Campus Beat

Jewish leaders denounce Yale Women’s Center scheduled conference for ‘libelous portrayal of Israel’

The campus feminist group apparently has not mentioned the sexual violence committed by Hamas on Oct. 7

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The Yale University campus.

Jewish leaders at Yale University denounced an upcoming conference being hosted by Yale Women’s Center for its “exclusion of Jewish women’s voices and its libelous portrayal of Israel and Israelis.” The conference is dedicating its annual event on the New Haven, Conn., campus to the theme of “Pinkwashing and Feminism(s) in Palestine,” the group announced on Thursday. 

“To the extent the Center is organizing this event, it betrays its obligations to Yale’s Jewish and Israeli women in particular, and to its mission,” Uriel Cohen, executive director of the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, and the center’s rabbi, Jason Rubenstein, told Jewish Insider in a joint statement. 

The event is slated for April 5-7 and is co-sponsored by Yale Faculty for Justice in Palestine. It is also sponsored by academic departments — American studies and gender studies — and the Center for Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration. It will feature a number of discussions that, based on their titles, accuse Israel of committing war crimes in its current conflict against Hamas. These include “Gendered, Racialized, and Sexualized Torture by the Israeli Military in Gaza” and “Pinkwashing Genocide.” 

The keynote address will be delivered by Sa’ed Atshan, an associate professor of peace and conflict studies and anthropology at Swarthmore College, who has participated in multiple National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) conferences and is a proponent of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. He said in 2014 at SJP’s conference, “We all know Israel is an apartheid state and should be boycotted.” 

Kira Berman, president of Yale Friends of Israel, told JI that Yale Women’s Center has not released any statement regarding the sexual violence committed by Hamas on Oct. 7, despite her prodding — and even in light of a U.N. report, released this week, which found “clear and convincing” evidence of Hamas’ sexual violence in Israel. 

Berman, a junior, has reached out to the feminist group twice — “first by email, and then by Instagram direct message. And they didn’t respond,” she said. The Yale Women’s Center is “an undergraduate-run umbrella organization for groups on Yale’s campus and beyond that deal with issues of gender and sexuality,” according to the conference website. 

Cohen and Rubenstein said they “are profoundly concerned by the conference’s exclusion of Jewish women’s voices and its libelous portrayal of Israel and Israelis.” 

They continued, “We believe that the Yale Women’s Center should stand with Jewish women, not join the many women’s rights organizations that have excluded Israeli women, and the violence against them, from the circle of solidarity since Oct. 7… The protection of free speech, even ugly and hateful speech, does not give Yale’s organizations or departments license to support a one-sided approach that demonizes Israelis and erases Israeli women.” 

A spokesperson for Yale University did not respond to JI’s request for comment about the conference.

In December, Yale Women’s Center co-sponsored an on-campus event featuring Palestinian journalist Ameera Harouda, called “Motherhood, Journalism, and the Gaza Genocide.” 

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