Anonymous Confessions Distort History and Hurt Jewish Students

Photo by Benny Rotlevy on Unsplash

As a Jewish student at York, I was both frustrated and upset to come across a recent post on the York University Fessions Instagram (@yu.fessions) account. This post, which boasted hundreds of likes and included three different confessions, is not only deeply antisemitic and offensive, but it could not be further away from the truth.

Photo Credit: Yair Shpiler

The first confession stated that the York Federation of Students (YFS) was right to not let Israeli students participate in CultureFest because Israel has no culture and “is a country built on the genocide of Palestinian families”. This statement is both factually incorrect and deeply offensive. Israel is a legitimate, democratic country that was founded in 1948 on the back of a rich 3000-year-long connection to the land of Israel, dating back to biblical times. This connection is not only religious and cultural, but also historical.

Claims that Israel “has no culture” are simply false. Israel’s culture is deeply rooted in the Jewish religion and its diverse population has contributed to its dynamic, creative, and diverse culture with contributions in areas such as art, literature, music and cuisine.

The claim that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian people is an ugly distortion of reality. Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. The reality is millions of Arab citizens live peacefully and freely in Israel, with equal rights and opportunities under the law. Arab citizens hold positions of power in government, business, and academia and they are represented in the Israeli parliament and judicial system. Israeli hospitals treat Palestinian patients alongside Israeli patients, Israeli universities admit Palestinian students alongside Israeli students, and all citizens enjoy full opportunity to participate in Israel’s vibrant economy. 

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is complex and reducing it to a simplistic narrative of genocide is not only inaccurate but also dangerous. It is important to recognize that Israel is not committing and has never committed genocide. Both sides have suffered in this conflict. This February alone, 13 Jews, as young as six years-old were murdered by Palestinian terrorists solely for the fact that they are Jewish. Most people on both sides desire a peaceful resolution that recognizes the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, and to end the non-stop suffering from terrorism that Israeli people have endured — Jewish and non-Jewish, alike.

Photo Credit: Yair Shpiler

Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, as the second confession post does, is not only absurd, but also deeply offensive to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Such comparisons trivialize the atrocities committed by the Nazis and demonstrate a profound ignorance of history.

Photo Credit: Yair Shpiler

The third confession is the face of today’s antisemitism. It is a cheap coverup of the same old, vile forms of antisemitism Jews have suffered from for thousands of years. While you could technically be pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel without physically hurting Jews, the notion that taking an anti-Israel position is not only detrimental to Jewish people, but is also utterly foolish from all viewpoints. It is important to note that there is a line between criticism of Israel and antisemitism. Denying the legitimacy of millions of Jews living in their ancestral homeland and denying their right to self-determination is antisemitic. This is not a matter of political opinion, but a basic human right that is afforded to all people, even to those without a rich history and ties to a land like the Jewish nation.

What is particularly concerning about these confessions is not just that they are offensive and frightening to Jewish students, but also that they contribute to the spread of antisemitism in our society. Antisemitism is a type of hatred that not only harms Jewish people but one that perpetuates fundamental flaws in society and negatively affects everyone.

We have seen time and time again throughout history the horrific consequences of allowing antisemitism to take hold. 

It is crucial that we, the York student community, come together to fight against antisemitism in all its forms. This means standing up against hate speech and discrimination, and fostering an environment of inclusivity and respect for all students, regardless of their background or beliefs. For future events held by the YFS, we must demand from the federation to be truly inclusive and allow for the fair representation of all students, including those of Israeli descent. We must all work together to create a campus community that is inclusive, respectful, and free from hate speech and discrimination.

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By Yair Shpiler


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It is suprising that this op-ed got published particularly when it seems to be just responding to a random instagram account but also blatent misconceptions, but for the sake of education and rebuttal I will try and respond to some of your points

Do Palestinians in Israel have equal rights with Jews? I will quote Amnesty International “The discrimination, the dispossession, the repression of dissent, the killings and injuries – all are part of a system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians. This is Apartheid”( They quite bluntly called it Apartheid.

Another leading rights organization Human Rights Watch concurred “Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”( Wheter it be in voting rights, protection of their language, use of land, services Palestinians are continually treated as second class citizens by the governement. They are continually denigrated, mass incarcareted, denied freedom of movement (Particuarly in the illegally occupied West Bank where their are settlements and Israeli only roads). This is something confirmed by UN Special Repportuer Michael Lynk who is also a Professor of Law at Western University.

The killing of any innocent deserves to be condemed regardless of their race, religion, nationality or any other characteristic. The narrative of both sides suffering however is utterly wrong, to equate the opressor with the opressed is categorically wrong. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has its own tracking data for those killed in the Occupied Terriotries and Israel due to conflict from January 2008 until May 10, 2023. Their data says their has been 6,327 Palestinian Fatalities including 2,043 Woman ,Girls and Boys. By comparison they record 408 Isreali Fatalities of which 254 were civilians including 90 settlers in ilegally occupied terrioties. To put those raw figures in perspective thats 15.5x more Palestinian fatalties. In regards to injuries they have been 148,367 Palestinian Injuries and 6,930 Israeli injuries. That means that 21.4 Palestinians have been injured to 1 Israeli. These are numbers gathered OCHA field staff, so no making an appeal to both side suffering is misleading.

Has Israel committed a genocide? Genocide has a technical defintion which one may debate with, but their can be not doubt that Israel has commited an ethnic cleansing in Palestine with the Nakba, which featured the killing and forced displacement of Palestinians, the razing of entire Palestinian villages and the creation of the world’s longest ever refugee crisis. This is affirmed by Ilan Pappe’s research in “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”, and in “Ten Myths About Israel” and recognized by Dr Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky.

Israel as a state is a settler colonial state, in the case of the majority of the “Jewish” populace they are either settlers and the descendents of settlers, typically second or third generation who have mainly arrived from Europe, or other middle eatern countries. Talking about self determination without acknowledging that Palestianian’s are being denied their own right to form a state, or their refugees right to return to where they’re from is hypocrisy. Especialy when the right to self determination was a right used in reference to the process of decolonization.

Ancestral homeland? Debatable for some given Shlomo Sand’s own critique as well as the thesis of the Thirteenth Tribe about the Khazars, but even assuming one could trace their lineage all the way back to the explusion, this type of reasoning is asinine and special pleading. The Anglo-Saxon’s settled in Britian more recently than that and are originally Germanic, that doesn’t however mean that they have the right to live in Germany today or displace those living there. Similarly many quebcois are direct descendents of settlers from Northern France that doesn’t however mean they have a special legal dispensation to go back there. Many groups have moved around in history.

No one should be discriminated against or be harassed or abused. I’ve offered quotations, references to academics and human rights organizations, as well as statistics to show that the picure you paint regarding Israel in this article is false. The Palestinians are and have continually been suffering since the British mandate, and it is important to raise awareness and advocate for them.