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July 12, 2021 11:38 am
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Yale Professor: College Council Attack on Israel Is Not Supported by Fact, Nor Becoming of Yale Students

avatar by Evan Morris

Opinion

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut//WikiCommons

In Israel, Jews and Arabs sit together in the waiting room of Hadassah Hospital waiting to receive the same care. I know, I have worked there.

Jewish and Arab students both do top-flight research at institutions like Hebrew University and the Technion. Side by side, they present their work at major scientific conferences. I know, I have been there and quizzed them.

Jews and Arabs start restaurants and other businesses together. I have seen it. Arab justices sit on the Supreme Court. An Arab party is part of the new governing coalition of Israel.

If Arab people want to participate in a true — and messy — democracy, the only place they can do so in the Middle East, is in Israel.

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This hardly sounds like apartheid or genocide to me. Any claims to that effect are fallacious; they demean actual genocide and apartheid; and they are hurtful to me and to the Jewish community at Yale.

Given what I know, I was dismayed to learn of the Yale College Council (YCC) vote to condemn Israel and equate her with apartheid South Africa or to suggest that the country engages in genocide. Neither circumstances nor history support such malicious claims. The invalidity of these analogies is evident to any thinking student of history, one who reads books and studies events — not one who gets all her facts from a single newspaper with a pronounced slant, or worse, a mendacious tweet.

I am frankly disappointed that the Yale administration has been embarrassingly silent in response to an explosion of antisemitism in the US, driven by lies proffered in and out of government and by statements like that of the YCC.

But I am doubly disappointed that Yale students, scholars-in-training, would so readily swallow the false claims underlying the YCC action.

Hamas is not Palestine. It does not offer any hope for improved conditions for the people of Gaza. Hamas is an organized criminal entity made up of people who murder Jews and hold on to power by blaming others for their own incompetence. They spend all their guilt-ridden European aid money to build rockets and then fire them from the courtyards of kindergartens.

They send petrol-laden balloons (even after agreeing to a cease-fire!) into Israel to start forest fires and kill children. They are not interested in educating their people or even in vaccinating them. The only “Metro” they have constructed is not to ferry people to productive jobs, but to sneak terrorists into Israel to kill, maim, and abduct.

If there are YCC members who seek to uphold the values of a Yale education, who take seriously their obligations as members of a community of scholars, then they must study and learn before speaking.

For those so-motivated, I offer some serious suggestions: To learn of real conversations for peace, initiated by a leading Israeli thinker, Yossi Klein Halevi, students must read “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.” To learn something of modern Israel and its difficult birth, and to lay to rest the tired “colonialist” trope, I recommend, “O Jerusalem: Day by Day and Minute by Minute the Historic Struggle for Jerusalem and the Birth of Israel,” by Collins and Lapierre.

To appreciate the voracious Arab drive to annihilate Israel and the circumstances behind the remarkable Israeli victory in 1967 (a triumph, not a Nakba), try “Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East by (former Yale professor) Michael Oren.

To appreciate the long history of antisemitism in the Arab world and the Palestinian national movement, specifically, read, “Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam” by Dalin and Rothmann.

To understand how the newspaper of record, The New York Times, could have missed — or even suppressed — the story of the Holocaust, read “Beyond Belief: The American Press” and “The Coming Of The Holocaust, 1933- 1945,” by Deborah Lipstadt. To appreciate the evolving Israeli perception and sympathy for the Palestinian people and their plight, start with, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit.

And, if any student dares to make gratuitous mention of genocide, they must stand down and read the history of the term in “East-West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands.

Well-researched works of scholarship are essential to understanding history, but they are not the only source of good information. If students want to stay current on Israel and its complicated politics, they should start by reading the news … from left to right: Haaretz on the left, The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel in the middle, and Israel Hayom on the right. Israel, unlike any Arab country, has a free, unfettered, vigorous, and remarkably varied press.

For students on the YCC and elsewhere who aspire to be true scholars in the Yale tradition, and not merely uneducated bomb-throwers, I offer my earnest counsel as an educator and invite them to commence on their journey of self-education.

Whoever is willing to embark on said journey with energy, commitment, and an open mind, call me and we’ll have coffee.

Evan D. Morris, PhD, is a Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at Yale. He has been mentoring engineering and neuroscience students at Indiana, Purdue, and (now) Yale for more than 20 years.

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