Letter: Sounds of silence

On Dec. 11, 2015, Western PhD student Rehab Nazzal was shot through the leg by an Israeli military sniper (Sniper’s bullet raises question for PhD student, Jan. 7). At the time of this deliberate act of state violence, Rehab was armed only with a camera and she was not near anyone else. Documenting the use of different weapons against Palestinian civilians is part of her doctoral research, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Western’s Faculty of Arts & Humanities.

The West Bank city where this unprovoked shooting occurred and where Rehab has been teaching is Bethlehem, for which the Canadian government has the same travel advisory (second level out of a possible four) as it does for France or Mexico.

If one of our student researchers were shot by a Mexican or French government military sniper in Lyon or Oaxaca, would the Canadian foreign minister stay silent about it? Would our university have nothing to say about academic freedom and the need for scholars to carry out their research freely?

The public, institutional silence about the shooting of Palestinian civilians is deafening – even when the victim is a Canadian citizen and part of our university community.

David Heap
French Studies Department / Linguistics program