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October 23, 2016 / 21 Tishri, 5777
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Ramaz Administration Handled Rashid Khalidi Debacle Expertly

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Ramaz head of school Paul Shaviv made a good decision, in keeping with the institution's declared mission.

Ramaz head of school Paul Shaviv made a good decision, in keeping with the institution's declared mission.
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At the Ramaz School, my alma mater, an invitation was extended to Professor Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, but then rescinded by the head of school, Paul Shaviv. Mr. Shaviv made clear in a statement that the invitation to Professor Khalidi was rescinded on the grounds of his political stature rather than his views, and that he will work with the Ramaz Politics Society to arrange a program with similar content so that students can hear another view on the conflict.

Professor Khalidi has accused the State of Israel of violating international law and committing war crimes, while advocating for the Palestinian legal right to resistance.

Nevertheless, a group of Ramaz students started a petition aimed at defying the school administration and bringing Professor Khalidi to lecture at the school, and so far 200 individuals have signed. Their argument is to provide exposure for its students to different perspectives, providing academic equitability to the Ramaz community.

As it has been made increasingly clear in the current political landscape, there are multiple sides to every issue, and within Jewish communities across the United States, a sharp polarization of views is taking hold and causing major friction. Even within institutional strongholds of the pro-Israel cause, controversy is arising, which is catching the eye of the public and press.

What the Ramaz petition fails to consider is the mission of the Ramaz School, which explicitly states its commitment to “Ahavat Yisrael, and love and support for the State of Israel.” While bringing Professor Khalidi to lecture at Ramaz may provide an alternate frame of insight into an important issue, the school should not bring in a speaker who holds views sharply opposing the mission of the school.

As part of its mission, the Ramaz school is committed to the “pursuit of knowledge and intellectual rigor,” but it also must uphold its values calling for the support of the State of Israel, and Mr. Shaviv succeeds in doing so by committing to help provide alternate views on the conflict to the Ramaz community.

While a free exchange of ideas should always be encouraged in an academic setting, Ramaz students supporting the petition should consider that there is no shortage of venues, including in New York City, which provide lectures and events for the purpose of criticizing the State of Israel. As a private institution with a stated mission, Ramaz has a responsibility to educate its pupils according to its stated values, and its administration has the right to decide who it brings into its doors just as its students have the right to attend any lecture concerning the Middle East conflict at another venue.

This issue raises another, in that there is a trend of modern Jewish institutions resolving their disputes in the public eye, causing further contention within Jewish communities around the United States. In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” It is a sign of weakness within a community when certain issues take the forefront, allowing common enemies to capitalize on the division. Just as it would be best for the United States and the State of Israel as allies to resolve differences behind closed doors, Jewish organizations and institutions should handle issues without publicized petitions from within, as there are surely more productive ways to communicate with an administration than to shame the institution.

Instead of bringing a lecturer into Ramaz who challenge the mission of the school, the administration should continue to focus its efforts on providing preparation for its students before they enter college campuses on how to properly respond to criticisms of the State of Israel. Ramaz helped me develop the courage and ability to stand up for the State of Israel with factual evidence and logical reason, for which I will be forever grateful, and Mr. Shaviv has acted in complete accordance with the mission of the school in rescinding the offer of invitation to Professor Khalidi but committing to invite a different lecturer who can also provide an alternative frame of view to Ramaz students regarding the Middle East conflict. Hopefully Ramaz continues to empower its students with the ability to defend the State of Israel on college campuses all over the United States, as is necessary in holding a productive dialogue on resolving the conflict in the Middle East.

Daniel de Sola Marks

About the Author: Daniel Marks is a senior at Brandeis University. He is from New York City, and is the undergraduate representative of the Politics Department at Brandeis.

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  1. Michael Ackerman says:

    If I were a Ramaz parent, I don't know who I would smack first;
    my kid for wanting to give a platform to the long time mouthpiece of a genocidal Jew hating society or myself for wasting 100k of my own $ on four years of a Ramaz HS education. To me, lamenting this sad example of a waste of Jewish educational $ resources, or denying access to microphones to those who would do us harm misses a larger point. That it is equally important to support those young people who know more that right from left, rather those who know right from wrong. There are courageous young people who are standing up for Israel and making a difference. While they may not yet be as widely or well known as Ramaz, or infamous as Khalidi, they deserve our full support. Equally, if not more so than the 2018 Columbia graduating class.

    During a family visit to NY 3 years ago, our son Daniel invited me to accompany him to a symposium at Columbia University. On the dais were; Khalidi, Finkelstein and some other obtuse Israel / Jew hating 'Professor'. Daniel wanted to see and hear first hand for himself the bile being spewed to students on campus as well as residents of the nearby community http://www.frontpagemag.com/2011/phil-orenstein/challenging-the-lies-at-columbia-israel-bashing-event/ as it was an open forum on Goldstone's refutation of the report that bore his signature. The hatred and mischaracterization of Israel, Israelis, 'Zionists' (read: any Jews that support Israel) was thick to the point that most of the 300+ in the audience were anti Israel with only a handful of pro Israel supporters vocally dismissed. Danny returned home to Florida and his campus (FSU) that fall to found the: 'Florida Loves Israel' conference which has grown to the become 'Future Leaders for Israel' organization. He and his colleagues are about to launch their third (and fourth) conference in just 2 years at the of March at FAU. With the fourth conference in early April at UPitt. FAU will feature key note speaker, the Honorable Ido Aharoni, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. FLI started in 2012 bringing together hundreds of students (some traveling 500 miles) from 9-14 Universities from all across the State. This, when most Jewish college students are famous for not even leaving their dorm (or the college bar) to attend a pro Israel event right on their own campus. FLI was ranked #1 by the ICC [Israel on Campus Coalition] in a 24 month period out of 2200 Israel events on 180 campuses nationwide (Harvard's pro Israel event supported by Professor Dershowitz was ranked #2, nation wide, after FLI). You can learn more about their accomplishments and mission at http://Www.FLI.org The apathy and lack of support for positive pro Israel, proudly Jewish students on college campuses by some Jewish institutions and organizations is distressing, embarrassing and sad. Not every Jewish day school and HS student will end up at YU/Stern. As long as Jewish institutions deny support and withhold oxygen (or microphones) from young people who care enough about Israel to be willing to stand up and ignite these sparks on American campuses, we will continue to rail at the darkness, when all it takes is to be willing to light a candle. Instead of lamenting and hand wringing at pro Israel student apathy at wealthy educational country clubs like Ramaz, why not support students who are actually investing considerable amounts of their own resources (3 years time and their own money). They are the real thing. These are the 'Future Leaders for Israel' we should be encouraging and supporting IMHO.

  2. I agree with the bottom line reached by this article and applaud the author for his willingness to support his school's saying "no" to an advocate for the murder of Jews. But I disagree with his reasoning. Saying that the school is entitled to educate people according to its values is too easily heard as the advocacy for an education that precludes students from hearing views that differ from the school's official line but that are, otherwise, not illegitimate. The reason Khaledi should be off limits to teenagers is the same reason he should be off limits to any Jewish institution: there are no two sides to the question "is it ok to murder Jewish civilians." Anybody who insists on a right of "resistance" by "Palestinians" is insisting on the right of Arabs to murder Jewish civilians because they live in Israel or support the right of Jews to live in Israel.

    The "resistance" that Khaledi speaks for is an absurd and evil distortion of the resistance by the French and others against the Nazis. They were courageous people who opposed a murderous army by killing soldiers. Killing the uniformed, armed agents of Nazi genocide and imperialism cannot, by any rational or decent person, be compared to blowing up women and children in a pizza store in the middle of a city. Advocacy for such a thing automatically disqualifies the advocate as a legitimate debate partner and necessarily means that he cannot be and should be heard, any more than we would give a respectful hearing to a holocaust denier.

  3. I am a father of a Ramaz student (and I am a graduate of Columbia). Ramaz students are educated to support Israel and America and pray for the welfare of American & Israeli soldiers. Rashid Khalidi advocates for the murder of both Israeli and American soldiers, "He [Khalidi] tried to explain away Hezbollah's 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241 American military personnel, claiming that U.S. peacekeeping forces were an invading army that could be opposed justifiably." [1] As even a carefully research editorial in the secular media pointed out, Khalidi's views on international law are false: "It is the great tragedy of the situation at Columbia, which has become a college at which the authorities seem indifferent to the substance of the arguments made by those who teach the students."[2]
    Khalidi often communicates disingenuously and lies about his own past, "Khalidi uses rational, peaceful language when addressing English-speaking audiences, yet switches to virulent diatribes when speaking Arabic." [1] I don't think it is hard to decipher his ethical stance towards Israeli soldiers is to advocate also for their murder, Khalidi has stated about our brethren in Israel: "Killing civilians is a war crime. It's a violation of international law. They are not soldiers. They're civilians, they're unarmed. The ones who are armed, the ones who are soldiers, the ones who are in occupation, that's different. That's resistance." [1]
    Even public schools in NY have not welcomed Khalidi's presence "… [NYC] Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein barred Rashid Khalidi, director of Columbia's Middle East Institute, from again lecturing to city teachers enrolled in a professional development course because of "a number of things he's said in the past," said Michael Best, the department's general counsel."[3]
    Some might find it interesting to hear our enemy's propaganda, and there is no shortage of Khalidi's bogus scholarship available to those who might chose to research it like moths driven to a flame. However, Jewish students as a whole don't benefit from wasting their time by being exposed directly to a charlatan who builds a career on lies and deception all the while advocating for the murder of our brothers and sisters and our nation's destruction.

    1. http://www.jewishpolicycenter.org/457/rashid-khalidi-campus-watch-middle-east-studies
    2. http://www.nysun.com/editorials/right-of-resistance/10510/
    3. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/28/nyregion/28matters.html

  4. tov The enemy within is one who eats away at the organic integrity and wholeness, We fear that we have national leadership that is doing just that today on a larger scale. Life and existence come first. In a war, the soldier must shoot(violation of killing under other circumstances) or be killed. Defense trumps offense when one's existence is threatened.

  5. Khalidi is a professional propagandist capable of twisting the truth in all directions and shapes. He was the PLO spokesman in Beirut in the early 1980s and thus shares the guilt for the PLO atrocities of the time.
    Unfortunately, high school students are not ordinarily equipped to deal with a professional liar like Khalidi. Do students at Ramaz want to invite Goebbels in order to get another viewpoint on the Judeo-Teutonic dispute? It is disgrace that Columbia has him as a prof.

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