Opinion letter to the editor

Re: From the River...

Dear Tech Editor,

We read Richard Solomon's op-ed in the  March 7th 2024 edition of The Tech over lunch and discussed it over dinner. We found Solomon's portrayal of the Palestinians' plight deeply motivated and moving, impassioned and yet utterly rational. 

In December, Steve Carhart whined and opined about CAA protests and DEI initiatives in your pages; Solomon's op-ed doesn't whine. It strikes at the heart of MIT's all-too-easy embrace of dehumanizing technologies and their monied constituencies. After reading Solomon's articulate, well-documented exposition, it would not surprise us when some will call him an alarmist, naive radical, and much worse. But they have to admit that he's been there, seen it firsthand and through the eyes of victimized Palestinians. "Propagandist! Hamas Apologist!" you might yell at this man who calls himself a Christian who served as a diplomat;  then, close the newspaper and look away because none of this is your problem. Unless, however, you work or teach or learn at MIT, in which case consider the ways he enumerates the Institute complicity with state violence and, yes, genocide. Do not be bothered by its sanitized bureaucratic rationales for suppressing dissent when it challenges MIT's complacent complicity.

Ladies, gentlemen, and others: dare to expose smug beliefs to the brutal facts scattered about the shattered ground before us. Beat swords into plowshares, as the US military seems to be doing to deliver urgent aid to Gaza while Israeli leaders say things like “I am personally proud of the ruins of Gaza” (Israeli minister May Golan), “that every baby, even 80 years from now, will tell their grandchildren what the Jews did.” Is that how you feel? If you still unconditionally support Israel's right to defend itself after witnessing the heartbreaking scenes Mr. Solomon described plus those that news media has reported, then ask your conscience if it's okay to dismiss it as the price of statehood.

And MIT powers-that-be, remember that it's just as easy to support students' idealism and commitment as it is to dismiss or suppress it, so do the right thing. As Mr. Solomon says, the "balance" to be struck is not between free speech and safety, it's between supporting human rights, no matter whose they are, and suppressing dissent, however inconvenient to the institution it may feel.

We offer these thoughts to promote dialog and would like the favor of a reply.


Aygul Balcioglu

Geoffrey Dutton

Maynard MA 01754


Aygul Balcioglu, Ph.D. did postdoctoral work on Neuroscience at MIT and then returned as a staff scientist to work on the thalamic plasticity in visual cortex. She cares as deeply about the suffering of innocent people as she does about keeping science honest. She follows MIT's mistreatment of her students when they express their disapproval of MIT's position on Palestanian-Jewish Conflict.

Geoffrey Dutton, Ph.D., developed a global approach to geoscience and cartography at University of Zurich. Since he retired from various positions in the IT industry, he has published two novels, "Turkey Shoot" and "On Her Own Device" and currently working on his third. The first, written between 2015 and 2018, was in large part prompted by mistreatment and demonization of refugees from the Syrian war in 2011.


June 7, 2024 (5:05 PM): A description of the authors has been appended to the end of this article.