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Gaza benefit at Yale was moved off-campus due to backlash against priest’s letter to NYT

on 19 Comments

Last week we hopped on the fine letter from Yale Episcopal chaplain Bruce Shipman to the New York Times that offered the plain statement that Israeli’s carnage in Gaza and its unending occupation are part of the reason that anti-Semitism is growing in Europe. The letter sparked angry denunciations from the usual crowd; and Yale sought to distance itself in a statement that it sent to the Washington Post.

Rev. Shipman is called to serve the Episcopal campus community at Yale, but is not employed by Yale or the Yale Chaplain’s Office.”

Well last night the Episcopal Church at Yale along with the Tree of Life Educational Fund helped to host a benefit concert for the Ahli Hospital in Gaza. The concert was originally scheduled to be held at Dwight Memorial Chapel on Yale’s campus. The venue was switched to a Lutheran church a block or so from the Divinity School in the last few days (as commenters on our site noted). I asked Shipman about the move and notioned that Yale might have asked for it. He said No–

The decision to not hold the concert on campus was made by the board of the Episcopal Church at Yale and me.  In the current political climate resulting from backlash to my letter, we agreed on this decision.  The university had nothing to do with this decision, and as far as I know the chapel is still booked in our name.  The move to Bethesda Lutheran makes good sense, and the wife of the Bethesda pastor serves as the Lutheran chaplain at Yale.  ECY and Luther House share many activities.
I hope that Shipman et al raised a lot of money last night. The concert series will be moving on to Massachusetts, New York City, and Hartford.
Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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19 Responses

  1. just on September 2, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Bravo to Reverend Shipman, ECY, Bethesda Lutheran Church and to all of the folks who helped to make this move forward and upward!

    Thanks Phil.

  2. amigo on September 2, 2014, 4:41 pm

    Collecting money for the Gazans might upset the sensitivities of those who supported the slaughter.

    The signs depicting destroyed homes might not sit comfortably in the eyes of those who supported this wholesale destruction .

    Move them away–we can,t handle the truth.Make them go away, they infringe on my study time.They make me uneasy.

  3. HarryLaw on September 2, 2014, 5:52 pm

    Chaplain Shipman should feel relieved Hamas have joined a coalition with Abbas or he could have been charged under the material support to terrorism statute. The law’s language is so vague that it gives prosecutors the authority to argue that humanitarian aid to designated terrorist organizations could be indirect, and therefore, a crime. The Holy land Foundation was charged with conspiring to give Material Support in the form of humanitarian aid to Palestinian distribution centers called zakat committees. Prosecutors admit the zakat committees on the indictment were not designated terrorist groups, but according to the indictment released in 2004, these zakat committees are “controlled by” or act “on behalf of” Hamas, which was designated in 1995. Their theory is that by providing charity to zakat committees, the HLF helped Hamas win the “hearts and minds” of the Palestinian people.

    • lysias on September 2, 2014, 6:49 pm

      If the Justice Department were to prosecute the Episcopal chaplain of Yale University for providing material support to terrorism, the support that exists for that particular statute would quickly evaporate. Of course the Justice Department knows that, and will not prosecute.

      • ritzl on September 2, 2014, 6:58 pm

        Exactly, lysias. If he was Dr. Abu Shipmaan of the First Palestine Orthodox Church of Nashville, he’d be looking an lengthy jail time, assured by a Presidential decree precluding his Constitutional right to confront his accusers.

      • W.Jones on September 3, 2014, 8:57 pm

        I think if it was Christian it would still be OK, Ritzl. The general sense in the status quo is that Hamas is a Muslim terrorist group fighting Israel, and by extension Christendom, because it wants an Islamic theocracy. Prosecuting a Christian for helping a charity there would not really make sense within the general justification given.

        Nonetheless, I would not really exclude that they would do this either. The Holy Land prosecution show trial was probably influenced by the fact that the defendants were Muslim.

      • ritzl on September 3, 2014, 11:04 pm

        Yeah, maybe WJ. Perhaps I was too hasty, but the underlying fundamentals seem to be power and complete secret prosecutorial discretion in service to that power. Is Christianity enough of an offset to the wrong ethnicity expressing a powerless “backwater” morality to head off a prosecution? I don’t know, but my suspicion is that it isn’t.

        Having said that, I hope that there is some [real] red line on this bullying out there. If it’s Christian commonality (not the right word), great.

  4. HarryLaw on September 2, 2014, 6:18 pm

    On reflection my opinion could be called a little over the top, although the Ahli Hospital used to work closely with the PA Ministry of Health, and presumably the same with the Hamas Government. Having said that he looks like a terrorist in that picture above, don’t you agree? I’m sure John McCain does.

  5. ritzl on September 2, 2014, 7:11 pm

    Dr. Shipman had to focus on the objective of raising money and did what it took to do so in this discrete context, but this is a loss in every other regard.

    By caving to the pressure he reinforced its potency and guaranteed that no other fundraising effort for Gaza will take place at Yale. Maybe he had no choice in this specific, but a cascade of these notionally “no other option” defaults/choices means that ultimately there will actually NOT be any choices.

    It’s like trying to maximize your MPG by watching the little instantaneous MPG meter in your car. Eventually you come to a dead stop. Always. That results in infinite MPG, but really defeats the larger objective.

    I don’t know. Somebody is always going to be made uncomfortable by these choices, but I’m tired of it almost always being me.

    • MHughes976 on September 3, 2014, 1:48 pm

      If we have come to the point where a church, which might be expected to discriminate in favour of those orthodox opinions whose proclamation is its purpose, is more open to a certain point of view than a university, which is surely supposed, as part of its essence, character and purpose in life, to be open to all opinions – at very least those protected by the law of the land – things have come to a dire state. I quite agree with ritzl that this is a shocking defeat. I also expect that the superior officers of the Episcopal Church fell into a panic, which is what their counterparts in the CofE would very likely do.

  6. bilal a on September 3, 2014, 3:26 am

    I believe the Priest requires Police protection

    ‘I want to cut your throat’: Galloway beaten by pro-Israeli fanatic for Gaza views

    • MHughes976 on September 3, 2014, 1:39 pm

      I hope that many of us in the UK will feel outraged at the lack of sympathy expressed almost anywhere in the parliamentary system for Galloway, even if we don’t share his views or like his style. If a Jewish MP had been assaulted so seriously by someone shouting about deaths in Gaza we know what the reaction would have been.

  7. Pixel on September 3, 2014, 9:47 pm

    Thanks for reaching out to him, Phil!

  8. John Fearey on September 3, 2014, 10:20 pm

    Would the Rev. William Sloane Coffin have moved the event off campus?
    Like Phil, I hope they raised a lot of money.

    • Mooser on September 4, 2014, 6:22 pm

      Maybe, seriously, they needed a larger venue? I hope so.

  9. gracie fr on September 6, 2014, 9:59 am

    Monday’s Gaza benefit concert and vigil featuring violinist Michael Dabrowski went on at Bethesda Lutheran in New Haven last Monday, despite Yale’s cancellation in response to Bruce Shipman’s letter to the New York Times linking anti-semitism to Israeli policy.

    Since the vigil, Bruce was pushed to resign his position as a Yale Chaplin by the Executive Council of the Board of Directors.

    • just on September 6, 2014, 1:41 pm

      Oh boy. This is gonna blow up in their faces!!!

      Stink, stank, stunk.

    • annie on September 6, 2014, 1:44 pm

      he’s resigning? omg, along w/rabbi rosen … what radical news.

      • just on September 6, 2014, 5:01 pm

        It’s certainly appears that good persons of all stripes who advocate for Palestinian justice are facing an ugly force.

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