February 22, 2012

Letter to the Editor: In Defense of Israel

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To the Editor:

Re: “Organizations Debate Technion Partnership” News, Feb. 21

An article recently appearing on the Technion debate mentions allegations of Israeli “war crimes.” An example of these spurious claims is clear when looking at the 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead. For eight consistent years, Hamas, the terrorist organization controlling Gaza, fired over 8,000 rockets into Israel with the outright intention of targeting civilians. Operation Cast Lead aimed to protect Israeli citizens by ending the endless rain of rockets from Gaza. Facing Hamas, a terrorist entity that uses civilians as human shields, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) did all in its power to protect the Palestinians. The IDF sent text messages, leaflets, and made phone calls to warn residents and urge them to seek shelter. Also, one can look at the case of Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, which Hamas was using as a haven for terrorist activity. At the risk of compromising its own safety, the IDF chose not to attack the hospital in order to protect the Palestinian patients. It’s hard to imagine other armed forces going to such great lengths to ensure the security of civilians on the opposing side. Even more, Justice Richard Goldstone, who penned the original U.N. report condemning Israel for war crimes, later infamously retracted the report as it was inherently biased against Israel.

Further, we don’t support tactics to boycott Israel. Any effort to isolate one party in this two-sided conflict ignores that to establish peace, the grievances of both the Palestinians and Israelis must be recognized. To advocate a boycott of Israel is to blame Israel for the entire conflict. Boycotting an Israeli university and alleging that it somehow symbolizes Israeli war crimes is an attempt to delegitimize Israel and its right to self-defense. This tactic stalls any form of dialogue and is counterproductive to reaching a lasting peace.

Yotam Arens ’12 and Emily Rotbart ’12

Co-presidents of the Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee