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Introduction and Overview: The Silencing Andrew Pessin and Doron S. Ben-Atar If someone dared to publish among us books that openly favored Judaism, we would punish the author, the publisher, the book dealer. That arrangement is a convenient and sure way to always be right. It is easy to refute people who do not dare speak ... [when] conversing with Jews.... The unfortunates feel themselves at our mercy. The tyranny practiced against them makes them fearful.... I will never believe that I have rightly heard the Jews’ reasoning as long as they do not have a free state, schools, universities where they might speak and argue without risk. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, Book IV (1762) The Campus Situation Change the word Judaism to Israel and Jews to Zionists and Rousseau’s eighteenth-century observation is disturbingly applicable to today’s campuses, two and a half centuries later. Those in the academy who support Israel, or who merely don’t despise Israel, are finding it increasingly difficult to speak up without risking verbal attack, social and professional ostracization, setbacks to their careers, and sometimes even physical threats. As a result, the Israel-friendly (or merely non-anti-Israel) voice on campuses around the world and in the global “republic of letters” is rapidly being silenced. The implications of this phenomenon , not only for Jews but also, we believe, for free speech, for the academy, and for Western values in general, are chilling. Where some might see in Israel a prosperous (if flawed) liberal democracy, or the only modern example of an indigenous people reclaiming lost sovereignty over its homeland, the new campus orthodoxy sees only an apartheid regime founded on racism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and colonialist imperialism. Zionism, it believes, can be neither defended nor corrected, because the very idea of a Jewish state in that region depends on the dispossession of others and because the concept of Jewish democracy is an offensive oxymoron that can only perpetuate the unjust and discriminatory status quo. Israel and Zionism are thus cast as illegitimate, incorrigible abominations. 2 | Andrew Pessin and Doron S. Ben-Atar Those believing this are welcome to their opinion, of course, and should be free to advocate for it appropriately on campus and elsewhere. Indeed, freedom of speech requires tolerance of anti-Israel and even antisemitic hate speech, and we oppose efforts, however well intentioned, to spare universities this toxic scourge by denying advocacy groups a foothold on campuses.1 The much bigger problem is that anti-Israel activists themselves are generally not interested in genuine open and honest debate. They don’t want to hear what the other side says, nor let anyone else hear it, because to them there simply is no other side; they seek to delegitimize Israel and Zionism as part of a long-term strategy of destroying the lone Jewish state in the world. Painting it as an abomination is a crucial part of that strategy. In pursuing that strategy, they exchange the mantle of scholarship for activism, or use the mantle of scholarship as a cover for activism. The current volume will show that these thinking-class activists sacrifice the appropriate norms of scholarship and freedom of speech (including respect for truth); they violate basic community standards of civility, decency, and respectful discourse; and they regularly harass and bully Israel-friendly individuals. The problems raised by campus hostility to Israel were already serious a decade ago when Manfred Gerstenfeld published Academics against Israel and the Jews.2 Its chapters document disturbing incidents on major American campuses (such as Columbia, Harvard, and the University of California at Irvine and Santa Cruz), Canadian campuses, and campuses in Europe and Australia. As its title suggests, many of the essays are keenly aware of the blurry distinction between anti-Israelism and antisemitism.3 However one draws that distinction, nearly every one of its chapters also attests to the fact—since empirically verified by several studies—that wherever there is a strong anti-Israel campus atmosphere , many Jewish students, staff, and faculty feel uncomfortable and often outright unwelcome.4 Many in the anti-Israel movement deny the connection to antisemitism and sometimes even officially denounce it, but the fact remains to this day: many campus Jews experience most anti-Israel activism as a form of ethnic-based hostility. And the problems have only grown in the past decade, in both frequency and intensity. As far as we know, there has not yet been serious physical harm against Jewish members...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253034083
MARC Record
OCLC
1019844795
Pages
456
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-05
Language
English
Open Access
No
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