a smear campaign as genuine concern for human rights in its October 26 op-ed entitled “Stanford must divest from the occupation of Palestine”. SOOP deliberately misrepresented disputed and even false information as fact. This is a malicious anti-intellectual tactic not befitting a Stanford University student group.
SOOP contends that 70% of Palestinians killed during this summer’s Operation Protective Edge were civilians. However, that number includes Palestinians killed by Hamas rockets. 20% of the rockets Hamas fired at Israel this summer landed in Gaza. On just one day Hamas rockets killed over a dozen Palestinian civilians. Hamas also kills Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. According to human rights groups, Palestinians killed by Hamas – as well as Palestinians who died naturally or even due to domestic violence — are likely included in the death toll.
Furthermore, the 70% figure was reported by the Gaza Health Ministry, a Hamas organization. The US has designated Hamas, the elected government in Gaza, a terrorist organization. Hamas lies. During the last major Hamas-Israel conflict, Hamas claimed only 50 of its members had been killed. Two years later, Hamas revised that number upward to 600-700, which constituted half of the Palestinian deaths in the war. Hamas instructs pro-Palestinian activists to refer to “anyone killed or martyred… [as] a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank.” It claims that all its operatives are civilians.
The demographics of those killed indicates that men of fighting age were killed in disproportionate numbers. This suggests that Israel explicitly targeted terrorist combatants and avoided civilian casualties as much as possible. Israel estimates that50% of Palestinians killed over the course of Operation Protective Edge were civilians. That ratio is typical of wars throughout history, and much better than the civilian casualty rate in other wars against terrorist groups. During the Iraq War, for instance, the United States had a 1:4 militant to civilian death rate. SOOP fails to provide such important context. They distort facts. What else are they obscuring from the student population in order to discredit the Jewish state?
SOOP urges Stanford to divest from Israeli companies it claims are immoral. Unfortunately, the group attacks Israel as a whole rather than individual companies, as in this op-ed. Its target is not specific companies but the 8000-square-mile Jewish state. Divestment is one-sided, divisive, and a hindrance to peace. Divestment places blames only on Israel, failing to condemn Hamas for its reprehensible actions. Hamas uses its own people as human shields. This summer, it broke numerous humanitarian ceasefires (Israel kept them) and launched 4500 rockets at Israeli civilians, each one of which the Palestinian envoy to the UN Human Rights Council admitted was a “crime against humanity.” I hope that when the ASSU considers SOOP’s divestment resolution it will remember that SOOP engages in underhanded tactics in order to discredit Israel, while failing to acknowledge Hamas’ human rights violations.