April 7, 2019

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘A Jewish Case for Divestment’

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To the Editor:

In a March 25 guest column, “A Jewish Case for Divestment,” four students argue for divestment from Israel. The authors attempt to revise history with false claims about Israel and the Jewish people. They write, “To pretend as though European Jews, without a state, were helpless in the face of Nazi genocide is to erase the sacrifices of countless Jews who fought and died in the Soviet and Polish armies, in antifascist partisan detachments and in ghetto uprisings.”

This statement is not only false — it is extremely offensive. Valiant as they were, the efforts of the partisans were not enough to save the Jews of Europe. Despite the brave souls who fought until the end, six million Jews were still murdered by the Nazi killing machine. Had there been a Jewish state or a country willing to take in Jewish refugees, millions of lives undoubtedly would have been saved. The leaders of these antifascist movements and ghetto uprisings understood that, and many of them were involved in Zionist movements. If Israel had existed as a safe haven then, my great grandparents might not have lost their entire families in the Holocaust.

Another falsity pushed in the article is that “the State of Israel . . .  has done [nothing] to protect Jews around the world against anti-Semitism.” In reality, many Jews have fled from hatred around the world and found refuge in Israel since its founding. Most of the nearly 850,000 Jews living in Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya and other Arab- and Muslim-majority countries in 1948 emigrated to Israel because they were no longer welcome in their home countries. Thousands more found safety in Israel after escaping persecution in Ethiopia and the USSR.  Today, Jews continue to flee to Israel from anti-Semitic abuse in France and around the world.

I urge Cornell students to condemn the historically revisionist claims being used to demonize Israel and to debate the issue of divestment with historically accurate arguments.

Elliot Meyers ’22