web analytics
March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Israel, Academic Freedom And Free Speech


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.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Israel, Academic Freedom And Free Speech”

  1. The third goal of the BDS movement is the total destruction of Israel – which they consider to be an illegal entity. That is not an opinion – it is a war crime – advocating the ethnic cleansing of Jews is just that a war crime. Brooklyn College is a city funded public institute and they do have the right to have a say.

    It is the leftists that feel that nobody else has the right to speak.

  2. The third goal of the BDS movement is the total destruction of Israel – which they consider to be an illegal entity. That is not an opinion – it is a war crime – advocating the ethnic cleansing of Jews is just that a war crime. Brooklyn College is a city funded public institute and they do have the right to have a say.

    It is the leftists that feel that nobody else has the right to speak.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu to Release Frozen Palestinian Authority Tax Revenue
Latest Indepth Stories
Islamic Relief Worldwide Logo

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Gerstenfeld-032715

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

There is something quite distinctive about the biblical approach to time.

The Waqf kept control of the Temple Mount due to Dayan’s “magnanimity in victory” after 6 Day war

The event promotes “1 state” solution (end of Israel as a Jewish State), BDS, lawfare against Israel

I rescued you?! You’re doing me a favor letting me help you!

“Tzedakah tatzil mi-mavet: Charity saves from death”; No death & a tax break? Where do I sign up?

More Articles from Editorial Board

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

If nothing really changes in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, is Israel obligated to provide them and its other adversaries launching pads for attacks?

The United States placed enormous pressure on Israel to relinquish its gains, which Prime Minister Ben-Gurion did with great reluctance.

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

Gone are the days when an anchorman sitting in a New York studio could, after sharing 22 minutes of carefully selected and edited news items, trumpet in stentorian tones, “And that’s the way it is.” No it wasn’t. It never was.

President Obama has frequently cautioned that Americans should take great care to avoid fomenting anti-Muslim passions in our reaction to the murderous activities regularly being perpetrated by terrorists in the name of Islam. One wonders why, though, he seems to have no concern with the potential for anti-Semitic fallout from his full-court press against Israeli […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/israel-academic-freedom-and-free-speech/2013/02/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: