Opinion open letter

Response to Quinn

Dear Quinn,

You do not know me, but I was once an MIT student like you. Maybe you were not born yet when I first took my shoes off on the deep-green grass of Killian Court. During my days as an MIT student, I was active in the struggle to get MIT to divest from the genocide in Darfur. I write to you today because I have seen your name in news videos about the protests currently taking place across US campuses, as a Jewish student leader associated with the protests at MIT. I know you are not the only one, but since I know your name, I wanted to tell you how proud I am of what you and others like you are doing.

It takes a lot of courage and conviction to take a principled stance, based on your values, against what may be the prevailing view of those around you. Particularly for you, as a young Jewish man, it must be hard to take a stance that is critical of Israel's ongoing military activities in Gaza, because they were started in response to the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 (which continue to this day with their refusal to release the remaining hostages). And because speaking against Israel's actions is often seen by many Israelis and supporters of Israel as a direct attack on Israel's right to exist and on the safety of the Jewish people as a whole.

I applaud the courage you and others have shown in standing up and stating that it is precisely your Jewish values that compel you to express the view that peace will only come through justice, including justice for Palestinians. I applaud your moral strength for standing next to those who justly speak for their oppressed relatives back in Palestine in asking for divestment from, and a ceasefire to, a war that you and many others see as genocidal. The fact that you used such a term, which we used decades earlier in our activism regarding Darfur, blew me away. It takes courage, my friend, and you have it in spades.

I imagine that this stance must have come at a cost, and suspect that you may have friends or relatives who think you are betraying “your people”. But I imagine you have come to recognise that “your people” is all of humanity, and that oppression needs to be denounced, even if those oppressing are closer to us than those being oppressed.

I feel kinship with you in this sense: I am neither Arab nor Jew, neither Palestinian nor Israeli. But I am human. And, just like I think there is a duty of every moral person with links to Palestine to demand the immediate release of all remaining hostages, I think there is a duty of every moral person with links to Israel to call for a cease to the carnage in Gaza. To call for the immediate and sufficient supply of long-overdue humanitarian aid to starving Palestinians. And to demand from all parties the honest and deliberate pursuit of a long-term just and peaceful solution that includes equal rights to a safe home and a life with dignity and opportunities for everyone, Jews and Palestinians, in their common ancestral land.

Continue to be strong and brave, and to speak clearly amidst the noise. I am extremely proud of you. You have my respect, young man. Please make my words extensive to the other young student leaders and organizers at MIT, be them Jewish, Palestinian or otherwise, who are leading the principled protest on campus, with a well-designed message of protest. Despite the noise of opportunistic outsiders and of people with extreme views who may want to hijack your stage, keep sharing your principled message for divestment and peace. Here on the other side of the world, we hear you loud and clear. From Australia, please receive a fraternal hug from this fellow alum.


Roberto Perez-Franco '04 is a former collaborator of The Tech.