August 26th, 2014 | University

Episcopal chaplain responds to backlash

After having his remarks in the New York Times criticized for appearing to be a justification of anti-Semitism, the University’s Episcopal chaplain Bruce Shipman told the News that his statements were misconstrued.

Shipman wrote a letter to the editor regarding Deborah Lipstadt’s Aug. 20 op-ed “Why Jews Are Worried.” The full text of the letter appears below:

To the Editor:

Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond.

The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.

As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.

(Rev.) BRUCE M. SHIPMAN
Groton, Conn., Aug. 21, 2014

Following the letter’s publication, blogger David Bernstein reposted Shipman’s words on the Washington Post’s The Volokh Conspiracy blog with the headline “Episcopal chaplain at Yale: Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism for not making peace with genocidal enemy.”

“If Rev. Shipman had made analogous comments about any other ‘ism,’ he’d be out of a job,” Bernstein wrote. “And if it were any group but Jews, their student organization would be occupying his office and demanding it.”

Bernstein’s article was later updated with a statement from the University: “Rev. Shipman is called to serve the Episcopal campus community at Yale, but is not employed by Yale or the Yale Chaplain’s Office.” The piece also included a statement denouncing anti-semitism in general from the Slifka Center for Jewish Life.

Shipman said his letter was not trying to rationalize anti-Semitism, but rather noting what he believes to be a serious omission in Lipstadt’s piece — the failure to connect the rise in anti-Semitic crimes in Europe to troubles in the Israel and Palestine.

“The turn to the right of the Israeli government and the magnitude of the civilian casualties in Gaza, the loss of hope among so many Palestinians and the continuation of annexation policies in the West Bank have some relation to the deplorable anti-Semitic crimes that we deplore,” Shipman said in an email. “At the Episcopal Church at Yale our prayer is for the flourishing of both communities on the land to which each has a compelling claim.”

The Episcopal Church at Yale worships on Sundays at 5 p.m. in Dwight Hall.