Talk about Anti-Semitism at a College Campus, and the Anti-Semites Will Show Up

Oct. 24 2019

At a conference held at Bard College two weeks ago on the subject of “racism and anti-Semitism,” a group of protesters—organized by Students for Justice in Palestine—attempted with some success to disrupt a talk by Ruth Wisse and two (Jewish) discussants. (Wisse, known for speaking her mind forcefully against campus anti-Semitism, thanked the protestors for “providing a demonstration” of the topic at hand.) Administrators and security did little to stop the demonstrators.

While such scenes are hardly remarkable in today’s universities, more notable was the flood of indignant denials from conference participants that followed an article by one of the discussants, Batya Ungar-Sargon, describing what happened. The indignation, perhaps, stemmed from Ungar-Sargon’s willingness to label the demonstrations anti-Semitic. Shany Mor, a professor at Bard and the third participant on the panel, defends Ungar-Sargon’s account and exposes the feeble excuses for the thuggish behavior of the students:

The protest was only against Wisse, I was told repeatedly, even though flyers against all three of us were distributed. This was the reception controversial speakers should expect, I was told, even though there were many far more controversial speakers at the conference. But this is a liberal campus, I was told, and the reception was always going to be worse for controversial speakers from the right than from the left. This was doubly odd, as neither Ungar-Sargon nor I can be fairly imagined as being on the right by anyone’s imagination.

And, while many of the more provocative lectures were not terribly provocative to a left-liberal audience, [others] were. There was a panelist who argued that black underachievement was not due to racism but to fathers. There was a panelist arguing that “chosenness” had distorted Jewish political thought and as such infected later European thought on colonialism. . . . . There was a panelist who argued that certain African and Asian countries might have been better off had they remained under European colonial rule. . . . Some had difficult questions from the audience; many didn’t even have that. None was protested.

This is what makes [one Bard professor’s] claim that the demonstration was motivated by nothing more than the fact that the three panelists “espouse political opinions with which the students disagree” so outrageous. It’s understandable that this is what he might want believe, but it’s verifiably false. The three of us up there on that stage actually have radically different political views from each other, and radically different views on the issue in question at that session. This would have been apparent had a civilized discussion taken place.

Indeed, notes Mor, Students for Justice in Palestine chose only to target “the one panel [exclusively] of Jewish speakers, presented as Jews, talking about Jew-hatred [at] the entire two-day conference.”

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Read more at Forward

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, Ruth Wisse, Students for Justice in Palestine

 

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy