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June 28, 2021 5:07 pm

Yale Jewish Groups Denounce ‘Betrayal’ of Undergrad Council Resolution Condemning Israel

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut//WikiCommons

Jewish groups at Yale rejected on Sunday a resolution narrowly adopted by the university’s undergrad student government that condemned the “injustice, genocide, and ethnic cleansing occurring in Palestine.”

The statement, presented by the group Yalies 4 Palestine and adopted by the Yale College Council on Sunday night, argued that Israeli policies toward the Palestinians was “not a political issue,” charging Israel with apartheid and linking its policies to police reform in the United States.

“As students at one of the most privileged academic institutions in the world, we must call out injustice wherever it may occur,” the statement said.

“We call upon Yale students to recognize the connections between the US’s domestic racial oppression and its imperial oppression of people of color worldwide,” it continued. “Just as Israel’s military enforces the apartheid system against Palestinians, the US police enforces the system of white supremacy against Black Americans.”

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Hours after the vote, leaders of campus Jewish groups strongly objected to the resolution — calling it “one-dimensional and myopic to the point of willful ignorance, unworthy of this university’s dedication to the world-shaping power of truth.”

“Of greater importance, the statement’s silence on Israeli deaths [in the Gaza War] … sends a chilling message that Jewish lives and deaths are unworthy of comment, much less moral outrage,” said the letter, signed by Slifka Center for Jewish Life Excutive Director Uri Cohen, Yale chaplain Rabbi Jason Rubenstein, and Hillel student board co-presidents Ruthie Davis and Zevi Siegal.

“We are committed to the broadest range of moral and political positions on Israel and Palestinian rights — including views left, right, and center that challenge accepted opinion and use prophetic claims to highlight moral crises,” they wrote. “It is because of, and not despite, these commitments that we object to the YCC condemning Israel.”

“Tonight’s decision was not in keeping with the YCC’s stated mission of ‘protecting student rights and freedoms; fostering school  unity and pride.’ It was a betrayal of this promise of protection and a blow to the moral fibre that binds Yale and humanity together.”

The letter also shared remarks given by Davis and Siegal during the Council’s deliberations on Sunday, in which they argued that the “Statement of Condemnation” would chill campus dialogue.

“Severe condemnation becomes the new baseline, and those who fall short of that stand outside the community,” they said. “Not only does this cast aside students who support Israel, but without a neutral baseline, it makes it harder to maintain an environment of open dialogue and forces students, particularly Jewish students, to take a stance.”

The students also cited concerns about the statement’s coinciding with a national rise in antisemitism.

“This has been anything but a healthy situation for Jews at Yale,” Davis and Siegal said, noting recent incidents of harassment, violence, and vandalism of Jewish institutions following the May conflict. “Although much of this occurs far from Yale, the anxiety and fear is present nevertheless. YCC has done nothing to address that anxiety, but your signing on is likely to exacerbate it.”

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