Open letter in defense of academic freedom in Palestine/Israel and in the United States
By FACULTY on March 1, 2014 in OPINIONS - 46 Comments

A statement from members of the Vassar College faculty in response to condemnation of the American Studies Association resolution of December 4, 2013

February 28, 2014

As faculty committed to academic freedom for all people everywhere, we wish to voice our dissent from the public statement by Vassar College President Catharine Bond Hill and Dean of Faculty Jonathan Chenette on Jan. 2, 2014. The statement condemned the American Studies Association (ASA) resolution endorsing and honoring the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions until Israel’s government ends its systemic discrimination and human rights violations against Palestinians, respects the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, and fully complies with its associated obligations under international law.

We dissent because, rather than upholding the principle of academic freedom in its most expansive sense, their condemnatory statement could have a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas and opinions on our campus and across the broader society. In addition, their statement does not present a clear understanding of the resolution and therefore misrepresents the precise nature and purpose of the ASA statement. Furthermore, by not acknowledging the concrete realities which led to the ASA resolution, their statement sidesteps ethical questions about our responsibility for the plight of Palestinians and our obligations as scholars and human beings to speak out against gross injustice. Finally, it also obscures the effectiveness of non-violent boycotts in ending similar gross injustices.

Our colleagues in one of the oldest professional associations in the United States arrived at their decision after an extensive and open debate about the situation in Palestine/Israel. Rather than reflexively rushing to join the bandwagon of condemnation of the ASA, we have a responsibility to try to understand the different dimensions of the debate and the nuances in the resolution. The resolution did not call for the boycotting of individual scholars or termination of collaborations between Israeli and U.S. scholars and students. Nor did it call for the cessation of dialogue with these scholars; in fact the ASA is inviting Palestinian and Israeli scholars to its conference in November. What the resolution calls for is the boycott of Israeli academic institutions because they have been directly or indirectly complicit in the systematic maintenance of the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory as well as the continued domination and dispossession of Palestinians, and because they have not condemned discriminatory policies and practices against Palestinian scholars and students. Some Israeli scholars who are affiliated with these institutions in fact support the boycott.

We believe that a real threat to academic freedom lies in the recent frenzied campaign by journalists, universities, and lawmakers to censure or delegitimize the ASA. This campaign undermines academic freedom by labeling scholars anti-Semitic or self-hating, punishing and withholding institutional support for faculty members of the association, and pushing for punitive state legislation. Academic freedom protects faculty who wish to participate in thoughtful, ethical actions. It exists so that colleges and universities may stimulate rather than repress discussion of difficult and controversial subjects, including the current Israeli occupation and blockade of Palestinians and their land in violation of international law and the U.S. role in this process. We cannot ignore how the Israeli state systematically denies academic freedom and access to education for Palestinians. Such action has been thoroughly documented by organizations like the Institute of Middle East Understanding, B’tselem and Jewish Voice for Peace.

We are troubled by reports that academics and activists that work outside of Israel/Palestine are monitored and policed on their campuses and in other forums, particularly if their research is critical of Israeli policies. There have been countless examples of academics in the United States and abroad that have been unfairly harassed, targeted, and denigrated by the scare tactics of watchdog groups and alumni. This surveillance has resulted in the disruption of robust academic and intellectual processes, the creation of a climate of fear and silence, and, in some cases, the unjust destruction of one’s academic career. We want on our campuses, including here at Vassar, to have open, honest and principled discussion about the situation in Palestine/Israel, without the labeling, targeting, and harassing of faculty, students, administrators and staff who disagree with, or are opposed to Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

We cannot afford to be passive about the considerable violence and brutality that the Israeli state has inflicted and continues to inflict upon the Palestinian people and other minoritized populations, particularly as the United States financially, militarily and diplomatically supports the Israeli state, and thereby contributes to the ongoing occupation.  Even the ardent supporters of Israel cannot deny the ongoing systematic dispossession of Palestinians, the destruction of their homes and livelihood, the expansion of illegal settlements beyond the 1967 borders, and the general humiliation and hardship Palestinians must endure as walls, checkpoints, apartheid legislation, and control of movement deny Palestinians self-determination, freedom, and basic human rights. While Palestinians have been fighting for their freedom since their dispossession in 1948, the world has remained largely silent with regard to this humanitarian crisis.

Several critics of the resolution assert that this boycott unfairly targets Israel over other nation-states that abuse human rights. We certainly acknowledge that human rights abuses operate on many levels across the globe, including in the United States, and agree that if any institution or body wanted to boycott US academic institutions for their complicity in settler colonialism, illegal occupations and wars, or affiliation with unjust corporate entities, we would not condemn such resolutions, and, certainly, some of us would even support them. That said, we cannot be blind to the fact that there is a growing movement internationally to hold Israel accountable for its human rights abuses. Palestinian civil society–within the nation-state of Israel, in the occupied West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, and in the Diaspora–along with many Jewish Israeli and non-Israeli allies, have called for this academic and cultural boycott as part of the larger campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

The ASA statement, far from limiting academic freedom, represents the fruits of a free and open discussion among academics who refuse to dismiss the internationally-recognized right of people under colonial and foreign occupation to resist their occupiers and assert their dignity. The non-violent boycott of institutions, businesses, and organizations that are complicit in the systematic oppression and dispossession of subordinated groups has a long history. Boycotts have highlighted the suffering of oppressed groups, and have been instrumental in shifting the consciousness of those that benefit from this oppression, culminating in the elimination of exploitative and discriminatory laws and policies. As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56, we cannot forget its seminal role in energizing the African-American-led campaign against desegregation and for Civil Rights in the United States. We cannot heap encomiums on Nelson Mandela following his death late last year, and then forget that he was a strong advocate of the boycott of academic, cultural and business institutions that supported Apartheid in South Africa–a boycott that many Vassar faculty and students supported in the 1980s by advocating for the College’s divestment from U.S. companies doing business there. Nor can we ignore that many icons of the anti-Apartheid struggle–such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu–support the BDS campaign today.

In the spirit of an expansive academic freedom, humanity, and good faith, we welcome honest and responsible engagement in discussions surrounding the role of academic boycotts in the attainment of justice and dignity for all people.

Sincerely,
Barbara Olsen, Associate Professor of Greek and Roman Studies
Brian Godfrey, Professor of Geography
Candice Lowe Swift, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Carlos Alamo-Pastrana, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Colette Cann, Assistant Professor of Education
David Tavárez, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Diane Harriford, Professor of Sociology
Donald W. Foster, Professor of English
Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English
Erin McCloskey, Assistant Professor of Education
Eugenio Giusti, Associate Professor of Italian
Eva Woods Peiró, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies
Eve D’Ambra, Professor of Art on the Agnes Rindge Claflin Chair
Giovanna Borradori, Professor of Philosophy
Hiram Perez, Assistant Professor of English
Ismail Rashid, Professor of History
Jennifer Church, Professor of Philosophy
Joseph Nevins, Associate Professor of Geography
Joshua Schreier, Associate Professor of History
Julie Hughes, Assistant Professor of History
Katherine Hite, Professor of Political Science on the Frederick Ferris Thompson Chair
Keith Lindner, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Geography
Kirsten Menking, Associate Professor of Earth Science
Lawrence Mamiya, Professor of Religion and Africana Studies on the Mattie M. Paschall Davis and Norman H. Davis Chair
Lydia Murdoch, Associate Professor of History
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Professor of Hispanic Studies on the Sarah Tod Fitz Randolph Distinguished Professor Chair
Maria Hantzopoulos, Assistant Professor of Education
Mario Cesareo, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies
Michael Walsh, Associate Professor of Religion
Mita Choudhury, Professor of History
Quincy Mills, Associate Professor of History
Rebecca Edwards, Professor of History on the Eloise Ellery Chair
Samson O. Opondo, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Susan Hiner, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies
Tarik Ahmed Elseewi, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Film
Thomas Ellman, Associate Professor of Computer Science
Timothy Koechlin, Senior Lecturer in International Studies and Urban Studies
Tyrone Simpson, Associate Professor of English and American Studies
Zachariah Mampilly, Associate Professor of Political Science

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46 Comments on "Open letter in defense of academic freedom in Palestine/Israel and in the United States"

  1. Joseph Smith March 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm · Reply

    The ASA statement, far from limiting academic freedom, represents the fruits of a free and open discussion among academics who refuse to dismiss the internationally-recognized right of people under colonial and foreign occupation to resist their occupiers and assert their dignity.”

    Stifling the voices of many is THE DEFINITION of limiting academic freedom. As Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” That is precisely what you people sound like. Academic freedom means hearing ALL points of view.

    Also, not to sound insulting to all of the intelligent people in these departments, but there are very few signatures from “objectively thinking” type departments on that list. This is not a surprise. People who think objectively would realize that they are paying a disproportionate and unfair level of attention to Israel. Objective thinkers would understand that many other countries treat their own citizens poorly, notably Israel’s neighbors. Objective thinkers would understand that Jews could find this unfair level of criticism as Anti-Semitic.

    As I wrote in a Say Anything post, why not have an academic boycott of Qatar, a country using slave labor to build soccer stadiums for the World Cup. An objective thinker would understand that that is infinitely worse than anything going on in Israel. Iran hangs gay people. Why not have an academic boycott of Iran? Women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia. Why not have a boycott of Saudi Arabia?

    People will stop calling you Anti-Semites once you start treating the Jewish state the same as other states.

    • Andrew Utas March 3, 2014 at 7:06 pm · Reply

      Good idea. Lets treat Israel like all of the other states. Find me the other states that were created in the middle of the 20th century by a UN resolution, were built on the back of massive ethnic cleansing campaigns, receive billions in US foreign aid every year and occupy land inhabited by million of people effectively rendering them sanctioned prisoners of the Israeli regime.

      NO OTHER PLACES LIKE THIS EXIST.

      So you can continue to compare apples and oranges, but it makes a poor argument. Nobody is denying that there are injustices that happen all of the time around the world. However Israeli injustices are the only ones that we are funding with our tax money and the only ones that people like you are fighting not to end or ignore, but rather to maintain.

      • Andrew Utas March 3, 2014 at 7:11 pm · Reply

        correction: Israeli injustices are not the “only ones” we are funding with our tax dollars. They are one of many. But they are also the best funded and least in danger of loosing that “aid”.

      • Joseph Smith March 4, 2014 at 12:05 am · Reply

        So your response to the US giving aid to Israel is to boycott Israel? Where is the logic in that?

        If you want to take action against a US policy, petition your representatives. What does a boycott accomplish?

        Also, I seem to remember that same UN Resolution from the mid-20th century that would have split the land into two states (something Israel still wants to do but the Palestinians refuse). The Palestinian plan is to kick the Jews out of the middle east. Isn’t that the ethnic cleansing that you speak of? The Hamas charter (i.e. the charter of the democratically elected government of Gaza) states, “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him” (Article 7). Israel is NOT dealing with a bunch of angels .

        I choose to support the side that calls for peace through a two-state solution. You choose to support the side that would commit genocide if it had the means to. Who’s the real progressive here?

        Yes, it’s OK to criticize the policies of any country, but the problems within Israel are not black and white as I have begun to show. I can respond to any of your demonizations of Israel with equally disturbing things about the Palestinians. Your side can say that Palestinians are “prisoners.” My side can respond with saying that they are “imprisoned” because of their daily suicide bombings of Israeli buses and businesses. On the contrary, there is nothing to defend using slave labor to build the World Cup or hanging gay people in Iran. The things that happen in Israel are not even in the same ballpark as what happens in many other (particularly Middle Eastern) countries. If you cannot understand that, then I’m sorry for you. You’ve been horribly misled.

        • Andrew Utas March 4, 2014 at 2:42 am · Reply

          Lets go bit-by-bit so that you understand what I’m writing:

          So your response to the US giving aid to Israel is to boycott Israel?
          -Yes. Don’t worry. I’m doing my best not to fund the US government as well…. But to be clear are you still talking about an academic boycott or do you want to open it up to an economic one as well?

          Where is the logic in that?
          -I don’t like what the Israelis are doing. I want them to stop.

          If you want to take action against a US policy, petition your representatives.
          -Is this a joke suggestion? My representative are on the AIPAC payroll. Until I have enough money to buy them as the zionists have they’ll never listen.

          What does a boycott accomplish?
          -It can accomplish what boycotts often accomplish. In the case of an academic boycott, it sends a strong message. In the case of an economic boycott — you know what an economic boycott does. A boycott is perhaps the purest form of unadulterated direct democracy.

          I seem to remember that same UN Resolution from the mid-20th century that would have split the land into two states (something Israel still wants to do but the Palestinians refuse).
          -You miss the point entirely. It is not for the UN to poll opinion of national governments before they give away and partition land that has people living on it. The UN had no legitimate power over those people and those people did not agree to leave. This is the opposite of democracy. It is an outside interest coming in and gifting 56% of the land to the minority group who at the time owned 6% of the land. Those are the official numbers by the way… Documented by the UN.

          The Palestinian plan is to kick the Jews out of the middle east. Isn’t that the ethnic cleansing that you speak of?
          -No. That is incorrect. I’m speaking of something that you should already have studied if you have a point of view on this situation. It is the ethnic cleansing campaigns of 1947-1948 in which Jewish paramilitary gangs used murderous terrorist tactics to intimidate somewhere between 500,000 and 700,000 diverse non-jewish residents and cause them to flee their homes and villages.

          The Hamas charter…
          -Give it a rest. Have some empathy. I’d hate you too if you drove my grandparents from their homes and then imprisoned me in an economically deprived place surrounded by settlements. I’d hate you too if all I had to fight you were stones and dinky homemade rockets and you had laser guided bombs from the US, long-range snipers, and apache attach helicopters. GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHAT WOULD YOU RATHER THE HAMAS CHARTER SAY? You say that Israel isn’t dealing with angels. Thats correct. It is dealing with people. I wish someone would inform the Israelis of that.

          I choose to support the side that calls for peace through a two-state solution. You choose to support the side that would commit genocide if it had the means to.
          -I don’t choose to support any side. I merely want people to try to understand that the only way that this kind of situation gets better is through cooperation and deep concessions by the aggressors — by the people in control. It only comes when grievances are acknowledged and when the aggressors work to address them in a conciliatory fashion. This kind of cooperation requires empathy. It requires an understanding that when you steal the homes from peoples grandparents and murder their brothers and sisters in airstrikes people will hate you. When you cut off access to basic supplies like water, fish, and farmlands, people will hate you. And this hate lasts for generations. That hatred will never be overcome politically with agreements made in offices and signed by premiers. It can be mended over many decades with the proper unilateral conciliatory efforts. But it will go with people to their graves.

          -Who’s the real progressive here?
          I don’t know. I never used the term. Why are you bringing it up?

          problems within Israel are not black and white as I have begun to show.
          -I never said that they were. Problems rarely are. But this does not mean that you shouldn’t comprehensively study the history of the matter before you attack a position piece written by a number of professors.

          I can respond to any of your demonizations of Israel with equally disturbing things about the Palestinians.
          -I’m not demonizing anyone. I’m also not glorifying anyone. I’m trying to give you the tools to understand that people are doing what they are doing for human reasons — reasons that have historical human causes, not political ones. It’s not about what the UN resolution said. It is about what it meant to real people in real villages.
          -And you have proven that you can respond however you like.

          …they are “imprisoned” because of their daily suicide bombings of Israeli buses and businesses…
          -First you are talking about collective punishment on a massive scale. What if a latino stabs someone on my street corner? Do I throw the lot of “them” in jail and do my best to segregate “them”. Collective punishment is a cruel and shortsighted tool. For every person punished for someone else’s crime you create ten new criminals. Eventually you breed large extremist groups. These things don’t happen in a vacuum and they don’t happen because people are evil or the wrong color. There are causes.
          -Suicide bombings are the last resort of desperate and disempowered people. To demonize those people without in the same breath twice condemning every helicopter pilot and sniper — who murder people from miles away with the cunning use of buttons is to once again miss the human element. Suicide bombers don’t do the awful things that they do because they are inhuman or evil. They do them precisely because they are human. That is what happens to humans under depressing circumstances. And religion certainly doesn’t help matters. But history has shown that nothing breeds religion like hardship and poverty.

          …hanging gay people in Iran…slave labor to build the World Cup…
          -You forgot the drug wars in Mexico, the child killers in the congo, and the political prisoners in China, among others. But this is the second time you have brought this up about the world cup. I think that cause might be your calling. Go for it.

          I’m sorry for you. You’ve been horribly misled.
          -I haven’t been led. I do the leading. I don’t join groups. I don’t join religions. I don’t carry centuries of mythic baggage on my shoulders. I don’t do “us” versus “them”. All I do is me versus you.

          • Joseph Smith March 4, 2014 at 10:00 am ·

            You literally just condoned suicide bombings. I guess you wouldn’t mind if an oppressed minority like African Americans in the US took out their anger on you by killing you because, after all, that’s just human nature. Andrew, that is so ludicrous that it is not even worthy of another full reply to your comment. I will not be able to convince you of anything.

      • persephone March 5, 2014 at 6:59 am · Reply

        Dude – you’re fighting an uphill battle here.

        I too was happy to see some of my favorite former professors as signatories on this list. I liked this letter and am relieved to see it here.

        I have found that with this issue, that there are people who can identify, and those who cannot but also WILL NOT.

        I am a hard liner on truth and fairness. Sorry, but there are no “chosen people” on this earth. We are all earth’s citizens of equal worth and merit.

        And also, from reading the comments, it matters not what year you graduated or whether or not you “have a job.” Being on the side of justice requires neither age nor experience. Just commitment.

        Salaam.

        • hophmi March 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm · Reply

          “Being on the side of justice requires neither age nor experience. Just commitment.”

          Being on the side of justice requires recognizing that both Jews and Palestinians have a right to self-determination. Period.

        • Joseph Smith March 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm · Reply

          An uphill battle would imply the opposite, that your side is in the position of power and that my side is fighting to change that. You, in fact, are the one fighting an uphill battle.

          I am not a religious person and do not think that any group of people is “chosen.” I do think that your “hardline” stance turns this into a black and white issue, which it is NOT. I believe that Israel has the right to exist. BDS does not believe that. I will continue to defend my side of this distinctly NOT black and white issue in order to protect what I believe is “truth and fairness”, which is why BDS is wrong. There can be honest disagreements about this topic. Taking my voice away is a breech of my academic freedom.

          Just so you know, I am a current student. You are right. Being on the side of justice requires neither age nor experience. It DOES require some sort of knowledge about the world and its history.

          Shalom

          • persephone March 7, 2014 at 3:03 am ·

            I do not believe that the state of Israel, as it was created, is lawful, or just.

            But my stance has been this way even before I started learning about its creation. It started when I was much younger, and just looked at it from a “what happened, why did it happen, who did it, why did they do it, what do they want, and what is the problem” stance.

            I believe that people have the right to live unmolested. I believe people have the right to basic needs. But I do not believe that just because people claim that they are the ones who should be there, that they should have the carte blanche right of taking land or space [with governmental support and sanction or not] from peoples already there and pushing those people out, even though they were there for millennia.

            The borders were not created with the idea of an intermingling of the population, and a co-existence of all peoples. It was not an action with peace in mind. It was hostile. It was messy. It was bloody. But let’s not pretend like we all don’t know what’s up about the actors and and their actions.

            Sorry, but, I do not think that what was done in 1948 was right. Period. It has nothing to do with a visceral hatred for anything but injustice. Being anti-injustice is not synonymous with being anti-semitic. That’s a strawman tactic and I reject that as the usual dismissal by those who claim that any questioning of Israeli creation or policy constitutes some sort of treason of humanity and designation of de facto anti-semitism.

          • termyt March 9, 2014 at 11:48 am ·

            @persephone: “I do not believe that the state of Israel, as it was created, is lawful, or just.”

            I have but a simple question, then. Which state was created lawfully and justly? Which people today live in a land that their ancestors did not take from those who were there before them? Do you know how Arabs came to dominate the region?
            The idea of “indigenous peoples” is a racist lie. It seems you are indigenous if your culture was the dominate one when a white guy showed up, as if no African killed another to take his land, that no “Native American” ever drove off another from his hunting ground. It’s a shortsighted, narrow view of history that does not serve the cause of truth.

        • Jon March 10, 2014 at 7:09 am · Reply

          Hey dude, hate. Jews much. Anyone bigot that supports these idiot teachers is obviously an anti Semite. So screw you and all these bigoted teachers. I support Israel 100% and say kick all those Muslim terrorists out of Israel now.

      • Ed Stephens March 9, 2014 at 11:32 am · Reply

        The Jewish people returned to their native land which is now Israel. It’s a nation barely the size of New Jersey surrounded by Arab nations of overwhelming size and scope that could easily carve out a place for the so-called palestinians who were not even a people until after the 6 Day War. This whole argument isn’t about a two state situation as that could have been remedied but this is about denying Israel’s right to exist. Yours and the BDS groups irrational hatred of the Jewish people and Israel itself is rooted in evil. The ‘palestinian’ people are refugees of Arab lands in Israel and they have more rights IN Israel than they do in the land of which they came. Israel has a right to exist and defend it’s land. My guess is that it’s either your hatred for Israel or blindness that you don’t realize the fact that Israel has missile attacks upon its people almost daily and nary a news report but if they defend themselves as they should, the media and the anti-Israel forces go apoplectic and foam at the mouth.

        Thank GOD for Israel! May he guard and protect Israel and it’s people from the fools who attack them and their homeland.

      • RCCA March 10, 2014 at 11:38 am · Reply

        Jordan:
        In September 1922, the Council of the League of Nations recognized Transjordan as a state under the British Mandate and Transjordan memorandum excluded the territories east of the Jordan River from all of the provisions of the mandate dealing with Jewish settlement.[20] The Permanent Court of International Justice and an International Court of Arbitration established by the Council of the League of Nations handed down rulings in 1925 which determined that both a Jewish and an Arab state in the Mandatory regions of Palestine and Transjordan were to be newly created successor states of the Ottoman Empire as defined by international law.[21] The country remained under British supervision until 1946.

        The Hashemite leadership met multiple difficulties upon assuming power in the region. The most serious threats to Emir Abdullah’s position in Transjordan were repeated Wahhabi incursions from Najd into southern parts of his territory.[22] The emir was unable to repel those raids without support, so the British maintained a military base, with a small RAF detachment, at Marka, close to Amman.[22] The British force was also used to help the emir (and, subsequently, Sultan Adwan) suppress local rebellions at Kura in 1921 and 1923.[22]

        Syria:
        The modern Syrian state was established after the first World War as a French mandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Arab Levant. It gained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–1971. Between 1958 and 1961, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt, which was terminated by a military coup. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens, and its system of government is considered to be non-democratic.[7] Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office from 1970 to 2000.[8]

        Iraq:
        On 11 November 1920 Iraq became a League of Nations mandate under British control with the name “State of Iraq”. The British established the Hashemite king, Faisal, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.

  2. Jennifer Lewis March 2, 2014 at 5:38 pm · Reply

    Why are we not able to post comments to this open letter?

    • Admin March 2, 2014 at 7:51 pm · Reply

      There was an error with the comment function due to a system upgrade but that has been resolved.

  3. Andrew Utas March 3, 2014 at 2:51 am · Reply

    So good to see this letter. Fantastic to see some of my former professors listed as signatories (and at the same time interested to see some conspicuous names missing). Too bad there is no place for thoughtfulness like this at the the WSJ…

    • Hillel March 9, 2014 at 11:39 am · Reply

      Andrew,

      You’re nothing more than a bigot; a Jew-hater. Go crawl back into your hole and stay there. If not, then at least be honest about how you feel. You HATE Jews and you won’t admit it. You’re hiding behind this so-called oppression of Israel against the so-called Palestinians. I welcome you to show your true feelings of hatred.

  4. hophmi March 3, 2014 at 3:37 pm · Reply

    Well, it’s encouraging to see that this letter, which I’m sure went around the faculty, was signed by a small minority of its members.

    I will not give another dime to Vassar as long as Josh Schreier remains the chair of the Jewish Studies department. I will not support the perpetuation of a situation where an ideological anti-Zionist is given the Israeli-Palestinian conflict history survey course to teach, and is put in charge of the Jewish Studies department, and then uses his platform to ally himself with a movement like BDS, a movement deeply scarred by anti-semitism in its ranks that Professor Schreier seems to ignore.

    Most of this letter is nonsense.

    The ASA did not have a full debate on the resolution. It did not permit any pro-Israel speakers to speak against it. The vote itself did not reflect the will of the ASA; about 25% of its constituents actually voted.

    “We dissent because, rather than upholding the principle of academic freedom in its most expansive sense, their condemnatory statement could have a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas and opinions on our campus and across the broader society. ”

    How on Earth does it chill free speech because Cappy Bond took a position against the ASA boycott of Israeli academic institutions? Which one of these folks is restricted by Cappy’s decision? Know what they’re really saying? They’re really saying that their speech is chilled because Vassar’s President disagrees with them.

    ” Furthermore, by not acknowledging the concrete realities which led to the ASA resolution, their statement sidesteps ethical questions about our responsibility for the plight of Palestinians and our obligations as scholars and human beings to speak out against gross injustice. ”

    Oh, please. This is only “gross injustice” that these folks are focusing on. How about the gross injustice of the dead Israeli children that Palestinian suicide bombers have blown up over the years? The gross injustice street goes both ways.

    “we have a responsibility to try to understand the different dimensions of the debate and the nuances in the resolution.”

    But no apparent responsibility to understand the nuances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    “What the resolution calls for is the boycott of Israeli academic institutions because they have been directly or indirectly complicit in the systematic maintenance of the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory as well as the continued domination and dispossession of Palestinians, and because they have not condemned discriminatory policies and practices against Palestinian scholars and students”

    I’m really sick of hearing this line. Let’s get real. Targeting individual scholars would have been against the law and would have exposed the ASA to a discrimination lawsuit. And you know what really chills free speech? Claiming that you’re going to boycott every academic institution that is “indirectly complicit” with a policy with which you don’t agree. How many of these folks, virtually all of whom opposed the Iraq War, I’m sure, boycotted schools who have research contracts with the Department of Defense? I’m betting the answer is none of them.

    I’m also betting that none of them have called for a boycott of universities in the Arab world directly or indirectly involved with dictatorships.

    “We are troubled by reports that academics and activists that work outside of Israel/Palestine are monitored and policed on their campuses and in other forums, particularly if their research is critical of Israeli policies.”

    Again, please spare us. There must be about 10 times as many pro-Palestinian academics involved in Middle Eastern studies as there are pro-Israel ones. So some organization monitors your work and posts something about it when they disagree with it. Not only does this also happen to pro-Israel academics, but there is zero proof that it has restricted anyone from publishing anything in this country.

    “This surveillance has resulted in the disruption of robust academic and intellectual processes, the creation of a climate of fear and silence, and, in some cases, the unjust destruction of one’s academic career. ”

    How many cases? Only one that I know of, Norm Finkelstein, and everybody who is honest about it knows that it’s not Finkelstein’s views that got him in trouble as much as his behavior outside of the classroom. Andy Davison used Charles Smith’s history of the I-P conflict when I was a student. It’s quite critical of Israel and Zionism. Any problems for Smith? Any problems for you guys? Josh Schreier is tenured, correct?

    “We want on our campuses, including here at Vassar, to have open, honest and principled discussion about the situation in Palestine/Israel, without the labeling, targeting, and harassing of faculty, students, administrators and staff who disagree with, or are opposed to Israeli policies toward Palestinians.”

    How about those faculty, students, administrators, and staff who are supportive of Israel? Do they count? You forgot them.

    ” While Palestinians have been fighting for their freedom since their dispossession in 1948, the world has remained largely silent with regard to this humanitarian crisis.”

    You’ve got to be kidding. Silent? How do you define silent? The UNGA passes an armload of resolutions about it every year. So does the UNHRC. The conflict is probably one of the most, if not the most, covered on the face of the Earth. 60 MInutes has done multiple stories on the territories.

    “The ASA statement, far from limiting academic freedom, represents the fruits of a free and open discussion among academics who refuse to dismiss the internationally-recognized right of people under colonial and foreign occupation to resist their occupiers and assert their dignity. ”

    Does that right include the right to kill Israeli civilians? Because you didn’t condemn it here.

    “The non-violent boycott of institutions, businesses, and organizations that are complicit in the systematic oppression and dispossession of subordinated groups has a long history.”

    So does the boycott of Jewish entities. And anyone who is honest must address that history as well.

    “As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56, we cannot forget its seminal role in energizing the African-American-led campaign against desegregation and for Civil Rights in the United States. ”

    Maybe you can put your thinking caps on and also remember that the circumstances and historical context were totally different, and the target was not a state of Holocaust refugees and refugees from Arab lands.

    “In the spirit of an expansive academic freedom, humanity, and good faith, we welcome honest and responsible engagement in discussions surrounding the role of academic boycotts in the attainment of justice and dignity for all people.”

    No, you don’t. You want a boycott. And you’re willing to greatly decontextualize history and engage in considerable truth-bending to get there.

    • Andrew Utas March 4, 2014 at 4:16 am · Reply

      I seriously doubt that you know professor Schreier. While I didn’t have the good fortune to take his course, I have spoken with him and he is a kind, thoughtful person. By your account he must be some kind of magical wizard. “Give him 25 sources and 24 sessions and he can completely brainwash you kids!” You give him far too much credit and the students far too little. You are at once making this affable gentleman into a monster and insulting Vassar students’ intelligence. I should think that they might not want your money after that.

      Pardon the all-caps.

      Most of this letter is nonsense.
      The ASA did not have a full debate on the resolution. It did not permit any pro-Israel speakers to speak against it. The vote itself did not reflect the will of the ASA; about 25% of its constituents actually voted.
      ARE YOU ARGUING AGAINST THE ASA BYLAWS OR VOTING PROCEDURES HERE?
      “We dissent because, rather than upholding the principle of academic freedom in its most expansive sense, their condemnatory statement could have a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas and opinions on our campus and across the broader society. ”
      How on Earth does it chill free speech because Cappy Bond took a position against the ASA boycott of Israeli academic institutions? Which one of these folks is restricted by Cappy’s decision? Know what they’re really saying? They’re really saying that their speech is chilled because Vassar’s President disagrees with them.
      WHAT THEY’RE SAYING IS THAT THEY SEE A POSSIBLE FUTURE “ACADEMIC FREEDOM IN ITS MOST EXPANSIVE SENSE” WHICH DIFFERS FROM WHAT THEY SEE AS THE STATE OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM PRESENTLY.
      ” Furthermore, by not acknowledging the concrete realities which led to the ASA resolution, their statement sidesteps ethical questions about our responsibility for the plight of Palestinians and our obligations as scholars and human beings to speak out against gross injustice. ”
      Oh, please. This is only “gross injustice” that these folks are focusing on. How about the gross injustice of the dead Israeli children that Palestinian suicide bombers have blown up over the years? The gross injustice street goes both ways.
      POWER IS AN INTERESTING THING. SEE MY EARLIER RESPONSE TO SMITH ON SUICIDE BOMBERS. VIEWING ALL KILLING AS EQUALLY WRONG IS ONE THING BUT USING THE FACT OF KILLING TO OBFUSCATE THE HOW AND WHY OF THE SITUATION IS IRRESPONSIBLE AND UNCONSTRUCTIVE. TO PUT IT A DIFFERENT WAY, IT DOESN’T HELP TO SIMPLY POINT OUT “HE KILLED TOO” WHEN HIS SITUATION IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT. IN FACT, IT IS DOING EVERYONE INVOLVED A GREAT DISSERVICE NOT TO INVESTIGATE FURTHER.
      “we have a responsibility to try to understand the different dimensions of the debate and the nuances in the resolution.”
      But no apparent responsibility to understand the nuances of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.MANY OF THESE PEOPLE MAY BE FAR BETTER READ AND INFORMED ON THE TOPIC THAN YOU ARE. ALLOW FOR THIS POSSIBILITY. THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM ON THAT LIST AND THEY DO THIS KIND OF THING FOR A LIVING.
      “What the resolution calls for is the boycott of Israeli academic institutions because they have been directly or indirectly complicit in the systematic maintenance of the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory as well as the continued domination and dispossession of Palestinians, and because they have not condemned discriminatory policies and practices against Palestinian scholars and students”
      I’m really sick of hearing this line. Let’s get real. Targeting individual scholars would have been against the law and would have exposed the ASA to a discrimination lawsuit. And you know what really chills free speech? Claiming that you’re going to boycott every academic institution that is “indirectly complicit” with a policy with which you don’t agree. How many of these folks, virtually all of whom opposed the Iraq War, I’m sure, boycotted schools who have research contracts with the Department of Defense? I’m betting the answer is none of them.
      I’m also betting that none of them have called for a boycott of universities in the Arab world directly or indirectly involved with dictatorships.
      UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES ARE THE CENTERS OF KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION IN SOCIETIES. THEIR BEHAVIOR IS IMPORTANT. ISRAEL HAS A LONG HISTORY OF EXCLUDING SCHOLARS FOR POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS REASONS (NOAM CHOMSKY, RICHARD FALK AND MORE) . ISRAELI LOBBIES HAVE EVEN INFLUENCED UNIVERSITIES IN THE US — EXAMPLE: NORMAN FINKELSTEIN (WHO YOU MENTION BELOW. IS A GOOD EXAMPLE). AS A ZIONIST AGENT YOU ATTEMPT PREEMPTIVELY BOYCOTT VASSAR COLLEGE OVER THE PRESENCE OF JOSHUA SCHREIER. CLEARLY YOU AREN’T THAT FAR REMOVED FROM THE BASIC PIECES IN THIS PUZZLE.
      “We are troubled by reports that academics and activists that work outside of Israel/Palestine are monitored and policed on their campuses and in other forums, particularly if their research is critical of Israeli policies.”
      Again, please spare us. There must be about 10 times as many pro-Palestinian academics involved in Middle Eastern studies as there are pro-Israel ones. So some organization monitors your work and posts something about it when they disagree with it. Not only does this also happen to pro-Israel academics, but there is zero proof that it has restricted anyone from publishing anything in this country.
      ZIONISTS AND THEIR SYMPATHIZERS ARE OFTEN VERY FERVENT. THEY HAVE PERSONALLY SENT ME DEATH THREATS BECAUSE I SENT THEM A READING LIST THAT THEY DIDN’T APPRECIATE. I HAVE SEEN NOTHING BUT CIVIL ARGUMENT BY ALL BDS SUPPORTERS AND THE RESPONSES FROM ZIONISTS ETC… HAVE BEEN UNHELPFULLY EMOTIONALLY CHARGED. IT IS AS IF THEY AREN’T THINKING, BUT RATHER FEELING. THERE IS AN IDEOLOGICAL GAG REFLEX AT WORK HERE.
      “This surveillance has resulted in the disruption of robust academic and intellectual processes, the creation of a climate of fear and silence, and, in some cases, the unjust destruction of one’s academic career. ”
      How many cases? Only one that I know of, Norm Finkelstein, and everybody who is honest about it knows that it’s not Finkelstein’s views that got him in trouble as much as his behavior outside of the classroom. Andy Davison used Charles Smith’s history of the I-P conflict when I was a student. It’s quite critical of Israel and Zionism. Any problems for Smith? Any problems for you guys? Josh Schreier is tenured, correct? YOU CITE THREE CASES. IS YOUR CLAIM VIA THOSE THREE CASES THAT THERE IS LITTLE OR NO INTIMIDATION IN US ACADEMIA AND POLITICS FROM ZIONIST LOBBIES AND THEIR ALLIES? HAVE YOU READ THE US ISRAEL LOBBY? IS LAGNADO’S WSJ ARTICLE FROM A WEEK AGO NOT AN EXAMPLE OF THE SAME SORT OF TACTICS?
      “We want on our campuses, including here at Vassar, to have open, honest and principled discussion about the situation in Palestine/Israel, without the labeling, targeting, and harassing of faculty, students, administrators and staff who disagree with, or are opposed to Israeli policies toward Palestinians.”
      How about those faculty, students, administrators, and staff who are supportive of Israel? Do they count? You forgot them.
      I DON’T SEE HOW DISCUSSION OF BOYCOTT ISN’T SILENCING ANYONE. IT HAS REMAINED A PRINCIPLED DISCUSSION UNTIL THE ZIONISTS BECOME ENRAGED AND START THROWING AROUND PHRASES LIKE ANTI-SEMITE, SELF-HATING, AND ALL MANNER OF OTHER SILLY THINGS. INSTEAD OF CALLING NAMES, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ANY ZIONISTS TO ARGUE THE BDS PROPOSALS HEAD-ON. THE PIECE BY LAGNADO IN THE WSJ DID THE PRECISE OPPOSITE OF THIS. IT INVOKED ALL KINDS OF RACIALLY AND RELIGIOUSLY CHARGED JUDGEMENTS WITHOUT MAKING A SINGLE ARGUMENT. THAT IS CALLED HARASSMENT. WHEN A STUDENT’S NAME IS PRINTED IN A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER WITHOUT ANY ACCOMPANYING ANALYSIS OF HER POINTS THAT IS CALLED TARGETING. THAT IS NOT DEBATE.
      ” While Palestinians have been fighting for their freedom since their dispossession in 1948, the world has remained largely silent with regard to this humanitarian crisis.”
      You’ve got to be kidding. Silent? How do you define silent? The UNGA passes an armload of resolutions about it every year. So does the UNHRC. The conflict is probably one of the most, if not the most, covered on the face of the Earth. 60 MInutes has done multiple stories on the territories.
      YOU MAY BE CORRECT HERE. WHILE THE WORLD HAS NOT REMAINED SILENT, ZIONIST INTERESTS IN THE US GOVERNMENT AND ELSEWHERE PREVENT ANYTHING FROM BEING DONE TO TURN THE MASS DISSATISFACTION WITH ISRAELI POLICIES INTO REAL POLITICAL ACTION. THAT IS PROBABLY WHY MOVEMENTS LIKE BDS HAVE STARTED. TO ATTEMPT TO CHANGE ISRAELI POLICY MORE DEMOCRATICALLY FROM THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL.
      “The ASA statement, far from limiting academic freedom, represents the fruits of a free and open discussion among academics who refuse to dismiss the internationally-recognized right of people under colonial and foreign occupation to resist their occupiers and assert their dignity. ”
      Does that right include the right to kill Israeli civilians? Because you didn’t condemn it here.
      MUST YOU INSIST ON CONDEMNING EVERY BAD THING IN THE WORLD IN THE SAME BREATH? NOBODY CONDONED THE KILLING OF CHILDREN EITHER. IN FACT, I’M SURE THAT THEY DO CONDEMN THE DEATHS OF ANY CIVILIAN CHILDREN. BUT YOU ARE DIFFERENT. YOU SEEM TO CONDONE ISRAELI POLICIES THAT HAVE DONE 1000 TIMES MORE KILLING. YOU GO SO FAR OUT OF YOUR WAY TO PROTECT THEM. IT BOGGLES THE MIND.
      “The non-violent boycott of institutions, businesses, and organizations that are complicit in the systematic oppression and dispossession of subordinated groups has a long history.”
      So does the boycott of Jewish entities. And anyone who is honest must address that history as well.
      THAT IS INCORRECT. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT TWO (OR PROBABLY MORE) DIFFERENT BOYCOTTS UNDERTAKEN BY DIFFERENT PEOPLE FOR DIFFERENT REASONS AT DIFFERENT TIMES. DON’T TRY TO CONFUSE ATTACKS ON ISRAELI POLICIES WITH ATTACKS ON JEWISH IDEOLOGY OR THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE ITS ADHERENTS. DESPITE YOUR ATTEMPTS TO CONFUSE THEM THEY REMAIN TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.
      “As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56, we cannot forget its seminal role in energizing the African-American-led campaign against desegregation and for Civil Rights in the United States. ”
      Maybe you can put your thinking caps on and also remember that the circumstances and historical context were totally different, and the target was not a state of Holocaust refugees and refugees from Arab lands. WHEN THE HOLOCAUST ENDED ZIONIST SETTLERS OWNED 6% OF THE LAND IN MANDATORY PALESTINE. TO CLAIM THAT THE HOLOCAUST SOMEHOW LEGITIMIZES OR EXCUSES ZIONIST AGGRESSION AGAINST THE INHABITANTS OF MANDATORY PALESTINE IS UTTERLY PREPOSTEROUS. THAT WOULD BE LIKE IF AN ARSONIST CAME AND BURNED DOWN MY HOUSE AND SO I FELT JUSTIFIED IN MOVING INTO SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE TWO MILES AWAY — SOMEONE’S HOUSE WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ARSON IN THE FIRST PLACE. SO NO, THE RESIDENTS OF MANDATORY PALESTINE ARE NOT ON THE HOOK FOR ANYTHING THAT HAPPENED IN EUROPE. HOWEVER, BY THE SAME LOGIC, THE ZIONISTS ARE ABSOLUTELY ON THE HOOK FOR ANYTHING THAT THEY HAVE DONE TO THE RESIDENTS OF MANDATORY PALESTINE — AND NOW THEYRE ON THE HOOK FOR THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TOO.
      “In the spirit of an expansive academic freedom, humanity, and good faith, we welcome honest and responsible engagement in discussions surrounding the role of academic boycotts in the attainment of justice and dignity for all people.”
      No, you don’t. You want a boycott. And you’re willing to greatly decontextualize history and engage in considerable truth-bending to get there.
      CERTAINLY YOU DON’T BELIEVE THAT USING BOYCOTT TACTICS TO SEND A MESSAGE WITH THE AIM OF CREATING A BETTER FUTURE SITUATION IS ALWAYS WRONG OR ALWAYS INEFFECTIVE. FOR EXAMPLE, YOU MIGHT BOYCOTT YOUR ICE CREAM SHOP IF YOU FIND OUT THAT YOU’VE BEEN OVERCHARGED. NOBODY IS HAPPY WITH THAT SITUATION IN THE SHORT RUN BECAUSE YOU CAN’T EAT ICE CREAM AND THEY CANT SELL ICE CREAM. BUT IF THEY GET THE MESSAGE AND CHANGE THEIR POLICY ON OVERCHARGING PERHAPS THEN ALL PARTIES CAN BE MORE SATISFIED IN THE FUTURE. IT WORKS THE SAME WAY FOR COUNTRIES AND COLLEGES. AND IT WORKS BEST WHEN THE TACTICS ARE TRUE DEMOCRATIC BOYCOTT AND NOT TOP-DOWN EMBARGO.

      TO THAT END, IT MIGHT BE WORTH CONSIDERING A SITUATION IN WHICH VASSAR ALLOWS EACH PROFESSOR TO BOYCOTT AS HE OR SHE SEES FIT. THEY SHOULD NOT BE MADE TO WORK WITH THOSE INSTITUTIONS THAT THEY CHOOSE TO BOYCOTT. AT THE SAME TIME, THOSE WHO REMAIN IN SUPPORT OF ZIONISM CAN CONTINUE TO DO AS THEY PLEASE. THIS WAY THE COURT OF POPULAR OPINION AND SOCIAL STIGMA CAN RULE AS IT ALWAYS DOES AND EVERYONE CAN STOP THEIR WHINGING.

      AS FOR HISTORY, YOU CLAIM IT IS BEING DISTORTED, YET YOU DON’T EXACTLY OFFER MUCH OF IT. BY MY COUNT YOU HAVE ONLY MANAGED TO INSERT REFERENCES TO TOTALLY UNRELATED TOPICS LIKE THE HOLOCAUST AND BOYCOTTS AGAINST JEWS. YOU ALSO REFER LOOSELY TO UNHCR RESOLUTIONS. I SUPPOSE YOU GET A COUPLE OF POINTS FOR KNOWING WHO NORMAN FINKELSTEIN IS…BUT THAT’S NOT HISTORY.

      FINALLY, IN THE INTEREST OF AN AUTHENTIC INTIMIDATION-FREE DIALOGUE THE PROFESSORS AND I HAVE USED OUR REAL NAMES. YOU SHOULD CONSIDER DOING THE SAME.

      • Karen March 14, 2014 at 5:27 pm · Reply

        From what I heard about events on campus during “Hate Israel” week, all that was necessary to transform public opinion at Vassar and silence pro-Israel students was to hang “hate Israel” posters all over campus. Josh Schreier does not need to teach all Vassar students to promote his hatred on campus.

        One student (not -Jewish) told me he did not know before he started at Vassar whether being pro-Israel meant being “conservative” or “liberal”. But he said that all you have to tell the students at Vassar is that being pro-BDS = being liberal, and even if they have no idea what being pro-BDS is, Vassar students will start to scream, “Sign me up right away.”

  5. hophmi March 4, 2014 at 11:59 am · Reply

    “I seriously doubt that you know professor Schreier.”

    I’ve corresponded with him. I don’t doubt that he’s a nice guy. I also don’t doubt that his politics come out in class.

    “ARE YOU ARGUING AGAINST THE ASA BYLAWS OR VOTING PROCEDURES HERE?”

    No. I’m simply pointing out that the turnout for the ASA resolution vote was 25%.

    “WHAT THEY’RE SAYING IS THAT THEY SEE A POSSIBLE FUTURE “ACADEMIC FREEDOM IN ITS MOST EXPANSIVE SENSE” WHICH DIFFERS FROM WHAT THEY SEE AS THE STATE OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM PRESENTLY.”

    Has a single person on this list faced a real threat to their academic freedom over their position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? You know that the answer is no. Academics have this bad habit of confusing academic freedom with freedom from criticism.

    “POWER IS AN INTERESTING THING. SEE MY EARLIER RESPONSE TO SMITH ON SUICIDE BOMBERS. VIEWING ALL KILLING AS EQUALLY WRONG IS ONE THING BUT USING THE FACT OF KILLING TO OBFUSCATE THE HOW AND WHY OF THE SITUATION IS IRRESPONSIBLE AND UNCONSTRUCTIVE. TO PUT IT A DIFFERENT WAY, IT DOESN’T HELP TO SIMPLY POINT OUT “HE KILLED TOO” WHEN HIS SITUATION IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT. IN FACT, IT IS DOING EVERYONE INVOLVED A GREAT DISSERVICE NOT TO INVESTIGATE FURTHER.”

    Well, yes, context matters. That’s a large part of my point. Context is absent from this faculty letter.

    “BETTER READ AND INFORMED ON THE TOPIC THAN YOU ARE. ALLOW FOR THIS POSSIBILITY. THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM ON THAT LIST AND THEY DO THIS KIND OF THING FOR A LIVING.”

    Excuse me. I see one person on this list with a specialty in the history of the conflict. I also see that the name of the other person at Vassar who is a specialist in Middle Eastern politics is missing. Katy Hite’s specialty is Latin America, not the Middle East. Being a Professor of English does not make you an expert on Middle Eastern politics. In fact, I highly doubt the vast majority of these signatories are better read and informed than I am. I suspect their knowledge does not exceed what they read in the newspaper, and maybe not even that.

    “UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES ARE THE CENTERS OF KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION IN SOCIETIES. THEIR BEHAVIOR IS IMPORTANT. ISRAEL HAS A LONG HISTORY OF EXCLUDING SCHOLARS FOR POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS REASONS (NOAM CHOMSKY, RICHARD FALK AND MORE) .”

    Israel has a long history of tenuring professors who challenge the national narrative, like Neve Gordon and Benny Morris.

    “ISRAELI LOBBIES HAVE EVEN INFLUENCED UNIVERSITIES IN THE US — EXAMPLE: NORMAN FINKELSTEIN (WHO YOU MENTION BELOW. IS A GOOD EXAMPLE). AS A ZIONIST AGENT YOU ATTEMPT PREEMPTIVELY BOYCOTT VASSAR COLLEGE OVER THE PRESENCE OF JOSHUA SCHREIER. CLEARLY YOU AREN’T THAT FAR REMOVED FROM THE BASIC PIECES IN THIS PUZZLE.”

    Oh, please. Norman Finkelstein is the single example of a professor who is outspoken on the conflict who has had job trouble. And the reason is not his politics. It’s his personality. And you know it. Rashid Khalidi is a high-profile tenured professor at Columbia. Mark LeVine has a safe seat at UC Irvine. MESA is overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian.

    And my decision not to give money to Vassar is not a “boycott.” I’m not calling for others to do the same thing, and I’m not against visiting Vassar, or even supporting other parts of Vassar that do not enrich Josh Schreier.

    “ZIONISTS AND THEIR SYMPATHIZERS ARE OFTEN VERY FERVENT. THEY HAVE PERSONALLY SENT ME DEATH THREATS BECAUSE I SENT THEM A READING LIST THAT THEY DIDN’T APPRECIATE.”

    Sorry to hear that. I’ve received death threats from members of the pro-Palestinian community. Are we through playing that game where we assert that a community must be bad because there are crazy people in it?

    ” I HAVE SEEN NOTHING BUT CIVIL ARGUMENT BY ALL BDS SUPPORTERS AND THE RESPONSES FROM ZIONISTS ETC… HAVE BEEN UNHELPFULLY EMOTIONALLY CHARGED. IT IS AS IF THEY AREN’T THINKING, BUT RATHER FEELING. THERE IS AN IDEOLOGICAL GAG REFLEX AT WORK HERE.”

    Then you don’t know your own community very well. I’ve been a commentator at Mondoweiss for many years. The behavior of the BDS supporters there is anything but civil.

    “YOU CITE THREE CASES. IS YOUR CLAIM VIA THOSE THREE CASES THAT THERE IS LITTLE OR NO INTIMIDATION IN US ACADEMIA AND POLITICS FROM ZIONIST LOBBIES AND THEIR ALLIES? HAVE YOU READ THE US ISRAEL LOBBY? IS LAGNADO’S WSJ ARTICLE FROM A WEEK AGO NOT AN EXAMPLE OF THE SAME SORT OF TACTICS?”

    They’re typical examples. And yes, it is my claim that there is little or no intimidation in US academia from “Zionist lobbies and their allies”. Lagnado’s WSJ article is critical of Vassar. Grow up. Criticism and intimidation are not the same thing.

    “I DON’T SEE HOW DISCUSSION OF BOYCOTT ISN’T SILENCING ANYONE. IT HAS REMAINED A PRINCIPLED DISCUSSION UNTIL THE ZIONISTS BECOME ENRAGED AND START THROWING AROUND PHRASES LIKE ANTI-SEMITE, SELF-HATING, AND ALL MANNER OF OTHER SILLY THINGS.”

    It’s never you; it’s always the other guy. It’s not silly. It’s strongly supported by the rhetoric in the BDS movement. Nevertheless, my point is that these faculty seem to worried principally about gaining support for their own POVs, not about protecting free speech for all.

    ” INSTEAD OF CALLING NAMES, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ANY ZIONISTS TO ARGUE THE BDS PROPOSALS HEAD-ON.”

    I think Zionists have certainly done so, many, many times.

    ” THE PIECE BY LAGNADO IN THE WSJ DID THE PRECISE OPPOSITE OF THIS. IT INVOKED ALL KINDS OF RACIALLY AND RELIGIOUSLY CHARGED JUDGEMENTS WITHOUT MAKING A SINGLE ARGUMENT. THAT IS CALLED HARASSMENT. WHEN A STUDENT’S NAME IS PRINTED IN A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER WITHOUT ANY ACCOMPANYING ANALYSIS OF HER POINTS THAT IS CALLED TARGETING. THAT IS NOT DEBATE.”

    Seriously, grow up. And don’t ignore the part of Lagnado’s article that mentions the student who stopped a parent from taking a stand against BDS because s/he was afraid of being ostracized on campus.

    As far as Naomi Dann: Naomi Dann has been quite public about the VJU’s decision to become an Open Hillel, and her own politics. Thus, you can’t complain when someone is critical of her. That’s the way it works. You don’t get a free ride.

    “YOU MAY BE CORRECT HERE. WHILE THE WORLD HAS NOT REMAINED SILENT, ZIONIST INTERESTS IN THE US GOVERNMENT AND ELSEWHERE PREVENT ANYTHING FROM BEING DONE TO TURN THE MASS DISSATISFACTION WITH ISRAELI POLICIES INTO REAL POLITICAL ACTION. THAT IS PROBABLY WHY MOVEMENTS LIKE BDS HAVE STARTED. TO ATTEMPT TO CHANGE ISRAELI POLICY MORE DEMOCRATICALLY FROM THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL.”

    Everything is Zionist interests. Always blame anyone but yourselves. The boycott of Israel dates from the 1940s. It’s not new. It’s an attempt to dislodge the non-Muslim political entity from the region.

    “MUST YOU INSIST ON CONDEMNING EVERY BAD THING IN THE WORLD IN THE SAME BREATH? NOBODY CONDONED THE KILLING OF CHILDREN EITHER. IN FACT, I’M SURE THAT THEY DO CONDEMN THE DEATHS OF ANY CIVILIAN CHILDREN. BUT YOU ARE DIFFERENT. YOU SEEM TO CONDONE ISRAELI POLICIES THAT HAVE DONE 1000 TIMES MORE KILLING. YOU GO SO FAR OUT OF YOUR WAY TO PROTECT THEM. IT BOGGLES THE MIND.”

    When a Westerner says “right to resist,” a terrorist hears a right to kill civilians. And given that the BDS refuses, resolutely, to condemn suicide bombing, I think that amounts to condoning the practice.

    “THAT IS INCORRECT. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT TWO (OR PROBABLY MORE) DIFFERENT BOYCOTTS UNDERTAKEN BY DIFFERENT PEOPLE FOR DIFFERENT REASONS AT DIFFERENT TIMES. DON’T TRY TO CONFUSE ATTACKS ON ISRAELI POLICIES WITH ATTACKS ON JEWISH IDEOLOGY OR THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE ITS ADHERENTS. DESPITE YOUR ATTEMPTS TO CONFUSE THEM THEY REMAIN TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.”

    Not at all. The goals are largely the same. Like most Westerners, this group would like to believe that they invented the boycott idea in 2005. It’s an Arab idea that is much older. But the goal is the same – to get rid of the Jewish state.

    “AS FOR HISTORY, YOU CLAIM IT IS BEING DISTORTED, YET YOU DON’T EXACTLY OFFER MUCH OF IT. BY MY COUNT YOU HAVE ONLY MANAGED TO INSERT REFERENCES TO TOTALLY UNRELATED TOPICS LIKE THE HOLOCAUST AND BOYCOTTS AGAINST JEWS. ”

    That you think that the Holocaust and anti-Jewish boycotts are unrelated says a lot about your blind spots.

    “FINALLY, IN THE INTEREST OF AN AUTHENTIC INTIMIDATION-FREE DIALOGUE THE PROFESSORS AND I HAVE USED OUR REAL NAMES. YOU SHOULD CONSIDER DOING THE SAME.”

    I have good reasons not to. Let’s stick to the merits. You’re a recent graduate. I’m someone with a job. I’m not representing any organization, if that’s your concern, despite the fact that you called me a “Zionist agent.”

  6. Andrew Utas March 5, 2014 at 4:18 pm · Reply

    There are a lot of things to say, but my time is short. A couple quick takes in no particular order:

    -The faculty would argue that their POV outlines a plan to, over time, increase free speech. It is sort of a means to an end argument. So yes, you are they are promoting their POV (or one aspect of many POVs). But promoting their POV and free speech are not mutually exclusive things so one can’t say that POV promotion is necessarily anti-speech.

    -You tell me to grow up. Is it childish to proclaim that journalists should argue points and not feelings. That they should write articles that are analyses based on information and not judgmental personal attacks based on religious fervor. Lagnados was the latter. It was equal parts irrelevant information about how her personal hangups and unrealistic expectations prevented her from having a fulfilling college experience and judgement, name-calling and incendiary words.

    -I can boycott the same people that you boycott for completely different reasons. The ensuing boycott may have similar effects, but this does not make it the same boycott and it does not make our reasons the same or even similar.

    -I haven’t heard anyone condone suicide bombings. I have heard people condemn them often, but condemnations are usually accompanied by an unhelpful, incomplete, and dismissive discussion of their causes. The proper thing is to condemn and then to investigate thoroughly. Remember that suicide bombers are also victims of many things: of themselves, of religion, of economic sanctions, and of many other factors. This is not a justification, but a necessary step towards understanding the situation. And in any case, suicide bombings represent such a tiny fraction of the overall killing during the Israreli occupation of the area that any attempt to make it into anything more than a terrible footnote is an attempt to obscure the presence of much larger and more damaging war machinery — machinery that itself plays an important role in the existence of the abhorrent practice.

    -If BDS supporters are name-calling and threatening you then I condemn that. And I won’t participate in that fashion. This is the appropriate response. An inappropriate response is to say “everyone is doing it” so I’ll do it too. An inappropriate response is not to condemn Lagnado and other extremists who participate in inflammatory name-calling. I’m not saying that they can’t disagree. But rather, that if they choose to disagree, they have to use a vocabulary that is constructive and one that does not hinge on the stated religious identity of their opponents.

    -The fact that you’re afraid of using your name on a Miscellany News message board because you “have a job” means that perhaps things are moving in the right direction. Perhaps you are now feeling some of the fear that US politicians have felt for years if they dared speak critically of Israeli policies. Do you like it? I never did when I was demonized by the zionist religious fanatics. But I nevertheless always used my name. If my employers don’t agree then it is their loss. I wouldn’t want to work with them anyway. There is something about being principled that really helps with these kinds of decisions.

    -While I don’t put stock in the vast majority of Lagnado’s whiny WSJ story, it would be good news if students exerted pressure against their parents — especially when arguments are motivated by religious or clan allegiance. Acting in an “us” versus “them” way that puts religious identity center-stage is an incredibly unhelpful, unbecoming and anachronistic way to behave. And for students it may also be embarrassing. Why should it not?

    -You can be an agent of anything without listing it on your CV or taking payment. The definition of the word “agent” is not that narrow.

    • Solomon March 14, 2014 at 5:44 pm · Reply

      If I were to google Andrew’s name after receiving a job application from him, I would NEVER even interview him. Based on what I can find of his view on the internet, he comes across as a hate-filled person.

      I suspect hophmi wants to be make sure his views aren’t a matter of public record. You never know how it could come back to haunt you in the future. But, of course, Andrew wouldn’t understand.

  7. Louise Yaffe Potash March 6, 2014 at 10:18 am · Reply

    As a Vassar Alumna with many family and friends associated with the Vassar Community, I am disappointed with this letter and what seems to be the current state of (supposedly) intellectual discourse. I support President Catherine Bond Hill’s statement and, while I am open to different points of view, I fail to see how aligning with that ASA resolution to boycott all Israeli academic institutions, (where a very Western democratic liberal arts and science approach is the norm) promotes academic freedom or any other freedom. I have been an advocate for peace and civil rights for all people(s), and while I prefer actions of non-violent civil-disobedience to create social and political justice and change, I think this particular academic exercise is misguided. Coopting terms that have historical precedence and arouse emotions and tensions and fears in today’s world can often cause unintended consequences. We’ve seen this especially in the last several years with coopting terms like “Nazi”, “Socialist”, “Appeasement”, even “Civil Rights” and yes, “Aparteid”. While some injustices do follow these historical terms, as educated people dedicated to peace, we must be cautious with conflating, inflating, and inflaming. I have been a great supporter of civil rights for all, and I am appalled by bigotry anywhere–including Israel. Let’s support efforts that increase opportunity, prosperity, justice, environmental health–all of which are tirelessly worked on in Israel and in Palestine. I whole- heartedly oppose many Israeli government policies, particularly the settlements, and I abhor violence, especially against innocent civilians. As members of an (elite) educational community, devoted to opening one’s mind, critical thinking, and serious research,it is irresponsible to support the ASA BDS of Israel in the name of Palestine, rather than rejecting a specific obstacle such as the settlements, and harming what is mostly a liberal arts and science research academic life that has contributed positively and significantly to a better world through scientific and technological research as well as through liberal arts and social sciences. Singling out Israel’s academic community is either intellectually dishonest, weak-minded or odd. Why not write about injustices in North Korea or any number of other countries? There is something curious about this particular movement. I encourage those who have signed this letter to reconsider, and to those of my Vassar friends and alumnae, please support the Vassar that TRULY encourages critical thinking and serious research; that supports peace and justice with all the messiness,without merely coopting emotional terminology. The real obstacles to peace and justice are not Israeli academic institutions. I am concerned by this statement by these Vassar faculty members. It is not about different points of view. But academic freedom–like any freedom– comes witth responsibility. This position has not really educated anyone,but has conflated and distorted, and has incited the passionate divisions that further entrench people and keep them from seeking positive solutions. Should my fellow alumnae stop supporting Vassar?

  8. hophmi March 6, 2014 at 10:58 am · Reply

    “The faculty would argue that their POV outlines a plan to, over time, increase free speech. ”

    I think that’s a tendentious way of claiming that their free speech rights are being denied to them, when there is no evidence to support that contention. I checked the calendar. The last person to lecture at Vassar on the conflict was the Palestinian slam poet, Remi Kenazi, a BDS proponent. I’m not aware of a single Zionist speaker at Vassar this year.

    “Lagnados was the latter”

    Lagnado wrote an op-ed, not a piece of reportage. There is nothing in it that can be remotely construed as “intimidation.”

    “The ensuing boycott may have similar effects, but this does not make it the same boycott and it does not make our reasons the same or even similar.”

    You can make these distinctions, but to me, it’s the same thing – you’re trying to get rid of the Jewish political entity in a Muslim region. You may speak a Western language (which, again, vitiates your claim that your movement is “Palestinian-led”), but your goal is largely is the same.

    “I haven’t heard anyone condone suicide bombings.”

    The BDS movement has always refused to condemn them because doing so would be patronizing to the Palestinians, who are free to resist occupation as they see fit. That’s the same as condoning them as far as I’m concerned.

    “And in any case, suicide bombings represent such a tiny fraction of the overall killing during the Israreli occupation of the area that any attempt to make it into anything more than a terrible footnote is an attempt to obscure the presence of much larger and more damaging war machinery — machinery that itself plays an important role in the existence of the abhorrent practice.”

    This is one of those casualty count arguments. It really does not matter to me how successful the Palestinians have been in killing Israelis. Are you asserting that the number they killed is the number they wanted to kill. The truth is that they would kill many, many more if they could. So I’m not much moved by the argument that because the Palestinians have been less successful at murdering Israeli civilians, their cause is more just.

    “An inappropriate response is not to condemn Lagnado and other extremists who participate in inflammatory name-calling. ”

    How is Lagnado an extremist? Her family was expelled from Egypt. She’s an inconvenient truth in the Middle East.

    “While I don’t put stock in the vast majority of Lagnado’s whiny WSJ story, it would be good news if students exerted pressure against their parents — especially when arguments are motivated by religious or clan allegiance”

    It would be good news if pro-Israel students on campus were made to feel uncomfortable about expressing themselves? That’s what I thought. It’s not about free speech.

  9. Doron March 7, 2014 at 9:37 am · Reply

    Do any of you know about
    (1) THE JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES – There were more of them than Arab refugees. They came to Israel penniless, looked forward and rebuilt their lives. More than half of all Israelis are their descendants. Why punish Israel for uplifting them, and reward Arab countries for keeping Arab refugees stateless. It’s especially hypocritical as Arab countries started the wars that led to BOTH refugee issues.

    (2) ARAB COUNTRIES STARTED THE WARS – In 1948, the Jews accepted a two-state solution, and all Arab countries rejected it. Six Arab countries invaded tiny Israel, vowing to annihilate the Jews.

    (3) JEWS ARE INDIGENEOUS – “Arab East Jerusalem” has a Jewish majority for a very long time, until Jews were expelled in the 1920’s. Hebron had an ancient Jewish community until the 1929 massacre. Go read Sir Martin Gilbert’s book “In the House of Ishmael” to see just hoe indigeneous Jews across the Middle East suffered under Arab and Ottoman rule.

    (4) THE CORE ISSUE IN THE CONFLICT – Arab refusal to accept Jewish self determination behind any boundaries. Jews can only live as inferior “dhimmis” subject to restrictions worse than apartheid.

  10. Doron Lubinsky March 7, 2014 at 11:36 am · Reply

    How will boycotting Israel help peace? Just look at the neighboring countries, and may many of you are so misinformed. Do any of you know about
    (1) THE JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES – There were more of them than Arab refugees. They came to Israel penniless, looked forward and rebuilt their lives. More than half of all Israelis are their descendants. Why punish Israel for uplifting them, and reward Arab countries for keeping Arab refugees stateless. It’s especially hypocritical as Arab countries started the wars that led to BOTH refugee issues.

    (2) ARAB COUNTRIES STARTED THE WARS – In 1948, the Jews accepted a two-state solution, and all Arab countries rejected it. Six Arab countries invaded tiny Israel, vowing to annihilate the Jews.

    (3) JEWS ARE INDIGENEOUS – “Arab East Jerusalem” has a Jewish majority for a very long time, until Jews were expelled in the 1920’s. Hebron had an ancient Jewish community until the 1929 massacre. Go read Sir Martin Gilbert’s book “In the House of Ishmael” to see just how indigeneous Jews across the Middle East suffered under Arab and Ottoman rule.

    (4) THE CORE ISSUE IN THE CONFLICT – Arab refusal to accept Jewish self determination behind any boundaries. Jews can only live as inferior “dhimmis” subject to restrictions worse than apartheid.

    (5) PALESTINIAN REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE – Mahmoud Abbas says he will never recognize any part of Israel as a Jewish homeland. He demands that Arab refugees, and all their descendants be resettled in pre-1967 Israel, and not the West Bank. This makes a mockery of a two-state solution. It denies the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

    • Jim March 16, 2014 at 2:03 pm · Reply

      I would add that over 10% of the population of Israel was killed by the Arabs who invaded after the United Nations granted statehood to Israel. 10%. And the Arabs who attacked included no “Palestinians” because such an entity did not exist. And it also bears repeating that nearly every Jew living in Arab Countries before 1948 has been run out and ultimately rescued by Israel. Close to a million. And finally, as you read through all the rants and raves including the original letter by these sorry “professors” you come away with only one thought. Jew Haters. Plain and simple.

  11. Dan March 7, 2014 at 4:35 pm · Reply

    Israel is the only place in the Middle East with anything like freedom of belief or thought, anything like free speech, anything like free academic enquiry, or anything like tolerance.

    Look at a map. Israel is a tiny sliver of land where the light of openness shines amid a see of dark intolerance and small-mindedness and these signers want to stamp out the light? How about working on bring light to the dark places. Or would that involve troublesome real work?

    That there is no movement to condemn any of Israel’s neighbors demonstrates that this is, at its core, an antisemitic movement. For shame.

  12. Glen Eastman March 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm · Reply

    I believe a book written by a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a book titled “Gulag”, should be read…especially by any teacher or professor. During the Russian Revolution (communist revolution) the communists coined a phrase “useful band of idiots”. They coined this phrase when speaking of the individuals living in America enjoying the freedoms offered by this country who were supporting their revolution. They were confounded how someone here with all the freedoms we have could support them when they were imprisoning and silencing these same groups of people in Gulags Yes, they were in full support of the communists and their revolution and yes…. this group consisted largely of individuals from the academic community. It really should come as no surprise that a letter was written by a group of professors condemning and supporting this situation. Remember when 80 Duke professors immediately signed a letter supporting a fraudulent accusation against the Duke Lacrosse team? Palestinians are people who came from other countries…Arabs, Christians, Jews, etc. There was never one people. Looking back over history the land has been occupied many times by many different ethnic groups. Mr. Arafat was in charge for over 33 years and not only was peace never accomplished (and I’m sure many will blame it all on Israel) but in over 3 decades he also never built one school or hospital for the people who call themselves Palestinians. Yet he was granted billions of dollars over those years to help these same people. NPR even eulogized the man making everyone think he was the second coming of Mother Teresa. I understand after living/working in a “socialist” environment for most of ones whole life their ideas will gravitate to the idealistic/altruistic utopia which will most likely never be attainable as we human beings while speaking of peace, love and harmony are driven by our basest instincts. What I observe today is the unbridled hatred both sides spew in their determination to impose their will/ideas on their neighbor. If common sense instead of politics and desire could happen I truly believe both sides could sit down and a deal could be worked out.

  13. Archie March 9, 2014 at 5:05 pm · Reply

    Maybe Vassar’s Jewish alumni will finally take their heads from their backsides, take notice of this nonsense, and take their alumni donations elsewhere … or at least stop making “unrestricted” gifts to the school that otherwise fund these Islamofascist professors and the various sympathizers in their decidedly antisemitic liberal arts curricula. Jews have extensively funded Vassar over the years, and if they were to take a break for a minute, they would be quite surprised to see the naziesque vitriol and filth emanating from these vapid ideologues. President Hill and Dean Chenette clearly recognized the peril these morons pose to the alumni money spigot, but from an alumnus’ perspective, it doesn’t go far enough. If the lockstep antisemites want funding for their hatred, they can get it elsewhere; NO MORE UNRESTRICTED GIFTS. In fact, EVERY alumni contribution should come with a contractual limitation that should these professors or their departments receive even a single penny from the endowment, then the college must repay the contribution with interest.

    • Karen March 13, 2014 at 3:40 am · Reply

      Archie, you are absolutely correct. However, Jewish alums should stop giving money to Vassar altogether. I know several alums who decided they would contribute to “grounds upkeep”. Guess what? That sort of unrestricted gift is the kind Vassar likes. Why? None of the big donors want to support daily operations. Paying for mowing the lawn or fixing the broken pipe simply isn’t sexy.

      The best thing to do is not to donate at all.

  14. Christophe March 9, 2014 at 6:27 pm · Reply

    I am not the putative expert in Middle-Eastern affairs, and of Israeli domestic and foreign policy, but I recognize the Fascist ra(n)ts when I see them. This posturing, as being for greater human rights and dignity of the “Palestinians” (many of whom are of Israeli nationality, yes?), is all but besmirched and belied by the outward anti-Semitism that is rife among these Liberal-Fascists.

  15. holy bacon March 10, 2014 at 10:00 pm · Reply

    Jews aren’t taking any sh*t from anyone anymore. Least of all the anti Semites who are living cozy in their ivory towers but don’t worry after we take care of business in. The middle east we will deal with you.

  16. Karen March 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm · Reply

    Watch this:
    https://www.youtube.com/embed/B084EmNeNDk?feature=player_embedded

  17. chapmac March 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm · Reply

    Academic freedom seems to center on the privilege of self-righteous blockhead to howl their hatred in classrooms. To champion the rag-head murderers attempt to steal Israel from the Jews-because the jews refuse to suffer the murder of their women and children tamely is not a morally superior position:it’s dumb.
    Civilization has rights-to self defense. And those rights are not conditional nor degrade ably by sophistries. Let the barbarians make peace-or expect to disappear over time. There is a price for irretrievable murderous hatred, and a Vassar which makes common cause with the barbarians will bring down a similar fate upon itself. The USA isn’t going to foster the murders against the IDF- especially since the actual reponces of the mighty invincible all conquering , ever victorious Muslim warrior baby killersto opposition that can shoot back has been to add another AK-47 to our growing collection go mint condition (only dropped once). weapons.

    • Joseph Smith March 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm · Reply

      I agree with your overall ideas but please don’t call Muslims “rag-heads.” It’s an offensive term, and it helps to relinquish our moral high-ground on this issue.

  18. Arafat March 12, 2014 at 9:07 pm · Reply

    Why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from American Muslims, or any Muslims or any liberals?

    But if Jews have a legally established homeland Muslims and Liberals and their ilk will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What explanation can be
    given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are subjugated. And, of course liberals simply cannot think rationally.

    For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe.

    Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who once lived there. According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land belong to the Buddhists?

    Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical.

    And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re told, the land the Buddhists are on belongs to Islam.

    And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and they should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims since Islam deserves all lands.

    Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions have been killed in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims gang-raped in Sudan
    all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims. All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess.

    And Kashmir? The same. Despite Hindus having lived there for 3,000 years – something like 2,000+ years before Mohammed was born – Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it? Muslim logic, I guess.

    And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam too. Did you know that? It’s true. Just ask a Muslim or a liberal if you prefer. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death to prove their
    point.

    Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as clear as day? Of course it does. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on their stage.

  19. Richard Behar March 29, 2014 at 5:02 am · Reply

    As a journalist who has written about the infamous BDS boycott vote by the American Studies Association, I think it is incumbent upon the 39 Vassar professors to put up or shut up on the topic of the “destruction” of the homes of Palestinians. They need to say exactly what they are talking about. Is it the destruction of homes of terrorists? Or do they allege the destruction of homes in East Jerusalem belonging to Palestinians who are not involved in terrorism?

    If the latter allegation, they should know that—just like every Western democracy—Jerusalem has strict zoning laws and building codes that ALL of its residents (Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc.) are required to adhere to. If they don’t, they hurt public planning and the city’s ability to provide services—AND they endanger their own neighbors’ safety. Jerusalem’s mayor has instituted councils led by Arab mukhtars who join with municipal employees to work with residents to see if there is disagreement or differing land claims so that the city can then seek to retroactively legalize illegal structures. Not long ago, for a Forbes article I published, I interviewed Stephan Miller, a former advisor to the mayor and a former spokesperson for the city.

    “There are hundreds, if not thousands of cases involving illegal structures that are brought into the court system,” said Miller. “One can criticize Israel until you are blue in the face, but you can’t say those courts are unfair; they are extremely democratic and liberal.”

    “Imagine a case,” he continued, “of a home where there’s a fire and children couldn’t get out because there was no fire escape, or the building material was highly flammable and it goes up in flames very quickly—all because residents didn’t follow the zoning codes? We would ask how did we let such a structure be built?”

    (No doubt, Israel’s harshest critics—perhaps even some Vassar professors—would turn this around and accuse Israel’s Jews of letting unsafe structures collapse as a new form of ethnic cleansing?)

    “Only in an extreme case are houses demolished in predominantly Arab neighborhoods,” he added, “and it’s rare that one is demolished that was ever inhabited due to Israel’s squatter laws.” (Such laws protect squatters who have been in an illegal building for a certain number of days; the case must then go through a legal process that could take years to resolve.)

    “Sometimes it’s an illegal store being built on land that is zoned for residential use or a park or a road,” says Miller. “I remember one case of a shed being built illegally to house horses. The [Arab] neighbors were very happy to have the structure demolished.”

    Israel’s enemies like to categorize all structures as “homes” because it’s a more powerful visual. But it’s deceiving and a long way from the truth. Perhaps there are some cases where Arab homes have been improperly demolished. I invite the 39 Vassar professors to stop hiding behind inflammatory generalities when speaking to their audiences and when writing letters. Name specific examples and cases, please. Then we can move through them—one by one. You owe it to academia to do so. You owe it to your students, and you owe it to their parents. Finally, you owe it to all Israelis and Palestinians. Let’s go.

  20. Tiranman April 23, 2014 at 5:45 am · Reply

    I am in disbelief how these (professors) can be so hateful makes one wonder what is behind their thoughts
    the word Jealousy ?? resenting hard work & success of jews while they sit comfortable in their studies no gumption to go out in the world & have a go which was forced on the Jews centuries ago.
    Irish academics hypocritical while Ireland wants to be one country they condemn Israel ??? There land of Israel in Christian Teaching , who do they think the Israelites were JEWS who had their Land taken by force by the Romans & thrown out to wander the globe tortured humiliated killed every generation since been thrown out by the admired Romans brutalised by Christian & Islam alike, made to lower their heads That has now stopped as Jews to-day stand upright & strong against all Jew haters I was born in Eire at the age of 7 walking home from school I was bullied by gang of boys from christian brothers school shouting JEW BOY JEW BOY I soon learned to protect my-self & tG grew up strong . Israel is truly democratic over a million Arabs living in Israel have their own members of the Knesset & succeeded. . These anti- Israel Academics will get their Khama this I truly believe & they will have to answer for their hate whether at the gates or elsewhere

  21. Katharine May 7, 2014 at 9:23 pm · Reply

    So disappointed to see my former professors on this list.

    Wouldn’t the fair thing be to boycott every country with a poor human rights record?

    The US is using drones to kill people in Pakistan without a declaration of war.

    Maybe if these professors feel so strongly they should boycott themselves.

  22. Lyndi May 12, 2014 at 12:07 am · Reply

    I applaud these professors for signing this letter. As an alum, I know that such a common-sense act becomes “courageous” if you don’t want to be slandered in hyperbolic ways in an insular environment of blind Zionism and anti-Arab, anti-Islamic racism.

    I notice that like many fora in the U.S., these comments are over-run by sneering knee-jerk pro-Israel ideologues, despite the few very cogent, rational explanations provided by what we might call the “pro-justice” or “pro-BDS” people (Andrew Utas, persephone).

    Because I know in other fora, on LinkedIn, on campus, there are so many more who just believe in basic human rights and dignity for Palestinians and that a boycott call is more than appropriate — not decontextualized, ahistorical, or without parallel. And I know from private messages that the fear, or at least perception they won’t be heard, due to the “BDS-haters”, prevents them from speaking up — but I’m used to the trolls.

    So please take note that another alumna has written in full support of those professors who “walk the walk” and put theory into practice with even the smallest, unflashy letter for which they’re being burned at the stake online.

    I’m not afraid of you trolls. :P

    • Reader20 May 12, 2014 at 11:57 am · Reply

      Interesting that your definition of “troll is anyone who does not agree with your confused rehashing of various diatribes against the State of Israel, including the bizarre contention that Israel — a country substantially comprised of Muslim, Christian and Jewish citizens of Arab origin — is “racist” against Arabs. Also, the contention that people who are deeply committed to opposing Israel (like you) have difficult expressing views is, in a word, absurd,

    • persephone May 17, 2014 at 2:36 am · Reply

      Lyndi – Agree wholeheartedly. Thank you.

      I too, have had private conversations with other alumni (who tried to speak up in support of the faculty) get ripped a new one for their support of the boycott.

      You are totally right that there are many, many people who support this boycott, but, due to the virulent and frothy responses by some alums (and fear of potential negative results re: networking, etc.), A LOT of people have opted to not speak up to express their opinion or have kept it to private conversation where they feel safe.

      This is a sad state of affairs for the Vassar community that so many people don’t even feel safe enough to speak.

  23. Rudolph20 May 19, 2014 at 3:47 pm · Reply

    Now I get it! For goodness sake, some of those those “virulent” and “frothy” — to use your earlier words — “chosen people” might impair your “networking” opportunities. No wonder you just don’t “feel safe” expressing your abiding hatred of the Jewish State.

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