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Harvard and MIT faculty members sign joint petition on behalf of Palestinians

Thirty-two members of the MIT faculty and 12 members of the Harvard University faculty have signed a joint petition asking both universities to "use their political and financial influence to encourage the United States government and the government of Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinians."

The Joint Harvard-MIT Petition for Divestment from Israel calls on the United States government to end military aid and arms sales to Israel and on MIT and Harvard to divest from Israel until specific human rights conditions are met.

The petition states, "While we find the recent attacks on Israeli citizens unacceptable and abhorrent, these should not and do not negate the human rights of the Palestinians."

According to the petition, conditions for renewing United States military, and Harvard and MIT investment in Israel must include withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from occupied territories, the end of "legal torture" by Israel, the end of building new settlements by Israel, and Israel's departure from existing settlements in the Occupied Territories.

These actions would be required for Israel to be in compliance with United Nations Resolution 242, the United Nations Committee Against Torture 2001 Report, and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The joint petition highlights the plight of refugees, demanding on their behalf that Israel acknowledge in principle the applicability of United Nations Resolution 194 with respect to the rights of refugees. Refugees should either be allowed to return to their former lands or else be compensated for their losses, the petition states.

Nancy Kanwisher, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, is coordinating petition efforts. The joint faculty petition is modeled on similar efforts at Princeton University and at the University of California at Berkeley.

A teach-in, "Israel, Palestine and the U.S.: Origins of the Current Crisis and Where We Go from Here," will be held Monday, May 6 from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Room 26-100. Speakers will include Institute Professor Noam Chomsky, Sara Roy of Harvard University and Yosef Grodzinsky of Tel Aviv University.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 1, 2002.

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