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Op-Ed: Campaign Restore Hope Already Succeeding

In Tuesday’s Daily, a kind, honest, and warm friend of mine, Yishai Kabaker, submitted an opinion piece (“We Choose to Invest”, May 4) in which he highlighted a new campaign by the Stanford Israel Alliance (SIA) to invest in rebuilding the lives of my people – the Palestinians. The moment I read this new proposal, I knew Campaign Restore Hope (CRH), a campaign being led by a diverse coalition of Stanford undergraduates, and vocally supported by many hundreds of students on campus only a few days after its launch, had succeeded in making its first positive mark on our university. I want to personally thank SIA for their proposal, and offer them the full assistance of CRH. We will include their proposal with our list of 6 creative ways to end the conflict. This list includes plans such as arranging a trip for Stanford entrepreneurial students and professors to work with scientists and engineers to develop alternative energy systems that can satisfy impoverished populations’ energy necessities.

There are a few mistakes and misconceptions presented in my friend Yishai’s op-ed, however, that I would like to mend.

The first misconception is that investment in building infrastructure is a substitute for divestment. Investing in infrastructure without first divesting from companies that actively destroy it and severely violate intrinsic human rights is akin to providing a bludgeon to a criminal and Band-Aids to his victim – doing so ignores the root causes of the problem. Furthermore, although I understand why Jews and Palestinians may want to invest in peace, I do not expect my Bosnian, Tibetan, and Bangladeshi friends at Stanford to do so. It would be nice if they all did, but they are under no ethical obligation to do so and have other issues they care about. Contrarily, we all have a moral obligation to make sure that we are not lending ourselves to human rights abuses. Our proud university clearly promises to “take ethical factors into consideration” and has set ethical responsibility policies.

The second misconception is assuming that Campaign Restore Hope will be as divisive as other divestment campaign. This campaign is different, firstly because it is not only a divestment push, but a push for educating the student body, opening up dialogue, and uniting the campus community around a common cause. We are supported by a wide range of students from diverse backgrounds. It’s about the 53,000 elementary, high school and college students being obstructed from getting to their schools. It’s about the 3.5 million people who are prevented from accessing water. It’s about the workers who are called monkeys, thrown on palm trees for hours, and forced to defecate while they latch on for their lives. It’s about those who languish in poverty because international aid is being funneled by corrupt leaders. And it’s about standing up to those who spread hate and anti-Semitism.

The restore hope campaign is guided by a great felling of love for our common humanity, and that’s why it’s spreading so quickly.

One of the things I learned at Stanford, an intrinsic American value, is that we should never turn our backs to an issue because it’s too complex, difficult or divisive. Is divisiveness a good reason to ignore human rights abuses? Dr. King and President Lincoln didn’t think so. This country and our university were built by those who sought to answer complex and divisive questions, and we need to keep this precocious fire burning by tackling one of the most difficult issues of our time. The Restore Hope Campaign is a creative way of doing just that, and it is open source so anyone can join.

Let’s work on ending injustice together. Instead of discussing this important issue on the Daily’s editorial page, on flyers, or through websites, let’s do it face to face. Let’s have a campus wide constructive town-hall meeting where we can all come together, discuss the topics and objectives academically, awe the cynics, and restore hope to millions.

Fadi Quran ’10
Campaign Restore Hope

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