This is the latest correspondence between Molly, one of the Jewish Ithaca College students, and an administrator from the College. Molly gets my award for a real “speak-up kid”- the highest accolade bestowed by my father on anyone. Go Molly! This note came to me from Alyiah Bettman, at Ithaca College.
“This is the latest correspondence between Molly and Student Affairs Vice President, Brian McAree. I just wanted you to stay in the loop with the responses from IC Administration. A. Bettman”
First, I do understand that you are upset about the decisions by Students for A Just Peace to display the Palestinian flag on Israel’s Independence Day and sponsor the display/theatre event that took place in the academic quad. For your information, Students For A Just Peace followed all of the appropriate College protocols to fly the flag and sponsor their program, and are within College policy to do so. They have a right to freedom of expression, just as other student clubs and organizations have a similar right to share their opinions and reactions, as long as this is done in a civil and respectful manner and according to College policy.
Students often choose to share controversial ideas and opinions. Members of the campus community respond, in turn, with their reactions and alternative ideas and viewpoints. This is part of the educational process and is one of the essential elements of American higher education. Many times it’s not easy, and, in fact, incredibly hard. I would encourage you to continue to reach out to Students for A Just Peace to express your feelings and concerns to see if there can be a way for a productive sharing of viewpoints between your organizations and for the larger campus community.
Regarding your concerns about Beth Harris, I would encourage you to speak with her directly about how she responded to your original communication and what transpired afterward. You may want to have your organization advisor join you for this conversation if you think this would be helpful. You can also discuss your concerns with Kathleen Rountree, Provost, if you wish.
Molly, I am not aware of any actions by Students For A Just Peace that have directly threatened the safety of other students. I clearly understand why people are upset. Expressing your concerns with Students For A Just Peace certainly would be appropriate and helpful.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life”
I want to draw on something you said in your response. You said “as long as this is done in a civil and respectful manner” and the manner in which SJP demonstrated was neither civil nor respectful. Mr. McAree, I have friends that serve in the IDF, I support the IDF, and a recent IC alum who served on the SAFI board is now training to go into the IDF. So when you have students laughing as they pretend to shoot pregnant women and beat them over the heads with m-16’s while wearing a mock-up of an IDF uniform, civility and respect has lost all credibility.
What you may not realize, Mr. McAree, is the sense of criminalization that Israel-supporters feel on this campus when they see things like this. As much as you may not see the threat through your own eyes, the fact that students feel threatened is not your responsibility to validate. I am telling you that a public demonization of the State of Israel threatens not only the emotional and intellectual security of Israel supporters on this campus, but the entirety of the Jewish Nation. I wonder more about the hate and venom that sources the students who make these demonstrations. That hate, Mr. McAree, terrifies me.
Wide-spread hate starts when people say nothing. And we will not stand down as hate-motivated actions stare us in the face on a campus that we take pride in.
I look forward to your response.
Student Alliance for Israel”