Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
Of the many intellectual perversions currently taking root on college campuses, perhaps none is more contradictory to what should be one of higher education’s core values than the suppression of free speech.
With alarming regularity, speakers are shouted down, booed, jeered, and barraged with vitriol, all at the hands of groups who give lip service the notion of academic free speech – and who demand it when their speech is at issue but have no interest in listening to, or letting others listen to, ideas that contradict their own world view.
Earlier this year, two Israeli officials, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren had the unpleasant experience of confronting virulent anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian Muslim students whose ideology on academic debate seems to be “free speech for me, but not for thee.”
Ayalon, who spoke at Oxford University, had his speech interrupted by several audience members, including one who yelled incessantly and called Ayalon a “racist” and “a war criminal” while waving a Palestinian flag, another student who loudly read passages of the incendiary Goldstone report, and a third student who remained standing for the entire balance of the lecture while she hurled anti-Israel invective.
The genteel, soft-spoken Ambassador Oren did not fare much better during his visit to the University of California at Irvine, a notorious hotbed of radical anti-Israel sentiment. During the aborted speech to some 500 people about U.S.-Israel relations, which was loudly interrupted ten times, boorish hecklers screamed over Oren’s talk such profound observations as “Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech,” “I accuse you of murder,” “How many Palestinians have you killed?” and “Israel is a murderer.”
Oren is hardly what even his staunchest critics could consider an Islamophobe eager to trample Palestinian aspirations. A Columbia and Princeton graduate, he is the author of two seminal books on the Middle East – Six Days of War and Power, Faith and Fantasy. He is at least as qualified to speak about the Israeli/Palestinian situation as the raucous, boorish students who had decided, in advance of his UC-I appearance, that he was morally unfit to even appear on their campus.
Even after he took a 20-minute recess to let the crowd cool off and regain its collective composure, his return to the podium was greeted with more volleys of invective, shouting, and speech-stopping bombast from the Muslim students, eleven of whom – eight from UC-Irvine (including the Muslim Student Union president) and three from UC Riverside – were eventually escorted out of the hall and arrested.
The fact that UC-I’s habitually craven administrators, led by Chancellor Michael Drake, were even motivated enough by the students’ errant behavior to have them ejected from the event is a promising sign.
While the university has always claimed to be dedicated to encouraging debate and scholarly inquiry by letting the Muslim Student Union mount annual hate-fests to demonize and vilify Israel and Jews, the MSU has effectively hijacked all discussion of the Middle East on campus, and its events are not platforms at which opposing views are aired and discussed.
As is frequently the case when speaking about the Israel/Arab conflict, the discussion often glosses over the real problems of Palestinian culture, politics, and society (including its cult of death), and focuses all criticism on the perceived defects of Israel, Zionism, and Jewish power.
This notion that pro-Israel speakers and scholars do not deserve, on a moral or intellectual basis, an opportunity to participate in scholarly debate is a dangerous one, even if it comes from tendentious students. It starts with the assumption that Israel, because of its perceived moral defects and its oppression of the hapless Palestinians and the theft of their lands, does not even have the right to participate in intellectual debate, that academic free speech in Israel’s case can be modified and is not absolute.
And while Muslim students and other campus radicals have, at UC-I and other college campuses, seen to it that speech they do not approve of, spoken by people with whom they disagree, is shut down with the “heckler’s veto,” they have never missed an opportunity to invite their own stable of slimy, anti-Israel, anti-U.S. speakers.
About the Author: Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., author of “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews,” is president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
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.
Jews do not fare well on campuses these days, particularly in the context of the debate over Israel.
What was unique about the MLA’s and the ASA’s approach was the breathtakingly Orwellian notion that not only was Israel itself guilty of the many alleged transgressions assigned to it by its libelers, but a boycott against Israeli academics was warranted because the academic establishment itself is complicit in Zionism’s excesses and a core element of the bemoaned occupation, oppression, and denial of Palestinian self-determination.
The ASA has obviously overlooked the pathology of Palestinian society.
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents some 14,500 members, voted in early April “to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as cooperation in research programmes [sic].”
As an example of what the insightful commentator Melanie Phillips referred to as a “dialogue of the demented” in her book The World Turned Upside Down, Northeastern University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), paralleling the moral incoherence of anti-Israel activists demonstrating elsewhere in American and European cities, sponsored a November 15 Boston rally in support of Gaza and, presumably, its genocidal thugocracy, Hamas.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently continued a long tradition of attempting to question a Jewish link to Jerusalem by expressing his mendacious notion that “Jerusalem’s identity is Arab, and the city’s and Christian holy sites must be protected from Israeli threats.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-death-of-academic-discourse/2010/04/28/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: