To the Editor:
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that at Oberlin, of all places, I would feel compelled to write letters protesting against a rash of anti-Semitism. I wonder whether those students who sponsored Kwame Ture's speech last month and that by Kaukab Siddique last week have any inkling to what degree grotesque appeals to boycott Jewish businesses, outrageous attempts to deny the Holocaust and inane charges of Jewish control over the media spark feelings of repugnance and revulsion, not only in all Jews, be they orthodox or secular, supporters of Israel, or opponents, but in all decent people. Such crass, flagrant anti-Semitism has nothing to do with informed or even passionate debate over Middle East policy. How ironic, to put it mildly, that the very week the PLO, some of its more radical members included, voted to amend their charter calling for the destruction of Israel, some students at Oberlin remain as irrendentist as ever. At issue here is not the claim of any given group or groups to a legacy of suffering and, hence, to some strange notion of "empowerment," but rather their apparent desire to appropriate the suffering of the Jews as "God's chosen people" as their own birthright. Surely - unfortunately - there is enough suffering in this world to go around. Instead, what needs to be confronted in light of recent events is what all these claims have in common: the infamous, despicable and compulsive need to single out Jews as scapegoats - one of the most consistent, heinous and vile characteristics of anti-Semites through the ages. I am disappointed that students who can rouse themselves to protest the dissection of a few dead rats are either unwilling or indifferent to rhetoric reminiscent of those who dissected live human beings. I am still more disappointed that individuals in positions of authority and leadership at this institution have not protested more forcefully against bigotry that should have no place at Oberlin.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 23; May 3, 1996
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