Academic Freedom, for Anti-Semites Alone

This weekend, the Palestine Writes Literature Festival, whose self-described mission is “celebrating and promoting cultural productions of Palestinian writers and artists,” is taking place at the University of Pennsylvania, co-sponsored by several of the college’s institutions. Following complaints by major Jewish organizations, the university issued a statement acknowledging that “several speakers [at the event] have a documented and troubling history of engaging in anti-Semitism by speaking and acting in ways that denigrate Jewish people,” while making clear that to prevent the event from taking place would be an affront to academic freedom. The organizers, meanwhile, issued a statement defending themselves against accusations of anti-Semitism from “highly funded, connected, and organized Zionist organizations” that “operate in the shadows.”

Jonathan Tobin comments:

In principle, there should be nothing controversial about a conference devoted to a particular group’s literature. But this event seems designed more to provoke outrage than it is to further scholarly sessions or papers about a literary niche.

[T]he fact that “Palestine Writes” will also be featuring international anti-Semites like the Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters (last seen in Berlin cavorting in a Nazi-like uniform at one of his concerts/propaganda sessions) and the [CNN] commentator Marc Lamont Hill (best known for his declaration of support for a Palestine “from the river to the sea” and Israel’s eradication) speaks volumes about its actual purpose. They are not Palestinian writers, academics, or literary experts tasked to explain why exponents of hatred for Israel are “marginalized.”

If one conceives of academic freedom as protecting virtually any form of speech or study undertaken by a scholar, teacher, or student, then [the question of whether to allow the event would be settled]. But . . . could anyone possibly imagine a conference being sponsored at any institution of higher learning in which the subject matter was focused on hate of a specific group like African Americans, Asians, or Hispanics? Or if such an event would feature not just academics who support such prejudice but non-academic celebrities who embrace that agenda? Of course not.

Read more at JNS

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

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security