Mondher Smida is publishing this open letter on behalf of the authors, Youssef Cherif and Rim Nour. It does not necessarily represent the opinions of Mondher Smida.
To: The Honorable Gordon Gray,
The Ambassador of the United States of America in Tunisia,
As fellow alumni of Columbia University in the city of New York, we wanted to strongly emphasize our hope to see Palestine recognized as a free state at the upcoming General Assembly of the UN Security Council.
You lived through our revolution with us, and we are quite confident that your presence in the country helped contribute to the evolving American position in 2011, which showed a gradual increase of sympathy to our cause and an understanding of our demands for a regime change.
We, along with President Barack Obama, graduated from Columbia, a place in lumine sua vidimus Lumen. We spent nights in Butler Library, and we climbed the stairs of Low to sit by Alma Mater. We took classes and attended lectures with Richard Bulliet, and we enjoyed the knowledge of scholars affiliated with the Middle East Institute.
Columbia is the core of liberty in the City of Liberty. It is also a place where great Palestinians were able to structure their thoughts, Edward Said being one of their shining stars. Our University was a safe shore for Rashid Khalidi and Joseph Massad, both Palestinians at heart and mind. Notable Columbia professors have shown their support for the Palestinian cause (Pr. Bulliet is an example), and so have many students and alumni. Only last year, Columbia launched the Center for Palestine Studies, a clear recognition by our Alma Mater of the State of Palestine.
Tunisia, on the other hand, has always followed a pro-Palestinian stance. We shared, both citizens and government, in their pain and their joy, and we were once the political basis of their future state. It is with strong convictions that a majority of free Tunisians is now seconding the Palestinian bid for statehood, which is to be presented on the 23rd of September 2011 to the General Assembly of the United Nations.
As the Arab Spring is extending to an Arab Year, we wish to see your government respecting our convictions and the international right of self-determination. We were among the first countries to recognize your right to an independent state two centuries ago, and so were you one of our closest allies in our fight for independence in the 1950s.
In the name of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, let’s give the Palestinians a viable State!
Rim Nour Youssef Cherif
Fulbright Scholar Fulbright Scholar
Columbia, SIPA’07 Columbia, GSAS’09