Due to concerns over the conduction of a public vote for a contentious divestment resolution last spring, the Student Assembly passed a resolution on Thursday changing the undergraduate student voting procedure from a verbal declaration to an electronic ballot.
In light of the contentious community vote that took place last semester over a BDS resolution, Julian Kroll ’20 and Masa Haddad ’21 proposed a resolution that will allow community members to vote online.
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.
This week’s Student Assembly meeting was marked by an open mic during which students spoke about concerns concerning last week’s community vote — a raucous affair that ultimately sealed a narrow failure of the divestment resolution.
Corrections appended. With the failure of the BDS resolution before the Student Assembly this past Thursday, Cornell Hillel and Cornellians for Israel, both of which strongly opposed the measure, declared a victory for peace. However, peace and dialogue have not won out just yet. If Hillel and CFI are serious about promoting human rights of Palestinians and Israelis, they must walk the walk. If Hillel cares about dialogue, it should strive to bring in Palestinian speakers as well as Israeli critics of the occupation of Palestinian land such as Breaking the Silence, a group of Israel Defense Forces veterans that candidly discusses military activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and B’tselem, a human rights organization dedicated to ending the occupation.
Student Assembly members voted Thursday to reject Resolution 36, which would “urge” Cornell to divest from companies “profiting from the occupation of Palestine and human rights violations.” The vote included 13 no, 14 yes and one abstention from S.A. members, as well as two votes by the community members that were against the resolution.
In January 2009, a long-range missile from Gaza was fired into Israel. This has been a common occurrence ever since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. As a child, I was taught at school to immediately run to a bomb shelter if sirens go off, so I did that. I was home alone in my room and quickly ran to the shelter we had in our house. It was 9:30 a.m. Normally, I would stay in the shelter and wait for the sirens to stop, as rockets rarely reached my town of Gedera.
ByHelen Shanahan, Max Greenberg, Christopher Hanna, Kataryna Restrepo, Steve Tarcan and Viraj Kumar |
In President Pollack’s much-publicized statement rejecting Students for Justice in Palestine’s proposed divestment measures against Israeli occupation, Cornell’s leader claimed that such action would “unfairly single out one country in the world for sanction, when there are many countries around the world whose governments’ policies may be viewed as controversial.” In case she has forgotten, we would like to remind her of the other countries whose human rights violations have been brought to her attention by anti-imperialist members of the campus community. In May 2017, Pollack’s administration declined to take action to utilize Cornell’s purchasing power to help curb militia violence in the Congo in accordance with the demands of the global “conflict-free” movement. A resolution that earned the near-unanimous support from the Student Assembly was unilaterally dismissed, even though the relatively uncontroversial conflict-free campaign provided Cornell with a feasible action plan to directly address the country’s human rights violations. University leadership simply couldn’t be bothered to care about this powerful student-led effort, let alone act on it. The following month, an SA resolution authored by human rights organizers and Native American student leaders asked the University to divest from dirty pipeline projects that violate Indigenous sovereignty and put the future of all peoples at stake.
In a March 25 guest column, “A Jewish Case for Divestment,” four students argue for divestment from Israel. The authors attempt to revise history with false claims about Israel and the Jewish people. They write, “To pretend as though European Jews, without a state, were helpless in the face of Nazi genocide is to erase the sacrifices of countless Jews who fought and died in the Soviet and Polish armies, in antifascist partisan detachments and in ghetto uprisings.”
This statement is not only false — it is extremely offensive. Valiant as they were, the efforts of the partisans were not enough to save the Jews of Europe. Despite the brave souls who fought until the end, six million Jews were still murdered by the Nazi killing machine.
I read the March 25 guest column in The Sun, “A Jewish Case for Divestment.” I graduated from Cornell in 1971, and I remember a course I took in the Arts School on public opinion. It is probably relevant to this discussion because all of us have beliefs based on what we read, see and hear. I remember my dad reading about the 1956 Arab-Israeli war and crying, “They’re killing more Jews again.” Being seven at the time, I had no idea what he was talking about, but it seemed frightening to me since I knew I was Jewish and had no idea if I was in danger. Later in life, I learned he was stabbed by a Nazi who was trying to kill him, and that the Nazis murdered his uncle, aunt and their 18-year-old daughter. I have read a lot about Israel, pre-Israel Palestine and the various attempts to attack the Jews.