The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Op-Ed | Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism

Since Oct. 7, over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s destructive bombardment of Gaza. Over 40% of those killed have been children, and more children have been killed in Palestine this month than in global armed conflict since 2019. These bombings indiscriminately hit civilians and civilian infrastructure, hiding behind vague claims of Hamas using “human shields.” Rhetoric coming from Israeli politicians is explicitly genocidal. Biden has called into question the humanitarian toll, and the U.S. is preparing an expanded military aid package to Israel as we write. This is unconscionable!

We are members of the Pitt community as a graduate student, undergrad and instructor respectively. We are also long-standing members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community. Since moving to the area in 2006, we have been members of Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha congregation, and we lost friends on Oct. 27, 2018. We have experienced antisemitism at its basest level. 

The Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee has organized peaceful rallies, protests and educational events to call for a ceasefire, an end to U.S. support for Israel and an end to the Israeli occupation and siege of Gaza. Speakers at these events repeatedly decry antisemitism and call for an end to all forms of hatred. Why then do groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine get labeled by some as antisemitic? The University of Pittsburgh’s definition of antisemitism page links to the Anti-Defamation League page on antisemitism which includes anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism. This is a part of long-term Israeli strategy to conflate Jewish identity with Zionism and the state of Israel to silence critics of the state. 

Unfortunately, this strategy has largely proven successful. Laws have passed in many states punishing participation in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Recently, the Frick Pittsburgh postponed an exhibition on Islamic art due to concerns it could be harmful to members of the Jewish community. There is also a worrying trend of Pitt seemingly attempting to silence members of the community exercising their First Amendment rights. Trans Action Building and Fossil Free Pitt students were called in for student conduct violations for a peaceful protest.

We outright reject the conflation of Jewishness and Israel and the corollary equation of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Our freedom and safety as Jews are more tied up in ending oppressive and inhumane systems than it is an ethnostate predicated on the dispossession of the Palestinian people. The Torah does not give us a right to land stolen from people who have the keys to the houses they cannot return to. 

A state from river to sea free for all is what is safest, for Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims. We want all hostages to be free, including the Palestinians held in Israeli jails, as has been called for by Israeli families of the hostages. This includes 100-plus children. We want the release of Hamas hostages held in Gaza. This requires a ceasefire, so they can be safely moved and not buried under the rubble.

As called out in Pitt SJP’s letter to the chancellor, Pitt’s communication on the situation in Palestine has been decidedly absent in calling for justice for innocent Palestinian civilians. We hear incessantly about the violence and terror perpetrated by Hamas. What about the violence perpetrated by 75 years of occupation

Our ask is threefold. We call on Pitt to explicitly state that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. We call on Pitt to immediately stop intimidating student groups peacefully protesting. We call on Pitt to take a stand on the right side of history — for an immediate ceasefire and a free Palestine.