Zelinsky: Responding to the wall of lies

On Wednesday, the David Horowitz Center published a full-page advertisement in the Yale Daily News and other college newspapers in order to combat Israel Apartheid Week. The splashy ad was entitled “Wall of Lies,” and detailed falsifications on the part of the anti-Israel movement. In response, on the same day, the Slifka Center at Yale printed their own page, billed as a set of Jewish “truths.” In doing so, the Slifka administration implied that they uniquely speak for all supporters of the state of Israel on campus. While I deeply respect Rabbi Ponet and the Student Board of Slifka, they have mischaracterized my values and the ideals of many on this campus.

The authors of the Slifka advertisement wrote that supporters of Israel merely believe in the right of the State to exist. They then went on to talk about interfaith dialogue and the need for tolerance across communities. While these goals are admirable, they fail to address the real issue at play: During Israel Apartheid Week (and year round), many around the United States (and here at Yale) have attacked the legitimacy of the Jewish State through incorrect, misleading and deceptive arguments.

On Thursday, a student group brought Mazin Qumsiye, a self-proclaimed Palestinian activist, to campus in order to set the record straight on Israel. Mr. Qumsiye, a former professor at Yale, has publically claimed that a Zionist cabal dictates U.S. foreign policy and pushes for the formation of an American police state.

In the light of these farfetched claims and in the absence of constructive dialogue, here is what I know to be true:

Israel’s right to exist stems from three unique sources: Jews have documented historical ties to the land of Israel; Jews have been uniquely persecuted throughout history — during the Holocaust, nations watched the genocide of six million, and the state of Israel exists (in part) to be a defended home for Jewish people around the world; and a UN mandate in 1948 (thought necessary by some, though not me) provided for the establishment of Israel recognizing the above two facts.

The so-called international community subjects Israel to a hypocritical double standard. We expect no other nation to endure terrorist attacks on its civilian population and not respond with force. While, regrettably, civilians always die in war, the State of Israel has never directly targeted innocents — a stark contrast to the PLO, Hamas and other Arab nationalist originations.

Israel is not an apartheid state. It provides voting and civil rights for its minority Arab population. Arab representatives serve in the Israeli Parliament, and the Supreme Court of Israel routinely hears (and supports) Arab cases of discrimination.

Israel is a liberal democracy, the only one of its kind in the Middle East. It allows gays to serve openly in the military, and prosecutes elected officials who violate its laws. Only a few days ago, a former Israeli president was convicted on two rape charges. Imagine Syria, Iran or Libya holding its leaders to a similar account.

Israel is a center of brimming commerce and activity that has positively influenced the world through its inventions and humanitarian efforts. During the disaster in Haiti, Israeli rescue teams were some of the first on the scene; in a sensational story, they saved a women trapped for six days in the rubble. Israeli pharmaceutical and agricultural technologies have created a better standard of living for people all around the globe. These creative businesses are often started by and employ Israeli-Arabs; they have far more hope of a better life in Israel than in any neighboring country.

This short column is not meant to be a definitive defense of Israel. Instead, I hope to restart the dialogue on campus that has been lost in conversation the past few days. Israel is not perfect; it makes mistake too. But the Slifka Center did a disservice to the cause of the State of Israel by setting the bar for “truths” so low.

Nathaniel Zelinsky is a sophomore in Davenport College.

Correction: March 26, 2011

An earlier version of this column initially incorrectly said that Israel had convicted a former Prime Minister on rape charges. The official, Moshe Katsav, was actually the former president of Israel.


  • The Anti-Yale

    The entire middle east issue has been so shrill for 50 years that no one listens any more.


  • ignatz

    Well said. Inter-faith dialogue is all well and good, but it doesn’t address the root problem, which is the ancient and implacable Arab hatred of Israel and her people.

  • Arafat


    Here is the source of the problem:


  • Goldie08

    Nicely done.

