The Israel I have seen

Feb. 5, 2015, 11:10 p.m.

As a high school student in Israel, Stanford attracted me with its community of creation and offered a unique opportunity to pursue my country’s favorite pastime—the creation of productive technology that serves and protects.

However, two years since my matriculation at Stanford, I am increasingly concerned about the deliberate blame game played by some members of our community who seek to delegitimize my homeland, Israel. This atmosphere of selective facts, false analogies and one-sided narratives perpetrated by Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP) saddens me.

In one recent SOOP event, the group analogized both the injustices of Ferguson and the US-Mexico border to the situation in Israel, despite the striking flaws of such comparisons. These attempts to evoke racial tension in a geopolitical conflict is disingenuous at best. More important, however, it negates the real Israel—the Israel that raised me to do everything in my power to protect and serve people of different races, countries and creeds.

I served in a search-and-rescue unit in the Israeli Defense Forces, Unit 669. My unit’s goal was to rescue Israeli soldiers and citizens, but also any other person regardless of religion or ethnicity.

In one of these missions my team and I were launched to rescue four Sudanese refugees who crossed the border from Egypt to Israel illegally. During their daring border cross, Egyptian guards shot at the four Sudanese and badly injured them. My team rescued two of them and evacuated them to the hospital in a helicopter. Another team rescued the other two.

In the helicopter, I tried to stop the bleeding in one of the injured refugee’s leg. When I put a tourniquet on his leg and looked at his face, I expected to see an expression of pain. However, the man was calm and a big smile spread on his face. He knew he was saved not only from the bullets in his body, but also from a difficult reality in Sudan, from which he marched thousands of kilometers in order to arrive in Israel.

This man, like the thousands of refugees who come to Israel, knew that Israel would admit him, a Muslim black African, and offer him an opportunity at a new life. This is the same opportunity I pray that the Palestinians will one day have.

Unfortunately, however, a small segment of students on our campus have determined to undermine this effort by neither supporting a two-state solution nor bringing this campus together in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Instead, they have chosen to lead a crusade for divestment from companies dedicated to ensuring not only Israel’s security, but that of other countries as well.

Aeronautics is one of those companies. My mother joined them ten years ago. They develop unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and detection of armed militants, providing many countries with unmanned planes for civilian and police defense. These countries use these planes to secure their borders and detect conflagrations in forests. Is it right to divest from such a company that serves and protects?

I’m a big peace supporter and want Palestinian independence with all my heart. I personally rescued two Palestinians in my military service and am willing to risk myself again in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will never agree, however, to political tactics such as divestment, which seeks not to engender cooperation, but instead to perpetrate a false image about my country and delegitimize it.

Contact Guy Amdur at gamdur ‘at’

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