Sunday, October 9, 2022

Response to The Wellesley News editorial supporting genocide against Jews in Eretz Yisrael

Following the publication of an editorial in The Wellesley News effectively supporting genocide against the indigenous people who have returned to their homeland, the Land of Israel, Fred Bauman wrote a thoughtful letter to Paula Johnson, president of Wellesley College.

His letter is reproduced here with the permission of the author.

Dear President Johnson:

The Wellesley News has published an editorial coming out foursquare against the "occupation of Palestine."  This is not even a euphemism for the destruction of Israel, the Jewish state, and the oft-boasted and promised slaughter of its Jewish people at the hands of the two organizations that rule the Palestinians, Hamas and the PA.  More than that, the editorial expresses support for the notorious "Mapping Project," which pinpoints every Jewish organization that has any ties to Israel and calls for them to be "dismantled and disrupted."

It should be obvious even to those who, like you, have a huge interest in not seeing the elephant in the room, that this is where "anti-Zionism" loses every trace of its "who us? We're not against Jews," mask.  Even you and your Trustees surely see  that "dismantling and disrupting" means intimidation, threats, bullying, and if those don't work, vandalism and further violence of the kind that is already too commonly directed against American synagogues, campus Hillels and other Jewish institutions and individual Jews.

Now, I am well aware that The Wellesley News is an independent organization and not under your control.  But that doesn't get you off the hook in the slightest.  That is because campus newspapers do not publish editorials of this kind unless they are quite sure that there is considerable campus support for them.  That editorial tells everyone that Wellesley has become a pretty reliably anti-Jewish campus with a student body that is just fine with calls for what would amount to a second genocide of the Jews.  That is something you are in part responsible for, if only because you have done nothing serious to oppose it.

Half a century ago or so, my good friend, the late Victor Baras, taught at Wellesley.  He was born in a DP (displaced persons in case you aren't familiar with the acronym) camp in Bamberg, Germany.  His parents had survived the Holocaust in Galicia, hidden in the potato cellar of a local farmer, and had headed west with the Red Army and, wisely, past it.  He was a specialist in 20th century European and especially Russian history and politics.  I recall that he used to tell me that he taught his Wellesley students, who at the time were of course horrified that anyone could have become a Nazi, that in fact, in that time and place they would have been enthusiastic Nazis as well.  Their privilege, their idealism, their sense that things were in a bad state, would have led them, he explained, to embrace causes that promised drastic, simple solutions and that focused on one or a few wicked enemies who merely had to be destroyed for all to be well.  And of course the archetype of such an enemy in Christian culture has been the Jew.  So if Vic had been told that in a half century Wellesley students would in fact have, though with a slightly altered rationale, become passionate, idealistic and utterly vicious Jew-haters, I don't think he would have been in the least surprised.

But I do think that, like me, he would have been saddened.  He too would have expected that people like you would have been in denial until it was almost or even wholly too late.  Who wants to reopen that can of worms?  Who wants to admit that the high-sounding rationales for Jew-hate, all the talk about "anti-colonialism" and the like, is dishonest and merely masks the same old murderous evil?  And who, above all, dares to be called "racist" or "neo-colonialist" for having the guts to call haters what they are?  Not you, no more than the respectable leaders of the German universities in the late 1920's and 1930's, who feared being called "socialists" or "Jewish catspaws."    He would even have understood, I believe, that many respectable Jews in high positions in American universities would also have been in denial.  The "Herr Wendriner"  syndrome (look it up if you are interested enough) that Kurt Tucholsky mercilessly savaged, is with us today, leading Jewish figures who are desperate not to be singled out and attacked and who hope that the new Jew-hate is just a passing phenomenon that will mercifully disappear or at least not affect them.

In any case, however slim the chance is that you and your administration and Trustees will ever go past vague and formulaic disavowals of "anti-Semitism." you need to do it.  Perhaps thinking of how contemptible you will look to those who come later, to those Wellesley students in another half century who will look back on you with horror and incomprehension, might help.  Look at yourselves in the mirror and ask yourself who you are, who you still want to be.  I have few hopes for you and those like you.  But you still have a chance not to fit the old, ugly, vile pattern of those who avert their eyes when the Nazis ride high.

Fred Bauman

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