Letter to the Editor 04/10/14

On April 2, The Miscellany News published a letter titled “Campus Discourse Continues to be Strong,” by Joshua Schreier. Professor Schreier seems entirely disinterested in being a role model for all students, not just for BDS supporters, and denies the hostile atmosphere that now exists at Vassar for pro-Israel students. Scholars do not publish propaganda in the school newspaper. That is an act contrary to the role of a scholar. Professor Schreier may believe that such an environment is conducive to education. No reasonable person could possibly agree with him.

In fact, it is simply not true that Vassar today supports a diversity of viewpoints concerning the Arab Israeli dispute. That is due in considerable part to Vassar’s course about Israel, taught by a Professor Schreier. As a supporter of BDS, he becomes an advocate first, and educator, if at all, a distant second. His teaching is compromised by BDS and focused on vilifying Israel. A scholar teaching about Israel would bring at least one pro-Israel speaker during this academic year to speak. Has Professor Schreier done so? No. The dearth of pro-Israel speakers is his fault. Perhaps that is because he supports BDS. To supporters of BDS, there are no other viewpoints. Israel, to such supporters, is evil, not a country to be understood. Therefore, scholarship that dissents from that viewpoint is not merely wrong, it is intolerable. The professors, including Professor Schreier, who signed the “open” letter, conflate their opinion of Israel with scholarship. Pro-Israel students should thus reasonably fear being marked down by these advocates pretending to be scholars. That is human nature. No student concerned about grades would dare express a pro-Israel opinion in such a teacher’s classroom. Professor Schreier denies the reality of what is occurring on Vassar’s campus. Because our FTI group includes parents of current Vassar students, we are acutely aware of the plight of pro-Israel students. Most prefer silence to being ostracized by classmates. In fact, only the bravest pro-Israel students have dared to speak up. Professor Shreier and his co-signers evidently prefer monologue to a scholarly discussion.


-Melissa Green ’78


  1. Comment edited: Ah yes, a standard form “victim” document. The prof speaks up and states in many other words that Vassar is a college campus where different voices will be or need to be heard. Gasp, the horror, the shock. “It’s propaganda”.

    Hostile atmosphere ? Really. Oh yeah, because students of color now bring up apartheid in Israel. Did they not know that our wealthy “victims” consider Vassar as an extension of the Hillel (the old one), where such topics are well shall we say, censored.

    But for real, if a college campus is one where one cannot have such discussions, whether you agree with the topic or not, then is it not the continual delusion of these “victims” who live in a cocoon of half-truths about the treatment of Palestinians in “Dear Israel”. So now they want to blame the real world.

    And of course pretend as if the Prof and his classes are Palestinian Central. As usual, no evidence of any teaching or course material or speakers with such bias to back it up. But then did they really have any or even attempt to find any? Nah. Just throw out the usual “victim” words and pretend there are students who are so scared of their grades. All the usual “victim” methodologies. Israels conduct is being questioned. Time to throw the bleach.

    The irony of the situation is that Jewish students from the Hillel (the old one) are the ones who busted out the unreal cocoon of the Hillel and its notorious censorship. They accept the fact that, even if they disagree, there are alternate narratives of what’s goin’ on in Israel. All the while our “victim” group is busy trying to reconstruct the cocoon.

  2. BDS “Apartheid Week” supporters notwithstanding, Israel is not in any way, shape or form an apartheid state.

    Omar Barghouti himself holds a Masters degree, and is studying for his Ph.D. at Tel Aviv University.

    Some apartheid state!

    The apartheid slander has been written about intelligently and in depth on innumerable occasions.

    I will provide you here with four links if you care to explore the phenomenon of this obvious slander with the critical, open mind that Vassar is so committed to fostering:





    Elliott Vizel ’80

    • Nelson Mandela clerked at a white law firm in South Africa. Therefore there was no apartheid in South Africa !!!
      Soviet Jews had access to the highest levels of education in Soviet Russia. Therefore there was no discrimination against Jews in Soviet Russia !!!
      “By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.” – Oh Judge Goldstone forgot about the settlements. I guess in his world they exist on Mars. !!!!!!!!!

