The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
An editorial in Tuesday’s New York Times provides an important perspective on how Israel is viewed by our country’s liberal elites.
According to the editorial, titled “Litmus Tests”:
One dispiriting lesson from Chuck Hagel’s nomination for defense secretary is the extent to which the political space for discussing Israel forthrightly is shrinking. Republicans focused on Israel more than anything during his confirmation hearing, but they weren’t seeking to understand his views. All they cared about was bullying him into a rigid position on Israel policy. Enforcing that kind of orthodoxy is not in either America’s or Israel’s interest.
Brooklyn College is facing a similar trial for scheduling an event on Thursday night with two speakers who support an international boycott to force Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories. While this page has criticized Israeli settlements, we do not advocate a boycott. We do, however, strongly defend the decision by the college’s president, Karen Gould, to proceed with the event, despite withering criticism by opponents and threats by at least 10 City Council members to cut financing for the college. Such intimidation chills debate and makes a mockery of the ideals of academic freedom….
The sad truth is that there is more honest discussion about American-Israeli policy in Israel than in this country. Too often in the United States, supporting Israel has come to mean meeting narrow ideological litmus tests. J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group that was formed as a counterpoint to conservative groups like the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, has argued for vibrant debate and said “criticism of Israeli policy does not threaten the health of the state of Israel.” In fact, it is essential.
Of course, contrary to what the Times would have its readers think, those of us who oppose the Hagel nomination are not at all interested in enforcing some kind of pro-Israel orthodoxy. Rather, we are concerned that both Mr. Hagel and his defenders on the Times editorial board apparently fail to recognize that Israel faces a stacked deck in the international arena – one fashioned by a virulently anti-Israel bloc of states and its supporters. And this stacked deck has come to dominate the work of virtually all international institutions.
Indeed, can anyone mistake the significance of the recent series of UN actions bending the rules as to the requirements for statehood when faced with applications from the Palestinian Authority? Or of the almost exclusive focus on Israel by UN human rights units despite the horrible carnage committed by other nations?
The Times is also wrong in its fundamental premise concerning the Brooklyn College controversy. Critics of the event have expressed concern that the political science department is a co-sponsor. But there is no “litmus test” we seek – only acknowledgment that academic freedom does not entail conferring an official imprimatur on the boycott Israel crowd.
And for the Times to bemoan, in this context, “intimidation” that “chills debate” is beyond parody. For years now Jewish and other pro-Israel speakers have been routinely shouted down at debates on campuses across the country. That kind of real intimidation sparks virtually no concern in “progressive” circles, but critical reaction to an officially sanctioned one-sided pro-Palestinian presentation at a publicly funded institution has the Times implying that nothing less than the very survival of academic freedom and free speech is at stake.
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We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.
More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.
For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/israel-academic-freedom-and-free-speech/2013/02/06/
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