IMAGE:  February 2003 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
Volume 95, Issue 3
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GRAPHIC:  Also in every issueLetters
"From encouraging terror to wasting pages"

Learned response?
Edward Lewis’s comparison (“Letters,” December/02) of anti-Semitism to anti-Catholic sentiments on nonsectarian campuses, and his “strong suggestion” that Jewish men and women learn to live with it is thoughtful, but alas, unhelpful.

He is quite correct in observing that anti-Catholicism is rampant among faculty and students at secular universities. As one who has spent his entire adult life on university campuses, beginning at Chicago in 1948, I can say with some authority that there is a powerful antipathy to all forms of religion on secular campuses.

But there is something unique about anti-Semitism. This is not a suggestion that the victimization of Jews is worse than the victimization of Catholics or any other minority. Rather, it is because anti-Semitism is a particularly virulent, often lethal form of hatred.

To be sure, the Catholics of Northern Ireland—and historically, some other parts of the world—have suffered from the same kind of hatred. But the Jewish people, having been threatened not so long ago with physical as well as spiritual extermination, cannot afford to live with it. Indeed, while Arab and Islamic states and their leaders practice the most blatant forms of religious discrimination, not to mention slavery and other forms of oppression, Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is singled out for divestment at university campuses because of its alleged “racism.”

Neither the Jewish people nor their friends should learn to live with it. On the contrary, they must fight anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry and irrational hatred with all the means they can muster.

Burton M. Leiser, AB’51
Briarcliff Manor, New York

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