This post is a tad belated and was supposed to be published on a conservative website. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to publish it here on my blog. Better late than never!
Amid growing anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiments at American universities nationwide—most pointedly the University of California—Jewish students and their pro-Israel allies must go on the offensive.
No one should dismiss the looming threat of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. It is a pervasive and equally contentious problem at universities. Instances like the disruptive antics of the “Irvine 11”, the physical assault of a UC Berkeley student, and anti-Semitic threats against a Rutgers University student, to name a few, evidence the need for Israel advocates to combat misinformation.
Here at UC-San Diego (UCSD), anti-Israeli bias is prevalent.
Following David Horowitz’s May 2010 appearance here—which resulted in a heated exchange between him and a female member of the Muslim Student Association—tensions escalated. For example, a May 2010 UCSD Guardian editorial insisted that Jewish students should feel threatened by “Israel Apartheid” week. More recently, UCSD’s chapter of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) published a full-page ad condemning anti-Israeli bias on campus in the UCSD Guardian, only to receive condemnation from various pro-Palestinian apologists.
Nevertheless, the case for Israel on campus is a legitimate one.
On October 3, 2011, UCSD’s SPME chapter hosted a lecture entitled, “The Palestinian Bid for Statehood at the UN: Breakthrough or Setback?” to discuss the implications of a Palestinian state rooted in terrorism. This event came in wake of Friday’s deliberations over whether or not the United Nations should grant unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) to Palestinians.
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is a global organization that boasts chapters in the United States, Europe, and Africa. It started in 2002 by various university faculty members upset by the rise of anti-Semitism on campuses. SPME desires to bring “rational and civil discourse” by “recognizing academic freedom and freedom of speech with rights and responsibilities.”
Four lecturers gave their respective takes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, highlighting Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist.
The first speaker, Professor Donna Robinson Divine of Smith College, discussed the Arab Spring and its impact on peace talks.
Divine said through the “Arab Spring, particularly with the upheaval of Egypt, Abbas lost major support…patron in Hosni Mubarak.”
She added that the Arab Spring’s anti-Israeli sentiment signals “more demonstrations and protests, more anger expressed at Egypt signing a peace treaty” and “more anger expressed at Israel.” She concluded her speech by illuminating the problem with Mahmoud Abbas’ failure to negotiate peace with Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The Palestinian leadership—Mahmoud Abbas—even if Israel agreed to every demand, Mahmoud Abbas cannot deliver an end of the conflict because Hamas rules Gaza.”
Divine was followed by Professor Jonathan Adeleman, Ph.D., of University of Denver.
Adeleman discussed the case for Israel in terms of pragmatism and real politick. He noted that Palestinians would win the popular vote in the United Nations, but would not garner enough votes from the U.N. Security Council. This, he says, is attributed to “how much more powerful is Israel in the international arena than the Palestinians.”
He added, “Israel is a major power economically, militarily” compared to the Palestinians
Dr. Roberta Seid of UC-Irvine then discussed the implications surrounding peace talks, with respect to Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Seid remarked, “One of the main reasons there is this opposition is Abbas’ move would cut off peace through direct negotiations.”
“The whole Oedipus of peacemaking is undermined, including the legitimacy of the PA, which was set up by the Oslo Accords. It supports and rewards this Palestinian tactic of bypassing negotiations and avoiding concessions for peace. It also—were the UN to approve this—would increase more violence,” she added.
The lecture concluded with Kenneth L. Marcus of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research. He discussed legal rights of Jewish students as enumerated in the Education and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“If you look at the hot topics of the Middle East…it has played out in various ways on college campuses,” Marcus said.
He discussed cases ranging from the Irvine 11’s recent indictment over disruption charges to UC Berkeley’s failure to protect Jewish students from assault with respect to Jessica Felber’s case.
He added, “The Office of Civil Rights of Dept of Education is not a court, but is important for ensuring that students in public schools don’t face discrimination…If you see this abuse on campus, seek it out.”
To contrast Israel bashing at American universities, scholars and students should demand civil and rational dialogue at their respective campuses. They cannot allow pro-Palestinian proponents to dictate debate and equally spin misinformation about Israel.
Lectures like this one at UC-San Diego are promising. More events like this across the country can propel the defeat of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiments at universities.