The e-mail below was written by Tommy Bruce, VP for University Communications at Cornell, at the request of Cornell Provost W. Kent Fuchs and at the behest of Cornell President David Skorton’s office. Bruce’s e-mail was written in partial response to the plethora of complaints about the Cornell-Technion Partnership that Cornell has been receiving via its “ethical concerns” hotline and website, and is addressed to Professor Randa Farah of Western University in Ontario, Canada in direct response to her e-mail of complaint. Bruce’s e-mail is typically evasive, as it completely ignores Palestinian rights and humanity which are jeopardized by the Partnership and by Technion’s complicity in the violent and illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. Please e-mail Tommy Bruce, David Skorton, and Kent Fuchs — and tell them that this kind of evasiveness is simply not acceptable: Cornell must divest from Technion!
From: Tommy W. Bruce
To: Randa Farah
Cc: Office of the President; Kent Fuchs, Office of the Provost
Sent: Monday, May 6, 2013 4:34:25 PM
Subject: Fwd: questionable ethics -hotline and website
Dear Professor Farah,
Thank you for sharing your concerns about shutting down the EthicsPoint hotline and web site. As of this writing, the site and number are both online and operating normally.
Regarding Cornell’s partnership with the Technion to build the new tech campus in New York City, our two institutions have a long history of faculty collaboration. This is not at all unusual. Cornell and its faculty have had agreements and working relationships with academic institutions from around the world since the university was founded nearly 150 years ago. These collaborations are important to our mission of teaching, discovery and engagement, and we encourage them even in countries with which some of our faculty, students, and alumni may have significant disagreements with the governments. Time and again, the knowledge-sharing and real-world solutions that spring from these relationships – in everything from computer science and liberal arts to crop science and food security – benefit the peoples of many countries, including our own, and in the long run contribute to the betterment of our global community.
Thomas W. Bruce
Vice President for University Communications
308 Day Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Photos from our 7 May 2013 Protest:
What is this about?
Cornell NYC Tech, a partnership of Cornell University and The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, started classes on January 21, 2013 in office space donated by Google for a one-year Masters of Engineering degree in Computer Science. This space will be used until 2017, when the first building of the permanent campus on Roosevelt Island will be ready.
Cornell University and Mayor Bloomberg have stated that Cornell needed The Technion to win the bid for the new campus, due to The Technion’s history of spawning start-up companies. The Technion is bringing no money to the partnership, while Mayor Bloomberg is giving $100 million of our tax money and free land on Roosevelt Island. The project was fast-tracked without proper consultation with NY residents (including those on Roosevelt Island who will be especially impacted while construction takes place till 2037) or Cornell Faculty, who by Cornell’s own by-laws should be consulted about partnerships of this type.
The Technion is complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians, specifically by designing military weapons and developing technologies that are used to drive Palestinians off their land, repress demonstrations for their rights, and carry out attacks against people in Lebanon, Gaza, and elsewhere. The Technion also practices institutional discrimination against Palestinian students by severely restricting their freedom of speech and assembly, and rewarding Jewish students who, unlike most Palestinians, perform compulsory military service in Israel. This is in direct contrast to Cornell University’s founding values of universalism and inclusion embodied in the university’s motto “any person any study”.
New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership (NYACT) are asking that Google not support this partnership, and that Cornell University and the City of New York end their collaboration with The Technion, in line with the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanction of Israel.
Photos from our 23 April 2013 Protest:
Australian universities starting to boycott Israel:
Interview with Professor Jake Lynch, director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, which officially supports the academic boycott of Israel. Campaigners in Australia are calling for the University of Sydney to sever its strong ties with the Technion – Israeli Institute of Technology.
NYACT Statement posted on Mondoweiss, 16 April 2013:
NYACT questions Google chief’s call for drones regulation
According to a BBC News report, on April 13, 2013 Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, Incorporated, told a reporter from the UK’s Guardian newspaper that drone technology should be regulated, citing privacy and security concerns.
What Schmidt failed to mention in the interview is that Google is currently hosting classes for a new applied science and technology campus being planned for New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Cornell NYC Tech is a collaboration between Cornell University and one of Israel’s largest weapons research and development institutes, The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. This collaboration will cost New York taxpayers at least $100 million, and was largely conceived without public oversight.
The Technion plays a key role in developing drones and other technologies used by the Israeli military to enforce the Israeli occupation of Palestine and monitor the Separation Wall, both of which are illegal under international law. The Technion is therefore complicit in war crimes against the Palestinian people. Affiliation with and support of the Technion makes any institution or company, including Google and Cornell, likewise complicit in those crimes.
