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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 22, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Student responds to Ithacan editorial

As a Jewish-American at Ithaca College, despite having no direct involvement with any political or cultural Jewish groups on campus, I was greatly frustrated and upset to read The Ithacan editorial “IC Loves Israel Day’s title distorts mission.”

Firstly, let’s address the title of the op-ed. Who do non-Jewish people think they are to tell us whether our titles and cultural celebrations distort our mission?

The decision of the editorial board to comment on this was condescending and invasive. The board co-opted what the organizers intended to be a cultural celebration and turned it into a situation of forcing Jewish spaces to take a political stance.

As I discussed in a commentary I wrote for The Ithacan last semester, this first instinct of non-Jewish people to have to know our politics on Israel is extremely problematic and creates an imposed binary of “good” and “bad” Jews. It is not our job to cater to the needs and discomforts of non-Jewish people when celebrating our own culture. It goes beyond condescension and becomes a policing which further alienates many Jews at IC from the greater college community. We should be able to do this on our own terms.

Within our community, we have a popular phrase: “two Jews, three opinions.” At the core of Jewish culture is questioning and challenging the status quo. Outsiders cannot just pick apart and reduce us to the titles of our events and then assume and generalize our politics. Nor is it their place to tell us what our titles and missions should be. Full stop.

Falyn Stempler can be reached at fstempler@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @falstempler