Open letter to Congress from members of Harvard University graduate school community

The drafters of this letter are current students and recent alumni of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a school that trains the next generation of leaders and policymakers. Harvard Kennedy School students come from diverse backgrounds and bring a wealth of experience in the public sector, consulting, business, law, international development and human rights work to their studies. Graduates move on to posts in U.S. and international governments, become crafters of U.S. policy towards the Middle East and leaders in international agencies. We share a commitment to open discourse and the creation of just policy.

As such, we, drafters of this letter as well as the undersigned members of the broader Harvard community, are compelled by an ethical obligation to express our opposition to the United States government’s complicity in the injustices of Israeli occupation and the most recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. Israelis and Palestinians alike share a right to live in peace and security. We denounce the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and the continuing bombardment and ongoing blockade of Gaza. According to a UN report to the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross, these are acts of collective punishment that violate international law.

The current attacks on Gaza are the most recent manifestation of an asymmetry of power and violence. As of the drafting of this letter, over 500 Palestinians have been killed, nearly 80 percent civilians. Children make up 20 percent of these victims. Over 120 Palestinians were killed in Shujai’iya on July 20, a third of them women and children. We are moved by this moment to speak out. In our eyes, continuation of U.S. military aid to Israel will directly finance human rights violations. We beseech policymakers in Washington to have the courage to be critical and to change current U.S. policies before Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza furthers destruction and insecurity for everyone.

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The endorsers of this letter carry wide-ranging beliefs regarding Israel’s policies towards the Occupied Territories - and we value the intensity and complexity of continued debates on what form peace and justice should take in the future. But we have consensus around one tenet: Israel must stop violating norms and standards of international law, and the US must stop obstructing accountability.

An unquestioning and silent ally is no ally at all. The United States does no favors for the people of the Occupied Palestinian Territories or the people of Israel in its refusal to hold the Israeli government accountable for blatant violations of international law. Unconditional political support for Israel is unacceptable in the face of the aggressive expansion of illegal settlements, the construction of the wall in the West Bank, globally recognized breaches of international law in the 2008/9 and 2012 attacks on Gaza, violations of numerous UN Resolutions, violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention protecting the civil rights of Palestinians, violations of the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights through the restriction of Palestinian movement and violations of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

In addition, the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have asserted that the current siege likely violates international law banning the targeting of civilians. Among these violations are war crimes and crimes against humanity, as defined by international standards.

We feel a moral responsibility to speak out against policies that are not only furthering gross violations against humanity but are also undermining the US and Israel’s positions in the international community. With this letter, we call upon our Congress to:

1) freeze US military aid as long as the Israeli government continues to violate international law,

2) exert every diplomatic pressure on Israel to halt attacks on Gaza and to lift the blockade, and

3) facilitate a cease-fire with terms that promote justice for the people of Gaza and security for all.

We express our commitment to the people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories that we, as policymakers in the future, will not repeat the mistakes of this generation of American policymakers. Public discourse regarding the occupation is shifting – Israel’s illegal and immoral actions in the Occupied Territories will be judged by history, as current American complicity will surely also be. We can and must do better.

This letter reflects the views only of the undersigned and does not express the official views of Harvard University or the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government

Endorsed by:

Anne Martin Connell, Harvard Kennedy School

Asma Jaber, Harvard Kennedy School

Hannah Winnick, Harvard Kennedy School

Melissa Threadgill, Harvard Kennedy School

Amelia Spinney, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Leland S. Shelton, Harvard Law School

Stephen M. Walt, Harvard Kennedy School

Souad Abdelhamid, Harvard Kennedy School

Hassaan Shahawy, Harvard Kennedy School

Khairul Annuar Khairi, Harvard Kennedy School

Bekir Kocabas, Harvard Kennedy School

Ibrahim Ouf, Harvard College

Jonathan Welle, Harvard Kennedy School

Nafisa Eltahir, Harvard College

Kai Huang, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Marian Stas, Harvard Kennedy School

Jennifer Wenz, Harvard Divinity School

Claire Whelen, Harvard School of Public Health

Jemel Derbali, Harvard Law School

Casper ter Kuile, Harvard Kennedy School & Harvard Divinity School

Hadyah Fathalla, Harvard Kennedy School

Noor Zafar, Harvard Law School

Ryan Hatten, Harvard Law School

Nada Zohdy, Harvard Kennedy School

Michelle Metallidis, Harvard Kennedy School

Nathan Brown, Harvard Divinity School

A. Dami Animashaun, Harvard Law School

Divya Dhar, Harvard Kennedy School

Alfredo Zamudio, Harvard Kennedy School

Sean Roberts, Harvard Kennedy School

Asmara Carbado, Harvard Law School

Andrea Titus, Harvard Kennedy School

Sehrish Khan, Harvard Divinity School

Stanford Fraser, Harvard Law School

Mateo Jarquín, Harvard University Department of History

Obinna Nwachukwu, Harvard Law School

Usra Ghazi, Harvard Divinity School

Rena Karefa-Johnson, Harvard Law School

Marlana Letelier, Harvard Divinity School

Cristian Martinez, Harvard Kennedy School

Sima Atri, Harvard Law School

Rachel Foran, Harvard Divinity School

Nimra Azmi, Harvard Law School

Youssef Ben Ismail, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Rebecca Chapman, Harvard Law School

Whosam El-Coolaq, Harvard Law School

Hamza Derbas, Harvard Business School

Mira Saidi, Harvard Kennedy School

Osman Siddiqi, Harvard Kennedy School

Ahmed Moor, Harvard Kennedy School

Hany Beshr, Harvard Kennedy School

Ramy Noaman, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Amy Norton, Harvard Divinity School

Janan Omar, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Abderhman Abuhashem, Harvard College

Fatima Bishtawi, Harvard College

Kevin Gurley, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Ali Echihabi, Harvard Extension School, Religious Studies and Education

Saadia Qayyum, Harvard Kennedy School

Dr. Mona Singh, Harvard Kennedy School

Sylvia Leung, Harvard Kennedy School

Yacoub Kureh, Harvard College

Natalia Cuadra-Saez, Harvard Graduate School of Education

John S Hoag, Harvard Kennedy School

Anne Washburn, Harvard College & Harvard Kennedy School

Huzifa Haj-Ibrahim, Harvard Medical School.

Mehmet Burak, Harvard School of Public Health

Helena Pylvainen, Harvard Kennedy School

Jeremy Auw, Harvard Kennedy School

Haider Raza, Harvard Kennedy School

MUKHTAR ABDI OGLE, Harvard Kennedy School

Luis Espinoza Bardales, Harvard Kennedy School

Daniel Garrote Sanchez, Harvard Kennedy School

Kartik Akileswaran, Harvard Kennedy School

Osama Shabaik, Harvard Law School

Paula Pedro, Harvard Kennedy School

Johannes Ardiant, Harvard Kennedy School

Alexis Eggermont, Harvard Kennedy School

Jeenal Sawla, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Joshua Prager, Harvard Kennedy School & Harvard Divinity School

Anna Stansbury, Harvard Kennedy School

Reetu Mody, Harvard Kennedy School

Dina Shahrokhi, Harvard Kennedy School

Athol Williams, Harvard Kennedy School

Dr.Ahmed Alkhateeb, Harvard School of Public Health

Tarec Khaled Elajami, Harvard Medical School

Zeina Shuhaibar, Harvard Kennedy School

Devesh Sharma, Harvard Kennedy School.

Vince Lampone, Harvard Kennedy School

Adam Akkad, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Farah El-Sharif, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Daniel Garrote Sanchez, Harvard Kennedy School

Luis Espinoza Bardales, Harvard Kennedy School

Christine Buesser, Harvard Kennedy School

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