Respecting Human Dignity

To the editors:

We are writing in response to a recent Crimson editorial regarding remarks made by Martin Kramer, Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (“Weatherheading the Storm,” The Crimson Staff, Feb. 24, 2010). Kramer advocated that aid to the population of Gaza be cut in order to curb birthrates and “crack the culture of martyrdom which demands a constant supply of superfluous young men.”

Such statements are at odds with fundamental respect for human life and dignity. They reflect a very disturbing larger trend in the debate about the Middle East—the dangerous dehumanizing of “the other side”—which, rather then leading us toward a long-term solution and lasting peace, further deepens the conflict. As Jews, mindful of our long history of persecution and discrimination, we ought to be particularly vigilant when the value of the lives of another group is called into question.

We strongly believe that reducing extremism and truly pursuing a peaceful solution for the Middle East requires working toward full political, economic, and human rights for all Israelis and Palestinians. This will also provide hope for a constructive future to the young people in Gaza—the best remedy against extremism. It is both a stragetic interest for the long term stability and security for Israel and a moral imperative resulting from our Jewish and human values.

We therefore call on Mr. Kramer and all other members of the Harvard community to respect the human dignity of all. No human being is superfluous.


Cambridge, Mass.

Feb. 24, 2010

Samuel E. Asher and Dina D. Pomeranz are Ph.D. candidates in the Department of Economics at Harvard. Melanie  L. Harris is a student at the Harvard Extension School. They are the Board of J Street U Harvard.