Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
An "Historic Partnership" with the Devil:
New York City, Cornell University and Israel's
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 18, 2012
New York City
Lawrence Davidson views the newly-announced partnership between
New York City, Cornell University and the Israel Institute of Technology, or
the Technion, an institution that is is knee deep in Palestinian blood and
“helps produce weapons and devices that both kill and maim civilians and
assists in ghettoizing an entire population”.
The announcement came from the mayor’s
office of New York City (NYC) on 19 December 2011 in the form of an 11-page
declaration. It begins: "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cornell University
President David J. Skorton and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
President Peretz Lavie today announced an historic partnership to build a
two-million-square-foot applied science and engineering campus on Roosevelt
Island in New York City." This is the result of an Applied Sciences
Competition that drew at least seven competitors from around the world.
Good news? Well, NYC officials certainly think so: "Thanks to this
outstanding partnership ... New York City’s goal of becoming a global leader
in technological innovation is now within sight." And all it will cost the
city is some public land on Roosevelt Island and "100 million dollars in
city capital to assist with site infrastructure". Oh yes, and written in
invisible ink, ‘the forfeiture of one municipal soul". That is the catch.
What we have here is a three way pact with the Devil. There is New York City
and Cornell University and the Israel Institute of Technology – the Technion.
Cornell University is a 147-year-old
elite institution located in Ithaca New York. According to the announcement
cited above, it is "a global leader in the fields of applied science,
engineering technology and research, as well as commercialization and
entrepreneurship". Just what NYC was looking for.
Cornell is led by
David J. Skorton, a former professor of medicine and a proven college
administrator. He has been the university’s president since 2006. Among
other things, President Skorton presents himself as an ethical leader. Back
in 2009 he tried to demonstrate this status when, in response to Israel’s
attack on Gaza, he called attention to the fact that he had led the fight to
have Cornell divest – from where? From Sudan because of the Darfur crisis.
If you think that logic and consistency should have led Skorton to call
for similar action to divest from Israel due to the war crimes committed in
Gaza you would be disappointed. He
action would be inappropriate because the case of Darfur "has been one of
unilateral violence, whereas, sadly, the situation in and near Israel has
been characterized [by] ... violent acts by both sides".
sadly, Skorton’s comparison was inaccurate. The Darfur tragedy is the
product of an on-going separatist revolt against the central government in
Khartoum. Sudan’s central government has reacted to this with excessive
force that has led to the destruction of much of the life and culture of the
Darfur region. The Gaza tragedy, and indeed the entire Palestinian-Israeli
conflict, began with Palestinian resistance to Zionist colonization and
subsequent oppressive Israeli policies. The Israelis have reacted to
on-going resistance with the excessive use of force that has destroyed much
of the life and culture in the Palestinian occupied territories. They are
not as different as Skorton made them out to be.
Skorton was unaware of these comparative facts when he took his public
stand. However, even if he were aware of them his behaviour would likely
have been the same. For Skorton is certainly pro-Israel. Only such a
position could have allowed him to lead his university, which he has called
national leader in research ethics" into an "historic partnership" with
The devil in this case is the Israel
Institute of Technology, or the Technion for short.
Technion is famous for
- Combat & surveillance drones (used on Gaza
- Missiles (used on Gaza civilians)
- Cameras perched on Israel’s illegal Apartheid Wall
- Accelerated programme for Israeli government
scientists and engineers
itself this way: "A science and technology research university, among
the world’s top ten, dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the
development of human capital and leadership, for the advancement of the
state of Israel and all humanity." This would be quite impressive if weren’t
for the fact that the last nine words are a contradiction. The Technion is
knee deep in blood, mostly Palestinian.
In April of 2011 a
entitled “Technion: Structures of Oppression” was published by
"a Montreal based collective which works in solidarity with struggles for
self-determination..." What it shows is that a good part of Technion’s work
is linked to weapons development for the Israeli military. Technion faculty
and students are involved in helping develop combat and surveillance drones
and medium range missiles, both of which have been used against Gaza
civilians. Then there are the spy cameras perched on Israel’s illegal
Apartheid Wall. Technion had a hand in developing those too. Technion also
has accelerated academic programmes for Israeli government scientists and
engineers while discriminating against Palestinian students and applicants.
This then is the institution that Cornell University, a "leader in research
ethics" allied with in order to win the NYC contract. Is President Skorton
trying to be the Odysseus of modern Ithaca? Claiming righteousness for his
institution and himself while dealing with the devil? It won’t work. We are
best known by the friends we keep.
Choosing not to see
Both Technion and Israeli
government officials were clearly elated about their victory in the NYC
Applied Sciences Competition. Israel’s NYC Consul,
Ido Aharoni said
that "this is of strategic importance in terms of positioning Israel not
only in America, but all over the world, as a bastion of creativity and
innovation." Technion President Peretz Lavie was just as effusive: "Together
we have the means, ingenuity and willpower to make our world a better place
by joining with Cornell University and the great people of New York City for
this innovative new centre of learning and enterprise." I am sure the
Palestinians are not impressed.
Why did the Cornell-Technion alliance
get the job? Among the reasons are the following:
1. Elements within the Bloomberg administration were
with Technion. They see the Israeli institution as "a winner of Nobel Prizes
and incubator of high-tech businesses" and therefore it was "one of the few
overseas institutions the city explicitly invited to participate". So, city
leaders went out of their way to invite the Israelis into the competition.
2. Cornell University’s successful acquisition of a
to be dedicated to the NYC project. This came from Charles F. Feeney, a
billionaire philanthropist and benefactor of Cornell University who gives
money for, among other things, projects involving health programmes,
children, population issues and "human rights". His gift meant that the
Cornell-Technion alliance came to the table with their venture capital in
3. And, perhaps, the Bloomberg administration people were
just carried away by all the Cornell-Technion talk of making the city the
equivalent of high-tech nirvana. The mayor
declared that "of
all the applications we received, Cornell and the Technion was far and away
the boldest and most ambitious... It will position the city as a leader in
an array of applied science fields, create the jobs of the future," and
generate millions of dollars the city. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel agreed.
This is going to result in an "economic renaissance" for New York City.
Throughout this story certain words and phrases keep popping up:
1. President Skorton’s "ethical" standing.
2. Cornell University’s
position as "a national leader in research ethics".
3. Technion’s claim
to be working for the "advancement ... of all humanity".
Feeney’s interest in supporting "human rights".
5. Mayor Bloomberg’s
determination to "create the jobs of the future".
All of this, of course, is based on a willful decision not to take notice
of what the Israel Institute of Technology does. Technion is part and parcel
of a racist, apartheid educational system; it helps produce weapons and
devices that both kill and maim civilians and assists in ghettoizing an
entire population. What ethical person or institution would want to partner
with such an organization? Only those who choose not to see. Only those who
no moral compass" and are therefore, according to Mayor Bloomberg,
The three participants in this "historic partnership" can
carry on in this hypocritical fashion all they want. What they can’t do is
ask those who catch them at it to keep quiet. Hopefully, the word will
spread that they have sold their institutional souls for a bit of gold and
fame. Hopefully, soon protesters will show up, at least in New York City and
Ithaca, to tell the public just what sort of deal with the devil has been
entered into. Hopefully, these "leaders" will be made to feel as publicly
uncomfortable as possible.