April 29, 2018

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Prof responds to her statements quoted in ‘Cornell Students Rally in Support of Gaza Protest’

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To the Editor:

In regards to a statement that I made at the rally last week in support of the people in Gaza, my comment, reported by Ms. Curley, was only a few words of a longer statement in which I indicated that the issue was not only a political issue, but a human rights issue, and that those interested didn’t need to know the deep politics of the issue in order to get involved and stand in solidarity with Palestine on the human rights issue alone. Since the Six Day War of 1967, the U.N. has repeatedly cited Israel for human rights violations in the Occupied Territories and Gaza, which has been described as the “largest outdoor prison in the world.”

In response to those who would characterize the situation as terrorist Palestinians vs. innocent Israelis, I suggest they refer to the U.N. “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” from which I excerpt the following:

According to B’Tselem [The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories], between 1987 and 2000 just under 1,400 Palestinians were killed by ISF [Israeli Security Forces]. After the year 2000, deaths of Palestinians caused by ISF accelerated, with more than 6,700 deaths, as at October 2013. Of this number, over 3,100 were civilians not involved in hostilities. B’Tselem’s statistics show that during Israel’s “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza, of the 344 children reportedly killed, 318 did not take part in hostilities. During the same operation, of the 110 Palestinian women recorded as killed, two were police officers and the remaining 108 did not take part in the hostilities. During operation “Pillar of Defence”, approximately 100 Palestinian civilians, a third of whom were children, were reportedly killed as a result of ISF actions.

Following my opening statement I invited anyone interested to get involved with organizations in the community and on campus where they could learn more — hopefully, about the historic politics of Israel/Palestine (going back to the Balfour Declaration of 1917) — including Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Cornell Collective for Justice in Palestine. I regret that the larger context of my statement was not included in the reporting on the rally and that those responses to my statement, criticizing me for promoting ignorance of the situation, may themselves benefit from more consideration of the documented evidence of Israel’s repeated violation of human rights.

Prof. Darlene Evans

 director of writing outreach, John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines