I am ashamed to live in a community where the city council is unable to endorse a simple resolution calling for an end to the bombing, starving, and killing of civilians (perhaps half children) in Gaza.  Their inaction reflects a kind of "moral numbness" that is inexplicable. (April 24, 2024). 

       Purdue Exponent Photo

Peace activists, and many Americans generally, are frustrated viewing the daily images of bombing, bodies, destruction of buildings, starvation, and fear engendered by the genocidal war of the Israeli government on the Palestinian people. We feel the anguish of Aaron Bushnell, who immolated himself in front of the Israeli embassy on February 25, 2024. Those of us who lived through the Vietnam era remember Norman Morrison, a Hoosier, who self-immolated himself in front of the Pentagon in 1965. Before that, Buddhist Monks had also made the ultimate sacrifice in the streets of what was then called Saigon in the former South Vietnam.

We know that the United States has great influence over Israel. It has provided $4 billion a year in military aid to Israel since 1979. Currently the Biden Administration has introduced to Congress a proposal for military supplemental support, totaling an additional $14 billion to Israel (78 percent of which Israel would be obliged to be used in purchases from US arms manufacturers).

Military contracts with arms manufacturers often involve universities. Purdue University is a case in point. For example, on October 6, 2020 Purdue Today reproduced an article from a Department of Homeland Security Journal, Homeland Security Today, announcing a Purdue/Homeland Security research project involving research on drones for use in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capitol. (The article has been since been removed from Purdue Today).

The article reported that “a group of Purdue University researchers have been tasked to make sure drones and their systems could operate securely, safely and efficiently in the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi.” It named Purdue professors in Aeronautical and Astronautics, Computer Science, and Purdue’s “cybersecurity research and education center” as project participants. (“Purdue University and Abu Dhabi Work Together on Cybersecure Drone Swarms”


To avoid the sense of desperation felt by Aaron Bushnell, Norman Morrison and others we need to find ways to give voice to our frustration with the ongoing war on the Gazan people. And it is to our political institutions that our energies must turn: both to influence public policy and to be able to express our sense of outrage.

As a political body closest to us, we look to the City Council, and other local governmental institutions, to reflect our concerns, even though they have little direct contact with foreign policy decisions.

Along with satisfying our need to speak out we cannot know what impact our voices can have. Referring to the Vietnam analogy, hundreds of thousands of voices articulated in different ways did impact on United States foreign policy in the 1960s and 1970s. And it was through articulation of opposition to that war that we discovered that our friends and neighbors shared the same views.

In addition, as has been reported many city councils have already expressed their outrage at the war against the war in Gaza and have called for a cease fire:

“Reuters compiled data from 70 cities that have passed Israel-Gaza resolutions or proclamations since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants killed some 1,200 people in Israel and took 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. They range from major cities like San Francisco to smaller cities such as Carrboro, North Carolina, and Biden's hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.”


In my view the West Lafayette City Council needs to endorse a resolution that includes an immediate permanent cease fire in Gaza, international efforts to provide social and economic justice for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and frees all hostages held by combatants in the current war.

By Harry Targ