More than a few people in China were arrested today because: they criticized a Communist party official, openly practiced religions that the government has declared illegal; they attempted to breach internet filters the government has imposed so people cannot research particular subjects or follow non-government controlled news sources.
But are you aware of any organized efforts around the world or in this country to promote a boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) campaign against China? In fact, most Americans, EVEN SOME HIGH-BROW ACADEMICIANS! probably bought multiple items today that were manufactured in China.
More than a few people are languishing in Russian prisons at this moment because they tried to expose the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s government. More than a few people are arrested in Russia everyday for being gay, for practicing freedom of speech, posting videos on You-tube, for not paying off the right government bureaucrat, for trying to arrange an adoption for Russian orphans with loving American family, etc. etc.
But are you aware of any organized efforts around the world or in this country to promote a boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) campaign against Russia? Is the academic world boycotting Russian in general and discontinuing joint academic programs with Putin’s totalitarian state?
Shall we review the status of human rights in many Muslim and third world countries? Shall we have an informed discussion about the many governments in the world today who promote bigotry and intolerance against Jews, women, gays, intellectuals, Christians, and other minorities?
But are you aware of any organized efforts around the world or in this country or in the noble, enlightened world of academia to promote a boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) campaign against any of those countries?
Unable to make peace with the State of Israel, supporters of Palestinian nationalism have been actively encouraging their friends and supporters the world over to engage in a nefarious BDS campaign against the Jewish State.
This “J-Street” Zionist has no problems with people criticizing Israel. I don’t agree with many Israeli policies and I am profoundly troubled by Israel’s now 45-year-old military rule over 2 million plus Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel and have no say in how they are governed. What I cannot accept as legitimate, is the promotion by so-called “progressive” and “enlightened liberals” who actively champion the BDS campaign against Israel as if the Jewish State were the only or the worst violator of human rights in the world.
If you are a BDS proponents who is not Palestinian and have little interest in, or concern for human rights violations taking place around the world at this moment, I have to question what your real agenda actually is.
On Thursday evening, February 7th, the Political Science Department at Brooklyn College (CUNY) hosted a symposium that included Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti, two renown activists who are promoting the BDS movement. No critics of BDS or supporters of Israel were invited to participate in this “academic forum” which is being co-sponsored by a number of student groups.
Had this program which is obviously intended to promote the BDS campaign been sponsored exclusively by student groups, I don’t think many of us would have given the event a second glance. It is and should be the right of student groups to host lectures and forums of interest to them. But the co-sponsorship of this event by an official department of the College is troubling.
Why did the poli-sci department not insist that opposing points of view be included? Or, why did the poli-sci department not also schedule a separate event at which critics of BDS could make their case?
In recent days, both Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Times have expressed disapproval of those of us who are critical of the Brooklyn College forum by suggesting that the only issue is ‘academic freedom.’
Anyone who knows me personally or follows my blog and columns can affirm that politically speaking, I’m a die-hard progressive supporter of human rights. As a Jew, as a son and grandson of Holocaust survivors and a gay man, I’m passionately committed to advancing the civil liberties of all people, even those who would challenge my own rights.
Palestinian nationalism is no less legitimate than Zionism. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians will not be possible without mutual recognition and respect of the national desires of both people.
But let’s be honest: The BDS movement has become a convenient camouflage for non-Muslims who are either anti-Semitic or enlightened progressives who have a very personal problem with Jewish nationalism. But let’s ignore the many respected figures in history including Martin Luther King have suggested that rejection of Zionism is a subtle expression of anti-Semitism.
Objecting to Brooklyn College’s co-sponsorship of tonight’s event is NOT an attempt to stifle academic freedom. On the contrary, criticizing the school’s co-sponsorship is all about academic freedom. Doesn’t a school promoting academic freedom have and ethical obligation to make sure that BOTH sides of the story are told?
For the record, until I learned of this event, I was a proud graduate of Brooklyn College with a BA in political science. For the moment at least, I feel betrayed and let down by my alma mater. But, I will follow the lead of a fellow alum, Alan Dershowitz, who has said in recent days that he will continue to support Brooklyn College but actively work to broaden the faculty of the political science department to be more balanced and inclusive of differing points of view.
It isn’t clear whether you’ve read Judith Butler’s sober, reflective piece, but if not I’d encourage you to do so. You may also want to know that the MLK reference used to justify the position you attribute to him has been shown to be a hoax (http://electronicintifada.net/content/israels-apologists-and-martin-luther-king-jr-hoax/4955). The campaign call for BDS action against specific Israeli institutions originates from within the Palestinian civilian population; there are no doubt forces attempting to use it toward immoral ends – just as there are with Zionism. Join us in defending the highest, noblest version of the BDS call, and achieving those goals, and then let’s join forces in responding to other BDS campaign calls that may arise from within China, Russia, etc. In solidarity.
