Cornell’s Anti-Israel Divestment Resolution Is Full of Lies, Slanders, and Inaccuracies
On April 11, the Cornell 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, and it must be rejected by the Student Assembly, which should not adopt a document that 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 has smuggled in weapons by land and sea to attack Israeli civilians, and therefore, 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, mortars, tunnels, and other forms of terrorism. Furthermore, the United Nations’ 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 “occupied” territories being “controlled militarily by the Israeli government.”
Between 1948 and 1967, Jordan occupied the West Bank. That territory had been designated by the League of Nations as part of a Jewish homeland.
Prior to 1967, Palestinians made no claim on that territory for a future state. That is why the US government refers to it as “disputed” territory.
In 1967, while Israel was at war with Egypt, the Israeli government offered Jordan a mutual non-aggression 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 with the Palestinians. Oslo stipulated that Israel would control East Jerusalem and 60 percent of the West Bank until the sides reached a final peace agreement. Currently, 95 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank live in territory governed completely by the Palestinian Authority. Israel has offered repeatedly to leave the entire West Bank in exchange for peace, but the Palestinians have rejected every such offer.
Resolution 36 is also misleading in other respects.
For example, it claims 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 Palestinian suicide bombings and other terror attacks. The barrier has saved thousands of lives by reducing 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 Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The Resolution reads: “In Operation Cast Lead Israel killed 759 Palestinian non-combatants.” The Resolution fails to mention that Cast Lead was launched in response to over 10,000 Hamas rockets and mortars fired against Israeli civilians. It omits the fact that Hamas uses human shields, hides weapons and fighters in hospitals and schools, and uses child laborers to dig terror tunnels to attack Israelis.
During Cast Lead, Israel tried to safeguard civilian lives through the use of warning leaflets, phone calls, radio broadcasts, and other tactics — even though it damaged Israel’s military position. 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 has a list of companies that “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. Another company on 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 percent 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? The answer on April 11 should be a resounding “no.”
Josh Eibelman is a junior at Cornell University, where he studies biology and psychology.