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Posts Tagged ‘Harvard’

Harvard Never Learns

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

This past weekend Harvard hosted a One-State Solution Conference, designed to promote the dissolution of Israel. It is only the latest example of that university’s longstanding practice of facilitating the spread of anti-Semitism.

The virulently anti-Israel Harvard student organizations that sponsored the event, including the Palestine Solidarity Committee, Justice for Palestine, the Palestine Caucus, and the Arab Caucus, acknowledge in the program that the One-State Solution Conference would not have been possible without the support of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and funding from the Harvard Provost’s Office and the Center for International Affairs.

Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust and her administration did not express any concern over the conference’s heavily biased and non-scholarly nature. Not one of the speakers is known to be sympathetic to Israel, and many are prominently involved in the campaign to boycott Israel’s universities and to pressure American schools to divest any holdings in corporations that do business there.

Benny Morris, a leading scholar of the Arab-Israeli conflict, has described keynote speaker Ilan Pappé, a supporter of Israel’s minuscule Communist party, as “at best… one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest.”

Harvard Law School professor Duncan Kennedy, the opening speaker, has denied that Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction, even though the Hamas charter accuses Jews of plotting to take over the world, and claims they caused the two world wars and the French and Bolshevik revolutions.

Unfortunately, there is nothing new about Harvard’s tolerating and even assisting anti-Semitic propagandists. In 2000, Harvard’s Divinity School accepted funds from United Arab Emirates dictator Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to endow a professorship in Islamic Religious Studies named for him. The dictator had already established a Zayed Centre in his own nation that condemned Israel’s existence and promoted Holocaust denial. Harvard planned faculty exchanges with the Zayed Centre.

No Harvard administrator or professor publicly criticized the university’s acceptance of the sheik’s funds. The endowed professorship was withdrawn only because a graduate student, Rachel Fish, mobilized public support against it.

By contrast, the Harvard administration refused to host an academic conference on American responses to the Holocaust that the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies proposed in 2004. Many of the world’s leading Holocaust scholars are affiliated with the Wyman Institute. The institute asked me to present the keynote lecture, on Harvard’s response to Nazism. As a courtesy, I sent then-Harvard president Larry Summers a detailed summary of my lecture. Summers’s office replied several months later that it would not host the conference. It emphasized that no Harvard administrator would attend if it were held elsewhere. Boston University’s Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies was delighted to serve as host.

My lecture focused on how Harvard and other elite universities forged friendly ties with Germany’s Nazified universities, helping the Hitler regime improve its image in the West. Harvard sent a delegate to Heidelberg University’s 550th anniversary celebration in 1936, a Nazi propaganda festival orchestrated by Josef Goebbels. This occurred after Germany’s universities expelled their Jewish faculty members and the Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their citizenship. Heidelberg University promoted Nazi “racial science” and “Aryan Physics.”

Harvard warmly welcomed to its campus Hitler’s foreign press chief Ernst Hanfstaengl, a fanatical anti-Semite. Harvard president James Conant called anti-Nazi protesters who demonstrated against Hanfstaengl’s visit “ridiculous.” Harvard Law School dean Roscoe Pound accepted an honorary degree from Berlin University, personally presented by Nazi Germany’s ambassador, Hans Luther. Harvard Law professor Felix Frankfurter unsuccessfully pleaded with Conant not to allow the ceremony to be held on campus.

Sadly, there is consistency in Harvard’s complicity in helping Nazi Germany present itself as civilized during the 1930s; accepting funds from a Holocaust denier, Sheik Zayed; trying to suppress a scholarly conference on the Holocaust; and now serving as a platform to promote the destruction of the Jewish state.

Stephen H. Norwood is professor of history at the University of Oklahoma and author, most recently, of “The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses” (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

‘I Want Everybody To Know I’m Jewish’ : An Interview with Alan Dershowitz

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is best known for his legal prowess, but he is also the author of two dozen nonfiction works and three novels, the latest of which is The Trials of Zion. Set in Israel, the book’s plot tells the story of three lawyers who defend an alleged Arab terrorist while simultaneously trying to discover who set off a bomb that killed the American president and Israeli and Palestinian leaders at a peace-signing ceremony in Jerusalem.

Dershowitz recently spoke to The Jewish Press about his new book, the Sholom Rubashkin trial, and President Obama’s policy toward Israel.

The Jewish Press: Why did you write this book?

Dershowitz: I think that Israel needs to be portrayed in the 21st century in fiction the way it was portrayed years ago by Leon Uris in Exodus. Fiction really matters; people read novels and form opinions based on them. I think Israel’s image in the world has been suffering lately, and I wanted to write a reality-based novel indicating how difficult it is to deal with terrorism and to make peace in the face of terrorism.

But this book is not entirely pro-Israel.

I had to make it nuanced. I didn’t want it to be something that could be dismissed as pro-Israel propaganda. I wanted it to subtly convey the history of Israel, how difficult it’s been to make peace, and the various elements that seem to be opposed to peace. Remember, when Leon Uris was writing, everybody in the world loved Israel. It was very easy to write a completely pro-Israel book. Today that wouldn’t work. It has to be more nuanced.

You’ve supported the creation of a Palestinian state since the 1970s. Yet, in some circles today you’re considered a right-winger because of your outspoken support for Israel.

It’s so interesting that Noam Chomsky is considered centrist and I’m considered a right-winger even though I have been critical of the settlements since 1973, I’ve favored the two-state solution since 1970 – even before Israel did – and I’m very active in the peace process. I haven’t changed. It shows you how the world has changed.

Intermarriage is generally thought of as one of the worst sins a Jew can commit. And yet, in your novel, you portray positively a budding romance between a young Arab man and a young Jewish woman. Why?

I don’t think I portray it in a positive light. I think I portray it realistically. I portray it the way I see it among my students. I’m trying to be descriptive, not prescriptive. I’m not suggesting it’s a good thing. I don’t support it.

But I see it all around me. The other night I spoke at a Chabad Shabbat dinner at Harvard, and a lot of the students came with non-Jewish girlfriends and spouses. Many of them will eventually convert to Judaism but we’re going through a very challenging period now with intermarriage. I can’t ignore that in my writing.

In the book, you seem to imply that followers of religious leaders such as the Lubavitcher Rebbe are somehow irrational or not using their critical faculties. Is that what you believe?

No, I certainly don’t believe that. I’m the faculty adviser at Chabad at Harvard and I’m a tremendous admirer of Chabad. They do phenomenal work. I don’t believe that at all. You can’t put in my mouth everything that every character spouts.

The point I made about Lubavitch is that a lot of these actors in Hollywood immediately jump on the Lubavitch bandwagon without understanding a thing about Judaism or Lubavitch. I was thinking of a particular person I know in Hollywood, a fairly well known actor, who has just given up his critical faculties…. Tomorrow he’ll be abandoning that and going to some ashram in India. It’s not real for some people. That’s my point.

You have been critical of the 27-year sentence Sholom Rubashkin recently received. Do you see him as a victim of anti-Semitism or as someone who simply was unlucky to have a stern judge presiding over his trial?

I don’t know enough about the case to know whether he’s completely innocent, but I can tell you this: The sentence was utterly disproportionate. You cannot explain that sentence based on the facts of the case. I don’t care how harsh a judge she is. She’s never sentenced anybody like this for a comparable crime.

So I don’t know whether it was anti-Semitism or anti-Easternism or anti-New Yorkism or anti-outsiderism, but it was anti-something. And it can’t be explained on principles of justice. The sentence was way, way out of proportion to anything that was proved in the case.

You have publicly stated that the Jewish community’s hostility toward President Obama is undeserved and unwise.

I do think that. Look, I’m critical of a lot of the policies of the Obama administration, particularly as it relates to foreign policy and most particularly as it relates to Iran. But I think it’s a terrible mistake to regard him as an unredeemable enemy. People point to those who were close to him like the Reverend Wright. People forget that one of the persons who’s closest to him in the world is my dear friend Charles Ogletree, who is an African-American professor at the law school and a fervent Zionist who goes to Israel as often as he can, who has taught in Israel, loves Israel, and is a deep supporter of Israel.

Many of my other African-American friends who are very close to Obama are also very strong supporters of Israel – Henry Louis Gates, Jr., for example. So it’s not a one-sided picture; it’s much more complex. And the most important point is he’s the president of the United States. He’s going to be the president for two more years and maybe six more years, and it would be a terrible mistake to turn him into an enemy. We have to try our best to make him a friend.

Many Jews who become successful try to downplay or hide their Jewishness. You don’t. The fact that you named one of your books Chutzpah amply demonstrates this point. What makes you different?

I’m very proud to be a Jew. I want everybody to know I’m Jewish, and I want to be assertively Jewish. When I came to Harvard, people told me I was too Jewish for Harvard and that I’d never get tenure. I said, “That’s fine. If they don’t want to give a Jewish Jew tenure, that wouldn’t be a good place for me to be.”

I’m not going to hide my Jewishness in any way, and am always contemptuous of people who change their names and change their noses. I don’t think that’s happening as much today, but it certainly happened in my day.

I’m proudly and assertively Jewish and I’ll always be that way. For me it’s very important. I tell Jewish jokes in my classes, I quote Rambam as often as I quote Blackstone, I wrote a book about the book of Bereishit. I’m very proud of my Jewish heritage, education and knowledge. I never hide it at all.

That’s what happens when you grow up in Boro Park. We lived on 48th Street between 15th and 16th Avenues, and I grew up with the Klass family [founders of The Jewish Press]. Mrs. [Irene] Klass was a friend of my mother’s.

When Nazism Was All The Rage On Campus

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Campus radicalism, support for totalitarianism, and general political extremism are not new on Western campuses. Indeed some of the worst political extremism in academic history took the form of enthusiastic support on American campuses for Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
 
This disgraceful chapter in American academic history is the topic of a new book, The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower, by Stephen H. Norwood (Cambridge University Press). The author is a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma and holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University.
 
The simple lesson from examining the behavior on American campuses in the 1930s is that the appeasement, the support for totalitarian aggression and terror, and the academic bigotry and anti-Semitism that today characterize so many American universities were all predominant forces on many campuses in the 1930s, especially at America’s elite schools.
 
Norwood’s book is a must read, but also a sad and uncomfortable one. He details the reactions of America’s professors and universities to the rise of Hitler. The responses on American campuses ranged from complete indifference and refusal to join in campaigns against Nazi Germany to widespread support for German Nazism.
 
Starting in 1933, anti-Hitler mass protests were held throughout the United States. Americans of all creeds joined in. At the same time, “College and university presidents and administrators did not convene protest meetings against Nazi anti-Semitism on the campuses, nor did they urge their students and faculty members to attend the nationwide mass rallies held on March 27, 1933.”
 
Harvard University stood out in its moral failure and collaboration with Nazism. Many faculty members were openly anti-Semitic, including Harvard’s president, James Bryant Conant. Later, after the war, Conant served as U.S. ambassador to Germany and worked to get Nazi war criminals paroled and hired. He lobbied for appointment of Nazis to various public posts in Europe and at the United Nations.
 
Harvard’s law school dean, Roscoe Pound, was openly sympathetic to Hitler, vacationed in Germany and attended anti-Semitic events there. Harvard history professor William L. Langer strongly defended Hitler’s reoccupation and remilitarization of the Rhineland, which was the first step in launching World War II. More generally he served as a sort of academic apologist for the Nazis.
 
Harvard went out of its way to host and celebrate Nazi leaders. The high Nazi official Ernst (Putzi) Hanfstaengl was invited as the Harvard commencement speaker in 1934. The wealthy Hanfstaengl had been one of Hitler’s earliest and most important backers. He was on record insisting “the Jews must be crushed,” and describing Jews as “the vampire sucking German blood.”
 
The student paper, the Harvard Crimson, defended Hanfstaengl. Harvard called in the Boston police to arrest Jews and others protesting the visit, and they were charged with “illegally displaying signs.” When Hanfstaengl returned to Germany from Harvard, he was personally greeted by Hitler.
 
Harvard maintained warm relations with many Nazi institutions, particularly the University of Heidelberg, even after it proclaimed proudly that it had expelled all its Jews. In 1937 Harvard’s president was still saluting Nazi universities as playing a legitimate part in the “learned world.”
 
In 1935 the German consul in Boston was invited by Harvard to lay a wreath with a swastika on it in the campus chapel. Nazi officials were invited to Harvard’s tercentenary celebrations in 1936, held intentionally on the Jewish High Holidays as a slap in the face of Jewish faculty and students. A mock student debate held in 1936 was presided over by Harvard professors as judges. They acquitted Hitler of most of the mock charges (condemning him only for having a German general killed) and declared that German persecution of Jews was simply irrelevant.
 
Other elite New England academic institutions expressed similar sentiments. Yale was only marginally less friendly to the Nazis than Harvard. Some MIT professors came out vocally in support of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Professor Thomas Chalmers of the history department at Boston University publicly demanded a “hands off ” policy regarding Hitler and opposed American denunciations of Nazi Germany.
 
Norwood’s own alma mater, Columbia University, is a major target in his book. Columbia was an active collaborator with Nazi Germany in many ways. Months after Germany started book burning, Columbia’s president, Nicholas Murray Butler, went out of his way to welcome Nazi Germany’s ambassador to the U.S. for a lecture at the school and praised the Nazi as a gentleman and a representative of “a friendly people.” Shortly afterward, when a man who had escaped from a Nazi concentration camp lectured on campus, Butler refused to attend.
 
More than one Columbia faculty member was fired for taking an anti-Nazi stand. These included a Jewish professor of fine arts, Jerome Klein, who dared to protest the campus visit of the Nazi ambassador.
 
Freedom of speech was selectively defended on campuses in the 1930s, as it is again today in the 21st century. The president of Queens College prohibited an anti-Nazi speaker from giving a lecture on campus as late as spring 1938.
 

All of the above sound familiar? It does to Norwood, who says he sees frightening similarities between what has been happening on American campuses since the early 1990s and what transpired in the 1930s.

 

 

Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Title: Aliza in MitzvahLand

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Title: Aliza in MitzvahLand

Author: Bracha Goetz

Illustrated by Yishia Suval

Publisher: Judaica Press

 

 

   After reading Aliza in MitzvahLand your children may never again be able to get away with saying, “I’m bored!” This brand new, refreshingly imaginative picture book is a boredom buster!

 

   Aliza in MitzvahLand tells the story of a child who is often heard complaining, “I’ve got nothing to do!” Aliza has gotten used to being entertained, but her attitude gets a makeover after she enters a wondrous “looking glass world” where things are switched around, and she discovers that:

 

   “When I’ve got nothing to do,

   It’s because I’m forgetting…

   Our world was made for giving

   Not getting!”

 

   This whimsically illustrated book draws a child into a different kind of land where everyone is joyful because they are caring about and giving to others. Practical and creative ideas for activities are also discovered in MitzvahLand, encouraging children to get genuinely excited about looking for their own opportunities to do mitzvos.

 

   This book can be such a delightful – and helpful – gift to give to anyone who is a relative or teacher of children. Or you can give it straight to a child you love, so that they can learn to create their very own MitzvahLand!

 

   This is the tenth book for children’s author, Bracha Goetz, who became a ba’alas teshuva after graduating from Harvard over 30 years ago. Goetz’s books often explain very deep and complex concepts in amazingly simple ways – so that children (and even adults, finally) can understand them.

Title: Aliza in MitzvahLand

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Title: Aliza in MitzvahLand


Author: Bracha Goetz


Illustrated by Yishia Suval


Publisher: Judaica Press


 


 


   After reading Aliza in MitzvahLand your children may never again be able to get away with saying, “I’m bored!” This brand new, refreshingly imaginative picture book is a boredom buster!

 

   Aliza in MitzvahLand tells the story of a child who is often heard complaining, “I’ve got nothing to do!” Aliza has gotten used to being entertained, but her attitude gets a makeover after she enters a wondrous “looking glass world” where things are switched around, and she discovers that:

 

   “When I’ve got nothing to do,


   It’s because I’m forgetting…


   Our world was made for giving


   Not getting!”

 

   This whimsically illustrated book draws a child into a different kind of land where everyone is joyful because they are caring about and giving to others. Practical and creative ideas for activities are also discovered in MitzvahLand, encouraging children to get genuinely excited about looking for their own opportunities to do mitzvos.

 

   This book can be such a delightful – and helpful – gift to give to anyone who is a relative or teacher of children. Or you can give it straight to a child you love, so that they can learn to create their very own MitzvahLand!

 

   This is the tenth book for children’s author, Bracha Goetz, who became a ba’alas teshuva after graduating from Harvard over 30 years ago. Goetz’s books often explain very deep and complex concepts in amazingly simple ways – so that children (and even adults, finally) can understand them.

The Problem With Polls

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

If most of the public opinion polls are to be believed, the Republican Party is careening toward a shellacking of historic proportions in next month’s midterm elections. Given the state of the Iraq war, a series of scandals involving Republicans, and the general mood of discontent that seems to have settled over the country, few will be surprised if the polls prove accurate. Then again, voters are notoriously fickle and uninformed, and polls often miss the mark – the 1994 Republican takeover of the House and Senate caught pollsters by surprise, as did the GOP’s success in the 2002 midterms.

What polls do consistently reveal is a constantly shifting and often contradictory collective mindset, one easily influenced by newspaper headlines and the monologues of late-night comics.

The polls currently showing a sizable Democratic advantage in the upcoming Congressional sweepstakes are based on questions many, if not most, voters are unqualified to answer – questions that presuppose a respondent’s familiarity with his or her incumbent congressman, with their challengers, and with the party affiliation of incumbent and challenger alike. According to survey after survey, such presuppositions have little basis in fact.

And bear in mind that for years now polls have been indicating that self-described fed-up voters – the kind who every election cycle pronounce themselves irredeemably dismayed, disgusted, and disgruntled with Congress as an institution – overwhelmingly support the reelection of their own representatives. So while Republicans have good reason to dread the electoral drubbing the media are all but declaring a certainty, there are enough caveats in the polling data and in recent voter behavior to offer even the most despondent GOPer some hope.

Oh, and lest some tender-hearted readers accuse the Monitor of excessive cynicism regarding the limitations of the typical American voter, here are some tidbits to chew on, from Matthew Robinson’s 2002 book Mobocracy: How the Media’s Obsession with Polling Twists the News, Alters Elections and Undermines Democracy:

● Twenty-nine percent of Americans believe the Constitution guarantees everyone a job; 42 percent believe it guarantees health care; 75 percent believe it guarantees a high school education.

● Nearly half – 45 percent – of all Americans believe the Marxist axiom “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” is in the Constitution.

● A January 2000 Gallup Poll found that 66 percent of Americans could name the then-host of TV’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Regis Philbin), but just 6 percent knew the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Dennis Hastert).

● A 1986 survey found that almost 24 percent of the American public did not know who George Bush was or that he was then serving his second term as vice president of the United States.

● According to “Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century,” a 2000 study of college seniors, barely one in three knew that George Washington was the American general at the battle of Yorkstown – the decisive battle in the U.S. war for independence; more than one in three were unaware of the division of power set forth in the U.S. Constitution; only 22 percent of those seniors – from elite universities such as Harvard, Stanford and the University of California – knew the source of the phrase “government of the people, by the people and for the people” (taken from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address); but 98 percent could identify gangsta rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg.

● The Vanishing Voter Project, a program of Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, conducted a running survey of randomly selected registered voters during the 2000 presidential campaign. Respondents were asked six questions on the policy positions of Republican George W. Bush and six on the positions of Democrat Al Gore. Of the 12 questions – which covered a broad range of topics including defense spending, campaign financing, offshore drilling and affirmative action – only one was answered correctly by a majority of Americans. The rest of them weren’t even a close call.

Walt’s Paper Trail

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Judging from the shocked reaction among right-wing bloggers to a paper on U.S.-Israel relations written by professors Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and issued this month by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, one would think the paper’s authors were a couple of unknowns with no discernible paper trail.

Both men, however, have been outspoken on the subject for years, and Walt in particular has made no secret of his feelings about what he calls Israel’s “domestic political penetration” – i.e., its manipulation of the U.S. political system for its own ends.

In case you missed what was essentially a non-story in the mainstream media – the New York Sun being a notable exception – Walt, who happens to be the academic dean of the Kennedy School, and Mearshimer authored an 83-page study titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” that Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz (characterized by Walt and Mearsheimer as a pro-Israel “apologist”) dismissed as “trash” that “could have been written by Pat Buchanan, by David Duke, Noam Chomsky, and some of the less intelligent members of Hamas.”

The study is almost a caricature of anti-Israel animus, stocked with selective quotes often removed from their proper context (for a detailed critiqe, see Alex Safian’s article at www.camera.org). But anyone even the slightest bit familiar with the work of Stephen Walt had no right or reason to expect anything different.

Writing in the Boston Globe shortly after 9/11, with lower Manhattan still smoldering and the long procession of funerals just starting, Walt wrote of the need for the U.S. to “rebuild its relationship” with Arab countries. “The most obvious move,” he counseled, “is to take a less one-sided approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict …. mak[ing] it crystal clear that we oppose Israel’s expansionist settlements policy…and that we are equally sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people.”

In his 2005 book Taming American Power (the title alone should tell you where he’s coming from), he devoted an inordinate amount of space to criticizing Israeli policies and the U.S.-Israel relationship. The book’s index lists no fewer than 67 mentions under “Israel” – including 13 citations alone for “Palestinians repressed by” and six for “territorial expansion policies of.”

Taming American Power leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that America’s problems with the Arab world are largely the fault of you know who: “When a close ally like Israel denies the national aspirations of the Palestinians and uses massive force against them, it reinforces Arab and Muslim hostility to the United States.”

Walt also bemoans “Ariel Sharon’s rejection of the peace process and Israel’s own agenda of territorial expansionism” – this in a book published after the Gaza withdrawal and despite numerous statements by Israeli officials that additional concessions were in the offing.

Israeli “expansionism” in Walt’s expansive view includes what he describes, in phraseology better suited to an Arab polemicist than a Harvard academic, as “the land-grabbing ‘security fence’ ” – the genesis of which he of course neglects to mention.

One small redeeming feature of the book is that in his lament that all too many influential non-Jewish Americans have taken up Israel’s cause, Walt inadvertently underscores the point that Israel’s most outspoken defenders are these days invariably to be found on the right side of the political spectrum.

Walt names a number of “sympathetic gentiles” – all conservatives – and quotes former Republican House Majority Leader Richard Armey’s statement that “My number one priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel” and embattled Republican congressman Tom DeLay’s description of himself as “an Israeli at heart.”

Walt and Mearsheimer elaborate on that theme in their Kennedy School paper, adding several names to the list of non-Jewish pro-Israel stalwarts – again with not a liberal among them.

It’s indeed ironic, given their views and biases, that Welt and Mearsheimer underscore a point that some of us on the other side of the argument have been pressing for some time, but which has made barely a dent in the American Jewish consciousness.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/walts-paper-trail/2006/03/22/

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