York University: It’s More Than Just a Mural: Danielle Shachar, Times of Israel, Feb. 10, 2016 — In North American universities, the right to a “safe space” free from dissenting or controversial ideas is, regrettably, becoming sacrosanct.
Anti-Semitism, Not Academic Content, Fuels University Boycotts: Winfield Myers, Miami Herald, Feb. 6, 2016— In the aftermath of the American Studies Association’s (ASA) December 2013 vote to support the boycott/divestment/sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli universities and scholars, the heads of 250 American universities voiced their opposition to both the ASA’s decision and to academic boycotts in general as violations of academic freedom.
On Israel, Vassar College Teaches Make-Believe: Ziva Dahl, Algemeiner, Feb. 5, 2016— I recently attended a Vassar College event sponsored by the “Dialogue and Engagement Across Differences” program, established by the president of the college to help students and faculty discuss contentious issues.
Professor Who Praises Jihadis Still Teaches, Jihad Critic Doesn't: Noah Beck, IPT, Jan. 27, 2016 — To understand just how depraved today's college campuses are, compare the treatment of two professors – one defending a Western, pro-American democracy (Israel) and the other suspected of supporting this century's most gruesome Islamist terror organization, the Islamic State ("ISIS").
In Latest Blood Libel, US Prof Accuses Israel of Harvesting Arab Organs, Assassinating Teenagers: Ahuva Balofsky, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 10, 2016
Anti-Israel Fanaticism on Oberlin Campus Creating Hostile Environment for Jews, Says Active Alumnus: Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2016
From BDS to Ferguson: Columbia U. Panel Takes Aim at Israel: Mara Schiffren, Frontpage, Jan. 13, 2016
The Ugly PC Race to be the ‘Victimiest’ Victim: Carrie Lukas, New York Post, Jan. 29 2015
Times of Israel, Feb. 10, 2016
In North American universities, the right to a “safe space” free from dissenting or controversial ideas is, regrettably, becoming sacrosanct. Speech is policed for any statement that could be construed as insensitive or politically incorrect. In light of the widespread tendency to censor even the most innocuous of statements, it is critical to distinguish between speech that merely offends and speech that clearly incites.
At York University, where I am a student, the York Federation of Students (YFS) adheres to politically – based censorship with draconian zeal, earning a “F” grade on the 2015 Campus Freedom Index. Though the YFS might justify its infringement of academic freedom on the basis of upholding diversity, tolerance and acceptance, these values are applied with glaring double standards when it pertains to Jewish and pro-Israel students.
Case in point: the mural in the York University Student Centre that is behind media mogul Paul Bronfman’s decision to end his support of York’s film program. The mural depicts a man in a keffiyeh holding two rocks in his hands. His scarf is adorned with the Palestinian flag and a map that fails to demarcate the borders between Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. The words “peace” and “justice” appear below in multiple languages. Why do Bronfman and Jewish students find this mural so disturbing?
While artists must be free to criticize the state of Israel, this does not mean that academic freedom acts as a shield for the incitement of violence and hatred. Hundreds of Israeli civilians have been injured or murdered by Palestinian stone throwers. Maps that show Palestinian sovereignty over the entire Israel-Palestine region are used by terrorist groups like Hamas to show that the annihilation of the Jewish state is the only way to achieve real “justice” and “peace”. When Gayle McFadden, Vice President of Operations for the YFS, was asked about the possibility that the mural might be interpreted as something against Israel as the Jewish state and not just against the government politics of Israel, she answered “It’s not my place to tell Palestinians how to resist an occupation”. However, one might note that it is the place of Canadian law to dictate what constitutes acceptable “resistance” and neither stone throwing nor the elimination of Israel from the map fall under that category.
The mural is just one in a long list of complaints that Jewish students have against the YFS. The President of the YFS posted an image on social media that included the Jewish star alongside the instructions to “Smash Zionism”. The YFS partners with ‘Students Against Israeli Apartheid’, a club whose members have denigrated the genetic impurity of European Jews and hosted events with Holocaust deniers. One of these events was promoted by Palestine House, an organization whose board member, Nazih Khatatba, publicly praised the 2014 slaughter of Jewish worshippers – including York alumnus Howie Rothman – in a Jerusalem synagogue. When the Israeli flag was vandalized with red paint in its Student Centre, the YFS refused to issue a condemnation. The YFS’s annual “Expression against Oppression” programming educated students about every conceivable form of oppression – Islamophobia, anti-black racism, homophobia, and ableism – but notably omitted anti-Semitism. When a Jewish student submitted a motion at the YFS annual general meeting, members of the YU Divest coalition (of which the YFS is a partner) used his religion as justification to defame him for being a “murderous extremist” and a “racist”.
