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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Open Season?

It almost seems like it is open season on Jews and Israel. As we noted here, the president of Egypt can characterize Zionists and Jews as descendants of pigs and apes and call for indoctrinating Egyptian children in Jew-hatred and somehow not risk losing generous American financial and military assistance. To be sure, President Obama roundly criticized the comments and demanded an apology. But actual consequences for Egypt and Mr. Morsi in the real world will be non-existent.

This past Sunday – on International Holocaust Memorial Day – Britain’s Sunday Times ran a cartoon that depicted a burly and menacing Prime Minister Netanyahu, wielding a blood-covered trowel, in the process of building a wall using the blood and limbs of trapped, writhing Palestinians. It carried the caption, “Israeli Elections – Will Cementing Peace Continue?”

The Sunday Times initially defended the travesty, describing it as a “typically robust cartoon by Gerald Scarfe,” its long-time political cartoonist. It added, “The Sunday Times firmly believes that it is not anti-Semitic. It is aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people.”

Right. And we are to assume that the cartoon’s dredging up of infamous blood libels against Jews never occurred to Mr. Scarfe or his defenders? Or that its appearance on the day set aside for remembering the Nazi genocide was merely coincidental?

It is the sheer presumption and arrogance of the defense that is the point here. Do they think everything goes in the name of condemning the Jewish state’s effort to defend itself against savage hordes that think nothing of targeting innocent children? Is it really a self-evident proposition that there is no possible Jewish side to the controversy? Didn’t the “wall” virtually eliminate terrorist attacks against Jews?

The paper’s publisher, Rupert Murdoch, apologized when he learned about the cartoon, referring to it as “grotesque.” Yet the fact remains that senior professional personnel of a major newspaper believed they could get away with something like this.

Consider also that the political science department at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York system, is co-sponsoring a forum along with student and community groups that urge an international boycott of Israel over what the groups charge are violations of Palestinian rights. The event is scheduled for February 7 and will feature virulently anti-Israel speakers.

Again, the underlying assumption is that the Israeli position is so self-evidently without merit that anyone can say anything about Israel and expect to get away with it. Universities, of course, have long been hotbeds of anti-Israel activism and dissent from the party line can be dangerous; the concept of the university as a free marketplace of ideas has largely been rendered ludicrous. What really rankles, though, is that a publicly funded college would foster such one-sidedness through the affirmative support of its political science department.

A publicly funded educational institution has no business encouraging students to pursue a fiercely partisan approach to a complex issue. Administrators need to hear from the many alumni who are no doubt upset that anti-Israel agitation has achieved a solid foothold at Brooklyn College.

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