By Timothy Chizzek
Last year, the University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) started its now annual trip to Ben Gurion University in Israel.
Over the summer, CEHC Dean Bob Griffin also travelled to Israel for a roundtable discussion on proper military usage of UAV’s, and specifically the new CEHC drone lab.
As the university’s website states, “The students spent six months immersing themselves in all Israel has to offer – including its unique approach to national security.”
During the first half of 2019, during which the CEHC field trip took place, Israeli occupation forces killed 54 Palestinians, including 12 children and four women, with a more than three thousand others injured
Coincidentally, the six months in which the trip occured coincided with the one year anniversary of the first Great March of Return, an ongoing protest of the “apartheid wall” against the American embassy being moved to Jerusalem, as well as general violations of human rights in Gaza by the Israeli Government.
During this one year anniversary protest, Israeli forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and even live rounds, ultimately killing four people and injuring a total of 207, all for protesting against the decades of forceful removals, home destructions, forceful containment, unlivable conditions and mass killings.
Is this the “unique approach to national security” our CEHC students were studying?
The most recent visit to Ben Gurion University in Israel, in which Dean Griffin took part, included a round table discussion about the use of UAV drones, which highlighted the CEHC’s new state of the art drone lab. Recently, the Israeli use of drones have played a pivotal role in the rapidly escalating conflict with Iran, and Israeli drones unlawfully entering Lebanese airspace in early September.
As Vice President Joe Biden once famously said, “If there were not an Israel, we would have to invent one to make sure our interests were preserved.”
It is clear after decades of endless, extractive wars in the Middle East, that the US’ relationship with Israel is not based on a supposed dedication to the preservation of the “only democracy in the Middle East” (a false characterization in itself), but a strategic placement in the Middle East which has proved economically beneficial throughout the years.
The University’s ability to divorce Israel’s decades long policy of mass repression, killing, and annexation of Palestinian land from it’s innovative technology demonstrates ignorance at best, and complete apathy to the plight of the Palestinian people at worst.
In 2019, with a conservative estimate of 91 thousand total conflict related Palestinian deaths since 1948, 7.1 million Palestinian refugees as of 2009 (whom have been denied their UN mandated right to return), and the reallowal of outright ethnonationalist Kahanists into Israeli Knesset, to ignore this “conflict” is inexplicable.
We students need to ask more questions and demand answers.
For decades, American Universities have proven to be breeding grounds for the future legs of U.S. imperialism.
What does UAlbany want to stand for?
What does it want itself and its students to represent?
What is the value of shiny new buildings and advanced technologies if all we do with them is teach a new generation to make the same mistakes as the old?