I agree that the “Admin has responsibility to effectively counter hate speech.” Students, faculty and alumnae/i as human beings living on this planet also have a responsibility to effectively counter hate speech. It is easy to condemn “toxic exchanges featuring antisemitism and Islamophobia” both within Vassar and the world outside. Easier still to condemn anonymous hate speech on social media. Professors who are both authority figures and leaders in campus opinion should ask themselves are they as willing to invite pro-Israeli as well as pro-Palestinian speakers to campus.
More importantly, I challenge each member of the Vassar community both to look inside their hearts. When any ethnic group is attacked on campus, make that group in your mind your ethnic group. When any religion is attacked, substitute your religion or worldview.
Many call pro- BDS political speech, but to many it is hate speech that hampers the cause of peace. In the cause of BDS, students are holding signs in the Campus Center equating Zionism with Racism. Why should one regard such signs as hate speech? Because, the UN officially has revoked this statement and the United States has rejected this sentiment:
“Zionism is not a policy; it is the idea that led to the creation of a home for the Jewish people, to the State of Israel. And to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War II and, indeed, throughout history.
This (UN) body cannot claim to seek peace and at the same time challenge Israel’s right to exist. By repealing this resolution unconditionally, the United Nations will enhance its credibility and serve the cause of peace.”
In that spirit, I strongly urge rejection of the BDS proposal. We need more not fewer economic, political and social links between Israelis and Palestinians. We need to let the moderate voices of goodwill be the loudest in the Middle East. By rejecting this proposal, Vassar will enhance its credibility and serve the cause of peace.
Vassar class of ’81