To the Editors of The Crimson:
There was a tragedy in Jerusalem on October 8. HIPAC, the Harvard-Israel Public Affairs Committee, deeply regrets the deaths of 21 Palestinians that day. Unfortunately, some have misconstrued our recent statements as callousness or indifference.
HIPAC has attempted to inform the Harvard community about the Middle East, including the October 8 riot in Jerusalem. Immediately after the riot, HIPAC constructed a 7-point fact sheet, expressing our regret for the loss of life and using information from major international news bureaus. This fact sheet was posted on campus and was printed as an advertisement in The Crimson on October 11.
This was all that HIPAC did, yet recent letters printed in the Crimson have said that HIPAC ignores news reports, that it puts out "angry, emotional propaganda" and that HIPAC members are "narrow-minded people." As co-chairperson of HIPAC, I'd like to set the record straight.
HIPAC is an independent undergraduate student organization. We have no position whatsoever on internal Israeli politics. We are not "pro-occupation." Neither are we right-wing. HIPAC members are Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.
What brings us together? A belief in a secure Israel, a strong U.S.-Israel friendship and a wish to educate Harvard students about the Middle East. This isn't always easy, especially when dealing with the Middle East and emotions run high.
Today in the Middle East, Iraq holds hundreds of Western hostages. Kuwait is being dismantled. Hundreds of thousands of troops are amassed, waiting for battle. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has repeatedly threatened to "burn half of Israel" with chemical weapons. The Arab countries and Israel are armed and tense; never before has the region been so saturated with destructive weapons.
And what is being discussed at Harvard? What is dominating the United Nations? What has become the most important issue in the Middle East today? A tragic riot in Jerusalem. While HIPAC recognizes and in no way wants to downplay the significance of the October 8 riot, we urge our fellow students not to forget the larger, far more precarious situation in the region.
HIPAC gladly takes up any offer to cooperate with other students and groups toward peace and security in the Middle East. We will continue to make available accurate information regarding the Middle East and to hope that Harvard's students may benefit from our efforts. Yvette C. Alt '92 Co-chairperson Harvard-Israel Public Affairs Committee