Addressing the controversy
To all who have been offended by my August 26 letter published in the New York Times, I would like to say the following:
I believe that there is a correlation between the uptick in anti-Semitic violence in the world and the events taking place in Israel/Palestine and Gaza. That said, there is never any excuse for such violence and the crimes described by Professor Deborah Lipstadt are disgusting and repellant. There can be little doubt that many who engage in such behavior use the Israel/Palestine dispute as an excuse to mask a much deeper disorder known as anti-Semitism.
I ought to have said this in my letter.
I have been accused of anti-Americanism for my opposition to the Vietnam War in the ’60s and the Iraq War in the ’00s. In fact, my patriotism runs deep, as does my love for Israel and Palestine and for the two peoples locked in a tragic fight over the land. If I seemed to suggest in my letter that only Jews who actively oppose present Israeli policies have a right to feel safe, that was not my intention nor is it my belief. Personal safety and protection by the rule of law is a fundamental right. Nothing done in Israel or Palestine justifies the disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in Europe or elsewhere. Persons of good will must be concerned as well by the rise of Islamophobia that is now being justified in terms of national security.
This has been a painful time for many of us, but I am a hopeful person and I believe that good will come of it. I have received many letters that offer opportunities for dialogue and understanding, and I trust that I am humble enough to still be taught.
Bruce M. Shipman
The writer is chaplain of the Episcopal Church at Yale.