Friday, April 24, 2009

Columbia University:

Students continue to call for divestment from Israel--

"Columnist presents partisan views while making false insinuations"


Columbia University (New York City)

April 23, 2009

On the Web at:

To the Editor:

Columnist Jon Hollander’s April 15 piece, “Activism that matters,” insinuates that groups like the Columbia Palestine Forum are the cause for the perpetuation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by failing to consider the most rudimentary facts of the situation. First of all, nowhere in its statement or demands does the Columbia Palestine Forum use the term “apartheid.” In fact, I believe the first usage of the term apartheid in this recent upsurge of campus debate was by LionPAC and Hillel in their flyer campaign.

This being said, divestment and the impositions of sanctions on Israel are long overdue. “Demonizing” the state of Israel is not the new black. It’s a reaction to the atrocities which occurred in Gaza earlier this year, and which have been occurring for the past 60 years.

Israel is in violation of numerous United Nations resolutions, among which it is stated that Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders and allow refugees the right to return. Israel’s most recent attack on Gaza was not only avoidable, but it indiscriminately killed over 1,400 Palestinians and destroyed the Strip’s infrastructure. Israel, as an occupying power, breached international humanitarian law with impunity for three weeks of massacre in Gaza.

Despite the rosy picture Hollander paints, Arabs do not enjoy the same rights as Jews in Israel, at least not in terms of property rights, hiring, marriage, healthcare, schooling, etc. Palestinians cannot move freely within their country, and are increasingly threatened by the growth of illegal settlements in the West Bank. Moreover, it was Israel that allowed Hamas to grow in the ’80s to subdue the secular nationalist movement. Nonetheless, what Hamas seeks is implementation of UN resolutions.

The principal factor “feeding the cycle of hatred” is the subjugation and violence to which Israel subjects the Palestinians. So Hollander, before you pass judgment, I recommend you consult a source other than the U.S. Congress for an unbiased assessment of the situation.

Nancy Elshami, BC ’10
April 18, 2009