The worldwide deployment of drones is expanding dramatically: the U.S. military has recently used drones in attacks waged in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, killing hundreds of innocent people and sparking outrage against the United States. Furthermore, U.S. law enforcement and security agencies have been given a green light to deploy drone technology internally. Just this past week, two Israeli drones violated Lebanon’s airspace. With more money being pumped into weapons research, drone technology has become more advanced, with drones themselves getting smaller, more intricate, and more deadly. The rationale being supplied for this increasing and broader use of drones is that they are controlled remotely and thus decrease the likelihood of military/police casualties. It is, however, also important to consider the lives and rights of people who are actually being targeted by drones.
Although Eric Schmidt’s call for regulation of drone technology is a welcome admission of its inherent danger, he cleverly directs his criticisms only against the private use of drones. Governments, however, must also be scrutinized and restricted in their use of drones, whether for military deployment or police surveillance purposes. By ignoring Technion’s involvement in drones development, Schmidt has evaded Google’s complicity in the Israel Defense Forces’ deployment of drones in the occupied Palestinian territories.
New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership therefore asks that Eric Schmidt admit the full scope of Google’s relationship to drone technology through the company’s association with Technion, and that he direct his criticisms of drone technology towards military as well as private use. Anything less is a show of hypocrisy that no one should take seriously, much less users and customers of Google.
Photos from our 9 April 2013 Protest:
Photos from our 26 March 2013 Protest:
A little bit of rain won’t stop us! Photo from our 12 March 2013 Protest:
Join us during Israeli Apartheid Week to say No to Israeli Apartheid in NYC!
At our protest on February 26, a small group of Zionists came and stood nearby, waving the Israeli flag and handing out leaflets bearing the title “Apartheid? You Decide.” We have posted that leaflet beneath the following information that provides facts about the apartheid character of the Israeli state.
“The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure—in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation….These tactics are not the only parallels to the struggle against apartheid. Yesterday’s South African township dwellers can tell you about today’s life in the occupied territories….If apartheid ended, so can the occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined.”
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu,The Nation, 15 July 2002
What is apartheid?
Apartheid is the Afrikaner word for “apartness.” It became systematized in South Africa in 1948 when the Afrikaner Nationalists took power. It is a system of institutionalized segregation designed to perpetuate the supremacy of the dominant group. It reflects a belief that certain people are less human than others.
In South Africa, apartheid translated into the systematic imprisonment of Black South Africans, torture in prisons, ghettoized neighborhoods, lack of equal opportunities to work, education, and living standard. That’s what most people think of as apartheid. But in fact, apartheid is not only a South African phenomenon. According to the International
Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid GA Resolution 3068 (1973), apartheid refers to policies and practices enacted in order establish and maintain domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them. More broadly, apartheid refers to any social system that separates and discriminates against people based on race or ethnicity or other similar, nonmalleable characteristic, when that system is institutionalized by laws or decrees. Indeed the “Jim Crow” laws of the Southern United States established an apartheid system there for nearly a century.
How does “Apartheid” apply to Israel?
The bedrock of Israeli apartheid is the Zionist expulsion of at least 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1947 and 1948 (the Nakba) and the subsequent Israeli denial of their right to return–a right guaranteed by international law. This form of apartheid, known as “ethnic cleansing,” has been buttressed by the establishment of a Jewish “right of return.” Under Israeli law, anyone calling herself “Jewish,” from anywhere in the world, is eligible to become a citizen of Israel, whereas exiled Palestinians, many of whom are stateless refugees, may not and often face difficulty even attempting to visit Israel. This ethno-religious law privileges the colonizing agenda of foreign Jewish nationals over the right of indigenous and exilic/diasporic Palestinians to return to the homes from which they were expelled or fled within living memory. Palestinians in exile and diaspora now number at least five million.
Following the establishment of Israel in 1948, structural discrimination began to be implemented, as state policy, against Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship. For example, Palestinian “Israelis” became severely restricted as to where and what they are permitted to build; to date, the vast majority of Jewish Israelis live in willfully segregated enclaves, towns and villages–apart from Palestinians. Even when Palestinians have been allowed to construct new homes or businesses, the state of Israel can tear them down at will–something which occurs regularly, in order to make way for the construction of Jewish “neighborhoods” in areas deemed militarily “strategic” by the Israel Defense Forces. Almost all of these expropriated areas are historically Palestinian (e.g., along the coastline between Haifa and Akko; in the Negev; and in the Galilee). Many of them contain major reservoirs and underground aquifers, which have likewise been expropriated for diversion to largely Jewish areas, especially the big cities. As a result Palestinians face water shortages and electricity stoppages, with dire effects on their agricultural economy and everyday lives.
