July 1, 2021
President Peter Salovey
P.O. Box 208229
New Haven, CT 06520-8229
Dear President Salovey:
We write on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel organization in the U.S., dedicated to fighting antisemitism and anti-Israelism on college campuses and wherever these problems arise. We were horrified to learn that antisemitism recently reared its ugly head at Yale University.
As you surely know, Yale’s student council approved a false and viciously anti-Israel statement written by a student group called Yalies4Palestine. The statement is completely one-sided and hostile to Israel.
- The statement falsely accuses Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing, even though there is not a shred of evidence that Israel has ever sought or intended to destroy any national, ethnic, racial or religious group, including the Palestinian Arab people. After the war in 1948 (when five Arab armies attacked the nascent state of Israel with the intention of destroying it), approximately 150,000 Palestinian Arabs were living in Israel. They were not killed or expelled; they became Israeli citizens. Today, there are approximately 2,000,000 Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. So much for ethnic cleansing.
- The statement omits the fact that Hamas – a U.S.-designated terrorist group whose charter calls for the murder of Jews and Israel’s destruction – launched over 4000 rockets into Israel during a two-week period in May, deliberately targeting innocent Israeli men, women and children in their homes and communities. The statement omits the fact that whenever Israel is forced to defend itself against this terrorist group’s murderous attacks, it takes every possible precaution to avoid harming Gazan civilians, whom Hamas uses as human shields and deliberately places in harm’s way.
- The statement omits the fact that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that if there is a Palestinian Arab state, he will not allow a single Jew to live there. And it omits the fact that Abbas glorifies and incentivizes the murder of Jews, naming streets, schools and sports teams after Arab terrorists who murder Jews, and rewarding terrorists and their families with lifetime pensions for murdering Jews.
- The student council’s statement falsely accuses Israel of apartheid when in fact approximately two million Palestinian Arabs are citizens of Israel, with full and equal rights. They serve in the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) and on the judiciary, including the Supreme Court. They work alongside Jews and others in Israeli hospitals, universities, and businesses. Recently, the Arab party Ra’am became part of Israel’s new coalition government.
- The statement distorts the truth about the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood in Jerusalem, which the Arabs refer to as “Sheikh Jarrah.” Arab residents are not being violently expelled from their homes by “Israeli settlers.” In fact, Arabs are living in homes and on land legally owned by Jews, without paying rent. After many years of litigation, a court ruled that if the squatters do not pay rent, they must be evicted, which is exactly what would and should happen if this situation occurred in the U.S. or any other democracy.
- The statement falsely equates Israel’s practices with police actions against Black Americans, even though the situations are completely different and cannot be compared.
The student council’s statement is not only false and outrageous. It is also antisemitic, according to the widely-accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, used by the U.S. government and approximately 30 countries around the world. Recently, you should have received a letter from the ZOA and 30 other organizations, urging Yale to adopt the IHRA definition, because it is excellent. It identifies the many ways that antisemitism is expressed today, including when anti-Israelism is a mask for antisemtism.
While the student council may have had the right to issue this horrific antisemitic statement, you and the Yale administration have the right – and the responsibility – to condemn it. You must make it clear to the Yale community that the accusations it makes against Israel are false and antisemitic and help create a hostile environment for Yale’s Jewish and pro-Israel community.
If you do not speak out, then you will be legitimizing these anti-Israel lies. You will be allowing others to accept and believe them. And you will be sending the message to the entire Yale community that it is acceptable at Yale to single out and demonize Israel, without regard for the truth.That result would be inconsistent with Yale’s values. We remind you that Yale’s official seal includes a Hebrew inscription that declares Yale’s commitment to light and to truth.
Thank you for your attention to this issue. We look forward to your response.
Very truly yours,
Morton A. Klein
Susan B. Tuchman, Esq.
Dir., Center for Law & Justice
Managing Dir., ZOA Campus
View the full letter as a pdf here.