Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Bruce Shipman Resigns from Yale After Claims of Ant-Semitism

The Rev. Bruce Shipman has resigned:
Rev. Bruce Shipman resigned from his post as priest-in-charge of the Episcopal Church at Yale on Thursday — two weeks after his remarks in a New York Times letter garnered national media attention for their alleged anti-Semitism. In an Aug. 21 letter responding to Emory professor Deborah Lipstadt’s Aug. 20 New York Times essay titled “Why Jews Are Worried,” Shipman put forth his idea that Israel’s actions in Gaza contributed to growing anti-Semitism in Europe. He added that stalled peace negotiations and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank were also factors. As a result of the piece, Shipman faced a wave of criticism from those who accused him of making anti-Semitic statements. In an email to the News, Shipman said he resigned because he could not garner sufficient support from his board to survive the adverse publicity.
Here is the letter. It's short enough to post:
To the Editor: Deborah E. Lipstadt makes far too little of the relationship between Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza and growing anti-Semitism in Europe and beyond. The trend to which she alludes parallels the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank. As hope for a two-state solution fades and Palestinian casualties continue to mount, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question. (Rev.) BRUCE M. SHIPMAN Groton, Conn., Aug. 21, 2014
Those three sentences resulted to angry responses like this one from Joshua Isackson:
...Though he likely desires a peaceful end to the conflict, Rev. Shipman insinuates that the Israelis are conducting genocide against Palestinians by using these terms. Such a statement is indefensible. Israel is protecting its borders and its citizens from rocket attacks and tunnel penetrations. No nation would permit such a threat to its citizens and national security from a radical terrorist group... ...I,like many other Jews and students on campus, am astonished and appalled that Rev. Shipman would say such untrue, hateful words about Jews and Israel. I am deeply ashamed, however, that the “Yale” name appears next to his at the bottom of that letter. Yale must be a place for honest intellectual debate. Yale University and the Yale community stand to lose when leaders on its campus — whether or not they are directly employed by the University — spew hateful, anti-Semitic speech.
I am not anti-Semitic...but I am growing more and more anti-Israel. No, I have no defense for Hamas shooting rockets into Israel. But, look at the stats; 132 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 2,045 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000...1,184 Israelis and at least 9,075 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000...10,849 Israelis and 69,602 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000. Doesn't it seem that Israel is being quite heavy handed? Doesn't that cause you to ask yourself some questions about what Israel is doing?

 If you don't see where I'm headed, I'll let musician Brian Eno say it more bluntly:
What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But – for Christ’s sake! – it’s not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don’t get it. I really hate to think it’s just the power of Aipac [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee]… for if that’s the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don’t think that’s the reason… but I have no idea what it could be.
The America I know and like is compassionate, broad-minded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can’t work it out: I know you’re not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren’t heard or registered? How come it isn’t your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word “America”? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn’t and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?
Here is just one example of what is going on in Gaza. Here is one more. Do keep in mind that stat page I offered above. Note that during Fiscal Year 2014, the U.S. is providing Israel with at least $8.5 million per day in military aid and $0 in military aid to the Palestinians. That explains why Amnesty International is calling on the US to stop supplying arms to Israel:
...“The US government is adding fuel to the fire by continuing its supply of the type of arms being used by Israel’s armed forces to violate human rights. The US government must accept that by repeatedly shipping and paying for such arms on this scale they are exacerbating and further enabling grave abuses to be committed against civilians during the conflict in Gaza,” said Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International...
I find it very unfortunate that the Rev. Bruce Shipman felt compelled to resign. Yes, Hamas must be held accountable for their violence, and I clearly renounce it. But, as a US citizen, the state-sponsored terrorism of Israel has certainly caused me to decide it is time the US stopped providing the arms used in this slaughter. J.


  1. Bear in mind that the Egyptians, who share a border with #Gaza, were able to close the tunnels in their direction without the loss of a single life. And also we must remember that what are called "terror tunnels" are also the only way for supplies, food, medicine, etc to get into Gaza. Gaza is blockaded: nothing can get in; nothing can get out. People can't get in, can't get out. That's why they call it an "open air prison." That is literally the case here.

    The American revolutionaries were probably seen as "insurgents" and "terrorists" to the British crown. The French Resistance was probably seen the same way by the Third Reich.

    We call those who resisted evil, tyrannical regimes patriots and heroes now.

    Long live the Resistance. Long live Palestine!

  2. Thanks for this post Fr. Jake,
    (sounds like someone who is very close to you.I mean the post..not Bruce Shipman)I am sorry about Bruce Shipman...it appears that his views were presented in an educational,rational manner...this is America and people should listen to both sides of everything so that they can make informed decisions and think for themselves...just because they are Israel it doesn't make them right.

  3. Hi Jake. Good to see you posting again.

    I agree that the US should stop arming Israel. It's shameful that the board did not support Bruce Shipman in his exercise of free speech.

    To the Israeli leadership and their supporters in Israel and in the US: It's not who you are; it's what you do.

  4. I think I see this a little more nuanced than the rest of y'all.

    Not re Israel---I'm on record that Israel needs to SWALLOW the (comparitively) few deaths from Palestinians if there's EVER to be peace---but re what Shipman said.

    "the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu": but if they don't, that justifies violence against "those w/ Jewish blood", or those who worship {YHWH} in a synogogue? See what I'm saying?

    There just isn't a justification for Anti-Semitism, per se (whereas, being against---for example---those Christianists who support Israel-Uber-Alles, there IS a case!)

    It's about POLICY (the policy of brutal war), not Jewish ethnicity or faith. Not making that distinction is what got Shipman in trouble.

  5. Anti-Semitism means hatred of the Jewish people. Over the course of a lifetime, I've encountered quite a few Jewish people, gotten to know several as friends, and cannot recall a single one whom I've disliked. However, I've long found Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to be shockingly cruel and barbaric. Does that make me "anti-Semitic?" It shouldn't, not if the phrase is to have any meaning at all.

    It appears to me that both Joshua Isackson and (alas) JCF put words in Rev. Shipman's mouth and then argue against those words, making classic straw man arguments. Mr. Isackson reads implications into Rev. Shipman's statements without first asking Rev. Shipman if those implications were in fact his intention. Instead, Isackson judges, tries, and convicts the campus chaplain of hatefulness, lying, and anti-Semitism. JCF, a normally logical person, accuses Rev. Shipman of condoning anti-Semitic violence against Jews if his suggestions aren't followed by Netanyahu.

    I believe these conceptual/linguistic conundrums reflect the grotesque, horrendous shadow of the Holocaust -- and of the centuries of anti-Semitic abuse that preceded it. Anti-Semitism is mass insanity, the collective persecution of the scapegoat that, if indulged, leads to unspeakable evil. It frightens us on levels we don't fully understand, and it has traumatized many among the Jewish people to the point that they now see its shadow even where it doesn't exist, making criticisms of Israeli behavior nearly impossible. Mr. Isackson's hasty accusations were apparently enough to send Rev. Shipman's Yale board into a cowering position where none could muster the nerve to defend him. Victims abound -- the Jews, the Palestinians, and brave souls like Rev. Shipman who dare to enter into the fray.

    The perceived rise of anti-Semitism may have broader origins beyond the Israel/Palestinian situation; i.e., the rise of mass bullying around the world as old hierarchical power structures dissolve and new, more egalitarian ones have yet to take shape. Looks like it's going to be a rough ride.

  6. The biggest problem is the conflation of Judaism with Zionism. Bruce Robbins has an excellent documentary that details the journeys of several Jewish people who were able to make the distinction between the two. Several of them detail just how long and arduous a mental journey it was.


  7. It seems clear to me, that the import of Shipman's words relayed concern that no violence be done to Jews -- or anyone else -- and that, since violence does breed violence, the safety and security of Jews everywhere is imperiled by the apparently never-ending and unjust, extreme violence perpetrated by Israel.

    And this idea didn't come out of a vacuum. In the midst of this latest war in Gaza, a report came through on social media of a Belgian doctor who allegedly told a Jewish woman in her 90s to "go to Gaza" rather than treating her. That seems to me the sort of thing Rev. Shipman was referring to as a not terribly remote possibility.

    The plain meaning and clear intent of his words was twisted and mangled, and a grave injustice was done to him and his career---and from an institution that is at the very top tier of our academic culture. Yale should be ASHAMED of itself and reinstate Shipman immediately, with an apology for their curtailment of his freedom of speech The same thing happened to Steven Salaita for a similar reason: you can talk about and support nearly anything in the USA, but you cannot criticize Israel.

    This makes no sense, particularly when at this time in history, there is so very much that needs to be criticized about Israel.

    Social media has been the game changer. What just happened in Gaza was a bloodbath, and there was nothing about the "kill ratio" that was "self defense." That is the worst kind of Orwellian doublespeak -- if you look at the NUMBERS and the actual destruction of Gazan infrastructure! Piles of rubble is about all that's left in a lot of places, and we don't know this because the usual media outlets showed us -- they didn't. We know this because ordinary people who are there have taken photos and written descriptions and posted them online.

    I have seen more photos of dead children than most EMTs at this stage.

    See what Mads Gilbert, a Norweigan doctor, has to say about Gaza. He spent some time there, helping out in the hospital.





    I have been collecting and reposting a great many links to articles, photos, and videos about what Israel has done in Gaza this summer.

    To call this 'self defense' to which Israel "has the right to do" is the biggest lie imaginable.

    This was NOT self-defense. It was genocide.

  8. I find this interesting. I'm 82 years old—and, consequently, I remember well that day at the end of 1947 when the UN approved the partition that in 1948 brought the state of Israel into being. It was a triumph for all justice-seekers! And then tiny Israel—the only democracy in the Middle East, had to turn and fight against the attacks of ALL of her neighboring states who had resolved to destroy the tiny new democracy. It was thrilling to watch the David-Goliath confrontations and to see justice triumph.

    So, having been through that, it is very hard for me today to see that once-noble little nation imitating some of the worst human rights offenses of others against herself. I absolutely love the Jews—all Jews. I consider them my intimate brothers and sisters—I read Hebrew; I follow Haaretz; I care massively for Israel's safety; I despise Hamas; but I feel personally betrayed when I see (a) the overkill of Israel's retribution against Gaza, and (b) the continuing expansion of settlements in potential-Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

    And NONE of my offense at these things is in the slightest anti-Semetic! Indeed, my natural inclination has always been to justify Israel's actions, but lately that justification gets harder and harder to maintain.

    I don't know the way out, but currently Israel's treatment of Gaza is every day losing friends and well-wishers, and turning free people against Israel. But what do you do as a nation when your enemies declare a commitment to destroy you completely? I am not wise enough to know what would work but I do know that Israel's present practices do NOT work and alienate more and more of the world.

    And I am sorry that Fr Shipman's thoughts were seen as anti-Semetic. I think they were so only in the eye of the beholder.

    Fr. John-Julian, OJN

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