On July 24th, more than 70 Israeli academics signed a petition condemning the Israel Defense Forces actions in Gaza. According to their statement: “The signatories to this statement, all academics at Israeli universities, wish it to be known that they utterly deplore the aggressive military strategy being deployed by the Israeli government. The slaughter of large numbers of wholly innocent people is placing yet more barriers of blood in the way of the negotiated agreement which is the only alternative to the occupation and endless oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire, and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement.”
The petition was originated by European academics who called their peers from all around the world to join them in denouncing that they witness as aggression on Gaza by Israel. The Professors and faculty members of Israel’s universities who signed it, drew the attention of their students as it became viral and spread through social networks. Some showed support, some objected to the letter, which was published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet.
Prof. Adi Ophir from Tel-Aviv Uni. who signed the petition, talked to Israelife and shared the reasons for joining this call: "I signed the petition because I agree with its text. The petition says nothing in terms of explaining and criticizing the reasons and justifications for this war. I don't know what motivated others to sign it, but I believe that those who added their voice to this call wished it to be known that not all Israelis support the aggression of their government, that not all minds here stop thinking when the guns start shooting, and that the cruelty with which this war has been conducted by the IDF is utterly unacceptable.”
On the other side, a faculty member of one of Israel’s universities (who chose to remain anonymous) said he firmly objects this petition. “It is very one sided and tendentious. It does not mention the fact that the citizens of Israel, especially those living in the south, are under missiles attack for more than 12 years now. Moreover, this letter ignores the fact that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, which causes many unfortunate deaths.”
A graduate of Israel’s Open University (who chose to remain anonymous) told Israelife he supports the academics right to express their minds, especially in times like this, when almost every criticism is being accused of being betrayal. “They have a right to express their opinion. Some say that those who disagree with the majority nowadays is betraying Israel, but I disagree. No matter who they are and where they work, it is their right as human beings and citizens of a democracy to express themselves. When our Foreign Affairs Minister, Liberman, said that all the Arabs are our enemies, it scared me much more than this letter. As long as he can express himself that way, so can the academics signed on this letter. Moreover, unlike Liberman, whose words were an incitement, this letter is merely a denunciation. I personally believe that if there are dozens of academics, as well as IDF soldiers, who believe Israel’s actions are wrong, then perhaps we need to rethink those actions. Maybe they have a point.”
Neta Grinfas, a student at Tel-Aviv Uni. objects this letter, and was appalled to read it: “More than 70 academics from Israel signed this petition, most of them, if not all, are known for their ongoing activity against Israel. This petition, which was published in a scientific journal, is everything but an objective, scientific article. It is a hateful manifest filled with hatred against Israel and twisted truth. To support this claim, we can see that many of the academics signed on this letter coming from Tel-Aviv Uni. are not doctors or scientists. This in spite of the fact the original letter, initiated by academics in Europe, is titled as a call from “doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives.” I am all for freedom of speech, but I cannot stand still while people use their esteemed status to spread lies. I also know that the editor of The Lancet is anti-Israel and write articles against the state of Israel, which was probably why this petition, which is far from being scientific, was published in such a respected scientific journal.
As a student, I learned to always support my claims with facts, and present all the different angles of a story. This petition completely ignores Israel and Israelis. I call the people who signed this petition to visit Israeli hospitals in southern Israel and see the work under unbearable pressure, without shelters to protect patients from missiles being launched from Gaza. The patients who are being treated there are both Israeli and Palestinian, civilians and soldiers. The reason Israel does not look like Gaza right now is because Israel cares about its citizens enough to develop cutting edge, high tech protection systems, and maintain Defense Forces that protect our country for 66 years from the many who have tried to destroy us for no reason other than existing.
On the other hand, Hamas, which control the Gaza Strip, is teaching its children to hate the people of Israel and the Jewish people in general. It incites with poisonous anti-Semitism, and call people to use violence against us. It forbids citizens from leaving their houses after being warned by the IDF to evacuate for their own sake, just to later be able to claim that “Israel kills citizens.” This is an extreme terror organization, aiming to kill civilians, both Israeli and Gazan. Its people have built underground tunnels which were planned on being used for terror attacks on Israelis, they have fired rockets at innocent civilians before this operation even began and from all of this the petition ignores.”