The insistency of the YFS to frame the mural as a free speech issue and to posture themselves as victims of censorship becomes even more hypocritical when considering the ways in which the union has promoted anti-Israel extremism at the cost of academic freedom. For example, the YFS supports the boycott of Israeli academics and institutions – a move which has angered free-speech proponents and left many Jewish students scared to freely express their support of Israel. Most ironically, the YFS was a co-signatory of an open letter that urged Victor Phillip Dahdaleh to retract his 20 million dollar donation from York unless the university divested from Israel. How does the YFS reconcile this letter with their anger at Paul Bronfman’s decision to pull his funding over the anti-Israel mural? Where is the consistency?
This brings us to the outrageous lack of fairness that shepherded the hanging of the mural in the first place. Progressives at York would never dream of treating any other religious, national, or sexual minority with the same insensitivity as they do the Jews. Can anyone imagine that a mural of a Ku Klux Klan member wearing a scarf of the Confederate flag and holding a noose in his hands would be displayed at any university in the country? If not, why is a mural of a man poised to throw rocks and a map that eliminates Israel any different?…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Miami Herald, Feb. 6, 2016
In the aftermath of the American Studies Association’s (ASA) December 2013 vote to support the boycott/divestment/sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli universities and scholars, the heads of 250 American universities voiced their opposition to both the ASA’s decision and to academic boycotts in general as violations of academic freedom. Typifying their stance was that of Brown University president Christina Paxson, who said that such action “would be antithetical to open scholarly exchange and would inhibit the advancement of knowledge and discovery.”
Yet in failing to address the odiousness of singling out Israel for boycott, such reactions ignore the black heart of BDS: its profound anti-Semitism hiding under the guise of anti-Zionism, anti-colonialism or any cause de jour. A university president harboring intensely anti-Israel or anti-Semitic beliefs could still oppose BDS on academic freedom grounds while leaving unaddressed this key moral issue.
Former Harvard president Larry Summers made this point in a recent video interview with Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol in which he said he was “disappointed by the response of university presidents,” because they “framed the argument almost entirely in terms of their distaste for academic boycotts rather than anything about the specific substance.” If boycotting Israeli universities is an offense to academic freedom rather than an act of overt anti-Semitism — i.e., if there are no moral reasons beyond standing for “the advancement of knowledge and discovery” to dissuade one from supporting BDS — one might ask if there are any circumstances under which a nation’s universities should be boycotted?
Judging by the standards applied by American academic leaders to German universities during Hitler’s reign, the answer might be a resounding No. Following the Nazis’ implementation of their “cleansing process,” which legalized the expulsion of Jews and political opponents from the formerly great German universities by instituting racial and political tests for university appointments, many American universities maintained, and in some instances even strengthened, their ties with their German peers. James Conant and Nicholas Murray Butler, presidents of Harvard and Columbia, respectively, entertained representatives of the Nazi government and brooked no opposition from objecting faculty or students.
Behind this shameful display in the 1930s lurked not a commitment to academic freedom at any price, however, but a blatant anti-Semitism stoked by the nativism then widespread in American society. Relations with German universities were warm in spite of their persecution of Jewish faculty and students precisely because most of those affected were Jews. A prejudice acceptable among American elites was unlikely to spark outrage when practiced overseas.
That same bigotry is at work today among supporters of the BDS movement who share with elite administrators of 80 years ago a conviction that Jews are uniquely deserving of censure and isolation. Put differently, the same hostility or, at best, indifference that allowed Conant and Butler to ignore the singling out of Jews for persecution motivates those persecuting the Jewish state today.
This point is important because boycotts, per se, are not inherently wrong-headed. The West’s unwillingness to object to Nazi policies targeting Jews during the 1930s, before the onset of war and the Holocaust, remains among its most abject moral failures. In the shadow of this history, Summers was surely correct when he told Kristol, “I’m not sure that boycotting Hitler’s universities would actually have been such a terrible thing.”
A sweeping condemnation of boycotts in the name of academic freedom, as proffered by many university leaders today, provides cover for those who feel compelled to publicly oppose BDS, but don’t wish to be seen as supporting Israel — a controversial stance in academe that invites much more backlash than casting their position as a principled defense of academic freedom. Ignoring the immorality at the heart of BDS — the singling out of Israel for opprobrium from among all the nations — university leaders appear to seize the moral high ground of defending academic freedom while lending a veneer of legitimacy to the invidious attacks on Israel from BDS proponents. Summers is right to be disappointed — and likely to be so for a long time to come.
Algemeiner, Feb. 5, 2016
I recently attended a Vassar College event sponsored by the “Dialogue and Engagement Across Differences” program, established by the president of the college to help students and faculty discuss contentious issues.
