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.
Yesterday, Jacob Brown grad, a columnist at The Sun, published a polemical piece bearing the puzzling title “Terrorism: Propaganda Versus Reality.” It took direct aim at a column of mine from some eight months ago, “Reining In Iran’s Brutal Regime,” an attempt to review the nation’s horrific human rights violations and offer policies to challenge its immoral leadership as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. In his column, Brown holds the extraordinary premise that the United States is the real leading state sponsor of terrorism — a declaration so extreme, almost no one but the Iranian Foreign Ministry itself has found the audacity to make it. Anti-Americanism, unfortunately, often traffics in this kind of rhetoric, feebly attempting to flip the script on foreign policy experts by intentionally conflating difficult policy choices or historical policy mistakes with the sinister efforts by Tehran and others to commit deliberate acts of extreme violence against civilians. Criticizing bad choices can be important — but Brown was wrong to make the indefensible claim that the U.S. lacks “any sense of moral high ground” over the brutal Iranian regime. Brown begins by discussing the Yemeni Civil War, an ongoing proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia that is having undeniably catastrophic effects on civilians and regional security.
There is hardly an accusation more damning in American political discourse than to be declared a “sponsor of terrorism.” We are used to certain countries, primarily Iran, being labeled by government officials and media outlets as state sponsors of terrorism. In the case of Iran, this claim is certainly true. But Sun columnist Michael Johns ’20, echoing a statement by former President George W. Bush, takes this accusation to the extreme by claiming that Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The recent historical record, however, shows that this is far from true: It is the United States that routinely tops the list of rogue states with little regard for international law and diplomatic norms.
To make such an accusation against a country merits an investigation into its veracity. Johns references Iranian support for violent non-governmental actors such as the Lebanese militant-political party Hezbollah and Shi’ite militias in Iraq, as well as its ties to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as proof that Iran reigns world champion of terrorism.
Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a new dueling columns feature. In this feature, Michael Johns ’20 and Giancarlo Valdetaro ’21 debate, “Forty years after the Iranian Revolution, what posture should the U.S. take on the Islamic Republic?” Read the counterpart column here. An unidentified man was publicly hanged in the Iranian city of Kazeroon last month, one of thousands of Iranians executed on charges of homosexuality in the country since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran’s despotic legal system and practice of secret executions make it easy to underestimate the magnitude of Iran’s human rights abuses, which also have targeted political opponents and religious minorities. Yet, while numbers are hard to come by, human rights experts are nearly unanimous in placing Iran among the world’s worst human rights violators.
On September 11, 2001, nearly three thousand Americans tragically lost their lives at the hands of terrorists. Those terrorists carried out a heinous attack on our way of life, our sense of safety and our freedom. Our fellow citizens were forever immortalized not just as victims, but as heroes. Every year, on the anniversary of this dark day, we solemnly say — or nod in agreement when someone else says — “Never Forget.” On social media, we solemnly retweet and “like” posts bearing the hashtagged phrase. And every year, we are liars.
Raza Rumi, a journalist and Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College, explained the roots of extremism in Pakistan and described the efforts to deter radicalism in a lecture last week. “The country has in the last decade or so suffered huge losses,” Rumi said. “Between 50 and 80 thousand Pakistanis have died in pure acts of violence and terrorism across the country.”
Rumi, a Pakistani himself, said these deaths include those of civilians and members of the military. Rumi said there have been attacks in airports and headquarters of intelligence agencies and blamed these losses the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani government has been involved in an operation called Zarb-e-Azb, which targets militant hideouts in Northwest Pakistan, he said.
By KATY HABR
Since the devastating siege of Paris on Friday night, the world has turned upside down in shock and mourning. Throughout the ordeal, Lebanon was still reeling. We mourned not only for our French brothers and sisters, but also for ourselves. We mourned for the terrorist attack just the day before that stole the lives of 43 people, and yet was largely ignored by the entire world. While no Snapchat filter or Facebook picture is going to help anyone, be it in Paris or Beirut, the lack of recognition of the attacks in Beirut is telling.
By EMILY HARDIN
Last week the world seemed to implode. At home, thousands of college students mobilized against the institutional racism of our higher education system — and received death threats in the process. Across the world, terrorist attacks took hundreds of innocent lives. The sensationalist media presence only increases our sense of helplessness as observers. In times like these, it often seems much easier to turn off the news.