The German Foreign Minister’s Spat with Netanyahu Is a Political Ploy

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu canceled his scheduled meetings with Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, when the latter insisted on paying visits to representatives of Breaking the Silence during his time in Israel. Benjamin Weinthal argues that Gabriel deliberately created a conflict with the Israeli prime minister to garner votes for his party in an upcoming election:

A new . . . survey shows Gabriel may very well be amplifying his hostility toward Israel’s government for his personal electoral gain. There is a huge pool of Germans who can be whipped up to vote for his Social Democratic party because of hatred of Israel. Just last week, a new independent German government-commissioned report said roughly 40 percent of Germans loathe the Jewish state. Prior to Gabriel’s visit to Israel, [a prominent polling organization] revealed Gabriel’s party running behind the two conservative parties. . . .

Gabriel stumbled, wittingly or unwittingly, into a second fiasco in the German media. He wrote in an opinion article on Tuesday . . . that “Social Democrats were, like the Jews, the first victims of the Holocaust.” . . . The [since-corrected online version] now reads: “Social Democrats were, like the Jews, the first victims of the Nazis.” It is unclear whether the print editions of the article that appeared in Cologne, Berlin, and Frankfurt issued corrections. . . .

The [German] journalist Wolfgang Pohrt captured the hubris of German elites when he described them as acting as Israel’s probation officers to prevent “their victims from relapsing.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Breaking the Silence, Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus