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Letter: Response to “Why we walked out of Jonathan Greenblatt’s talk”

I am very disappointed with the latest op-ed written by jonath ’24 and Rosenzweig ’24. The authors are uninformed as to what Jonathan Greenblatt actually said. If they had stuck around for more than four minutes, they would know that he discussed far-right racism and antisemitism at length, giving the topic the attention it deserves. Unlike the authors, he also engaged in dialogue about the clearly problematic incidents that have taken place on College Hill (like the “specific violent threats” sent to Hillel just 11 days before the talk and SJP chapters’ use of Hamas paragliders in their advertising materials). In walking out, the authors displayed an unwillingness to engage in any discussion of campus antisemitism so long as one of the discussants says something they disagree with.

The authors are also uninformed as to the sources they use. In discussing the old “land without people for a people without land” quote, they linked an interesting JSTOR article — one they clearly haven’t read, because the author, Adam Garfinkle, discusses how anti-Zionist polemicists “have used the phrase in their efforts to discredit Zionism as an insensitive, racist and exclusivist movement,” and explains why “most of these polemicists have ever so slightly, but significantly, misquoted the phrase.” According to the authors’ own source, this phrase “did not mean, then or afterwards, what anti-Zionist polemicists imply that it did.” Interestingly, this quote has little to do with the content of Greenblatt’s talk. Instead of engaging with Greenblatt’s reasoning, the authors re-hashed the same points they and other anti-Zionists have made in all their other op-eds. The authors could have avoided this mistake if they spent their op-ed discussing the things Greenblatt actually said instead of turning him into a Zionist strawman.

Moreover, even if Garfinkle is wrong, most modern Zionists (like me) do not see Palestine as “a land without people.” Many Zionists believe in a two-state solution — one in which both Jews and Palestinians can forge their own futures and participate in the international community as equals. Many oppose Israel’s government and policies while supporting Israel’s right to exist. These flag-waving Israelis are likely the ones who will make a real difference, as they will vote in the next Israeli elections.

The authors’ thoughts on the terminology surrounding Zionism and anti-Zionism are worth a brief discussion. They disagree with Greenblatt’s definition of Zionism as self-determination for the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland. This is a definition to which I (and many other Zionists) subscribe. Zionism does not in itself demand that self-determination be withheld from Palestinians. To many Zionists, it simply means that Israel should exist in some form. If the authors of this op-ed spent more time engaging with Zionists and less time demonizing them, perhaps they would understand that we are a community characterized by diverse opinions surrounding what Israel should look like and how it should act. We disagree with one another over many issues, including some of Greenblatt’s sketchier points. But I will always maintain that the issue of Israel and Palestine is not an “us or them” situation, and I remain willing to listen to views dissimilar from my own. Can the authors say the same?


Theodore Horowitz ’24


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