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Never again: Calling out the Editorial Board’s anti-Semitism

The Chronicle's Editorial Board recently published an editorial in response to recent current events involving Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar and her insensitive tweets about Israel. While the article must inevitably take a partisan position in reviewing this matter, and defending the congresswoman is no crime in itself, I was shocked, disappointed and offended by the article's blatant purveyance of anti-Semitism.

One can recognize the validity of one of the overlying points of this piece that anti-Zionism need not, and often should not, be synonymous with anti-Semitism. However, in condemning Israel and vastly oversimplifying possibly the most complex geopolitical conflict in the history of the world, The Editorial Board demonstrates its use of "anti-Zionism" as a veil for underlying sentiments of anti-Semitism.

The Editorial Board's inclusion of statistics solely pertaining to Palestinian suffering not only fails to consider the complexities of the conflict by completely ignoring the other side, but it is also a prime example of irresponsible journalism in an age where "fake news" has become a common refrain from both sides. Nowhere in the article is there any mention of the 1,119 rockets and mortars launched into Israeli civilian areas this past year, the 13 tunnels discovered in 2018 that had been dug by Hamas under Israel’s borders in hopes of capturing and holding Israeli soldiers for ransom, Hamas' propensity to launch rockets from hospitals and schools where they use their own Palestinian people as human shields, etc. However, many people are used to one-sided reporting surrounding this conflict, so while irresponsible, it alone is not enough to warrant claims of anti-Semitism.

The characterization of Israeli policies toward Palestinians as "settler colonialist" is inflammatory and historically problematic in its own right. On the other hand, invoking characterizations of Israeli policy as "murderous" and "genocidal," along with the article’s blatant implication that Israel is somehow responsible for contributing to racism and murder of black people in America, is beyond offensive. It is anti-Semitic propaganda that is unworthy of this university and its wonderfully diverse student body.

It has also come to my attention that there is not a single Jewish member of the Editorial Board. This point is perhaps the most problematic part about the piece’s publication. Put simply, it is totally illegitimate for a group of non-Jewish individuals to define anti-Semitism for the rest of us. It is shameful and offensive that the board believes it has the right to decide what does and does not constitute anti-Semitism. I hope everyone, regardless of religion or ideology, can recognize why it is entirely inappropriate and unacceptable for a group that has never been subjected to anti-Semitism to dictate the terms of Jewish suffering. It is unfortunate, but when people are so misinformed or uninformed altogether this is the outcome. 

I have had the opportunity to visit Israel several times over the course of my life. While I was there, I spoke often with soldiers who were preparing to enter the military for mandatory service while many of their 18-year-old counterparts in America were preparing to head off to college. I have also had the opportunity to stand in the gas chambers at Dachau where countless Jews were murdered just for being different; just for being Jewish. These experiences underscore how, while the future of Israel is and has always been a deeply divisive issue, emotion and politics should never be enough to justify discrimination. Unfortunately, the shooting at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue this past fall is just one of many recent reminders that anti-Semitism is alive and well in both America and the world. Therefore, we must do our part to combat this baseless hatred here at Duke. Our university and its Jewish community deserve better.

Davin Bialow is a Trinity senior.

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