Exacerbating the above has been the pervasive tendency on the part of Jewish Israelis to refuse to hire Palestinians–at least above the table. This tendency stretches back to the early 20th century, when waves of Zionist settlers with national-political intentions began arriving in Palestine. In order to discourage such hiring, the state of Israel has historically encouraged–at times violently compelled–the immigration of Jews from Arab countries and the former Soviet Union (many of the latter are not really Jewish), who would come to comprise a predominantly Jewish working class. Israel in turn established “guest-worker” programs for the employment of non-Jewish migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa, the Philippines, Brazil, and elsewhere in the Third World (except for Arab and Muslim countries) to do the kinds of work many Jews won’t perform. This situation has contributed to the social and economic marginalization of Palestinians in Israel, one aim of which is to pressure them to emigrate and thereby lower the Palestinian “demographic threat” within Israel.
In addition, as mentioned elsewhere on this website, pervasive social-structural impediments have long existed to Palestinian enrollment and sustained matriculation in Israeli schools and universities, not least the Technion, and to the construction and official accreditation of Palestinian universities in Israel “proper” (to date there exists only one accredited Palestinian institution of higher education in Israel). As a result, the quality of Palestinian education has been diminished, resulting in the formation of an impoverished underclass not unlike that of African Americans in U.S. urban centers. Unlike at U.S. universities, however, and in contrast to Israel’s treatment of Jewish Israeli students, Palestinian students may legally be disciplined and expelled for congregating and protesting university or Israeli policy on campus; and Palestinians generally may be arrested and imprisoned without charge, indefinitely, if they are suspected of engaging in activities arbitrarily deemed politically subversive by the state.
Apartheid Under occupation
Since 1967, Israel has been building settlements in the oPts that are available only to Jewish Israelis, and more recently it constructed the Apartheid Wall on huge swathes of stolen Palestinian land. A dual legal system exists in the oPts. Palestinians who live in the West Bank are controlled by Israeli military law, while the 220,000 Jewish settlers there are governed by Israeli civil laws. In occupied East Jerusalem, Palestinians, many of whose families have lived there for generations, are only considered “residents”; they can vote in municipal, but not national, elections. By contrast, the 200,000 Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem, like the West Bank settlers, are citizens of Israel, with the right to vote, run for office, and seek redress in Israeli courts. Israeli military authorities control virtually all the land and water of the West Bank, and keep the entire Gaza Strip in a permanent state of siege.
Palestinians under occupation meanwhile live completely separate lives from the Israeli settlers in the same territories. According to the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, of which NYACT is a member group:
• They face constant threat of arrest, interrogation, and incarceration, often for “administrative detention” without trial or conviction, under conditions of military justice; Israeli settlers face no such threat.
• Palestinian towns, cities and villages face the imposition of collective punishment (explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions) in the form of extended curfews, closures, military raids and more, either following an alleged act of violence or for no reason at all; Israeli settlers face no such collective punishment.
• Palestinian land ownership and use for agriculture, residence or any other purpose is at all times subject to confiscation for military and economic purposes, often to expand existing or establish new Jews-only settlements, and to seize control of the most important water sources.
• Palestinians are subject to house demolitions and destruction of agriculture land including the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of centuries-old olive trees; Israeli settlers are safe from such punishments.
• Palestinians are prohibited from using the network of settler-only by-pass roads which separate Palestinian towns and villages from each other and on which only settlers and soldiers are allowed to drive; vehicles belonging to Palestinians are distinguished from Israeli-owned cars by differently-colored license tags.
• Palestinians are subject to a network of 750 or so permanent and “flying” military checkpoints at which they often wait for hours and must show their identity cards or passes; settlers and other Israelis are allowed immediate passage through the checkpoints.
The impact of Israel’s settlement activity and the route of the Apartheid Wall enable a vivid analogy to the apartheid evident across the very landscape of the West Bank and the imprisoned Gaza Strip. Palestinian territory has been fragmented into truncated Bantustans resembling in miniature those “homelands” for Black South Africans created under apartheid rule to control and contain what they regarded as their “demographic problem.” In the words of the South African Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils:
“With the illegal Jewish settlements, security road network, and construction of the monstrous wall around the militarily occupied West Bank, the remaining Palestinians are ghettoized within 12 percent of their original territory. This dispossession is reminiscent of Apartheid and its 13 percent of Bantustan homelands…May Israelis wake up and see reason, as happened in South Africa, and negotiate peace.”
