Letter: Beyond a matter of speech

Re: “A debate to be had, not censored” (Sept. 3): Ken Hershey ’13 hit the mark both with his general defense of academic freedom and his particular defense of the validity of talks given at the recent Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism conference.

However, there is a larger issue at stake here as well. Too many people — and this same sentiment was reflected both in the letter to President Levin from the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the recent opinion column by Yaman Salahi LAW ’12 (“Anti-Semitism but not anti-hatred,” Sept. 1) — defend anti-Semitic statements, beliefs and actions on the basis that they are merely “anti-Israel,” not anti-Semitic. Such sophistry has to stop. Opposition to specific Israeli policies is wonderful and legitimate, but too many hold Israel to extreme double-standards that can only be understood through the lens of age-old bigotry. To question the very legitimacy of the Jewish state while placidly accepting every other nation’s right to self-determination, to advocate for reparations for 1948 Arab refugees while ignoring the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab lands in the same period, to apply standards of proportionality to Israeli operations in Gaza different from NATO operations in Afghanistan all reflect attitudes of sinister, targeted irrationality.

And when the Jewish people is the only nation repeatedly subjected to these irrational, harmful double-standards, we must call these attacks by their rightful name: anti-Semitism.

-Yishai Schwartz

The writer is a sophomore in Branford College and the vice president of Yale Friends of Israel.

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