Sunday, November 1, 2009

Academic Cry Babies

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

Two University of California professors, both anti-Israel activists, have written an article crying over the fact that they are being criticized by pro-Israel voices for their one-sided "seminars", which they organize on various campuses to condemn Israel.

The article by the professors, David Theo Goldberg of UC-Irvine and Saree Makdisi of UCLA, is focused primarily on an event that they participated in as panelists in January 2009 at UCLA. Several hundred people attended the event. All of the panelists were anti-Israel, and most of the crowd was as well. The authors condemn opposing statements made during the event by pro-Israel attendees and deny that there was anti-Israel chanting and profanity as described by others. They also complain about the treatment of UC Santa Barbara Professor William Robinson, who got into difficulty when a couple of his students objected to his sending them e-mails that tried to shove his personal opinion of Israel down their throats. They even attack UCLA professor Judea Pearl, father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl. The Makdisi/Goldberg article, entitled, "The Trial of Israel's Campus Critics", in Tikkun Magazine is linked below:

Below, I have linked an article in response by UC Santa Cruz teacher Tammi Benjamin:

One of the UCLA attendees was Eric Golub of Tygrrrrexpress blog, who, when he spoke out in defense of Israel during the Q&A, was told by panelist Professor Lisa Hajjar that "he had his Zionist cap screwed on too tightly." Golub reported on the event on Campus Watch.

That same month, I attended a similar event at UC-Irvine entitled; "Whither the Levant". It was attended by a few hundred people depending on the time of day and panel. Makdisi and Goldberg were panelists as was the churlish ex-professor Norman Finklestein, who insulted somebody every time he opened his mouth. No one spoke for Israel. In fact, I was basically the only one in the crowd who defended Israel's actions in the 2006 fighting against Hizbollah in Lebanon. The crowd erupted in anger when I pointed out that Hizbollah was the organization that had killed over
two hundred American Marines in Lebanon and that there might have been fewer Lebanese casualties had Hizbollah not fought from behind the civilian population.

Here is the link to my (uncondensed) report, which was published in Campus Watch and Frontpage.

I was not present at UCLA, so I will let those who were reply to Makdisi and Goldberg's description of the event. I was present at UCI, however, and can testify that these panelists and their supporters are not braving anything by ganging up on Israel. They are putting on one-sided propaganda events in which dissenting voices are outnumbered about 100 to one. None of the UCI panelists spoke in defense of Israel. The basic day-long theme was that Israel is a criminal state that deliberately is trying to conduct genocide on Palestinians, targets civilians and is aided by the "imperialist" USA under Bush and Cheney. It was an academic freak show,

I also object to Goldberg and Makdisi's characterization of off-campus pro-Israel groups who they maintain are coming onto campus to oppose them. Except for the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism, I know of no Jewish organization that has walked onto the UCI campus and been as vocal in protesting anti-Semitism as I have individually. They mention several Jewish organizations (none of which I belong to). They talk about something called the Hasbara Handbook, which I certainly don't rely on because I never heard of it.

I am no outsider, nor am I even Jewish. I have taught part-time at UCI for 11 years and have attended countless events of this nature. I am often the lone voice in the crowd who (without disrupting) throws out hard questions at the speakers. Why? Because, while I defend Israel's right to exist, I am sick of seeing and hearing a bunch of radicals on the UCI campus who not only condemn Israel and defend terrorists like Hamas and Hizbollah, but also condemn America and often make anti-Semitic remarks-which I have chronicled in my postings.

At the January 31 UCI event, I sat there all day and night and listened to these panelists insult not only Israel, but America as well, as the audience (mostly off campus adults well beyond college age) cheered. Two or three of these so-called academics called then-President George W Bush "an idiot". How professional!

So Makdisi and Goldberg cry that their right of free speech is endangered by folks like me who allow them to spew their rhetoric then express opposition or report on their events so the public can be aware of what is going on in academia and what kind of "education" their children are receiving.

These "seminars" or whatever they call them, are nothing more than exercises in one-sided propaganda, and when we exercise our right of free speech to respond, they cry. Goldberg and Makdisi should shed their persecution complex. They are free to spout their rhetoric all day long; after all, they have the entire academic institution on their side. However, folks like me will continue to listen, question and report.

Grow up.

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