Thursday, November 20, 2014

UCLA Student Body President Stands Up to All the Haters

Right before UCLA’s student government was set to vote on an anti-Israel, anti-justice, anti-peace divestment resolution, the President of the council stepped up in front of a largely hostile audience to make a deeply emotional and courageous speech in defense of Israel and his community. He told everyone the truth: that Israel is what’s right about the Middle East.

Transcribed speech:

“I just want to reflect as the only person on this council who is actually invested in this conversation in the sense that I am an Israeli citizen and that I was born in Israel 21 years ago, and I am extremely, extremely proud about it. And I’m going to say this, I think that Israel is what’s right about the Middle East, it’s honestly an incredible, incredible country and what’s been done there in a short 67 years is nothing short of astounding. And I’ll say this because… do not ever, ever frame this conflict as an indigenous versus non-indigenous [issue], and I don’t care where you stand on this issue because when you frame this issue in that way you’re saying that I don’t actually matter, that I don’t have a place in my homeland, and I would never, ever take that from anybody.

I’ll say this, being president actually sucks and being not able to really voice your opinion when you’re up here… especially on a day like this, and especially on a day like this it’s so hard for me to go back to my community that on the day that five people were murdered because they were Jewish in Israel, that I went and divested from companies that deal with the government of the Jewish state of Israel. It’s extremely difficult for me to go through that. And for myself as a personal note, I was born in a home in Katamon and the bus that I would take to school used to be 14 bus, and it’s now the 18 bus because there were so many suicide bombings on that bus that they changed the number of the bus to be 18 because that’s the numerical value for life.

It’s so hard to be here and it’s so hard be in this role and this is for the people that put me here and the people that I represent and the people that have done everything for me. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, and I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there and represent you the way you wanted me to represent you, and I’m sorry that at the end of the day this council is going to go and say, and you know, we’re going to have this resolution that says in its language that it’s not meant to target you. But there’s a difference between intention and action, and if our intention is to divest from all companies that violate human rights, and the actual effect is to only divest from Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, it’s hard for me to take it any other way. It’s hard for me to not feel targeted, it’s hard for me to not feel like I don’t actually matter… And it’s especially difficult when we talk about saying that we have this universal bar of standards, this standard that we’re not going to be invested in human rights violations and all we’re trying to do here is raise Israel to that standard, when in fact that’s just so false that I can’t even begin to explain it. Our standard is that we don’t give a shit. Our standard is that we’re invested in everything. Our standard is that we’re invested in every country in the world… What we’re doing is raising Israel to a standard that we don’t apply to anybody else. And as a person who’s from Israel that’s really difficult for me to actually get behind.

I’m not going to delay this vote any longer. I hope to have a very successful term as USAC President. I hope and Mom, I know you’re watching, I hope I make you proud.”