  • Arafat

    The following is typical (please read the short comment section as well as the very shor article):


  • Undergrad

    “The so-called international community subjects Israel to a hypocritical double standard. We expect no other nation to endure terrorist attacks on its civilian population and not respond with force.”

    This is not true. The U.S. received plenty of interntational condemnation (not universal, but neither is that against Israel) for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And we didn’t try to annex Afghan or Iraqi territory as part of the U.S., or create permanent settlements there for Americans who would be exempt from Afghan or Iraqi law.

    I agree with the need for dialogue. But starting from the premise that Israel is somehow inherently different from every other country in the world, based on who’s been persecuted more throughout history or who has historical ties to which lands, isn’t going to get you very far.

  • Arafat


    Your right. Jews have not been persecuted all that much and holding Israel up to a higher standard is not a form of anti-semitism.

  • Arafat

    We should respect Hamas for, after all, they are just regular guys like you and me.


  • Arafat

    Let’s ignore reality and pretend we’re all Neville Chamberlain and Islam is A-OK.


  • gzuckier

    “Jews have not been persecuted all that much”
    There comes a time when you cannot possibly be sarcastic enough to not have it overlap with the sincere but misguided.

  • Arafat


    Interesting. Could you expand on your observation? TIA

  • gomangoman

    There is one other reason that Jewish claims to Israel are legitimate. Arabs have sold land to Jews at inflated prices since time immemorial. Jews actually own the deed to much of the property they occupy as a result of these recorded legal real estate transactions.

    Also, I want to commend the author of the article in the Yale Press. The campus left and the radical left in general is so emotionally invested in the myth of Palestinian victimization by Israel, that their true anti-Israel agenda is hardly disguised. For, if the campus left were so concerned about the plight of Palestinians, why do they not condemn Jordan and Lebanon in particular, for the real discrimination of Palestinian Arabs in those cultures. Why do they not cry out about the murders of Palestinians by Hamas. Why do they not cry out about the rampant corruption of the Palestinian Authority which has stolen millions of dollars in international aid, which sits in their own Swiss Bank accounts?

    Isn’t it ironic that academia is ground zero for the vitrolic hatred of Israel and the Jews. Palestinian Arabs have been led generation after generation by those with an affinity for Hitler’s Nazism, first, and Communist Russia, second.These are historical facts, look them up, please. As students, you should examine the facts. Israel has been rejected from the very beginning, this was never, nor will it ever be about land. ( see Gaza.) The rally call of campus socialists, marxists ( i.e.the professors) and jihadist wannabees ( MSA leadership, SJP’s) s “from the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free”. Hmmmm. Jordan RIver to the Mediterranean. What could that mean?
    Just a question for the campus bolsheviks, if Israel’s Arabs are more free than any Arabs in the world, and vote, pray and live freely, how is it that Israel is the apartheid state? Why is it that Jews are not considered welcome in the West Bank, to live, to work, to shop–let alone to vote, pray and live freely. Arab Apartheid, that’s really the problem.

  • Arafat


    I will link and article articulating the historical ties between the academic left and fascism.


    (Yale professors look into the mirror, but be forewarned it is NOT a pretty sight.)

    Also, and as gomangoman suggested, the worst Palestinian refugee camp can be found in Lebanon. This camp deteriorated thanks to Kuwait forcing 400,000 Palestinians out of Kuwait and into this refugee camp in 1991.

    It’s fascinating that all the self-righteous Muslim editorialists to this site and all the self-righteous leftist supporters of the Palestinians have never said word one about this.

  • graduate_student

    This right-wing circlej*rk is getting awfully messy.

    Edit: Pre-emptive self-censorship.

  • Arafat

    graduate student,

    I encourage you to attack my positions instead of my grammar and or my character. I’ll happily debate our differences on this topic with you if you are willing to do so.

  • Rafi

    I’ve created a more rigorous version of the Wall of Lies for anyone interested: http://www.liesaboutisrael.org. Thanks!