How the Campus Crusade against Israel Suppresses Freedom of Speech and Open Inquiry

In 2015, a group of students at Connecticut College drove the philosophy professor Andrew Pessin off campus, aided by faculty and administrators who were more than willing to throw him to the wolves. Pessin’s crime? First, he commented on the intolerance of fundamentalist Islam at a panel discussion about the Charlie Hebdo killings; then Khandaker dug up a Facebook post from the previous year in which Pessin compared Hamas to a “rabid dog.” Elliot Kaufman, reviewing a recent book on the affair, comments:

Did Pessin write anything wrong in his [Facebook] post? In one sense, perhaps it doesn’t matter. Wilfred Reilly’s research on hate-crime hoaxes has shown that where no racism is forthcoming, many activists will fabricate it. They know that lectures on structural racism aren’t enough; enemies are needed to spur radical action. On U.S. campuses, “the demand for bigots exceeds the supply,” Reilly has said. Still, the truth should guide our judgments. We owe it to Pessin to search for it.

A careful examination of text and context, the sort of thing that liberal arts colleges are supposed to teach, must conclude that Pessin meant to speak harshly only about Hamas. But . . . Katherine Bergeron, the college president, objected in a speech to the “vehemence” of the image in Pessin’s analogy. But, of course, she really only objected to a certain kind of vehemence. . . . It is indicative of the prevailing moral confusion that a university president would tut-tut a defender of a free society for his vehemence in opposing a genocidal terrorist group.

I decided to take a look at the Facebook profile of Lamiya Khandaker, [the student who led the crusade against Pessin], as she and fellow activists did to Pessin. . . . On May 7, 2019, Khandaker shared a graphic of the casualties from “Israel’s war on Gaza” and wrote the following comment: “Blame Hamas all you want, but numbers don’t lie. Our politicians are despicable dogs” (emphasis is mine). This from the woman who attempted to destroy a professor’s life for using almost the same “dehumanizing” language.

Turns out, it’s just standard heated political rhetoric, which she favors herself. The whole thing was a ploy, a cheap appeal to liberal compassion that works if you belong to a favored group and your opponent, a Jew, does not.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, Facebook, 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