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Letter to the Editor: Tulane Israeli partnership is a hypocrisy of university values

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On June 25 Tulane News announced President Mike Fitts would be visiting the state of Israel this week with the intention of exchanging opportunities with four Israeli universities: Bar Ilan University, Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv University and the Technion. Fitts’ visit to Israel, coupled with the prospect of additional partnerships between Tulane and Israeli universities, constitute a hypocrisy of Tulanian values and a regressive step away from expanding diversity among our student body.

According to a report published by the United Nations in 2017, Israeli discrimination against Palestinians in Israel proper and the Occupied Palestinian Territories meets the internationally established definition of apartheid. This system of racialized repression is facilitated by violations within five categories of international law, including abusive detention and forced displacement. Both Bar Ilan University and the Technion participate directly in facilitating these abuses, meaning any partnership with either institution is inherently a partnership with illegal occupation.

Within Bar Ilan University, the Zefat College houses a program to train members of the Shin Bet, an Israeli security organization that has admitted to engaging in systematic torture directed against thousands of Palestinians. The Technion has developed various military technologies to aid in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, including the “D9 Bulldozer,” which is used by the Israeli army to demolish Palestinian homes, and tunnel detection technology to maintain the blockade in GazaWhen President Fitts aims to further ‘technological innovation’ in partnership with Israeli universities, is this an example of the progress he envisions?

Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Universities, on the other hand, show that Israeli violence and repression need not be limited to Occupied Palestine, but can be applied abroad as well as within the 1967 Israeli border.

In the 2006 war against Lebanon, Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies promoted genocidal military tactics through a policy recommendation that advised causing “the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people.” In 2008, Ben Gurion University blatantly inhibited the free speech of its own students when university security guards began to photograph and monitor left-wing political activists to prevent them from staging demonstrations against the occupation. President Fitts posits himself as an advocate of free speech at Tulane, which makes his willingness to disregard this core value all the more disturbing.

Recently, the Tulane Office of Undergraduate Admissions has emphasized its commitment to increasing the diversity of our student body, but Tulane’s partnership with universities who support racist and Islamophobic violence will further dissuade Muslim and Palestinian students from attending. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban from Muslim-majority countries, students would expect to look to their university for a place of solace, yet Tulane continuously proves itself to be an unsafe home for Muslim students. When Tulane hopes for a more diverse student population, it is evident that they do not imagine Muslim and Palestinian students in this picture.

One of the intended goals of the Israeli-Tulane partnership is a promotion of bilateral academic research. The outcomes of the partnership, however, are a direct challenge to its own ambitions.

Any scholars or professors interested in teaching a Palestinian perspective on the conflict will find that Tulane is not a place to do so.

In contrast to his extensive collaborative work with officials from Israeli universities, President Fitts’s trip agenda lists only a brief visit to Ramallah to meet with members of the Palestinian Authority and does not mention any meeting with Palestinian universities. In addition to discussion focusing on advancements in Israeli technology, the Tulane News article mentions that the partnership between universities will include discussion on security challenges and Israel’s approach to global humanitarian aid. Why is a country with almost 50 cited violations of the Geneva Conventions prioritized in a conversation about humanitarian aid while a country that has required aid since Israel’s occupation began 70 years ago is left out of the discussion?  If Tulane was truly interested in genuine cooperation around the world, then it would offer equal limelight and opportunity for Palestinian universities and students to succeed with American partnerships.

If partnerships are established with any of the institutions that President Fitts is visiting, Muslim and Palestinian students will be forced to invest in their own oppressors. We, as a student body, cannot allow our tuition money to support the continued violation of human rights abroad.

We strongly urge Tulane’s administration to oppose the oppressive tactics used by these universities and to refuse to collaborate with them until the end of Israeli occupation.


Tulane Students for Justice in Palestine

For more information about Tulane SJP or inquiries of membership, please contact [email protected].

To submit a letter to the editor, send it [email protected]

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5 Responses to “Letter to the Editor: Tulane Israeli partnership is a hypocrisy of university values”

  1. Beer baron on July 3rd, 2018 11:42 am

    It would be difficult to find anything remotely accurate in this unintentionally-hilarious, Orwellian-rewriting of history masquerading as an anti-Israel editorial, but I will restrict myself to the following point:

    The myth of Arab Muslim victimhood is cheap propaganda stemming from the failed Arab attempts to destroy Israel and throw its Jewish population “into the sea.”

    The anti-Israel left continues to pander to the irrational, bigoted demands of the Middle East’s Arab Muslim majority to suppress the region’s only non-Muslim state in favor of yet another Arab Muslim country.

    That blatant disregard for the rights of anyone who is not an Arab Muslim is precisely the reason why the Jews of Israel had to fight for national independence.

    The mere existence of Israel proclaims the national rights of the Jewish INDIGENOUS population of Israel; a country and a people that predate Arab colonialism and will outlive it as well.


  2. Concerned student on July 6th, 2018 6:49 pm

    This article only reflects the values of a small minority of Tulane students. Palestine has constantly demonstrated that they are not interested in peace. The far left has grown increasingly anti-semetic with radical views like this article.


  3. Jonathan E. Grant on July 10th, 2018 10:24 am

    I note that the Palestinians have invented Humira, countless cancer drugs and drugs that treat or cure chronic diseases, the first successful anti-virus program, instant message, the first successful cell phone, the last four Intel chips, countless medical devices…oh wait, that all came from Israel.

