Last week I had an opportunity to put feet to some of my pro-Israel advocacy, and it centered on the “wall,” the Israeli security barrier, which has become an icon for everything wrong with Israel among those who can’t remember what everyone was complaining about before the barrier was built.
The University of New Mexico (my alma mater, by the way, so I’m not an outside agitator) was the scene of a “Mock Wall Campaign,” hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine and a bunch of other campus groups, which employs a model of an ugly wall to promote “building bridges by tearing down walls.” Of course, the wall metaphor turns out to be mostly about Israel and its security barrier–along with everything else they can toss in that’s wrong about Israel.
So, on the day before Yom Hashoah, I decided to join with the UNM Israel Alliance and help man the counter demonstration, a “Wall of Truth” that lists ten myths about Israel that are widely accepted on college campuses like UNM around the world. You can read the list at http://www.wall-of-truth.org/myths/.
Soon after I arrived, a bunch of students gathered in front of our Wall of Truth banner and spent a good amount of time reading and commenting–in Arabic! They didn’t seem convinced, but some of them did seem pretty thoughtful.
A little later, I had the chance to engage with a guy who said Israel just kept building this wall so it could steal Palestinian land, like it had been doing for decades. He retreated as soon as I mentioned that the wall was only started in 2003 and was already finished.
Then another man came along, a more sophisticated guy who had traveled extensively in the Middle East, had first-hand experience, and was troubled by things he’d actually seen in the West Bank.