Letter to the Editor: Dean Solomont ignores double standards for dialogue

Disclaimer: Noah Habeeb is a former executive copy editor at the Daily.

Alan Solomont writes in his April 18 op-ed “Is this civic engagement?” that “Tufts University has a long and impressive history of students advocating for change.” I would add that Tufts also has a long and impressive history of chastising these very students until it becomes expedient to co-opt their labor and accomplishments into the narrative of “active citizenship.”

Solomont, in his concern for the “climate on this campus” which he finds is “discouraging open dialogue,” seems to point the finger squarely at Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) for our recently successful Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate resolution. This sophomoric analysis ignores systemic barriers to cherished “dialogue” and fails to even flirt with the concept of power.

At Tufts Hillel, which is the umbrella organization for Friends of Israel (FOI), J Street U and Tufts American Israel Alliance (TAIA), there are rules and red lines surrounding dialogue called the “Standards of Partnership for Israel Activities.” These include the stipulation that Hillel will “not partner with, house or host organizations, groups or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice … support boycott of, divestment from or sanctions against the State of Israel.” This systematically excludes Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine from campus dialogue with other groups and makes Jewish students who are critical of Israeli actions and policies shed part of their self if they want to enter institutional Jewish spaces.    

Solomont is also either unaware or willfully ignorant of the systematic suppression that advocates for Palestinian human rights often face. On this campus members of SJP have received social media threats, been profiled on a McCarthyist blacklist website and targeted in hate incidents by SPLC hate group the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Where was Solomont to decry the “climate on this campus” that was “discouraging open dialogue” when tactics of intimidation were used in “suppressing some voices,” namely those of SJP students? Instead, he has chosen to transfix on a far from perfect Senate proceeding, yet one that followed Senate procedures and included hours of rigorous debate.

We invite Dean Solomont, and any member of the Tufts community, as we have in years past, to join us for “Tea with SJP” this Friday in the Mayer Campus Center from 12:30-2:00 p.m. Come and talk with us.

Noah Habeeb, UEP ’17

Editor’s note: If you would like to send your response or make an op-ed contribution to the Opinion section, please email us at opinion@tuftsdaily.com. The Opinion section looks forward to hearing from you.

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