Letter to the Editor: Tulane stands with Israel

Tulane stands with Israel. Though Tulane as an institution has not made an official statement on the matter, Hullabaloo Views Editor Kathryne LeBell, who released an article on Wednesday arguing that “Tulane Stands With Israel” was a too generalizing title, is dead wrong. I do not define “Tulane” by the administration, but rather by the student body and the university community. Tulane stands with Israel in the sense that our student body condemns terrorism. In the past few months, senseless Palestinian violence by knifes, cars, guns, explosives, stones and meat cleavers have left 11 Israelis dead and over 150 wounded.

According to the Israeli Defense Forces, there were 75 terror attacks just in October. Thus, Tulane Israel Public Affairs Committee, Tulane University Students Supporting Israel, Tulane Arabic Society, Tulane Green Wave Scholars and Tulane Chabad banded together and hosted an Arab-Israeli Peace Vigil, wore blue the next day on Nov. 10, and took pictures stating why they stand with Israel to promote knowledge of the current situation, remember the brutal deaths of innocent civilians and pray for peace.

These multi-organizational efforts strictly served to condemn terrorism, and sympathize with Israel’s current struggle that cruelly forces many Israeli citizens to amend their daily lives as they live in valid fear or terror. These events do not, as LeBell suggests, alienate individuals. Despite the fact that LeBell made these efforts seem one-sided, Tulane Arabic Society was a significant co-sponsor to the events. In addition, The Tulane Arab-Israeli Peace Vigil served to remember the “violence in Israel and the West Bank,” and Wear Blue aimed to “oppose terrorism, no matter from which side it derives from.” These efforts honored victims on both sides, and sponsored hope for peace. Thus, when LeBell alludes to the “students who advocate for Palestinian victims” as being an entity separate from the organizations sponsoring the event series, she misleadingly suggested that the pro-Israel students are anti-Palestinian. LeBell’s statement directly promotes the ignorant philosophy that standing with Israel equates standing against Palestine, when TIPAC in fact strongly supports a negotiated two-state solution.

And yes, as LeBell mentions, Tulane Students for Justice in Palestine does hold opposing views on the matter, but even it would agree that terrorism is an unjust and illegitimate means of achieving a goal, no matter who is committing it, and thus stands with Israel in that respect.

Not only does LeBell argue that Tulane does not necessarily stand with Israel, but goes on to claim that Israel has committed “grievous war crimes” and “human rights violations,” and that Palestinians civilians are “victims of this conflict.” These assertions are unfounded and diminish a complicated situation into punchlines, inaccurately suggesting that it is Israel’s fault there is no Palestinian-Israeli diplomatic solution, when there have in fact been a series of Israeli efforts to do so.

So here is a brief history lesson. Among many of her erroneous assertions, the Israeli army did not commit war crimes during its 2008 and 2014 operations in Gaza, nor ever use human shields. To the contrary, the IDF routinely faces issues when confronting Hamas-created human shields in Gaza when attempting to remove rockets aimed at Israelis. As a result, Israel is forced to bomb civilian buildings due to Hamas’s gross military strategies that involve but are not limited to storing mortars and weapons in and operating out of Palestinian hospitals, mosques and schools. The IDF, however, follows a strict code of warning phone calls and leaflets 48 hours prior to bombing. This is exemplified by Operation Protective Edge, when Hamas used Al-Wafa Hospital as a command center to attack soldiers, launch rockets, and fire anti-tank missiles at the IDF. Lastly, the operations in Gaza do in fact very much hinder terrorists in many “fashions,” such as leading the destruction of around 40 terrorist tunnels that facilitated Hamas operatives to enter Israel and attack civilians last summer.

I would go one step further to say that not only does Tulane stand with Israel, but so does the United States. On Nov. 5, four-fifths of the U.S. House signed the Royce-Engel letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, calling for “concrete steps to avoid further violence” by publicly condemning the recent terror attacks, putting an end to dangerous incitement stemming from the Palestinian Authority, and continuing important security cooperation with Israel. In addition, on Nov 4, the House unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution condemning anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement by the PA.

Not only did LeBell and The Hullabaloo publish this outrageously ignorant article, but she and the organization failed to do her due diligence, and thus did not meet necessary journalistic standards. Please note, I have nothing personally against LeBell’s character or The Hullabaloo whatsoever, and my disapproval stems solely from the measures taken and decisions made that led to the publishing of her article. Furthermore, when writing her article, LeBell failed to ask any of the organizations involved in the events for comment, producing a strong bias. Furthermore, she reported on an event she did not even bother to attend. As Views Editor and now the propagator of anti-Semitic arguments, she, and the Hullabaloo, have the responsibility to fact check her wild anti-Israel accusations before publishing them. I do not believe that she herself or the organization are anti-Semitic, but rather those of the words put online. These actions are unacceptable, and a disgrace not only to The Hullabaloo, a newspaper that is supposed to champion the ideals of journalism, but an insult to journalistic integrity and to the Tulane community. Sure, LeBell, not all of Tulane stands with Israel, but that’s not the point. The point is the overwhelming majority of the Tulane community does.

Becca Sawyer is a junior at Newcomb-Tulane College. She is the Tulane Israel Public Affairs Committee President and a past Associate Views Editor for The Hullabaloo. She can be reached at [email protected]