To the Editors of The Crimson:
The Crimson's article "Students Plan Week Supporting Israel" went to enormous lengths to transform a positive, uncontroversial event--Israel Solidarity Week--into just another example of Israeli-Arab tension.
The Crimson reporter who covered the letter-writing campaign read the uncontroversial text of the letter that students signed and sent to their congressional representatives on Monday. And he spent enough time at the letter-writing table to understand that there was no controversy surrounding the campaign.
There were no counter-protests or demonstrators, as there have been at other Middle East-oriented events. In fact, during the entire day of tabling, only a handful of people brought up political issues in Israel, at which point we directed them to the carefully worded letter that they were being asked to sign.
Students also found no problem wearing the blue and white ribbons, distributed on Monday, which allow them to show their support for the people of Israel without necessarily supporting the internal policies of the Israeli government (in the same way that yellow ribbons show solidarity with our troops, not necessarily with U.S. government policy).
Yet the Crimson saw the chance for a controversial story and, early in the report, quoted Imraan Coovadia, a member of Harvard's Committee on Palestine, for an alternate view of the event. Coovadia "questioned the goals of the drive" and alleged that Israel Solidarity Week is meant to support certain internal Israeli policies, which it clearly is not. Yet highlighting the views of Coovadia implied that there really is controversy surrounding this most uncontroversial show of support for Israel.
The Crimson did not stop at conjuring an imaginary Arab-Israeli dispute, though. It also dreamed up an equally fantastic dispute between members of the groups sponsoring Israel Solidarity Week. Note the words of The Crimson:
"Hillel member Mark Garmaise '94 said the week shows 'solidarity with all the people of Israel, Arab and Jew alike.'"
"However, HRZL [Harvard-Radcliffe Zionist League] Co-Chair Shawn Aster '92-'93 said the intent was to 'express solidarity with the state and people of Israel.'"
However? Is there some essential difference between the remarks of Garmaise and Aster? Everyone who participated in Israel Solidarity Week's events on Monday and throughout the week showed support for the state and people of Israel.
That's what over 350 students did by signing and sending letters to their congressional representatives on Monday. They simply believe that the state of Israel should exist, and that all of its residents should not be subject to terrorist missile attacks from Saddam Hussein.
In light of The Crimson's distorted, misrepresentative article, we would like to reemphasize the focus of Israel Solidarity Week. The week provided an opportunity for students to show support for Israelis during the crisis that they now face. It has nothing to do with the Palestinian question or any internal policies of the Israeli government, and everything to do with the survival and security of the state and people of Israel. Michael P. Kaplan '92 Shawn Z. Aster '92-'93 Co-Chairs, HRZL Daniel J. Libenson '92
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