For more information about the history and situation of Palestinians in Israel, see:
- To Be an Arab in Israel (by Fouzi El-Asmar)
- The Arabs in Israel (by Sabri Jiryis)
- Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy (by Ben White)
More information on how the term “apartheid” applies to Israel can be found here:
- Why “Apartheid” Applies to Israeli Policies
- Parallels Between Apartheid South Africa & Israeli Policies
Below is the leaflet which was distributed by a small group of Zionists near our 26 February protest outside the Google offices:
NYACT Leaflet we distribute outside the Google offices at our protests:
Photos from our 12 February 2013 Protest:
Photos from our 29 January 2013 Protest:
For immediate release
For more information: NYACT@riseup.net
January 28, 2013
After leafleting on the opening day of classes of Cornell NYC Tech on Martin Luther King Day, New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership (NYACT) will return this Tuesday to kick off a regular bi-weekly leafleting schedule. NYACT will be protesting outside the Chelsea offices of Google, which is hosting Cornell NYC Tech classes until a permanent facility is built on Roosevelt Island, and are asking that Google not support this initiative, and that Cornell University and New York City end their collaboration with Technion, in line with the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel.
Technion is Israel’s foremost research and development institution for weapons, including weaponized and surveillance drones, remote-controlled bulldozers, and other instruments of death and destruction used to maintain an apartheid system against Palestinians and for use in wars against Israel’s Arab neighbors. NYACT denounces Google’s gift of free office space to the Cornell-Technion Partnership, as well as the $100 million in funds and $300 million in real estate granted by New York City to the questionably fast-tracked venture.
The opposition to Technion in New York comes amidst heightened controversy over the use of drones, a Technion specialty, including an announcement on January 25 by Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism, that he will head an investigation into the use of drones by the US, UK, and Israel. Emmerson said he will focus on 25 “cases studies from Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and the OPTs (occupied Palestinian territories) and to examine the evidence in detail with a view to determining whether there is a plausible allegation of unlawful killing.” If there is finding that some of the attacks were unlawful, Emmerson said, it could trigger “international law obligations to investigate.”
Drone critics have pointed out that the nature of drones themselves makes remote killing easier and more likely to result in civilian death or injury (both by design and by accident). Technion also boasts openly that its model for academia means less science and more profits. “Focusing on profitability can mean less attention to pure science. ‘I’m not saying you will abandon basic research, but the institution has to have an auxiliary business – that is now required not only by the public, but by the students,’ he [Benjamin Soffer, Technion's technology transfer manager] said.” (Crain’s New York Business, January 22, 2013 ). With this mindset it’s no wonder Technion and its partners appear oblivious to the deadly consequences of the research and development in which the institution specializes.
Technion is complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians, specifically by designing military weapons and developing technologies that are used to drive Palestinians off their land, suppress demonstrations for their rights, and carry out attacks against people in Lebanon, Gaza, and elsewhere. For these reasons, Technion is directly implicated in war crimes. Furthermore, Technion practices institutional discrimination against Palestinian students by severely restricting their freedom of speech and assembly, and rewarding Jewish students who, unlike most Palestinians, perform compulsory military service in Israel. This is in direct contrast to Cornell University’s founding values of universalism and inclusion embodied in the university’s motto “any person any study.”
Technion helps to produce weapons and surveillance equipment for the Israeli army, including drones, and it works closely with Rafael Advanced Systems and Elbit Systems, two companies that provide the Israeli military with crucial equipment to maintain the occupation. Academics from the school have formulated plans for the Israeli Jewish takeover of the Galilee. “For decades, Technion has provided the brains Israel required to create the elaborate mechanism of control undergirding its occupation of Palestine,” noted journalist Max Blumenthal when the partnership was first announced. “Through its partnership with Israel’s burgeoning arms industry, Technion’s creations have been imported to armed forces around the world. In the words of Israeli researcher Shir Hever, Technion ‘has all but enlisted itself in the military.’” Among those protesting Cornell NYC Tech are Cornell University students outraged at the Cornell-Technion Partnership’s violation of Cornell’s own rules for consulting staff and faculty over such business collaborations.
NYACT has also denounced the callous disregard for the health, safety and housing needs of Roosevelt Island residents. New Yorkers with serious disabilities and life-threatening medical conditions are being displaced by the City from the Coler-Goldwater Hospital in deference to the Partnership. NYACT members have attended several Roosevelt Island community meetings in an effort to forge an alliance with residents, patients and healthcare workers whose lives will be disrupted or even jeopardized by Cornell and Technion. NYACT is gathering signatures on a petition demanding an end to private and public support for the Cornell-Technion Partnership (online at: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/no-to-technion-in-nyc.html ).
The campaign against the Cornell-Technion Partnership is part of a global effort in support of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against institutions doing business with apartheid Israel.