December 4, 2003

Peaceful Greetings

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At one of his last Common Council meetings, Ithaca Mayor Alan Cohen ’81 signed a proclamation stating “that the Mayor of Ithaca extends his sympathies and heart felt support to the Mayor and people of Jerusalem, to the mayors and people of all the cities and towns in Israel which have suffered similar attacks and to all of the victims of violence on both sides of the conflict” last night.

The proclamation, which also decried all forms of terrorism and encouraged an immediate cease fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was supported by the Cornell-Israel Public Affairs Committee, a campus-wide pro-Israel organization at Cornell. Many members of the organization were in attendance; Ari Stern ’05, senior vice-president of CIPAC, thanked Cohen for the proclamation during the meeting.

“The city of Ithaca has had a long-standing tradition of voicing its concern on matters of international significance. Tonight, I believe the city is taking a most historic venture for the promotion of peace by expressing support for the state of Israel and denouncing heinous acts of terror,” he said.

This in not the first time that Common Council has been active in expressing their opinion about world affairs; last October, a resolution was passed expressing Common Council’s opposition to war in Iraq.

Many members of the Cornell community expressed their support for the mayor’s proclamation.

“This proclamation carries an importance far greater than what it says,” said Jamie Weinstein ’06, vice-president of political affairs for CIPAC. “It is a recognition from a small, yet important, cog in the American governmental hierarchy to his counterparts in a country, Israel, who like America, has faced the fire of terror. It is a recognition of solidarity and understanding. Ultimately, it is an expression of sympathy and a hopeful longing for a peaceful tomorrow.”

The proclamation began as an effort of CIPAC to work with local officials at the end of this summer, according to Jennifer Berger ’04, president of CIPAC. The group met with mayor-elect Caroline Peterson in late October to discuss presenting a resolution to Common Council.

According to Cohen, the proclamation was originally issued by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“I was approached by CIPAC, and they were interested in the city discussing this issue. I told them I could support the issue, but I would want to rewrite some of [the proclamation], which I did,” he said.

Cohen said that he changed the proclamation so that it would express support for all the citizens of Israel, including the Palestinians.

Some students in the Cornell community echoed the importance of supporting uninvolved Palestinians.

“Alan Dershowitz once said that ‘the security of Israel is a moral imperative,'” said Josh Katcher ’06, executive vice-president of the Cornell Democrats. “I would agree but would add the caveat that so too is the security of uninvolved Palestinians.”

Others, including Stern, said that the Palestinians were not completely innocent.

“Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat continues to encourage the sue of terror,” he said.

Some members of Common Council expressed some objections with the wording of the proclamation.

“I would like to express my deep and abiding concern for the Palestinian people, and I would have liked to see more [concern for them expressed] in the document,” said Patricia Pryor (D-1st Ward).

Cohen responded that the proclamation from the Mayors Conference was “not nearly as balanced” as the one he ultimately issued.

Archived article by David Hillis