Justice for Palestinian Protestors
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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. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and lethal fire have injured more than 1,000 protesters.
The use of lethal force against unarmed protesters is not a “clash,” as commonly reported by U.S. media. Nor is Israel’s open-fire policy a case of “firing back.” It is a massacre in violation of international law and an outrage against basic principles of human rights, dignity and life. This massacre is the latest injustice in a 50-year occupation, and 70-year ethnic cleansing, endured by the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli government. The current wave of protests marks the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, when more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes by the emergent Israeli state. Since then, generations of Palestinians have grown up as stateless refugees under conditions of apartheid. In their struggle to affirm their right to return to their homeland, they have been met with deadly fire from Israel and with silence from America.
It is our duty as members of the Cornell community to break this silence. Cornell prides itself on being a place of critical engagement. This commitment requires us to challenge oppression, and to review our own country’s and institution’s role in perpetuating it. Israel is dependent on U.S. military aid and political support. Cornell is itself complicit in the subjugation of Palestinians through the partnership between Cornell Tech in New York City and Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, which develops technology enabling the military occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Why do our signatures matter? While many countries assault human rights on a daily basis, Israel is unique in its insistence that its actions—including those on the Gaza border in past weeks—are compatible with international law. Americans have been slow to join the growing chorus of global condemnation of Israeli atrocities. Today, showing solidarity with Palestine is more crucial than ever. The systematic effort to deny the humanity of the Palestinian people is linked to the devaluing and destruction of people of color within the United States. As we combat racism and militarism at home, we salute those Palestinian demonstrators who are facing one of the world’s military giants armed only with their determination to be free.
Neil Hertz, Professor of English, emeritus
Russell Rickford, Associate Professor, History
Darlene Evans, Sr. Lecturer, Knight Institute
Zeyad el Nabolsy, PhD Student, Philosophy
Afifa Ltifi, PhD Student, Africana Studies
Shannon Gleeson, Associate Professor, ILR School
Risa Lieberwitz, Professor, ILR School
Eric Cheyfitz, Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters
Naoki Sakai, Goldwin Smith Professor of Asian Studies
Jonathan M. Lohnes, PhD Student, History
Jordan von Manalastas, Cornell Law School
Julia Chang, Assistant Professor, Romance Studies
Carolina Osorio Gil, Cornell University ‘02
Tracy McNulty, Professor of French and Comparative Literature
Sandra Babcock, Clinical Professor of Law
Joseph Margulies, Professor of Law and Government
Eli Friedman, Associate Professor, ILR School
Delphine Lourtau, Executive Director, Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide
Matthew Evangelista, President White Professor of History and Political Science
Sheri Johnson, Professor, Law School
Amal Aun, MPA, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs
Aziz Rana, Professor, Law School
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