When Community Board 8, which represents Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, met last November, Cornell representatives described the campus as an engine of job growth, entrepreneurship and technological innovation for New York City. Despite the marketing, many Roosevelt Island residents had reservations about the proposed campus. Some raised concerns about the impact the building project would have on their community, including environmental and public health issues related to the exposure to hazardous material around the construction site. Others were worried about what construction would do to traffic flow on the small island.
One resident, however, expressed a different concern. Mohammad Ali Naquvi, a 36-year-old health lawyer and bioethicist, spoke out against Cornells partnership with Technion because of the school’s connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I do have concerns with the partnership with the Technion,” he said at the meeting. “My concern is what would happen on Roosevelt Island just because we have an Israeli institute here.”
Technion conducts research and development into military technology that Israel relies on to sustain its occupation of Palestinian land. For example, Technion developed an unmanned D-9 bulldozer for the Israeli military, which it used during Operation Cast Lead, a war that killed around 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and thirteen Israelis. Because of the machine’s “exceptional results” in Cast Lead, Israel is expanding its use of unmanned bulldozers. Israeli bulldozers have demolished some 27,000 Palestinian homes and properties since 1967. Currently, more than half a million Israeli settlers live in the occupied territories; that number continues to rise. Technion also has partnerships with Israeli arms companies, such as Elbit and Rafael. Elbit provides surveillance equipment for the separation wall, such as cameras and drones, while Rafael manufactures missiles that accompany drones and an armor protection system for the Israeli Defense Forces IDF Mk4 battle tank.
Technion is also a leader in the development of drone technology, which Israel has deployed in the occupied territories. Israel developed such technology in the 1970s and is now the worlds top exporter of drones. The Technion Autonomous Systems Program TASP focuses on researching and developing new unmanned vehicle technology, including drones, and in 2010 the school developed the “Stealth UAV” unmanned aerial vehicle. It can “fly up to 1,850 miles without refueling,” “carry two 1,100 lb smart bombs” and operate in the dark “under all weather conditions,” according to the American Technion Society, a New York City based organization that provides support to the school.