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LETTER: Lakehead faculty letter puts onus on Israel alone

'Calling for unilateral action on Israel is not calling for that peace,' says Lakehead professor
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OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an article about LU Solidarity with Palestine, published May 9.

I am a professor of chemistry at Lakehead University, I am Jewish, and I believe Israel has the right to exist and defend itself against existential threats.

I want peace. I want a better life for the Palestinians. I want for them to have a government that cares for their well-being and wants to see their society flourish. And, of course, I want a Palestine that accepts their neighbours. I want that peace. I believe that is the peace most people want when they say they want a ceasefire. However, calling for unilateral action on Israel is not calling for that peace.

The demands in the letter by some Lakehead faculty are on Israel alone. This letter does not call for the release of the hostages. Neither it denounces Hamas for building military infrastructure under hospitals and schools.

Israel withdrew all troops from Gaza in 2005. Hamas fought a bloody civil war, violently took over in 2007 and is an extremist de facto government that has not held elections since. Their goal is not to build a Palestinian state; their goal is to wipe out the State of Israel.

Comparisons with the civil rights movement in the U.S. and Nelson Mandela’s journey to South Africa’s presidency are flat-out inaccurate and are purposely made to appeal to our social justice compass. These movements wanted equal rights. They did not want to exterminate their neighbours.

Hamas is a terrorist organization and Egypt built a wall along its border with Gaza in 2009. This blockade has been in effect ever since, along with the one imposed by Israel. Hamas has received billions of dollars in aid and they have chosen to build underground tunnels for their army, rather than prospering their society. Their mandate is the extermination of Israel.

Contrary to what some say, Judaism cannot be separated from Israel. The land of Israel is a central tenet to Judaism. There are hundreds of archeological and historical proofs and evidence that show that Jews have inhabited Israel for millennia. When Hamas calls for the extermination of Israel, it is calling for the extermination of Jews, whether people realize this or not.

This letter and its demands seek unilateral action from Israel. This lacks historical context from the multiple ceasefires that have happened since Hamas came to power, and that Hamas has consistently broken. Israel’s security concerns need to be considered in order to create a lasting ceasefire. Otherwise, Oct. 7 will happen again as Hamas has repeatedly stated.

This group wants the university to put out “a public statement” regarding speaking about Palestine, but there already is freedom of speech on campus. In fact, we all have freedom of speech provided that the speech is not hateful. No one needs a special endorsement. The university, for example, doesn’t endorse a specific political party at the time of elections.

We all have freedom of speech and choice inside the university and out, unless what this group wants is the university to pick a side, which is then imposing their freedom of speech onto others. Maybe what we need instead is to call for an actual peace process, one that necessarily includes the return of the hostages. Jews pray for the day when Palestine is able to peacefully coexist with Israel. Israel wants peace. The precedents are there: Through bilateral negotiations, Israel achieved peace with Egypt and Jordan. Israel wants peace.

Thamara Laredo