Anti-Semitism: back en vogue and kicking

Daniel Fichter and James Kirchick did a fine job explaining the intellectual dishonesty of Yale’s anti-Israel divestment movement (“The truly extreme side of divestment,” 11/18). They elucidated the faulty logic used by the movement to defend divestment through criticism of the Israeli government. There is also a clear hypocrisy that those who support divestment need to explain.

Namely, why don’t we take our money away from the terrorists?

The ways in which divestment supporters defend this hypocrisy relate first to the support that Israel receives around the world. And behind that lies the basest form of hatred — anti-Semitism.

According to the yaledivestnow.org Web site, Israel should not receive Yale’s money after being involved with the following activities: “the use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians (including men, women, and children) — the mass demolition of homes and confiscation of land — extra-judicial assassinations — [and] the use of human shields (including children); the targeting of schools, and hospitals.”

These seem to be the very acts that are committed by violent terrorists at the behest of PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat. Indeed, these were also the actions that were taken by al-Qaida on Sept. 11, 2001, and which characterize terrorism throughout the world. Yet somehow the supporters of the divestment campaign are able to turn a blind eye to the abuses of Palestinian suicide bombers. Instead, they find it easier to target the only nation in the Middle East which upholds democratic values and the rule of law.

Israel is an easy target for two reasons. First, it is recognized as a sovereign state by nations around the world. It is, in effect, the proverbial “Man.” In the same way that the radical left loves to attack the United States for being too powerful, supporters of the petition turn their attention to the culturally and militarily strong Jewish state.

However, there is a more important reason to target Israel. Anti-Semitism is en vogue these days.

I can already hear the righteous indignation of people who will state that their support of divestment has nothing to with anti-Semitism. After all, they will argue, anti-Semitism is a term reserved for Hitler, the Inquisition and other ancient relics. They will claim that Israel does not have a right to exist on philosophical grounds or that Israel fails to uphold human dignity by leading an “occupation.”

But when, as happened last year, the secretary of state storms out of a United Nations conference on racism because of its anti-Jewish rhetoric, it seems clear that anti-Semitism is being revived as an international sentiment. The Egyptian government, for example, continues to circulate the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an anti-Semitic tract that Hitler and Stalin loved using during their reigns.

Around the country, another divestment movement is forming. This one is dedicated to confronting those states that aid and abet terrorists. Such a movement is consistent with the goals set forth by the Bush administration and offers a viable means of confronting both America’s national security threat and human rights violations around the world.

The signers of the petition to divest must be able to account for their one-sided view. They claim to be defending human rights by focusing on attacking Israel, but they ignore the violence and hatefulness of those they defend.

By implication they are associated with anti-Semites in the Middle East and throughout the world. Although it may be hard for some Yalies to justify support for Israel, it is inevitable that their motives will be seen as opposed not just to Israel but to the Jewish people. Anti-Semitism is an unjustifiable evil which has not died. Those who defend terrorists will find themselves supporting the rhetoric of anti-Semites.

Signing a petition may not usually seem like an act of hate. If that petition calls for support of Israel’s ideological and political enemies, though, the petition also supports her violent and hateful religious foes and becomes an act of hate itself.



Justin Zaremby is a senior in Calhoun College. His column appears regularly on alternate Tuesdays.

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