LETTER: A critique in solidarity, on acting in solidarity

Last Friday, the News published my column (“Less party, more earthquake,” Feb. 25), in which I criticized the Yale community for its unsatisfactory response to the recent upheavals in the Middle East. Specifically, I mentioned an ISO/ASA revolution-themed party scheduled to be held that night as an example of the mood on campus, one of seeming disinterest in the deaths of thousands in Libya and across the region.

The following Monday, Samer Sabri and the ASA replied in a guest column of their own. This, of course, came as no surprise. I was fully aware that the message I was trying to convey would not be taken lightly. First, I wish to extend my appreciation to Samer and the Arab Students’ Association, for not engaging in ad hominem attacks on my character or my background. The ASA plays an important role on campus, giving voice to a region that is often left voiceless.

My outrage at what I consider to be the ASA’s lack of tangible and loudly-heard action came precisely because they are from the Middle East, and therefore should know better than the rest of campus. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an Israeli and have lived my entire life in the Middle East. This may come as a surprise, but Israelis have more in common with Arabs from the Middle East than with Americans from New England. Our tempers run high and our voices ring loud. Our anger runs deep and our love runs strong. Our families are boisterous and our humor is indefatigable (even in the face of a most grim reality). We are emotional, sometimes irrational, fiercely loyal, assertive, sometimes aggressive, and we possess a memory that reminds us of the past, sometimes too much so. Israeli Jews and Arabs have been living, dying and shvitzing under the same sun for millennia.

It is from this shared sense of history and culture that I critique the ASA. I accept that there’s a place for scholarly events on the issues at hand, but I fear it is not enough. The single demonstration in solidarity with the Egyptian people, which was held almost a month ago, is admirable, but starkly insufficient. I hope the ASA and the rest of Yale’s student body will go beyond “informing progressive action through varied media” and act in solidarity and support of this noble struggle for freedom.

Benjamin Preminger

March 1

The writer is a sophomore in Pierson College.

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