May 6, 2005

Students Sign CIPAC Pro-Israel Petition

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The Cornell-Israel Public Affairs Committee capped off an active year Tuesday by printing a petition in The Sun affirming support for the “mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel relationship.” The petition also expressed hope for the fulfillment of “Israel’s eternal dream for a secure and lasting peace with all of its neighbors.” The 2,034 signatures on the document — slightly in excess of the project’s stated goal of “2005 in 2005” — were collected by CIPAC members over the spring semester from friends, classmates and strangers on Ho Plaza. Only current Cornell students, undergraduate and graduate, were allowed to sign.

This spring, CIPAC also sent 30 students to Washington D.C. on a lobbying trip and sponsored a Shabbat dinner for the black and Jewish communities with guest Lavon Mercer, former Israeli basketball star and NBA player. Its fall semester events included a speech by openly gay congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on LGBT rights in the U.S. and Israel, a joint black-Jewish celebration of voting rights, and a lecture series featuring professors Ross Brann and Jeremy Rabkin and Israel Defense Forces veteran Eli Magid ’06.

“This petition shows that on this campus, as in the nation at large, there is overwhelming support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship along with the hope that this bond will bring peace to a troubled region,” said Sun columnist Jamie Weinstein ’06, CIPAC vice president for political affairs.

According to Sarah Boxer ’07, CIPAC vice president for advocacy, the 2,034 signatures more than doubled the 1,000 gathered for a similar petition two years ago and broke a record of 1,700 previously held by the University of Iowa for a pro-Israel petition. Signatories hailed from 48 states and 28 countries. The 28 were: Albania, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, India, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Cornell student leaders from across the political spectrum welcomed the petition’s message. “The Democratic Party, from Presidents Truman through Clinton, has always, and will always, support the unique bond between the United States and Israel,” said Cornell Democrats President Mitch Fagen ’07. “Israel shares the United States’s democratic values and the Democratic Party’s bedrock principles of social justice.”

“This is a great accomplishment for Cornell,” echoed Fagen’s predecessor, Tim Lim ’06, slated to become the next president of the Student Assembly. “CIPAC’s petition sends a strong message that Cornell students support democracy and freedom in the Middle East, and that makes me proud as a Democrat.”

“Israel is an integral element of U.S. policy in the Middle East and continued cooperation with it will ensure the survival and spread of democracy in the region,” said Cornell Republicans President Paul Ibrahim ’06.

“Israel has helped us tremendously in the War on Terror,” added Ibrahim’s predecessor, Mike Lepage ’05. “On a partisan note, I’m proud that President Bush has been Israel’s best friend ever in the White House.”

The petition was not warmly received in all corners of Cornell’s campus, however.

“I think many of the students who signed the petition do not understand the reality of America’s relationship with Israel, which allows the Israeli state to get away with anything it likes and costs America billions of dollars every year and which is, indeed, the source of much of the hatred for America that American soldiers are dying to protect us from,” said Chris Tozzi ’08, president of the newly established Student Advocates for Palestine. “I’m sure CIPAC would argue that the United States and Israel are in the struggle against terrorism together, but the reality is that our nation is being used as Israel’s pawn and that Islamic extremists will not stop trying to kill us until we stop, or at least end our support of, Israel’s policies towards Palestinians and other Arabs.”

Outgoing CIPAC President Dan Greenwald ’05 maintained that the petition bodes well for the U.S. alliance with Israel: “Support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is not a uniquely Democratic or uniquely Republican position. It’s a consensus American position. The success of this petition project proves to me that this bipartisan support will continue into the future.”

Archived article by Ben Birnbaum
Sun Staff Writer