February 12, 2020

GUEST ROOM | When Will Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine Stop Endorsing A Terror Organization?

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On Tuesday, Jan. 28, Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine shared a post on Facebook from the Central Ohio Revolutionary Socialists page. The post read, “This is how you respond to Trump and Netanyahu’s calls for ‘negotiation’ and ‘peace talks’ based on their plan for permanent apartheid” and included a video interview with Ghassan Kanafani entitled “A Conversation Between the Sword and the Neck – Ghassan Kanafani”.

Ghassan Kanafani was no ordinary Palestinian leader: he was one of the leaders of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine, a group that has conducted hundreds of terror attacks against innocent civilians since the late 1960s. This includes PFLP’s responsibility for numerous suicide bombings, airplane hijackings and other attacks on Israelis. The PFLP is classified by the United States, European Union and Canada as a terrorist organization, and is committed to eradicating the State of Israel.

The PFLP’s terrorist activity has continued into the 2000s. In 2001, the PFLP claimed responsibility for the assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi. The group was also responsible for a suicide bombing on Christmas Day in 2003 which killed four people. In 2014, the PFLP claimed responsibility for the Har Nof Massacre, in which six Jews were murdered while praying in a Jerusalem synagogue. Among those killed was Rabbi Moshe Twersky, the grandson of the founder of the Jewish school this author attended in the Boston area.  Most recently, in August 2019, the PFLP was found responsible for a terror attack in which Rina Shnerb, a 17-year-old Israeli girl, was killed by an improvised explosive device.

This is not the first time Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine has promoted PFLP propaganda. Last spring, the group used a PFLP poster to promote an event called “From Ferguson to Palestine: A Conversation Surrounding Struggle” before taking it down after students protested. And Cornell SJP has repeatedly defended Rasmeah Odeh, a former member of the PFLP responsible for a 1969 Jerusalem bombing which killed two Israeli college students, calling her an “activist.” Cornell Collective for Justice in Palestine, an organization which co-signed Cornell SJP’s call for BDS last spring, has a photograph of PFLP member Leila Khaled as its Facebook profile picture. Khaled led multiple plane hijackings while active in the PFLP.

Ghassan Kanafani, the PFLP leader whom the Cornell SJP post promotes, helped plan one of the PFLP’s most deadly terror attacks. In May 1972, the PFLP and the Japanese Red Army carried out an attack at Lod Airport (now called Ben Gurion) in Israel, killing 26 innocent civilians, including 17 Puerto Rican Christian pilgrims, eight Israelis and one Canadian.

Two members of the Puerto Rican Student Association E-Board at Cornell told this author they were disappointed but not surprised by Cornell SJP’s promotion of a PFLP leader. The students requested their names be kept private, but agreed for their statements to be published.

“Considering what Puerto Ricans have been through in recent years, it hurts to know that some students show hostile sentiment towards us. It truly forms a barrier to inclusion. This act by SJP felt like a major violation of trust and an outright show of disrespect to the Cornell community in addition to the Puerto Rican and Israeli communities,” one of the PRSA Executive Board members said.

A second Puerto Rican Student Association E-Board member responded to SJP’s post in a private, written statement: “It is incredibly disheartening to see an organization which in theory dedicates itself to advancing human rights in Palestine reposting material from a leader of an internationally recognized terror group regarding his perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Cornellians must know that Cornell SJP has a consistent record of endorsing a terrorist organization devoted in words and deeds to the death of innocent civilians and to Israel’s destruction. If you are Puerto Rican, know that Cornell SJP does not care about the innocent Christian Puerto Rican pilgrims gunned down at Lod Airport. If you are Israeli, know that Cornell SJP endorses the demise of your country. If you are Jewish, know that Cornell SJP has denied your right to peaceful self-determination. If you are a student, know that Cornell SJP has put its weight behind an organization which has murdered innocent Israeli students on the street. And if you are human, know that Cornell SJP has put its hatred for the sole Jewish state above your life, and has declared that its destructive goals must be reached at any cost.

Josh Eibelman is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is a CAMERA on Campus fellow. Guest Room runs periodically this semester. Comments may be sent to opinion@cornellsun.com.