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An Open Letter to University Professors

Campus View of Low Library taken from columbia.edu

Dear University Professors at Columbia, Penn, NYU, Harvard, etc.,

I’m asking you to do some homework now that the semester is over. As an educator myself, I always strive to learn something independently when the school year has ended. This is the perfect opportunity to dive deep into researching the factual history of the Land and People of Israel, past, and present.

Throughout these last tumultuous months, many of you have shared your vision of the Israeli Palestinian conflict as one of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and even genocide. You’ve instructed your students that Israel has committed horrible crimes against the Palestinian people. You do not seem to have any idea of what occurred to the Jewish people at the hands of the Muslim people. I’d like to ask you to do some research using sources other than your personal, traditional sources that shared only one version of the story.

If you do not want to look at the religious background, such as the Jewish bible, or the Christian bible, or even the Koran, I encourage you to look at archeological sources. By researching archeologists’ discoveries in the Land known as Israel, you can find proof of Jewish Israelite existence in the Land for thousands of years. Many of the archeologists are not Jews, so their discoveries are not skewed toward the Jewish narrative.
You can look at the Roman book of Josephus, to find examples of Jewish life in Judaea when it was ruled by the Romans.

You can look at the history of the various People who conquered and colonized the Land now known as Israel. Research the Byzantines, the Mamelukes, the Persians, the Ottomans. When you have done your homework, you will see that the Jews are indigenous to the Land of Israel. They have been the ones expelled and threatened and they have been the ones to constantly return.

I don’t deny that Arabs settled in the Land after hundreds of years. They moved from Arabia when they were conquering other people and forcing them to convert to Islam. They expanded the Islamic rule from Arabia throughout north Africa and Europe. Shakespeare mentions the Moors of Spain in some of his plays. We know the Moors were Muslim. They came into Europe and conquered, then colonized the places they conquered.

But I’m sure you know that as a university professor. Society expects university professors to be highly educated in their fields. Of course, it seems that many of you professors who are anti-Israel do not have world history as your area of expertise. You do not have political science as your specialty. You don’t know much about the history of religion. You are looking at the Israeli Palestinian conflict as a social justice issue. It seems to most of you professors, you see this as a black and white issue. To be honest, this is not a simple issue of oppressors vs oppressed. It’s also not a situation of darker skinned people vs lighter skinned people. Jews and Israelis come in all different colors.

What I’m asking all of you university professors to do, is to take some time to do what you ask your students to do. Try to discover all the facts of the issue. Look for the other narrative in this history that may allow you to have empathy for the Jewish people. In this area of the world, there has always been conflict, and it hasn’t always been Muslim vs Jew, or Christian vs. Jew. It hasn’t always involved the Jews. Many tribes and civilizations have fought over the Land of Israel.

In conclusion, if you do your homework this summer, I’m sure will gain some understanding of the Israeli people and Jews around the world. You constantly talk about marginalized communities, so after you do your homework, you should recognize that the Jews are a marginalized community. We do not have white privilege and never did. Jews were forced to wear different clothing to identify themselves as Jews for centuries before the Nazis forced them to wear yellow stars.

You will learn that whenever the Jews were exiled from the Land of Israel, they always came back. Many of them stayed in hiding in the Land of Israel until they could live there freely. In my own research, I’ve learned about Jews around the world collecting money to help their brethren in the Holy Land way back in the 1600s. In the 1700s, organizations were established to support the poor living in the Jewish homeland. By the mid to late 19th century, Jews were returning to the Land of Israel to escape the pogroms of Russia and to escape the antisemitism they were facing around the world. Jews were not only discriminated against in Europe, but they were also discriminated against in Arab lands. Persecution of the Jews has been an ongoing crime against humanity for thousands of years.

Professors, I know you are against hate and discrimination, so use this time to gain some insight and in your quest for social justice, stand up against the hate promulgated against the Jews too.

Sincerely,
A Jewish Educator

About the Author
Stephanie Z. Bonder is a proud Jew and lifelong Zionist. Stephanie studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for her junior year abroad and is currently pursuing her masters in Jewish Education at the Hebrew University Melton School of Education. In her volunteer hours, she is on the National Board of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America where she currently serves as Chair of the Speakers Bureau and team member of the Education and Advocacy division. Stephanie teaches teens and adults on Jewish Peoplehood, Zionism and current events in Israel through her involvement with the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest and her synagogue, Congregation Agudath Israel. All of her blogs are her own personal opinions and do not represent the organizations with which she is affiliated.
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