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Letter to the Editor: A dangerous premise

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To the Editor:

Recently, I read an op-ed titled “Ethics and efficacy of Israel divestment,” by Neil Chaudhary. I was surprised to see this article allowed in The Daily. It makes some distasteful and questionable connections (e.g. equating Israel with apartheid South Africa), but I want to highlight its more egregious statements.

I was taken aback when Chaudhary began to discuss Israeli Jews’ “bunker mentality.”

He relies on a paper by Ronald Krebs to support his claim that Israeli Jews suffer from a “bunker mentality.”  This article asserts that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does threaten Israel, but not…because militant and even seemingly moderate Palestinians harbor plans to drive the Jews into the sea.” Krebs claims that orthodox Jews have puppeteered the country into danger. “These are the real threats.” The paper claims that Israel’s neighbors are not real threats. Rather, Israel is endangering itself.

Chaudhary not only delegitimizes the threats from Israel’s neighbors, he implies they don’t exist. They are, instead, “perceived.” We must critique Israel’s response to its existential threats. But to posit that these threats are imagined is patently false and irresponsible. The argument implies that the Jews manufacture non-existent dangers as a tool of subjugation.

Israel faces real and possibly lethal threats. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War happened. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel should be wiped off the map. The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, believes the Holocaust was a Zionist-Nazi plot. Hamas calls for the extermination of all Jews. These are only a few examples of how Israel is actually, not just perceivably, threatened. The article frames Israeli Jews as a group full of fabricated paranoia. This is a classically antisemitic trope — the Jew creating the illusion of the world against her. Holocaust deniers tout the same conspiracy. These false stereotypes and explanations of the Jewish mentality are destructive to Stanford’s welcoming environment.

The ideas perpetuated in this article make me feel unsafe on my own campus. I want to be clear: I am confident that the antisemitism perpetuated in this article is entirely inconsistent with Chaudhary’s (and most others’ who express the same narrative) beliefs. He wouldn’t deny or skew the holocaust; he doesn’t have racist views of Jews. However, the ideas are out there, and they are destructive.

Aaron Sabin ‘17

Contact Aaron Sabin at asabin ‘at’ stanford.edu.