Connecticut College Surrenders to the Digital Lynch Mob

Last February, a student at Connecticut College discovered a Facebook post from the previous summer in which philosophy professor Andrew Pessin compared Hamas to “a rabid pit-bull.” The student complained to the professor via email; he apologized, admitted that the post could be misconstrued as speaking of Gazans in general, and took down the post. Then, David Bernstein writes, things got interesting:

[The student], unsatisfied, complained to other members of the university community. Just before spring break, the school newspaper published three (obviously coordinated) opinion pieces condemning Pessin. . . . The final piece . . . absurdly, perhaps even libelously, claimed that “Professor Pessin directly condoned the extermination of a people.” Before publishing these pieces, the editor-in-chief . . . failed to contact Pessin for a response or comment.

Pessin, acting under some bad advice from university administrators, in turn wrote a rather craven letter to the editor further apologizing for the Facebook post. The apology, rather than ending the matter, was interpreted by campus activists as an admission of guilt.

The result was an international controversy that included threats against Pessin and his family, knee-jerk reactions from academic departments throughout Connecticut College denouncing their colleague’s purported racism, denunciation without investigation by the usual suspects in the world of academic philosophy, and a school-sponsored “community conversation on free speech, equity, and inclusion” that was so “inclusive” that the two Jewish students who spoke [and] criticized the Pessin witch-hunt were, depending on the account, either booed or at least “met with derision.” . . .

Shame on the Connecticut College faculty for feeding the digital lynch mob rather than standing up for their colleague, or at least wallowing in ignominious silence.

(For an update, please see here.)

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Academia, Facebook, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israel on campus

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria