May 6, 2018

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cornell community members denounce Israeli military actions

Print More

We, the undersigned members of the Cornell University community, call on Cornellians of conscience to denounce the Israeli military’s recent massacre of unarmed Palestinian protesters participating in the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip.

Since March 30, 2018, thousands of Palestinian civilians, including youth, women and men, have affirmed their internationally-recognized “right of return” as historically displaced persons by marching peacefully toward the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The Israeli military has responded with indiscriminate lethal force. Military officials have declared an area 300 meters inside the border fence a “kill zone,” and video evidence shows that soldiers are shooting protesters well behind that line, as well. The Israeli military has killed more than 30 Palestinians. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and lethal fire have injured more than 1,000 protesters.

The use of lethal force against unarmed protesters is not a “clash,” as commonly reported by U.S. media. Nor is Israel’s open-fire policy a case of “firing back.” It is a massacre in violation of international law and an outrage against basic principles of human rights, dignity and life. This massacre is the latest injustice in a 50-year occupation, and 70-year ethnic cleansing, endured by the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli  government. The current wave of protests marks the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, when more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes by the emergent Israeli state. Since then, generations of Palestinians have grown up as stateless refugees under conditions of apartheid. In their struggle to affirm their right to return to their homeland, they have been met with deadly fire from Israel and with silence from America.

It is our duty as members of the Cornell community to break this silence. Cornell prides itself on being a place of critical engagement. This commitment requires us to challenge oppression, and to review our own country’s and institution’s role in perpetuating it. Israel is dependent on U.S. military aid and political support. Cornell is itself complicit in the subjugation of Palestinians through the partnership between Cornell Tech in New York City and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, which develops technology enabling the military occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Why do our signatures matter? While many countries assault human rights on a daily basis, Israel is unique in its insistence that its actions — including those on the Gaza border in past weeks — are compatible with international law. Americans have been slow to join the growing chorus of global condemnation of Israeli atrocities. Today, showing solidarity with Palestine is more crucial than ever. The systematic effort to deny the humanity of the Palestinian people is linked to the devaluing and destruction of people of color within the United States. As we combat racism and militarism at home, we salute those Palestinian demonstrators who are facing one of the world’s military giants armed only with their determination to be free.

Amal Aun, MPA, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs
Manuel Berduc grad, history
Spencer Beswick grad, history
Prof. Julia Chang, Romance studies
Prof. Eric Cheyfitz, Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters
Zeyad el Nabolsy grad, philosophy
Prof. Matthew Evangelista, President White Professor of History and Political Science
Prof. Darlene Evans, Knight Institute
Prof. Eli Friedman, ILR
Carolina Osorio Gil ’02
Prof. Shannon Gleeson, ILR
Neta Goder grad, history
Prof. Emeritus Neil Hertz, English
Prof. Sheri Johnson, law
Prof. Risa Lieberwitz, ILR
Jonathan M. Lohnes grad, history
Delphine Lourtau, Executive Director, Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide
Marc Kohlbry grad, comparative literature
Afifa Ltifi grad, Africana studies
Prof. Joseph Margulies, Professor of Law and Government
Prof. Kate McCullough, Associate Professor of English and FGSS
Prof. Tracy McNulty, comparative literature and Romance studies
Prof. Natalie Melas, comparative literature
Prof. Simone Pinet, Romance studies
Prof. Aziz Rana, law
Prof. Russell Rickford, history
Prof. Naoki Sakai, Goldwin Smith Professor of Asian Studies
Prof. Paul Sawyer, English
Nitzan Tal grad, comparative literature
Jordan von Manalastas grad, Law School