The chosen topic, “Conversation About Israel/Palestine,” is one that, in the real world, generates striking differences of opinion. The underlying assumption of a “dialogue across differences” is that participants hold different opinions. However, the two speakers, Hartford Seminary’s Professor Yehezkel Landau and Duke University’s Turkish Imam Abdullah Antepli, differing in nationality, religion and life history, espoused the same opinions, i.e., that although Israel has a right to exist, it is an oppressive human rights abuser of innocent, victimized Palestinians. Landau and Antepli called each other “soul brothers” and their message represents the prevailing campus narrative about Israel. Their views are well known at the Poughkeepsie college, and predictably, their conversation was a duet rather than a dialogue.
Vassar described this program, before and even afterwards, as a model for dealing with conflict, despite the absence of any discernible conflict between the speakers. To comprehend how intelligent college administrators could promote such a sham, one needs to understand the current condition of higher education on elite liberal arts college campuses like Vassar.
Traditionally, a liberal arts education sought truth by exposing students to a marketplace of ideas, studying the past for insights into the present. However, over the last half century, the university has undergone an astounding revolution. Rather than using the past to understand the present, academics today create their own conclusions about the present and use the past selectively to achieve a political objective. Under the guise of “social justice” (redistribution of wealth and power), these academics look at the world through the lenses of power and oppression, blaming all inequities on the moral failures of Western civilization and demanding equality of results rather than equality of opportunity.
They insist that victims of these societal failures deserve compensation for past and current injustice. This philosophy is called “post-colonialism,” a narrative of good and evil legitimized by pointing to examples in history, literature, and even science. Those who reject this orthodoxy, intentionally or otherwise, will not only be bullied into admitting their error, but also be subjected to “sensitivity training” about incorrect speech or thought, the undeserved benefits of “white privilege,” and the victimization of gays, women and people of color. While faculty laud diversity in gender, class, sexual preferences, race and national origin, there is, in fact, no diversity in political views and opinions on campuses today. Freedom of thought has morphed into indoctrination of thought.
Post-colonialists, mired in politically correct multiculturalism, argue that it is important not only to respect the political rights of others, but also to accept their cultures and value systems. Believing that all world cultures have equal value and that non-Western societies have suffered as a result of Western colonialism, they see no conflict in empathizing with and championing Middle Eastern countries that treat women as chattel and murder gays. To them, these people can’t be expected to adhere to Western moral standards, especially since those standards are fundamentally flawed.
This worldview significantly impacts the narrative about the Israel-Palestinian situation, where the constant drumbeat of anti-Western propaganda inevitably leads to an anti-Israel climate on campuses. At Vassar, the “dialogue across differences” event represents a classic example of groupthink, where conflict is minimized, disagreement with consensus views is strongly discouraged, and where harmony is valued above accurate analysis and critical evaluation. Vassar’s “Conversation about Israel/Palestine” was a charade contextualized by negative foundational assumptions of Western imperialism. The ideological message about Israel included only selective historical references, with both speakers blaming Israel for the lack of peace, holding the Palestinians blameless, and insisting that Israel sacrifice to repair the situation.
There was no mention of the multiple Palestinian rejections of generous Israeli peace proposals. Absent was consideration that the conflict is a religious war in which the Arabs will not tolerate Jews in their midst. There was no acknowledgement of Israel’s legitimate security needs. Discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was framed as oppressor versus victim. To add another element to the spurious discourse, Vassar’s director of Religious and Spiritual Life asserted that the Palestinian “struggle for dignity and justice” is linked to the racial and economic injustice in the US. The speakers advocated that successful dialogue about the conflict must eliminate polarization, avoid the black-and-white perspective and the “villains-and-victims” mentality. But they contradicted themselves by talking about Palestinian victims and Israeli villains in the context of good versus evil. Their presentation was replete with divisive terms such as “illegal occupation,” “expulsion of the Palestinians,” “Nakba” and the reference to Israel as a hyphenated “Israel-Palestine.”
Vassar and other elite liberal schools create the world as they wish it to be, not as it is, viewing the Israeli/Palestinian issue as they view all issues, through an anti-Western prism, with Israel as the foreign Western colonialist established by Western imperialism victimizing the “indigenous” Palestinian “people of color.” To Vassar progressives, Zionism is a nationalistic movement imposing a collective injustice on one people to rectify a worldwide injustice to another, rather than the liberation movement of the Jewish people, espousing the return of an ancient people to its historic homeland…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
IPT, Jan. 27, 2016
To understand just how depraved today's college campuses are, compare the treatment of two professors – one defending a Western, pro-American democracy (Israel) and the other suspected of supporting this century's most gruesome Islamist terror organization, the Islamic State ("ISIS"). Julio Pino, an associate history professor at Kent State University, is under investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for potential ties to ISIS. Pino's jihadist leanings and virulently anti-Israel rants on social media include possible threats against the U.S. government. In 2002, he praised a teenage Palestinian suicide bomber who had killed two people in Jerusalem, saying that the teen had "died a martyr's death in occupied Jerusalem, Palestine."
In a 2014 open letter to "academic friends of Israel," Pino published an unhinged and anti-Semitic invective: "I hold you directly responsible for the murder of over 1,400 Palestinian children, women and elderly civilians over the past month…[w]hile The Chosen drain the blood of innocents without apologies you hide behind the mask of academic objectivity, nobility of research and the reward of teaching to foreign youth – in a segregated university, of course." Pino closed the letter with: "Jihad until victory!"
Despite decades of hateful and extremist rants, Kent State reportedly gave Pino multiple awards, including the Faculty Excellence Award in 2010, 2003, 2000 and 1996, along with the Professional Excellence Award in 1999 and 1997. Kent State remains comfortable with him in the classroom despite the over-the-top rhetoric and news of a federal investigation. The Kent Stater, the university's student newspaper, provided him with a video platform to defend himself, and the editorial board wrote that "it is too soon to make a judgment on the investigation…"
Contrast Pino's case with Connecticut College's treatment of professor Andrew Pessin for defending Israel in its 2014 war with Hamas (a State Department-designated terrorist organization). Over half a year after Pessin's Facebook post critiquing Hamas, the student newspaper at Connecticut College launched a surprise character assassination by publishing three editorials condemning Pessin (including on the front page), without giving him a chance to defend himself against libelous accusations of racism.
In a reportedly packed auditorium Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron said that she was "disappointed by the language" of Pessin's post, which "seemed to show poor judgment," and she praised "the valor of the students who responded to these incidents by exercising their own right of free speech with confidence and intellectual acuity." These statements by Bergeron (as of this writing) continue to appear on the college's web site, long after a Washington Post column cited available evidence to make a compelling case that the allegations against Pessin were politically motivated lies.
More absurdly, Bergeron promised to "review our social media policies to ensure they include appropriate advisory language about respectful expression," even as her administration continues to allow the school's student newspaper to host libels against Pessin alongside anti-Semitic rants. As if public condemnation of Pessin weren't enough, the administration continues to display statements from scores of academic departments, school officials, student associations, and other college affiliates, denouncing Pessin on the official Connecticut College website. As of this writing, no other issue or speech is similarly scrutinized or condemned on the school's official web site.
At the same public forum last March, Bergeron also promised to update the school's "protocol for bias incidents so that those who come forward under these circumstances are well served by the process." Too bad her lofty commitments proved empty after the bias incidents against Jewish students at the school last December, when Conn Students in Solidarity with Palestine ("CSSP") placed posters around campus bashing Birthright, a program that helps young people travel to Israel. The CSSP posters call the program a form of "settler colonialism" and demonize Israel. As Phyllis Chesler reported, the administration's spinelessly neutral response was to "recognize CSSP's right to share its perspective [and] the right of members of the community to express their disagreement with the posters' characterization of the Birthright program."
Anti-Israel sentiment is therefore welcome on bulletin boards throughout Connecticut College's campus, regardless of whether it is true. But the "poor judgment" Andrew Pessin showed in a Facebook post merits his absence from campus for at least a year, especially in comparison with "the valor of the students" who refused to accept his apology and his immediate clarification that he was speaking only about the Hamas terrorists in Gaza…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
In Latest Blood Libel, US Prof Accuses Israel of Harvesting Arab Organs, Assassinating Teenagers: Ahuva Balofsky, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 10, 2016—Vassar College in upstate New York is once again in the news as a hotbed of anti-Semitism, as a professor accused Israel of assassinating teens, harvesting organs and stunting Palestinians’ growth, Israel National News reported Tuesday.
Anti-Israel Fanaticism on Oberlin Campus Creating Hostile Environment for Jews, Says Active Alumnus: Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2016—Pro-BDS activists are largely responsible for creating a hostile environment for Jewish students at Oberlin College today, a 1986 Oberlin alumnus told the blog Legal Insurrection.
From BDS to Ferguson: Columbia U. Panel Takes Aim at Israel: Mara Schiffren, Frontpage, Jan. 13, 2016—The nexus between boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and Black Lives Matter activists that began with the 2014 protests following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri culminated in a recent panel discussion at Columbia University.
The Ugly PC Race to be the ‘Victimiest’ Victim: Carrie Lukas, New York Post, Jan. 29 2015—Actress Julie Delpy should have known she was doomed to defeat in her artless attempt to displace African-Americans as bigger victims of discrimination in Hollywood.