Old-School Anti-Semites Discuss Anti-Semitism at the New School

The New School for Social Research plans to host a panel this evening titled “Anti-Semitism and the Struggle for Justice”; participants include the Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour (infamous for such comments as “nothing is creepier than Zionism”) and two representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization dedicated to anti-Israel propagandizing. At the same time, the panel includes no speakers with a record of opposing anti-Semitism or defending the Jewish state, or of representing any political orientation outside the far left. Phyllis Chesler, herself an alumna of the New School, comments:

The description of the panel tells us: “Anti-Semitism is harmful and real. But when anti-Semitism is redefined as criticism of Israel, critics of Israeli policy become accused and targeted more than the growing far-right. Join us for a discussion on how to combat anti-Semitism today.”

More targeted than the far-right? . . . Words almost fail me [reading the organizers’] self-serving bid for victim status: they themselves are the aggressors who maliciously conflate anti-Semitism, which they practice, with “criticism of Israel,” as if the all-powerful Jewish Lobby is now threatening to shut down even the most innocent “criticism” of its actions. The canard is so transparent that it’s amazing to think that educated people believe it. But being educated has never proved to be a bar against being anti-Semitic, or being a camp follower or appeaser of haters. . . .

It is ironic: even as charges of “appropriation” are leveled at men who write about women, whites who write about non-whites, non-gays who write about gays—the single exception is that of allowing a non-Jew like Sarsour to hold forth in an academic setting as an “expert” on a subject about which she knows absolutely nothing.

The New School panel is political theater, meant to intimidate, appease, and entertain, not to educate. It is possible because hatred of Jews is in fashion on the left these days, and because academics are in denial about Islamist violence, whether it targets Jews, women, gays, or other minorities. Therefore, they seek to appease such violence by siding with it against permissible scapegoats, beginning with the Jews and Israel. Academics who should have more nuanced views of geopolitical conflicts instead view the jihadist aggressors as “victims” and their true victims . . . as perpetrators.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, Israel on campus, Linda Sarsour

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