Re: “Palestinian representative calls Yale conference ‘anti-Arab’” (Sept. 2): Regarding my letter to President Levin last week, we do not object to Yale hosting a conference on anti-Semitism, undeniably an important field of study. We object to the clear political agenda behind a number of the conference’s presentations and the attempt to conflate Palestinian identity and criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
In addition to defaming Palestinians, the conference also took aim at Jews deemed insufficiently loyal to Israel with presentations like “Beyond Criticism and Dissent: On Jewish Contributions to the Delegitimation of Israel,” “Self Hatred and Contemporary Antisemitism,” and “Scourges and Their Audiences: What Drives Jews to Loathe Israel Publicly and What To Do About It?”
Itamar Marcus’ participation was particularly troubling. Marcus lives in the Jewish-only West Bank colony of Efrat located on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law. In addition, he heads a propaganda outfit known as Palestinian Media Watch and is also closely tied to the New York-based Central Fund of Israel, which supports some of the most extreme and violent elements of Israel’s settler movement.
Finally, Marcus has spent much of the past two decades producing dubious reports claiming to document Palestinian incitement against Israel. As a colonist living on stolen land, he has a vested interest in demonizing Palestinians and preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. As such, Marcus and the views that he represents pose a threat not only to the lives, rights and property of Palestinians, but also to the official policy of the American government.
By giving questionable characters like Itamar Marcus a platform from which to smear Palestinians — who are Semites themselves — and critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, conference organizers debase the term, much to the dismay of those truly concerned with combating bigotry and prejudice in all its forms.
Maen Rashid Areikat
The writer is the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the United States.