Stanford Review - Archive - Volume XXX - Issue 1 - Front Page
Stanford Israel Alliance Petition Makes Its Mark
by Travis Menk
Even just the occasional reader of the Stanford Daily knows generally what to expect: the local Stanford events on the front page, a page on world news, the left-leaning editorial page, a couple of pages on sports, the usual egg-donor advertisement, and of course the funnies. This past Tuesday, February 18th provided something new on page five: a full page advertisement taken out by the Stanford Israel Alliance (SIA) that detailed a petition that has been circulating around campus for the past couple of months with the names of the over 1500 people that signed the petition.
Stanford students gather to express their support for the Israeli state at a rally on April 19, 2002. The rally and the petition alike are committed to the security relationship between the US and Israel.
Nearly a quarter of the undergraduate student body of Stanford showed their support by signing the petition. The support cut across all racial and religious lines. This representation showed that a significant and diverse segment of students stands united behind the petition's principles.
Morris Cohen, one of the leaders of the petition drive, affirmed, "The basic petition is that we, as students, are all for peace, but this peace must by definition include respect for Israel's security, a productive US-Israel relationship, peace and prosperity for all peoples of the Middle East, and it does not include terrorism or anti-Semitism. The petition itself says nothing about contentious issues--it does not endorse a particular American or Israeli government, it does not endorse or condemn war on Iraq, nor does it endorse a particular political resolution. It merely reinforces the notion that interested parties, when truly interested in peace, will find a practical settlement that guarantees Israel's security, and that a strong US-Israel relationship is a positive aspect toward this pursuit." Morris capped his statement by emphasizing, "Israel is ready for peace, and it waits for a partner."
Full Text of the SIA Petition:|
"We, the undersigned students of Stanford University, of all races, religions, and ethnicities, support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and as a democracy within safe and secure borders.
We, as registered voters of the United States of America, recognize the close relationship between the United States and Israel, and we are fully committed to ensuring that this relationship remains strong in the future.
We condemn all forms of terror worldwide, including the terrorism against Israelis which attempts to undermine Israel's national sovereignty. We oppose all manifestations of anti-Semitism again rising in the world today.
We share the desire for peace and prosperity for all peoples of the Middle East."
Michael Butler, another student, engaged in circulating the petition, emphasized that the United States and Israel share many ideals. Both countries pursue democracy and freedom, condemn terrorism, and strive constantly toward peace.
The petition drive was organized chiefly by Co-President of The Stanford Israel Alliance, Avi Yotam, with support from Adam Eisen. These individuals were not alone as many other individuals and groups took the petition door to door and stood in White Plaza in an effort to get signatures for the petition. In much the same light, Stanford is not standing alone either. Sixty colleges across the country, including Berkeley, UCLA, Harvard, and Yale supported similar petitions that ran in their student papers with over a thousand signatures as well. Stanford, though, led these sixty schools by garnering the most signatures of any other school.
Avi Yotam described the petition-ad as "a practice in grass roots activism." A copy of the advertisement printed in the Stanford Daily will be sent to every Californian member of Congress. The Stanford Israel Alliance will also be mailing a letter to these members of Congress aimed at (1) expressing thanks to the individual Congressperson, where applicable, for past support of Israel; (2) asking the Congressperson to take particular note of the sentiment at Stanford regarding Israel as expressed in the petition; and (3) asking for a written statement concerning these efforts.
Avi Yotam stated, "I hope that this show of support will help closet supporters of Israel see that there is no reason to be shy. Beyond that, the petitioning has successfully mobilized the pro-Israel base on campus and allowed the SIA to find allies it never knew it had."
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is obtaining copies of the printed advertisement with all the signatures in each of the sixty school papers. It is then going to send the sixty copies of this advertisement to all state and federally elected officials.
The SIA president, Avi Yotam asserted, "I believe many supporters of Israel, and especially those who helped with the petition, will take pride in the fruits of our labor. I assume there will be some sort of reactive effort on the part of Israel's detractors to undermine the meaning and efficacy of this endeavor, but it is of little concern to the SIA."
Morris Cohen sought to speak for all signers of the petition in maintaining that "Our hope is that this awakens the student body to the importance of these complex issues, and it should be understood that Israel's right to security and peace is a fundamental one. This issue is one where Democrats, Republicans, Independents, people of all religions and ethnicities can come together on."
Page last modified on Thursday, 02-Mar-2006 00:20:56 MST.