Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
Controversy continues to swirl around an invitation by a student group at Manhattan’s Ramaz High School to Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi to deliver a talk on the Middle East. Mr. Khalidi is a well-known critic of Israel and a former spokesman for the PLO. The school administration cancelled the invitation, whereupon a petition drive was mounted to rescind the cancellation. At this writing that effort has secured more than 200 student signatures.
There are those defenders of the invitation who maintain that it is entirely appropriate that Ramaz students be exposed to different perspectives on the Middle East. Yet not only is Mr. Khalidi a particularly inappropriate choice to explore that issue for high school students, it is disheartening that the educational program at Ramaz could have fostered such a determined outreach to someone of Mr. Khalidi’s ilk.
After all, Ramaz is a venerable Modern Orthodox educational institution whose mission statement contains the explicit commitment to “Ahavat Yisrael, and love and support for the State of Israel.”
Surely there are enough neutral scholars around – or even, Heaven forbid, some who might tilt toward the Israeli narrative – to meet that need. But Rashid Khalidi?
Mr. Khalidi has long denied any ties to the PLO, but Martin Kramer, writing on Commentary Magazine’s blog, noted that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is just one of the many journalists who regularly linked Mr. Khalidi to Palestinian officialdom. In a June 9, 1982 dispatch from Beirut, for example, Mr. Friedman quoted Mr. Khalidi and described him as “a director of the Palestinian press agency Wafa.”
Similarly, Mr. Khalidi was interviewed in a 1979 Pacific Radio documentary “at the headquarters of the PLO in Beirut” and the documentary described him as “an official spokesperson for the Palestinian news service Wafa,” “PLO spokesperson,” “official spokesperson for the PLO,” and “the leading spokesperson for the PLO news agency, Wafa.”
In some respects this episode, being such a departure from what one would expect from an Orthodox school, brings to mind the recent disclosure by Ramaz that it permits female students to put on tefillin, something that leading Talmudic scholar Rabbi Hershel Schachter has decried in a formal teshuvah. (See “Who Speaks for Modern Orthodoxy?” editorial, Jan. 31 and “More on the Tefillin Controversy,” editorial, Feb. 14.)
To be sure, we do not suggest that Ramaz institutionally condoned the choice of Mr. Khalidi or that it has in any way diluted its devotion to Israel. But one has to wonder what there is in the lessons being taught that would lead many of its students to look with such a measure of dispassion and objectivity on the Palestinian counter-argument to Israel’s existence.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.
Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .
With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?
The Gazans are now paying for the choices they have made.
As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.
Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.
UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.
There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]
Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?
It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.
Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”
The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.
Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.
So Hamas needed a way to end the blockade and secure the release of its prisoners.
Many of us thought Mr. Obama’s diplomacy strategy was simply a device to dodge a decision that force was necessary to ensure the rogue state of Iran would not get its hands on nuclear weapons and thereby pose an existential threat to world peace.
In fact, the two suspects were arrested by Israeli authorities – not, as the Times tried artfully to suggest, by Mr. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.
Unfortunately, we must deal with some of the practical lessons of this tragedy. The murders did not happen in a vacuum.
It is no secret the president is furious with Republicans in Congress for blocking his efforts to change immigration laws.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/ramaz-and-rashid-khalidi-2/2014/03/05/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: