Tue. May 28th, 2024

Yale Makes a Sketchy Move: Letting Anti-Semitic Spin Slide, Embracing Pro-Hamas Vibes!

Jamie Roberts By Jamie Roberts May14,2024

The Yale conference on “Pinkwashing and Feminism in Palestine” was canceled — or so Yale had us believe.

The conference was canceled after its sponsor — the Yale Women’s Center, housed and funded by Yale — received unrelated discrimination complaints. How convenient, given mounting media attention.

After I co-authored a piece in these pages about the conference, Yale officials informed The Hill’s editors that the conference had been canceled, to ensure the university would escape the limelight. But the student organizers announced soon thereafter that the conference would proceed anyway, only without the Women’s Center as its sponsor. 

The organizers and conference speakers claimed that Palestinian voices had been suppressed, then proceeded to peddle Hamas propaganda to dozens of students for hours. Even though Yale academic departments and faculty sponsored the conference, the university sidestepped responsibility by removing the Women’s Center from the equation.

Retail stores might start asking Yale administrators for advice on window dressing. 

On Saturday, I walked into a room of about 50 students, a third of them donning keffiyehs around their necks. A student walked up to the stage and thanked the following Yale organizations and academic departments for cosponsoring the conference: the Department of American Studies; the Department of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration; the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Yalies4Palestine; Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration; and Faculty for Palestine. 

The student also thanked Professor Zareena Grewal, who had previously justified the killing of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7, among other professors, for her support of the conference. She announced, “Events like this, which feature criminalized and marginalized viewpoints, are often subject to protest.” But of course, the event proceeded without interruption.

Sarah Ihmoud, an anthropology professor at Holy Cross, mentioned the “cancellation” when she stepped up to the microphone. “We will not be intimidated by Zionists on campus,” she said, denouncing the alleged “ongoing genocide in Gaza” and “terrorization and extrajudicial killings by Israeli forces.” Ihmoud also claimed that “Israeli settlers are blocking trucks with humanitarian supplies.” Given that there are no settlers in Gaza, is she implying that all Israelis are settlers?

Ihmoud repeatedly castigated America and the West, blaming “hegemonic Western feminisms” for making “indigenous Palestinians invisible.” Settler colonialism is found, she said, “from the Americas to occupied Palestine.” The situation, she continued, is an “indictment of the global political economy, which consigns and enables Palestinian mass death.”

Who does Ihmoud believe is in control of the global political economy?

Sa’ed Atshan, an anthropology professor at Swarthmore College, spoke next about his love for the “drag scene in Palestine.” Atshan blamed the West for downplaying “homophobia in Israel” and “queer experience in Palestine.” He said, “Our voices are constantly being policed as queer Palestinians.” He concluded his lecture by tokenizing Jews at pro-Palestinian rallies, “Lots of love for the queers, lots of love for the Jewish allies.”

It is hard even to know what to make of these comments, given the violent and appalling treatment of gay Palestinians by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Isis Nusair, a professor of women’s studies and international studies at Denison University, showed videos of Gazans being detained and harassed, all from two sources on Instagram: Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and Middle East Eye. The board chairs of Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor appear on an Israeli list of Hamas’s “main operatives and institutions in Europe.” Middle East Eye is backed by Qatar and linked to Al Jazeera.

Nusair compared the “backward” portrayal of Palestinians to widespread portrayals of Muslims after 9/11. Her lack of respect or concern for victims of radical terrorism was flippant. She attributed Israel’s increasing militarization to its religiosity — a subtle way of blaming Jews for a war launched by Hamas. The final video she shared was of a digger moving dead bodies and an Israeli singing in the background. Nusair looked around, “does anyone here speak Hebrew?” The crowd was silent.

After a long and loud applause for all three speakers, the session moved to audience questions. One student asked, “Why is there a need for Israeli Occupation Forces not just to engage in sexual violence generally, but particularly in this moment?” Nusair replied, “Whether you agree or disagree with what Hamas did, they broke through the wall. Israel is in overdrive to compensate for the failure of October 7.”

Atshan added, “A hundred October sevenths have happened since October 7, but to the Palestinians.”

Nusair said she disagreed with Atshan: “October 7 is very complicated.” 

A student staffer from the Yale Women’s Center asked, “You showed how important it is to uplift Palestinian voices specifically. How do we deal with higher powers and suppression?” Ihmoud replied, “What happened at the women’s center is happening everywhere. It’s part of Zionist repression that is everywhere in this country.” 

Ihmoud answered another question about the politics of demographics by saying, “Israel continues to be a site of exporting settler colonial violence.” Very insightful. At least Atshan actually answered the question: “From the river to the sea, Palestinians will be the demographic majority.”

Multiple Yale academic departments and faculty sponsored this conference. America’s future leaders nodded their heads to the speakers’ words without hesitation. “Elite” university students are making 2024 look more like 1984.

Yale never cared to remove the conference from its halls. It simply wanted to ensure that its name would not be associated with these academics or activists who demonize the Jewish state and promote hate on campus. The guest speakers’ claims reeked of antisemitism throughout.

Yale tried to get away from it, but Handsome Dan’s paw prints are all over it.

Gabriel Diamond is a senior at Yale University studying political science and a research assistant at Yorktown Institute.

Jamie Roberts

By Jamie Roberts

Jamie is an award-winning investigative journalist with a focus on uncovering corruption and advocating for social justice. With over a decade of experience in the field, Jamie's work has been instrumental in bringing about positive change in various communities.

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2 thoughts on “Yale Makes a Sketchy Move: Letting Anti-Semitic Spin Slide, Embracing Pro-Hamas Vibes!”
  1. Yale’s decision to allow the conference to proceed without the Women’s Center’s sponsorship shows a troubling indifference towards promoting anti-Semitic and pro-Hamas sentiments on campus. It’s disappointing to see academic departments and faculty supporting such propaganda rather than fostering genuine dialogue and understanding.

  2. It’s truly concerning to see Yale turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic rhetoric and allowing pro-Hamas sentiments to flourish on campus. The university’s decision to distance itself from the canceled conference only highlights the lack of accountability in addressing such harmful ideologies. This situation reflects poorly on Yale’s integrity and commitment to promoting a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

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