Response to the Resource on Palestine

Yale Postdoc Association

Response to the Resource on Palestine
May 2022

Disclaimer: These views do not reflect the entirety of the YPA.

Here we provide a response to the Resource on Palestine which was posted on August 13th, 2021 by the Racial Justice Subcommittee of the YPA. Since the Resource on Palestine left many YPA members feeling underrepresented, excluded, isolated and marginalized, we have created this response to address and highlight issues or aspects of the narrative that were overlooked in the original resource, or were factually incorrect. We hope that this additional information helps provide a more complete and balanced view of the Israel-Palestine conflict.  A statement against antisemitism that was recently published by the YPA can be found here.

Grave concerns over the Resource on Palestine stem from the fact that misinformation about this conflict has been known to lead to hate towards the Israeli and Jewish community. Just last May, Jews were assaulted by anti-Israel “protesters” in the name of “anti-Israel activism” in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and elsewhere

Though this statement called to impose sanctions on Israel, it made no mention of the role or responsibility of the internationally recognized terror organization of Hamas in Gaza, and the PLO, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. It is also rife with inaccuracies and does not provide adequate context in the examination of this conflict, as we will further discuss. We hope that this response helps the postdoc community understand the full picture of this conflict and underscores the importance of representing a diversity of viewpoints in discussions and events centered around this topic. Individuals from Israel haven’t been given the right to present their view in several events discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the campus. Therefore it is critical that conversations about this conflict include both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives with equal opportunity. 

At the heart of this conflict stands the basic fact that Hamas does not recognize the existence of the state of Israel and publicly calls for its extermination. Not only that Hamas does not improve the lives of the citizens in Gaza, it explicitly works against them. Financial aid that comes from humanitarian organizations and states around the world, in the hopes of improving the humanitarian situation in the Strip, actually goes to Hamas, which uses it to manufacture rockets aimed at Israeli civilians and to build terror tunnels. This means that  Palestinians in Gaza never see much of the aid they are meant to receive, and instead this aid goes towards various terror attacks against innocent Israeli citizens, and against the Palestinian opponents of Hamas. In fact, the terror organizations of Hamas and Hizballah have 170,000 rockets combined, which can be used to kill more than a million Israeli citizens. This number of rockets is larger than what most of the countries in the world have, possibly including the US. The terror tunnels that Hamas has built are larger in extent than the subway system of NYC. There are also concerning issues about the PLO, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. The PLO pays salaries to Palestinians who committed terror acts again Israeli citizens on a monthly basis as a part of its constitution. In addition, Mahmoud Abbas the PLO president often has antisemitic content in his speeches, similarly to Hamas. The Palestinian education system continues to promote antisemitism and incite terrorism, including in schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).  Unfortunately, the support for Hamas in the West Bank is rather high and it is not unlikely that they will win an election there.

The ’Resource on Palestine’ fails to acknowledge the barrage of over 4,000 rockets that Hamas fired at Israeli families, from civilian communities in Gaza between May 10-21, 2021. They indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians of all backgrounds, including Arab citizens of Israel who have been murdered or injured in these rocket attacks. These rockets fired by Hamas murdered  Israelies, injured hundreds, and forced most of the country (millions of civilians)  to live in bomb shelters, including young kids, women, elderly population and disabled individuals. Our families were in shelters during this war, some of our postdocs were in Israel, in towns that are next to the border, with only seconds to find a shelter, and some were close to a rocket that exploded. One of our relatives had her car burnt in the riots by the Arab population in Israel, and another one has been injured from a Hamas rocket. Around 900 of these rockets targeted the city Ashkelon, which was by far the most targeted area in this war, with kids having to run to the shelter numerous times a night. Some of Hamas rockets also fell short in Gaza and actually killed Palestinian civilians.

One of the reasons that Hamas has not succeeded in murdering hundreds, thousands, or even millions of Israelis is that Israel has the power to stop them, mostly thanks to the Iron Dome system, designed to intercept rockets. Erasing Israeli voices and shielding Hamas from any accountability is a gift to Hamas, and will do nothing to help Palestinians and Israelis resolve this longstanding conflict. There is no question that civilians in Gaza have lost more than anyone from Hamas’ endless war against Israel. The main reason is that Hamas and its allies have militarized Palestinian neighborhoods and committed a double war crime:  hiding, producing, and firing at Israeli civilian communities from within Palestinian civilian communities.

In contrast, Israel is driven by its responsibility to protect Israelis of all backgrounds from terrorism. This is the right and duty of every democratic country, and Israel is no exception. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) code of ethics requires its soldiers to do everything they can to protect innocent life. This means following the laws of war, and taking every precaution to target only terrorists, even though those terrorists use innocent Palestinians in Gaza as human shields. Spreading misinformation that can cause hate, and failing to recognize the crimes of Hamas against Israelis and Palestinians alike, emboldens Hamas to continue targeting innocent civilians on both sides, thereby fueling the conflict further and making a viable peace much less likely.