1. Why do so many people who feel brave enought to share their wisdom (or lack thereof) on the internet are cowards when it comes to signing their remarks?
2. How very “Fox News” of you to come up with a lunatic source to discredit a person or an idea that makes you uncomfortable. Come up with a reliable source that doesn’t have a vested interest in the Palestinian – Israeli conflict that exposes the MLK remark as a hoax and we’ll talk further.
3. Can you be more specific about which Judith Butler piece you are referencing?
Thank you for your clearly stated perspective and well-thought out assessment of the frequently abused designation ‘in the name of academic freedom’ by those who wish to squelch that same freedom for others who hold opposing opinions/views, particularly characteristic of the BDS/Anti-Israel fraternity. Your exposure of their resulting implicit claim to an exclusve right to academic freedom for self-appointed spokespersons, with the specific design to exclude the expression of opposing views, while not addressing serious and well-documented human rights restrictions/abuses among those ‘agencies’ which fund their activities is very telling. As this is especially prevalent under the BDS banner, It actually exposes the true expression of their underlying biases which are poorly hidden at best under the guise of their claim to academic freedom.
1. I might ask in reply, why do so many people resort to sarcasm, rhetorical questions and ad hominem attacks when the substance of a criticism makes them uncomfortable? (Yes, I kinda know the answer.) 2. You obviously have access to the internet, so I think you can do your own homework (assuming that you value truthfulness and strive to avoid misrepresentation of sources). 3. The one where you posted the link to this blog post.
Is this the Palestinian idea of how “free-speech” is supposed to work? http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-jailed-for-insulting-abbas/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=aa14c231c4-2013_02_08&utm_medium=email
Where did you learn that upholding human rights is a competition? And 150 protesters is hardly an impressive turnout in Brooklyn, especially given the extraordinary international attention this event received, courtesy of Prof. Dershowitz.
PS: I take it that’s a ‘no’ on the Butler piece. That’s unfortunate; it really is worth reading.
Human rights is certainly not a competition. But you have to admit there’s a certain irony in there being a world wide-campaign to insure human rights for a community of people that denies actually its own people freedom of speech. I don’t have a clue what your comment about the 150 protesters is all about; is this in regard to link to the NY Times story I posted? That wasn’t intended to earn me bragging rights, it was nothing more than follow up information to all readers, not just you. And for the record, I was not opposed to the event taking place. I was disturbed that the other side of the BDS campaign wasn’t invited to give their side of the story either at the event or at future time. I did by the way download Butler’s comments from the BD event and found her to be a very thoughtful, insightful person with something intelligent to say. That said, I think she took made the mistake of lumping all critics of the event into one category: those trying to stop the event and stifle academic freedom.
Where did Butler ‘lump’ anyone? Her point was clear: those who tried to prevent the event happening, or who demanded the right to determine from outside its format or content, were wrong. University departments host controversial events all the time, without any attempt at forcing some kind of superficial ‘balance’; that’s part of university life. Dershowitz speaks at universities all the time – does he ever insist his opponents be given immediate right of reply? Of course not. That’s simple hypocrisy that anyone can understand. And where is *your* commitment to ‘balance’ when he speaks unopposed on campus? (Yes, I’ll do a screen capture this time, since you deleted my previous comment making these points.)
You get an ‘A’ for effort. I didn’t care to continue our back forth debate as I have other articles to read, write and debates to partake in. But as you seem to feel that your pearls of wisdom must absolutely positively must see the light of day on my blog, here ya go.
And for the record MS, don’t pre-judge me and my opinions. If a school, not a student group, invited Alan Dershowitz to give his views on Israel and Palestine I most definitely would expect them to invite someone more sensitive too, and aware of the reticent arguments regarding Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians and moral failings in trying to rule over people who are denied citizenship. And while I’m certainly not a right-wing nut job who believes that schools of higher learning are indoctrinating innocent minds with leftist-liberal-enlightened bullshit, I most certainly do not approve of teachers and schools who insist that there is only one side to a story and student don’t need to hear anymore. Academic freedom should be synonymous with academic responsibility to expose all sides of complicated issues.
Professor – and at this point I use that honorific with some unease – Dershowitz no longer can be taken seriously by thinking persons of good will. For a decent summary of the highlights of his moral and intellectual cravenness, see for example: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/dershowitzs-dishonesty-conference.html
Brooklyn College has announced (2/13/13) that the school is going to conduct an investigation into why a number of Jewish students were thrown out of the BDS symposium on February 7th. Apparently, the “academic freedom” cause so passionately invoked by many, was seen from the perspective of event organizers as not applying to Jewish students.