Brown prof blames 'Israeli occupation' for stabbing of 13-year-old girl

A Brown University faculty member believes that the 'Israeli occupation of Palestine' is to blame for the stabbing death of a 13-year old girl.

In an op-ed titled “It’s the occupation, stupid” for The Providence Journal, Nina Tannenwald, Director of the International Relations Program at Brown University, claims that the Israeli occupation of Palestine is to blame for the June murder of Hallel Yaffa Ariel in a community of Kiryat Arba near Hebron.

Ariel, who was Jewish, was killed by a 17-year old assailant who infiltrated her home and fatally stabbed her. He was later shot by security guards, and was identified as Mohammed Tarayreh, 17, from the Bani Naim village near Kiryat Arba. Ariel was later confirmed to have been an American citizen.

“The brutal stabbing death of a 13-year old girl by a Palestinian in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba on June 30, followed by a second attack on a car carrying a Jewish family that killed the father, reminds us why the 49-year Israeli occupation of Palestine must end,” Tannenwald asserts in her op-ed.

“It is yet another round of attacks in a numbing cycle of violence that is not going to end until the occupation does,” she continues, claiming that “the incident provides a window into everything that is wrong with the Israeli occupation: the cycles of revenge killing, the settler colonialism enabled by Americans, Palestinian despair that turns to violence, and the takeover of Jewish values by extremist ideologies.”

Tannenwald further asserts that the village in which Ariel lived is considered illegal under international law, and that it violates the 4th Geneva Convention provision that says an occupying power cannot move settlers in.

“Kiryat Arba is a settlement of extremists,” she states. “Racist and extremist anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab sentiment is everywhere in Hebron.

While she concludes that “people should denounce this brutal killing,” Tannenwald says “they should also denounce the equally brutal and untenable Israeli occupation of Palestine. Even better, they should do something to end it.

“The United States should hold up aid to Israel by the calculated amount that Israel will spend on settlements, as a way to encourage the Netanyahu government to get serious about peace talks,” she suggests, adding that “the United States should also announce that it will no longer veto resolutions in the U.N. Security Council condemning settlements.”

Not everyone agrees with Tannenwald’s view, however.

In a Letter to the Editor of the Providence Journal, Steven E. Snow, an attorney and member of Rhode Island Judges and Lawyers for Israel, denounces Tannenwald’s claims, saying her op-ed “displays such a lack of historical understanding and bigotry that I genuinely fear for the future of many of our young people,” particularly given Tannenwald’s position as director of the International Relations Program at Brown University.

“Ms. Tannenwald is entitled to her opinions, but not to re-write history. Ms. Tannenwald cites the horrific stabbing death of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, an American-Israeli 13-year-old girl, by a young Palestinian man who climbed the fence surrounding her community on the outskirts of Hebron. The terrorist killed Hallel in her bed while she slept,” he recounts.

“According to Ms. Tannenwald, we are all ‘stupid’ if we don’t agree with her warped conclusion that this vicious murder of an innocent child was caused by the ‘brutal and untenable Israeli occupation of Palestine,’” Snow paraphrases. “In other words, Ms. Tannenwald blames the victim for this unspeakable act of Palestinian terrorism. Her views are disgraceful.”

Campus Reform reached out to Brown University for comment and was instructed to direct all inquiries to Tannenwald, but she did not provide comment by press time.

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