    What the so-called Palestinians have given the world are new forms of terror, and lies to support their fallacious claim to the land of Israel.


  4. Geoffrey on July 11th, 2018 10:54 am

    I am responding to the outrageous letter by SJP regarding…. An organization whose sole aim is to demonize and delegitimized the state of Israel. I would like to highlight that this letter to the editor not only twists truths, it blatantly lies about facts to benefit the agenda of the Tulane Students for Justice in Palestine. I will not say Israel is perfect, no country is, but it sure is close. Israel is NOT an apartheid state and is in fact a democracy, one of (if not the) best and freest in the Middle East. This article is not written in support of Palestine but in attack of Israel. Why instead of investing in Palestine are these people attacking Israel and hoping for its destruction? In its short 70-year existence, Israel has done more humanitarian wise and technology wise than many nations much older than it. This article does nothing to support Palestine, but is only there to criticize Israel and contribute towards actions to destroy Israel. Tulane’s partnerships with Israeli universities are not what should be worrying, but the Anti-Semitic attitudes of the Students for Justice in Palestine.

    The letter is so full of lies and falsehoods, it’s hard to know where to begin. However, by referring to a 2017 UN report that claims Israel is an apartheid state. This is an egregious statement, that is completely false. For starters, the UN has a record of anti-Israel claims, beyond belief and has a record of attacking Israel unfairly, so by referencing this report there is already bias, and the report is not linked like several of the other sources, which leads to a loss of credibility. In no way is Israel and apartheid state. In a true apartheid state (South Africa pre-1994), the group in power is completely in control of everything and the minority is completely segregated. How can Israel be an apartheid state when Arabs are full citizens, have the right to vote, serve in parliament, and have a judge on the supreme court, and even a brigade commander in the Israeli Defense Force? Jews and Arabs are completely integrated in society and are treated equally in every capacity, unlike in an apartheid state. (1)
    The letter then goes on to claim that Bar Ilan University is sanctioning torture. First citing the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) manual, a seriously biased guide that cannot be considered a credible source. The letter claims that Bar Ilan university houses the Zefat College that trains members of the Shin Bet, an Israeli security organization, that tortured thousands of Palestinians. The article cited reveals that the allegations took place between 1988 and 1992, and without getting into the issue of torture, government officials had rejected these claims, and as of today, the Zefat College is separate from Bar Ilan University, and they are not responsible for the actions of a government body (the Shin Bet). Again citing the BDS manual, the letter claims that the Technion developed the D9 Bulldozer to destroy Palestinian homes and ‘maintain the blockade in Gaza’. The D9 Bulldozer was actually invented by Caterpillar (an American company) and the Israeli version they’re speaking of has just been modified to be armored to be safer to be used in military situations, such as being used to remove landmines. The tunnels detection technology is not being used to blockade Gaza, but to prevent terrorists from entering Israel and killing civilians. The links this letter creates are rather far-fetched and very thin if not factually false. (2)
    This letter then goes on to state that Tel Aviv’s University Institute for National Security Studies promoted “genocidal military tactics”. The article they cited is a piece published by a senior research associate, and it does not explicitly tell the Israeli military to cause suffering to thousands, but that if they win that may occur, and that could be a way for them to win – that does not mean those actions took place, moreover, that does not mean Tel Aviv University supports mass genocide but is trying to secure their society against terror. In reference to the Ben Gurion University ‘inhibiting free speech’, the story they reference is of security precautions being taken and people being photographed for security purposes, while still letting the event take place. They contradict themselves by the one hand saying Israel is an apartheid state yet in a later paragraph acknowledge that their universities are open to all.
    In response to the claims along the lines of “How can Muslim students feel comfortable attending a university who partners with universities who support racist and Islamophobic violence?” Tulane seems to be a welcoming population to people of different backgrounds and is not being Islamophobic by partnering with these universities. Tulane is not an unsafe home for Muslim students, but from those who wrote this letter, seems to be rather hostile to Jewish students. What about the fact that there are nearly two billion Muslims, and only about 14 million Jews in the world, making up approximately 0.2% of the population? Should Tulane not be welcoming to those students as well?
    This letter proceeds to bring up the itinerary of President Fitts’ trip and the lack of meetings with Palestinian universities. Why could that be? I ask myself. Could it be that Tulane is a world-renowned university and would like to partner with other world class universities, such as Tel Aviv, Bar Ilan, Ben Gurion Universities and the Technion? Ironically enough, the founder of the BDS movement actually graduated from Tel Aviv University and seems to be more than happy to receive an Israeli education.
    In reference to discussion of security challenges and Israel’s approach to global humanitarian aid, Israel is one of the most generous countries in the world. Arriving first in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, they helped save thousands of lives after the 2011 earthquake in Japan, aiding Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami, sending aid to Gaza even as they constantly receive rockets launched back at them in return, and a little closer to Tulane, aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina, and even allowing Tulane students to come study in Israel during the recovery process. (3).

    Conclude with something like Students for Justice is Palestine are known haters of Israel whose real purpose is the elimination of Israel. If they really wanted ‘Justice for Palestine’ they would promote peace and a two state solution and urge that Hamas and Fatah come to the negotiation table.


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  5. Person on July 12th, 2018 7:08 am

    This is the definition of fake news. So sad that you’re allowed to write such fake things and still it’s allowed to be published. It’s so dangerous to have articles published that are false because people will read and believe them.


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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Letter to the Editor: Tulane Israeli partnership is a hypocrisy of university values