On Thursday, April 11, the Cornell Undergraduate Student Assembly will vote on an anti-Israel Boycott Resolution that falls short of meeting basic academic standards.
On April 11, the Student Assembly will vote on a Resolution submitted by Students for Justice in Palestine (Resolution 36).
Much of Resolution 36 is deeply misleading and inaccurate. Resolution 36 must be rejected by the Student Assembly, which should not adopt a document which falls below basic academic standards.
Resolution 36 misleads students on the history of the Gaza strip when it discusses, “the blockaded Palestinian territories” as being “controlled militarily by the Israeli government”. After Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, the terror group Hamas took control in 2007.
Hamas smuggled weapons by land and sea to attack Israeli civilians, so Israel has been forced to check goods that enter Gaza. With these measures in place, Hamas has still indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians with thousands of rockets and mortars, so the threat to innocent Israelis’ lives would be much greater without them. This is why the United Nation’s Palmer report ruled that Israel’s policy in Gaza is legal under international law.
Resolution 36 also omits critical information about the West Bank when it talks about the “occupied…Palestinian territories” as being “controlled militarily by the Israeli government”.
Between 1948 and 1967, Jordan occupied the West Bank, which it captured from Israel in 1948. That territory had been designated by the League of Nations as part of the Jewish homeland.
Prior to 1967, Palestinians made no claim on that territory for a state when it was controlled by Jordan. That is why the U.S. government refers to it as “disputed” territory.
In 1967, while Israel was at war with Egypt, the Israeli government offered Jordan a mutual nonaggression pact. Jordan responded by attacking Israel, and Israel took control of the West Bank in response. In 1968, Israel offered Jordan most of the West Bank in return for peace, but Jordan again rejected Israel’s proposal. Decades later, Jordan dropped its claim to the West Bank, and Israel signed the Oslo Accords treaty with the Palestinians. The treaty stipulated that Israel controls East Jerusalem and 60% of the West Bank until the sides reach a final peace agreement. Currently, 95% of Palestinians in the West Bank live in territory governed by the Palestinian Authority. Israel has offered repeatedly to leave the West Bank in turn for peace, but Palestinians have rejected every such offer.
It is clear that Resolution 36 is factually misleading in its presentation of history. But the Resolution is also misleading in other respects.
One of the resolution’s first arguments to support this claim is that “the separation wall which the Israeli government is building in the West Bank has been declared ‘contrary to international law’ by the International Court of Justice.” In fact, the International Court of Justice’s ruling was a non-binding advisory opinion with no ramifications on international law and was made without allowing Israel to present its side.
Israel built the barrier, which is mostly fencing, in direct response to the Second Intifada, when over 1,000 Israeli civilians were killed in suicide bombings and other terror attacks. The barrier has saved thousands of lives by ending the threat of bombings in cafes, buses, and other civilian targets. According to Ramadan Shalah, leader of the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, “Israel built the separation fence in the West Bank. We do not deny that it limits [our] ability to arrive deep within [Israel] to carry out suicide bombing attacks.”
Resolution 36 also does not provide critical context on the 2008 Gaza War, Operation Cast Lead. The Resolution reads, “In Operation Cast Lead Israel killed 759 Palestinian non- combatants….” The Resolution fails to mention that Cast Lead was a response to over 10,000
Hamas rockets and mortars fired against Israeli civilians. It omits the fact that Hamas uses human shields, hiding weapons and fighters in hospitals and schools, and uses child laborers to dig terror tunnels to attack Israelis. In reality, during Cast Lead Israel tried to safeguard civilian lives through warning leaflets, phone calls, radio broadcasts, and many aborted military operations. Per Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan: “The Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”
Finally, Resolution 36 makes a list of companies which “profit from Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, thereby making Cornell complicit in human rights abuses and violations of international law.” The first target is Cornell Tech’s partnership with the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. The Resolution says that “Technion has created unmanned bulldozers for the IDF” for the demolition of Palestinian homes. In reality, Israel destroys homes only when a home is used for terror attacks and when the home is built illegally. There have been many years, such as between 1993 and 2001, when Israel demolished many more illegal Jewish than Palestinian structures. Moreover, there is judicial oversight for all demolitions, and Palestinians have filed many successful appeals.
Another company in the Resolution’s divestment list is Hewlett Packard (HP). HP is actually helping develop the Palestinian IT sector in the West Bank. Israeli subsidiaries of HP outsource significant amounts of work to Palestinian firms, and this kind of outsourcing makes up around 10% of the West Bank’s GDP. Targeting HP for divestment would harm Palestinians, not just Israelis.
These examples provide just a taste of the factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and omissions of Resolution 36.
To the Student Assembly and the rest of the Cornell community: are you comfortable passing such a one-sided resolution that falls short of meeting basic academic standards? We hope your answer on April 11 will be a resounding “no”.
Joshua Eibelman is a student at Cornell University, Class of 2020, studying biology and psychology.DONATE
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