The ’Resource on Palestine’ also promotes divestment and sanctions against Israel, which is a part of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel. The purpose of BDS is not to protest or change Israeli policy, but to isolate and pressure Israel until it ceases to exist. This goal has been confirmed by the co-founder of BDS and leading activists in the movement. To quote leading BDS activist Ahmed Moor: “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” BDS actively harms peace efforts by opposing Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, fueling more conflict and suffering for both peoples. Even more disturbingly, the movement is led by the Boycott National Committee (BNC) and according to the New York Times, “terrorist organizations, including Hamas” are members of the BNC. The BDS has been condemned by 95% of the  House of Representatives and 35 of the US states have enacted anti-BDS laws. The BDS movement was recently designated an antisemitic organization by Germany. Imposing sanctions on Israel means that Israel will not be able to manufacture anti-rocket missiles to protect its citizens from the 170,000 rockets that the terror organizations Hamas and Hizballah have which would explicitly put the lives of Israeli postdocs, their families, and friends at risk.  Similarly, opening the borders between Israel and Gaza can lead to the destruction of Israel. We expect that the YPA and its subcommittees will be supportive of the Israeli postdocs as stated in their mission statements.  

There is also a long history of hate, intimidation, and discrimination against Jewish students as a result of divestment and BDS campaigns on campus. Multiple Studies have shown how these actions make campuses a more hostile environment for Jewish students, and therefore should be considered carefully before being used in discussions or events. All across the states, we see acts of violence and hate against Jewish students, even in the most prestigious universities. Even here at Yale, just a few months ago (October 2021), two incidents involving racist and anti-Semitic graffiti have occurred inside the Kline Biology Tower, which has been under construction. In 2020, a Yale Rabi was assaulted and robbed with a gun while shouting at him antisemitic slurs next to a synagogue.

The Resource on Palestine also uses unreliable sources to back up its misleading claims. For example, while B’Tselem was once a widely respected organization, in recent years it has lost a lot of credibility by:

●          Employing a Holocaust denier (and initially defending him, before backtracking).

●          Having an employee and allied activist exposed for informing the Palestinian Authority (PA) about individual Palestinians selling land to Jews – a “crime” punishable by death under PA law.

The statement also uses the word “colonial” that aims to erase the fact that Jewish people lived in Israel since BC, which is evidenced by the many archeological sites including Masada, the Temple mount, Herodium, large parts of the old city of Jerusalem, as well as in the bible. The resource also accuses Israel for taking over houses of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah without providing any source of information. However, these houses previously belonged to Jewish people. Finally, it also accuses Israel – a diverse democracy where all citizens are equal under the law – of “crimes of apartheid.” Israel is a country where an Arab party is a part of the government, an Arab Supreme Court Justice sent a Jewish President to prison and oversaw recent national elections, where affirmative action programs exist to counter discrimination, and where the current government is planning to invest $16 billion in the security and prosperity of its Arab citizens .In fact, a poll found that Israeli Arabs preferred Israel to “any other country in the world” by a 3.5 to 1 ratio. Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are governed by their own leaders. The vast majority do not want to be citizens in a Jewish state, preferring self-determination in a state of their own. At the same time, the “resource” does not mention all the crimes that Hamas does as mentioned above. Even UN officials have said that “Hamas and other militants’ indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars from highly populated civilian neighborhoods towards civilian population centers violates international humanitarian law, and it is unacceptable and has to stop immediately.” Although the statement is a ‘Resource on Palestine’ and not on Israel, failing to mention all of this creates a biased resource that hides the true situation in Palestine.

The Resource on Palestine also glossed over the peace treaty attempts by Israel in the 90s, led by Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, in which Israel suggested to fulfill all the land requirements of the Palestinian negotiators. The outcome of these attempts was several years of bus explosions in Israel by Palestinian terrorists on a regular basis. Similarly, in the movie that was recently screened by YPA this terror wave is not mentioned, and the security measurements taken by Israel are presented out of context.

In addition to the ‘Resource on Palestine’ and the movie screening by the Racial Justice Subcommittee of the YPA, similar statements have been published by the Student Council of Yale and two other faculties, which were emailed altogether to most of the Yale community and created an anti-Israeli sentiment on campus. These many times are accompanied by biased or misrepresentation of number of Palestinian casualties such as mentioning the number of civilians and failing to mention that the vast majority are Hamas terrorists.

Looking ahead, we aim to prevent the dissemination of misinformation and inaccuracies on Yale websites. Yale is for all of us, primarily the place where we contribute to the advancement of knowledge, but also significantly a community of equals where all of us belong. When we are excluded from that community, we must take substantial time away from our work to redress that harm. For that very reason, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act requires and Yale has adopted rules against discrimination, harassment, and the use of Yale channels by staff and faculty for political purposes.

We hope you will join us in committing to a more balanced discourse that includes and celebrates the richness of the Yale postdoc community.