Letter to ASUCSD Council Members

ASUCSD Council Members: Please Read! Begin the healing process instead of opening new wounds…

Hello Council,

After my retirement from ASUCSD, I purposely maintained a hands-off approach to current council affairs. While several items proposed by the current council have caused me concern, the rehashing of the debate on the conflict in the Middle East is one issue I cannot abstain from commenting on in good conscience. To those of you who do not know me, my name is Frank Carroll and I was the Associate Vice-President of Student Advocacy for the 2008-2009 term. I had the unfortunate pleasure of sitting through the first Israel-Palestine debate.

One of the reoccurring criticisms of council members is that the body has no institutional memory. As such, I would like to remind the council of how this debate affected the student body the first time around. After spending more than 10% of our council term debating the issue at length, no consensus was reached. Instead, the council and the student body left the debates deeply divided. It was during these debates that, for the first time, I was truly ashamed to be a member of the ASUCSD.

Tonight, you are rehashing an issue that is truly beyond the scope of the ASUCSD. The question of how to obtain peace in the region is one that has eluded U.S. presidents, Nobel laureates, international scholars, and policy experts. And here we are once again, the ASUCSD, once again displaying an unparalleled arrogance; once again placing our insight above that of the world’s most intelligent experts. But then again, I’m sure the two weeks you have all spent researching the issue has well-equipped you to make a determination that has eluded foreign policy experts for more than half a century.

However, if you do feel that reading a few articles and perusing Wikipedia makes you a Middle East policy expert, you should consider what you are actually saying by voting in the affirmative. Contrary to the rhetoric, you are not merely divesting from war mongers and voting for peace. You vote says so much more. By voting yes, you are saying: (1) that Israel does not have a right to defend itself from the incessant barrage of missiles coming from the Gaza strip; (2) that Israel has committed atrocities that can only be characterized as human rights violations and war crimes in the Gaza region; and (3) that anyone who finances these war crimes are complicit in the commission of the aforementioned war crimes.

You see, if this is merely a resolution against finding war in general, it should state that. That type of resolution speaks to a general principle, one that I believe many would support, without alienating or discriminating against a particular group. But unfortunately, the resolution at hand specifically targets only the war efforts of a single county, Israel. The discriminatory nature of the resolution requires the council to first make a determination that Israel does not have a legitimate excuse to employ force in the defense of her population, and that furthermore, the use of force it has employed thus far constitutes a human rights violation and a war crime. You have to first make a determination in the affirmative to this issue before the analysis can continue.

If you conclude that Israel has no legitimate right to defend itself and that is has committed human rights violations and war crimes, you must move to the second prong of the analysis. You must decide whether anyone who finances these “war crimes” is complicit in the commission of the aforementioned “war crimes.” In considering this second prong, you should use the volumes of information each of you have perused in preparation to make a determination as a Middle East policy expert. In addition, you should consider this simple fact: President Barack Obama has increased the amount of foreign aid given to Israel, giving nearly 3 billion dollars this year. The stated intention of the Obama administration is that this money will be used to buy military technology that is produced in the U.S. Under the rationale of the ASUCSD resolution, that would make President Obama complicit in the commission of war crimes in the Gaza region. After all, without military funding, the war crimes cannot be committed. And so, if you are to hold G.E. and United Technologies culpable for their support of the commission of Israeli “war crimes”, the resolution should be amended to include the U.S. government and President Barack Obama, who is at least as culpable as these companies. Of course, we all know President Obama is not complicit in war crimes, and so the rationale of the resolution holding G.E. and United Technologies culpable cannot stand.

Furthermore, UCSD itself conducts research that is used by the military and may be sold to our allies. Does the resolution then, by its own rationale, require a divestment of UCSD funds form UCSD itself? UCSD has partnerships with Intel, an Israeli company that produced circuitry for combat satellite systems. Should UCSD break these partnerships? Irwin Jacobs, the donor who gave a substantial amount of money to UCSD to build the Jacob’s School of Engineering, gives money to groups who fund military development in Israel. Should we give back the “tainted” funds from Mr. Jacobs, even if it means closing the engineering school? I mean after all, if you give money to the development of Israeli military technology, you are aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes under the rationale of this resolution. You can’t pick and choose who to divest from on principle. Either go all in, or see the fallacy of this resolution.

I am sorry to have wasted so much of your time and I appreciate you taking the time to read the rant of a has-been A.V.P. I urge you to consider the impact that an affirmative vote on this resolution would have on the student body as a whole. Just a few short months ago, I saw my alma mater on CNN being portrayed as a bigoted and hateful institution. I saw reports of the hurt and division that pervaded the entire campus; wounds that persist to this day. I implore you, in a time when the school needs the elected representatives to foster relationships and lead the effort to heal the wounds of our student body, do not take action that will only open new wounds and alienate more students. Our campus is broken; and it is incumbent upon all of you to take it upon yourselves to fix it. All I ask is that when the role is called and you make a decision to vote for or against this resolution, you ask yourself one simple question: “Will my vote help heal the wounds of the student body, or will my vote make them worse?” You all hold the power to help or hurt the campus, and I hope you will look back on tonight as the night you began the healing process, and not the night when new wounds were inflicted.


Frank Carroll
J.D. Candidate 2012
University of Houston Law Center


One comment

  1. Simply brilliant. Extremely well put. I would also add the notion that the student representatives should be mindful of their responsibility not to let a small group of agitators manipulate them for the benefit of its own political goals. The senators who will approve this resolution will be putting themselves at risk of appearing as gullible dupes ready to swallow any narrative. As Mr. Carroll correctly points out, do your homework and research the facts alleged in the resolution, especially the accusation of war crimes (e.g. what do you call 8,000 rockets fired by Hamas for 10 years over Israeli civilian population centers? Answer: each rocket meets the definition of a war crime as found in the 1977 Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Corollary question: why is this fact not mentioned in the draft resolution? Does that strike you as fair and balanced?). If you do your homework, you will find that the story told by the Palestinians is full of holes and that they lied to you. Don’t leave that unchallenged and send the message that you can’t be so easily played. Vote no.

    J.J. Surbeck

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