Amid Protests, Careful Language Needed

I fully support protests against the unjust demolition of Palestinian villages, but Anthony Wong’s (21C) op-ed contains two notable flaws that undermine his argument.

First, the comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany reflects some combination of gross insensitivity, lack of proper editorial discretion and immaturity. It is patently offensive to the memory of Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Second, I question the use of the word “Israeli” in this sentence: “If the Israeli community at Emory genuinely supports freedom of speech and individual safety, they need to be self-reflexive and open to conversations about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.” Since there are very few Israeli students at Emory, I suspect that Wong meant to refer to Emory’s Jewish community in what is a typical conflation of “Jewish” and “Israeli.” This mixing of terms is the sort of sloppy language that can quickly lead to a blurring of the lines between what is anti-Israel and what is anti-Semitic, so caution and clarity are urged.

If, on the other hand, Wong meant to refer to Emory’s “pro-Israel community,” I’d suggest the need for clarification there, too. Recent numbers show that most U.S. Jews consider themselves not simply pro-Israel but also anti-settlement expansion, anti-occupation and supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has also condemned Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to join with the Kahanist party, calling the party extremist and racist. “Pro-Israel” should not be used as a proxy for those who defend the Israeli occupation, much less the unjust demolition of Palestinian villages.

These errors in judgment and language call for a correction and apology from both Wong and the editors of the Wheel.

Jonathan Kopp (88C) is a former member of the Emory College Alumni Board.

Assistant Opinion Editor Zach Ball (21C) previously served as president of Emory Students for Justice in Palestine and was not involved in editing this op-ed.