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To the Editors of The Crimson:
In light of recent great strides made on this campus in the area of race relations, we were shocked to find at our doorsteps a letter accusing us of being racists ourselves.
The United Nations, in voting overwhelmingly December 16 to repeal Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism, has finally come to understand that the insult to the Jewish people it represented undermined the United Nations' ability to play a constructive role in the world. It is too bad that some members of the Harvard community have not yet come to the same realization.
The letter defending the equation of Zionism and racism was not only misleading but insulting to us as Jews. Zionism is the term Jews use to describe the national part of our culture. It is not distinct from Judaism, but is part of it.
This is not to say that all Jews feel equally passionate about Israel or nationalism in general; as in any free society, we all have different feelings about the extent to which the national part of our ethnicity is important in our lives. Still, a yearning for Zion (a Biblical name for the land we now call Israel) permeates every level of Jewish worship and community.
Furthermore, those who object to Zionism as the philosophy of a Jewish homeland must also reject any form of nationalism and religion--including their own--as equally illegitimate.
Whoever makes Zionism uniquely repulsive to such people as a form of nationalism directed towards Jews makes Judaism equally repulsive as a community directed towards the same exclusive group. Such an attack on Judaism must be recognized for what it is.
To restate, not all Jews agree with all of Israel's policies. In fact, many Jews are unhappy with the current state of affairs in Israel. Still, troubling policies do not delegitimate an entire philosophy, as the letter would have us believe. Therefore, a point-by-point debate over Israeli policy is irrelevant. Let's stick to the issue at hand.
The U.N.'s ugly Zionism-equals-racism resolution and everyone who supports it denigrate an integral portion of the religion and culture of Jews. It is that simple. And saying that Zionism equals racism is saying that Judaism equals racism. Such a statement borders on blatant anti-semitism and offends us deeply as Jews.
Jews have felt oppression in many lands, including the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Arab lands. We are sensitive to the feelings of oppression felt by others, and are willing to discuss Israeli policies with whoever is interested. Nevertheless, Zionism is not a policy. It is a part of who we are, and as such, we must express our disappointment at being called racist by another campus group in this new atmosphere of racial understanding. The Coordinating Council of Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel Daniel J. Libenson '92, Chair Shai A. Held '94, Chair-elect
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