Even sugarcoating your enemy’s venom is an insufficient gesture of submission.
At Yale the other week, Students for Justice in Palestine, one of the most aggressive and vicious supporters of Palestinian terrorism, conducted a stunt to dramatize their anti-Israel agenda. Members of the SJP put “Eviction Notices” under the dorm room doors of Yale students, which warned them that their rooms were going to be “demolished in three days” for no reason. According to a report of the action in the Yale Daily News, the Eviction Notices were designed “to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians whose homes are being demolished by the Israeli government.” In a sane world such a claim would have zero credibility. Why would any government, let alone one as humane and democratic as the government of Israel, go around randomly demolishing people’s homes? What agenda would be served by that?
In fact the homes that Israel has demolished belong to terrorists who blow up Pizza parlors and buses and Passover services, hoping to kill as many innocent Jews as possible. It is all part of a 60-year unrelenting war Arabs and Muslims have waged against the existence of a non-Arab, non-Muslim state in the Middle East. This is a fact overlooked not only by terrorist support groups like Students for Justice in Palestine but by the editors of the Yale Daily News. Naturally, Yale students ignorant of this 60-year history and bombarded by Palestinian lies spread by left-wing faculty and student organizations to the effect that Israel is “occupying” a mythical entity called “Palestine,” Palestinians are oppressed by Israelis (rather than the Palestinian Authority and Hamas), Israel is an “apartheid state” and so forth – are unable to distinguish reality from fiction.
“I was really confused at first,” a Yale sophomore named Helen McCreary told the Yale Daily News, “but I think I understand why [Students for Justice in Palestine] did it. None of us have had our house randomly destroyed by the government.”
The SJP Eviction Notices explained to the credulous that they “were not meant to be an attack on Israel or Israelis, but rather on the actions of the Israeli state.” But as everyone knows, Israel is a democracy and its government reflects the sentiments and will of its people – including a million Muslim Arabs who are Israeli citizens with more rights than the citizens of Gaza or the West Bank under Palestinian rule. In short, this a distinction without a difference: the attack on Israel is an attack on Israelis and Jews. By the same token, 100% of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza vote for terrorist organizations – either Fatah or Hamas. But if one were to draw the conclusion that Palestinians as a people support terrorism – that opinion would be banned from the pages of the Yale Daily News and every other college newspaper as giving “offense” to an ethnic group -- although there is no ethnic group “Palestinian.”
And how did Yale’s Jewish organizations respond to this malicious attack from a Hamas-supporting, Israel-hating campus group? According to the Daily News reporter, “a member of the Yale Hillel board and the co-president of Yale Friends of Israel criticized the fliers for being ‘counterproductive’ and disrespectful,” and also “hyperbolic” – as though the Israelis were only demolishing the doors on Palestinian houses for sport and not their entire dwellings.
The rationale for responding in such generalities which did not come close to identifying the outrage that had been committed was that Hillel did not want to even think of upsetting the Students for Justice in Palestine who, in fact, would like to see Israel destroyed and the Jews pushed into the sea. Too harsh? That is precisely what the SJP slogan, chanted on campuses across the country, promises: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” One glance at a map of the Middle East will show that the eastern border of Israel is the Jordan River and the western border is the Mediterranean sea. In other words, “Free Palestine from the river to the sea” means for the campus Nazis who chant it: the obliteration of Israel. As it happens, this is the explicit and formal goal of their favorite Palestinian party, Hamas, which has enshrined it in its charter: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it.”
On a brighter note, the Yale Daily News did publish an intelligent response to the eviction protest by two Jewish undergraduates who pointed out in an op-ed piece aptly titled “Evicting the Truth,” that the demolition of homes by Israel was not a policy of random sadism but an attempt to discourage terrorists from killing Jews -- at random. Even these two defenders of Israel, however, couldn’t bring themselves to confront the reality of the SJP attack, which they described as “silly.” They concluded their argument on this note: “Yale has a long tradition of serious conversation and intelligent dialogue. The time has come for organizations like SJP to contribute meaningfully. Let’s have a real conversation; we’ll even bring the matzah.” Yes, by all means bring the matzah to sup with people who want to obliterate you.
For Yale Hillel’s self-abasing Jews, even sugarcoating your enemy’s venom (“counter-productive,” “hyperbolic,” “silly”) is an insufficient gesture of submission. You must also distance yourself from Jews who stand up to their enemies: “'We try to act constructively and respectfully on these issues, not divisively and hyperbolically,'” said Josh Kalla ’13, Israel Chair on the Hillel Board. Kalla noted that when the David Horowitz Center, a pro-settlement organization, published an incendiary full-page advertisement in the News, the [Joseph] Slifka Center [for Jewish Life at Yale] also published a full-page advertisement, criticizing the Horowitz Center’s approach to the debate.”
We never saw the Slifka Center advertisement that appeared in the Yale Daily News because it was available only in the print version of the paper. When my office called the Slifka Center and requested a copy of the ad from Steven Sitrin, its executive director, Sitrin barked into the phone, “We don’t have it,” and then, in as hostile a manner as he could muster, hung up the receiver.
As it happens, the director of Hillel for the Philadelphia region, Howard Alpert, has characterized the contents of our incendiary advertisement, which we called “The Palestinian Wall of Lies,” as “a factual reply to common anti-Israel propaganda.” For the Slifka Center and Yale Hillel a factual defense of the Jews in the Middle East is “incendiary” because it upsets the Israel-haters. But a campaign to portray the only existing Jewish state as an evil force that systematically demolishes the homes of innocents is not. It’s just “hyperbolic.”
In closing, it should be noted that the matzah overture, with which the two undergraduates concluded their op-ed, was not incidental. To conduct their malevolent attack on the Jews, Students for Justice in Palestine had chosen the precise week when Jews all over the world celebrate Passover, which is religious commemoration of their flight to freedom from slavery in Egypt.
Afterward: After failing to get the cooperation of Mr. Sitrin, we received a copy of the Slifka Center ad from the Yale Daily News. This is the response of Yale's Jews to Palestinian anti-Semites at Yale: facts are hateful if they offend your enemies, have a talk with the Ground Zero Mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.