Dear Benjamin Hollander—
Thank you for your attention to my letter, and for your reply. While I haven’t thought much of it before, I can imagine that statements my sentence reminds you of have been used to silence Jews from speaking out against Israeli policies. I imagine it may sound like the constant rightwing calls for Muslims to denounce terrorism, and I’m sure it must be exhausting. Though maybe not quite as exhausting as antisemitism infecting otherwise righteous movements to end oppression.
But I think those are statements my sentence reminds you of, not my sentence. I understand that language isn’t private property, and that my intent doesn’t matter as much as my effect once I’ve written or said something publicly. But for what it’s worth, I don’t mean to silence anyone. I didn’t mean that Jews and have to denounce, account for, or explain antisemitism in criticism of Israel. I meant that antisemitism can undermine the virtue of movements like BDS, so people who don’t want to see BDS undermined have a responsibility to say to supporters who make antisemitic remarks or commit antisemitic acts that such behavior is not welcome here. I’m not asking for paranoia or for silence; I’m asking for vigilance as we speak. The letter I wrote about China was about being vigilant about how what we say might convey prejudicial information, so we should work harder. I am sure the same is true with Israel and Palestine. It may be exhausting, but I expect that it will be worth it.
I hope that distinction makes sense, and that you can appreciate the difference.