Op-Ed: Shame on us

March 1, 2012, 12:07 a.m.

We learned some great lessons from the ASSU Senate hearing on the resolution to speak out for the students in support of Fadi Quran’s release and plea to the Israeli government to drop the remaining charges, but we have nothing concrete to show for it.


Fadi would find a message of hope in all this. He would have been able to advocate better than I for the Palestinian cause. He would have been able to animate the arguments and shake the other side’s humanity with the perfect mix of force and gentleness. Fadi would have been able to bring us all together, just like he did when he was arrested in Hebron. However, I learned that Fadi is special, and I am not Fadi, not yet. So, shame on me. Here’s what I learned:


I learned that the folks who are pro-Israeli are well intentioned. Everyone loves Fadi, and everyone supports his mental and physical well-being, but, that’s our only common ground. The folks who are pro-Israeli, most associated with the Stanford Israel Alliance and Jewish Student Association at Stanford, have unyielding faith in the due process of Israeli law, and were not willing to publicly question Israel’s judicial system for Palestinians. To me, that seems pretty absurd.  Consider this analogy: A black man in the South is accused of robbing a bank, but there’s video footage that shows incontrovertibly that he walked by, and did not enter the bank. Given the history in our country, wouldn’t you want to urge those in power to keep a watchful eye on that trial, let alone question the charges against him? Isn’t that showing love for your fellow human and your country? But the pro-Israelis last night weren’t able to level criticism at the Israeli government about their treatment of Palestinians, even when it was someone we all know and love, Fadi.


I am a Jewish-American, and I support universal human rights. When I look at the situation in Israel-Palestine, it’s clear to me that there is a huge power dynamic at play where Israelis largely benefit at the expense of Palestinians. It seems obvious to me. And I’m not the only one – even the International Court of Justice found the Separation Wall and the settlements to fundamentally break international saw set out in the Fourth Geneva Convention. I still haven’t learned why that’s so hard for people to grasp. Why don’t people understand that occupation is supposed to be temporary, and while in effect, safeguard the occupied population? Israel is doing neither of these. I still haven’t learned how to engage all of you out there who “abstain” on this issue, like so many on the ASSU Senate. So, shame on you, shame on me, shame on us. I just wonder, what would Fadi do? Or better, what would you do?  Take a look at the failed Senate resolution, imagine the “Israeli government” taken out and make your own decision?  Does your ASSU Senate represent you?


Jeff Mendelman ’09

Jeff Mendelman met Fadi Quran ’10 on a Stanford Overseas Seminar trip to India studying the nonviolent legacy of Gandhi.

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