  3. To quote directly from Judge Goldstone’s article:

    “In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts … committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.”

    I will also add this from a pamphlet published by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center, on the Apartheid smear (which you can see here: http://www.bicom.org.uk/analysis-article/18870/
    and here:
    http://static.bicom.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/BICOM_Apartheid-Smear_FINAL.pdf )

    ” Israel is a multi-ethnic democracy. Every citizen is guaranteed equal rights under the law.

    Universities and hospitals are integrated and the judiciary counters discrimination.

    Israel’s Arab citizens hold collective rights as a national minority. Arabic is an official language and there is a thriving Arabic mass media, literature and theatre scene.

    The Israeli government combats discrimination and is pursuing policies to close the economic gaps between majority and minority, open up the civil service, equalise welfare, introduce Arabic into Jewish schools, and improve access to higher education. ”

    ” As a movement we recognise the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism just as we
    recognise the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish nationalism. We insist on the right
    of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders, but with equal vigour support
    the Palestinian right to national self-determination. We are gratified to see that new
    possibilities of resolving the issue through negotiation have arisen since the election
    of a new government in Israel. We would wish to encourage that process, and if we
    have the opportunity, to assist.

    Nelson Mandela, 1993

    The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one
    of the great outposts of democracy in the world … Peace for Israel means security and
    that security must be a reality.2

    Martin Luther King Jr, 1967

    The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a false and malicious one that precludes,
    rather than promotes, peace and harmony.

    Judge Richard J. Goldstone (former Justice of the South African Constitutional Court, who
    led the United Nations 2008-9 fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict), 2011

    If Israel were an apartheid state, I, for example, would not be allowed to work for
    a Jewish newspaper or live in a Jewish neighbourhood or own a home. The real
    apartheid is in Lebanon, where there is a law that bans Palestinians from working
    in over 50 professions. Can you imagine if the Knesset passed a law banning Arabs
    from working even in one profession? The law of Israel does not distinguish between
    a Jew and an Arab.

    Khaled Abu Toameh (journalist, Arab citizen of Israel), 2010 ”

    But, please, don’t let a little thing like the facts get in the way of your biased opinions on the matter…

    Elliott Vizel ’80

    • ” Israel is a multi-ethnic democracy.” – Umm, tell that to the Palestinians in the West Bank Mr Goldstone. Who do they vote for in the Knesset. Oh yes they belong to Banustan. Oh never mind.
      “The Israeli government combats discrimination ” -Is this a joke or what. Arabs are at best fifth class citizens of Israel. Even today Avigdor Lieberman has no compunction talking of “transfer”. Naftali Bennet, a sitteing member of Netenyahu’s cabinet, has no compunction of formalizing apartheid.
      Neslon Mandela in letter to Tom Friedman
      “Thomas, if you follow the polls in Israel for the last 30 or 40 years, you clearly find a vulgar racism that includes a third of the population who openly declare themselves to be racist. This racism is of the nature of “I hate Arabs” and “I wish Arabs would be dead”.
      If you also follow the judicial system in Israel you will see there is discrimination against Palestinians, and if you further consider the 1967 Occupied Territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life. Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognized as private property because it can be confiscated.”
      Need i go on.

      • The above letter from Mandela to Friedman, I have since realizedis a fake. I retract it and apologize. I do not wish to post fake stuff.

      • Nelson Mandela interviewed by Robert Lifton. Fmr. President, The American Jewish Congress and Israel Policy Forum and co-Chair of The Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations
        “With respect to Israel and the Palestinians, he noted that he unequivocally recognized Israel, not only as a de facto entity but its de jure right to exist as a state behind secure borders. But those borders, he stated, were the borders before the 1967 war. He saw Israel as an occupier and analogized Israel’s occupation to South Africa’s treatment of its black population, both in taking over their lands and in the use of force to repress any counter efforts. ”
        Tell that to Goldstone. Goldstone was an enforcer of apartheid.

  4. BTW, Raj, I find your comment ” Nelson Mandela clerked at a white law firm in South Africa. Therefore there was no apartheid in South Africa !!! ” rather interesting – and thank you for re-inforcing my point with that observation, to wit:

    It was ” (I)n the early 1940s, at a time when it was virtually impossible for a South African of color to secure a professional apprenticeship, the Jewish law firm Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman gave a young black man a job as a clerk. ”

    ( http://www.jta.org/2013/12/05/news-opinion/world/nelson-mandela-first-democratic-president-of-south-africa-was-close-to-countrys-jews#ixzz2yisMTT61 )

    Further, ” From Mandela’s first days as a young lawyer, however, individual Jews played a significant role in his career. The first was an attorney, Lazar Sidelsky, who in 1942, flouting the customs of the time, accepted the young Mandela as a law clerk at his Johannesburg firm. In his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” Mandela said, “It was a Jewish firm, and in my experience I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice.”

    ( http://forward.com/articles/173992/nelson-mandela-iconic-leader-for-jews-of-south-afr/?p=all#ixzz2yis9RhYK )

    Elliott Vizel “80 ;)

    • Elliott, How does it reinforce your point. I was always well aware of where Mandela clerked. But that does not take away the fact that there was still apartheid. Helen Suzman, one of Mandela’s dearest supporters was white and Jewish. So were Andrew Goodman and Michael Shwerner. Many people who speak up against apartheid in Israel are also Jewish. So the usual “anti-semite” label is baloney. And u know it.
      Mandela to Tom Friedman
      “Thomas, I’m not abandoning Mideast diplomacy. But I’m not going to indulge you the way your supporters do. If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.”

  5. The point, Raj, quite simply, is you used the example of Mandela being able to clerk in a law office in S. Africa to negate my point that Omar Barghouti’s being a doctoral student at Tel-Aviv University testifies to the fact there is no apartheid in Israel.

    The difference between the two examples is Mandela’s clerking was ” at a time when it was virtually impossible for a South African of color to secure a professional apprenticeship”. Barghouti’s enrollment in an Israeli university program is, in fact, the norm in Israel today – ergo, no apartheid in Israel.

    • Elliot, just as certain blacks in South Africa were allowed (not a norm) to participate in “white” society, some Palestinians from the West Bank (only after permission) are allowed to go to an Israeli University. It is not the norm. If so show me the statistics of Palestinian in Israeli Universities.
      Israel has many ways of pretending there is no apartheid. This is just another of those pretenses.

  6. Why should Elliot prove something that is obvious? When I attended Hebrew U. there were preparatory programs so Palestinians with Jerusalem residency could get their Hebrew up to a level where they could pursue their degrees. Israeli universities have substantial Palestinian (not from the WB and Gaza) student and faculty populations, even Bar Ilan. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t racism is Israel or that Palestinians aren’t routinely stopped and questioned but the fact that Jews and Arabs are hard to tell apart is why Palestinian militants sometimes disguise themselves as Jews and there have always been IDF units made up of Jews who spoke fluent Arabic and blended in. Saying “apartheid” over and over does not make it so.

  7. Thank you, Mark, for that eye-witness testimony to the attendance of Arab students in Israeli Universities.

    According to the Israel Council on Higher Education, in 2012, 11% of the Israeli University student population was Arab. The Council has since instituted a program to further enhance accessibilty to higher education in order to better reflect the fact that 20% of the population of Israel is Arab.

    A significant number of Arab students also elect to study in Jordan, as well as in the West Bank, primarily at the American University in Jenin.

    Raj, I am sure that all this will not serve to disabuse you of your fixation that, despite the facts, you believe Israel to be an apartheid state. Having said that, the term to describe such adherence to a demonstrably false view in the face of facts, is ignorant bigotry.

    Further, to return to the point Melissa made in her letter, as stated by Prof. Alan Dershowitz regarding professors at Harvard who signed a divestiture petition, professors who misinform, misdirect and miseducate their students in such issues are conducting a particularly pernicious form of educational malpractice.

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