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SAMILOW | A False Narrative on Israel and Academic Freedom

A little over a month ago, my colleague in the Opinion section, Javed Jokhai ’24, published a column with the thesis that pro-Palestinian voices are being suppressed on Cornell’s campus. In his view, the Cornell administration’s purported neutrality on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its unwillingness to condemn Israel and sever all ties with Israeli academic institutions prejudices the free speech rights of pro-Palestinian students and faculty on campus. In reaching this conclusion, Jokhai offers contradictory reasoning and mischaracterizes the nature of academic freedom. Last spring, amid the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Martha Pollack released a statement expressing concern about the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes, including several incidents at Cornell and around Ithaca. This was, of course, completely reasonable given that during those weeks we saw Jews beaten in the streets of New York and Canada and pro-Palestinian protesters in London and Brussels chant “death to Jews.” Even at Cornell, where close to 20 percent of students are Jewish, a member of the Student Assembly shared a video of notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan accusing Israel of “practicing dirty religion” on her instagram story. 

Jokhai, however, was troubled by Pollack’s statement.

GUEST ROOM | Beyond BDS: Engaging in Dialogue on Israel and Palestine

Cornell is a tough place. Each semester often feels increasingly more trying. Last semester was particularly difficult because of three little letters: BDS, which stand for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel, a country to which many Cornellians, including myself, feel deeply connected. For those new to campus, the “divestment” campaign that was brought to the Student Assembly claimed to start conversations about the century-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a worthwhile goal that I share. Instead, after many twists and turns last semester, including President Martha Pollack’s principled rejection of BDS and the paralysis of student government for most of the semester, BDS caused a deep rift in the campus culture and was defeated.

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

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.