To the Editor:

Members of Students for Justice in Palestine (“Student group urges Yale to withdraw investments,” 10/17) claim that anti-Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitism. If they understood what Zionism means, they would understand that attacks on Zionism are simply attacks on the right of the Jewish people to exercise national self-determination in a democratic state. Anti-Zionists recognize the Jewish religion but pretend there is no Jewish ethnicity, no Jewish nation, no Jewish people.

Anti-Zionists believe that Jews should go back to being a minority everywhere and a majority nowhere. For centuries, Jews were persecuted routinely in Arab lands. Massacres continued through the 1940s, after which Jews fled or were expelled. The history of Jews in European and Russian lands is also well known. Our best hope in the last century was to make it to America, which became increasingly difficult, or to make it to the British Mandate of Palestine. Six million were unable to make either journey.

America and the rest of the world closed their doors to millions of Jews who might have avoided the gas chambers if any country had been willing to take them in. Israel, founded with the ingathering of Holocaust survivors from Europe and refugees from Arab states, does not limit the number of Jews who may apply to immigrate.

Criticism of Israel’s actions does not have to be tainted with anti-Zionism; indeed, it shouldn’t be. It is possible to disagree with Israel’s handling of conflicts with its Arab neighbors, or any other aspect of Israeli policy, without resorting to the extremist claim that Zionism is an unworthy cause. We can criticize any country in the world, in fact, without denying that country’s right to exist for the defense and welfare of its citizens. Legitimate criticism of Israel should never be equated with anti-Zionism.

Daniel Fichter ’06

October 20, 2002