Coddling the Jackals at Bard College

Ruth R. Wisse
pick
Dec. 23 2019
About Ruth

Ruth R. Wisse is a Mosaic columnist, professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, is out from Wicked Son Press.

Asked to participate in a panel discussion at Bard College—part of a two-day conference on “racism and anti-Semitism”—Ruth R. Wisse found herself facing an all-too-typical scene as a group of anti-Semitic students, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), tried (unsuccessfully) to disrupt her talk by standing between her and the audience, backs to the speakers. University faculty and administrators, in Wisse’s evaluation, worsened the situation with their permissive policies, their insistence on whisking her away immediately after the panel to prevent further confrontations with students, and even their attempts to defend her after the fact:

“It is our job as professors to teach students how to think, not what to think.” “Rather than building walls, we are proud to create an open forum where people with different opinions can come together to stop and think.” These are some of the conclusions that the kindly Professor Samantha Hill, [in an article on the subject], draws from the Bard incident, perhaps intending to extend even greater protection to “protesters” than the college already has in place. Had she shown more faith in their ability to think, she might have set up a meeting between me and the protesters, insisting that so-called students have the courage to face me with their arguments. Showing me their backsides merely proved what they are substituting for brains.

The indulgence of this anti-intellectualism was the first of Bard’s mistakes. Honest students and teachers will always find their way to one another, but colleges that replace the teachings of our civilization with academic tasting stations are no longer engaged in higher education. Moreover, the students were almost certainly steered to SJP and sicced on me by faculty ideologues who look for converts rather than truth.

The conveners [of the conference] deserve credit for addressing anti-Semitism in the current academic climate, but the disrupters, in their way, inadvertently exposed problems with the conference that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. . . . Linking racism and anti-Semitism in the conference title made it impossible to address the way the claim of “racism” was being weaponized by Arab-Muslim groups and the post-Soviet left to promote anti-Jewish aggression.

To subsume anti-Jewish politics under another category like racism was to prevent action against it. The conference made no attempt to identify, much less investigate, the ideological warfare that Arab propagandists, Islamists, Middle East scholars, radical leftists, intersectionality activists, and other aggressors are waging against Israel and the Western democracies for which Israel is a stand-in. In fact, if the conveners thought they might get away with treating anti-Semitism in today’s college climate by combining it with racism, the grievance groups had seen right through the ruse and organized their protest against the only session devoted to exposing them.

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Read more at Commentary

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

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy