An Arab Knesset Member’s Bold Statements about Israel’s Jewish Identity Deserve Praise

Last week, the Israeli Arab parliamentarian Mansour Abbas—who broke precedent this year by leading his Islamist Ra’am party into the governing coalition—made headlines again when he told an interviewer:

The state of Israel was born as a Jewish state. That’s the people’s decision. . . . It was born that way and that’s how it will remain. . . . We [Arabs] have to decide whether we want to engage in campaigns that have a chance of succeeding—and then we’ll be able to develop as a society and prosper, and be an influential sector of society—or whether we want to be in an isolationist position and continue to talk about all these things for another 100 years.

Yet, notes Ruthie Blum, Abbas has also made statements of a different sort in Arabic to his supporters, and just recently one of his fellow Ra’am parliamentarians appeared publicly with a notorious terror-preaching religious leader. Nonetheless, Blum writes,

it’s not for nothing that [Abbas] had to hire private bodyguards to protect him from Arab citizens angry at him for “selling out” to the Zionists by vowing to place legislative work for his community above Islamism and Palestinian activism. Ditto regarding the Knesset guard’s order earlier this month that he be provided with a security detail, due to threats on his life for being part of Israel’s governing coalition.

Even after being attacked by Arab Israelis and Palestinians across the spectrum, Abbas—who last month told the Nazareth-based Kul al-Arab newspaper and news site, “whether we like it or not, Israel is a Jewish state, and my central goal is to define the status of the country’s Arab citizens”— refused to retract. In fact, he doubled down. . . . These words, from an Islamist party leader, are significant in and of themselves. That he uttered them unapologetically, publicly, and in Arabic makes him not only courageous, but credible.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Islamism, Israeli Arabs, Knesset, Mansour Abbas


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