The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Op-Ed | An open letter to my signatory colleagues and to the silent ones

Op-Ed+%7C+An+open+letter+to+my+signatory+colleagues+and+to+the+silent+ones
Ethan Shulman

In an open letter to the Chancellor published on Apr. 25, a group of 49 educators claimed that Pitt students’ dedication to human rights and justice displayed in the Palestine Solidarity Encampment should be celebrated by the University.

That same day, I aimed to open a dialogue with these students by distributing a letter of my authorship, which will be available in an abridged version at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday, May 5. But I cut my attempt short once I read the “Camp Rules,” specifically rule 2, “Don’t talk to Zionists.” These Zionists who may have approached the camp to talk are, most probably, fellow students and professors of those at the camp. I find this rule discriminatory against most Jews. I find it antithetical to the educational mission of the University, as it imposes on our students an echo chamber instead of the spirit of free and open inquiry and free exchange of ideas. I find this rule sectarian, polarizing and contrary to the goal of community building.

To my fellow educators, the signatories of the open letter, and all, I will stress that this is not how we foster conscientious citizens or civility. Rather than leaving the campers’ problematic slogans, stances, rules and silences unproblematized, we should call them into question as needed by enquiring about their assumptions and repercussions. As long as the release of the hostages is not demanded, our students are not dedicating themselves to human rights. In their one-sidedness, they are dedicating themselves to a national cause. I have no objection to their dedication to such a cause. But you should be clear about what it is exactly that you have been endorsing here. Human rights as an inclusive agenda, it is not.

Then, while endorsing the campers’ national cause, you should question its precise terms — “From the River to the Sea Palestine Will Be Free” is the backbone of the conflict. If not for that maximalist demand, the Palestinians could have had a Palestinian State in some 75% of the land in 1937, 42% in 1947, or in Gaza and some 90-75% of the West Bank in 2000. One can claim that the backbone of the conflict is, instead, Zionist settler colonialism. Even if granted, with much to be discussed on that, such a claim is a non-starter. Today, between the river and the sea, there are more than 9.5 million Israeli citizens and 5.5 million Palestinians. These two communities equally deserve their human rights, civil rights and right of self-determination. There is no going back to Poland or Belarus.

The challenge to this maximalist version of Palestinian — or Jewish — nationalism must be coupled with the utmost rejection of the means to attain it. Our encamped students should have denounced the atrocities on Oct. 7 long ago. Sadly, far from that, the national committee of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which empowers the movement at Pitt, proclaimed on that day, “Today [Oct. 7], we witness a historic win for the Palestinian resistance: across land, air and sea.” The “historic win” that SPJ refers to in its statement was the attack consisting of the murder, attempted murder, rape, torture and/or kidnapping of about 4,950 victims. SJP deemed the victims as settlers and, as such, “military assets used to ensure continued control over stolen Palestinian land.”

Students critically engaged with the world are willing to enter open-ended conversations with arguments different from theirs and with people differently positioned on whatever the subject, not entrenched in unquestioned assumptions and enclosed in echo chambers of one-sidedness.  

Can we educate beyond one-sidedness while adopting a one-sided perspective ourselves?

About the Contributor
Ethan Shulman, Visual Editor
My name is Ethan Shulman and I am a junior Civil Engineering student. I first began my photography journey while attending summer camp as a child! Today, I love all types of photography but I love shooting sports and cultural events the most!