t has become clear during the course of this academic year (2004-05)-if it was not already-that campus advocacy of Zionist ideology and Israeli state interests is shamelessly repressive of open and respectful discourse based on high standards of evidence, argument, and morality. This repression targets basic first Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and press; academic and more general intellectual freedom; and-most crucially-the political freedom to translate well-documented truths and carefully considered moral judgments into advocacy and activism. Like the struggle in Israel and Palestine , conflict on college campuses has an asymmetrical quality. On one side is a well-funded program for propaganda and defamation, all the while claiming the victimization of Jews both here and abroad, and profoundly racist against Arabs and Muslims. On the other side is the promotion of easily demonstrated truths about historical and current realities of the systematic denial of Palestinian rights, drawn from scholarly sources, international law, and the reports of major human rights organizations. But unlike the struggle in the Middle East, supporters of Israel cannot use violence with impunity, and thus the struggle is a spirited and hopeful one, especially for those with the truth on their side.
Before considering this phenomenon, I would offer a few observations about the larger political context. First, U.S. policies toward the Middle East, including Israel , are driven by American priorities; albeit these priorities have over the past 40 years increasingly coincided with those of Israel , culminating in the current era of Neocon-Likud collaboration. Nevertheless, when there are conflicting interests, such as in the Jonathan Pollard case and the current investigation into American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spying, it becomes clear that the U.S. administration will put its foot down, and that both Israel and American Jewish leaders will comply, if not without disingenuous and face-saving complaint. Second, the power of AIPAC is directed not so much at the policies of the executive branch, which are largely determined by geopolitical and defense industry interests, but at the Congress. No member can be allowed to leave the reservation of long-running American/Israeli rejection of a just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict without public punishment, including charges of anti-Semitism and extravagant funding of opposing candidates. Finally, suffice it to say that the mainstream media, for reasons both inherent in the "manufacture of consent" and specific to this problem, make it impossible for the average U.S. citizen to understand the blatant reality of Palestinian victimization. Thus relatively little effort has to be made by Jewish Zionist organizations to shape the views of Americans in general about Israel and Palestine, especially when one considers the strenuous efforts of Christian Zionists to this end.
It is in this context that college campuses have become the primary venue, such as it is, of honest and disruptive discourse about this conflict, and the primary focus of efforts by Zionist organizations to curtail the freedoms that are essential for debate, advocacy, and action by students, faculty, and activists for a just peace. It is only on college campuses that Palestinian rights advocates can be claimed to pose even an imagined threat to the hegemony of Zionist propaganda in mainstream American political culture. During the past year, supporters of the Palestinian cause have been faced with the gamut of organized efforts by Zionist organizations to deny basic freedoms: speech, press, academic, intellectual, and political. As cogently argued by Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Alexander Cockburn, and many others, the primary tactic employed in these efforts is to identify criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. At Harvard, this charge has been notably made by President Lawrence Summers and Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. This argument is supported with banal assertions of the "unique" nature of the Nazi holocaust, and by an evolving body of fraudulent scholarship and historical propaganda (including by Dershowitz) in relation to the Zionist movement and the state of Israel . The most recent addition to this litany is the "generous offer" made by Ehud Barak to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in 2000.
The tone of the Zionist claim to victimization that underlies the current phase of this campaign was set in 2003 by Israeli politician Natan Sharansky, with his spurious claim that Jewish students are being silenced on American campuses that have become "hot-houses of anti-Israel opinion." Since, then, Sharansky has become a favorite of George Bush and Condoleeza Rice. Highly-organized and well-funded efforts by American Zionists to suppress expressions of support for Palestinian rights on college campuses operate at many levels. AIPAC has intensively organized and trained Zionist students as advocates for Israel , with all of the distortion and defamation that that entails. Campus Watch, a program of the Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes, Martin Kramer), has targeted professors of Middle Eastern Studies around the country in McCarthyite fashion, and indeed the entire Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Charles Jacobs of the David Project (and co-founder of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America ) has produced a propagandistic "documentary," "Columbia Unbecoming," defaming professors of that University's Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) department. Yigal Carmon, founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), has threatened Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan with a lawsuit for critical comments Cole made on his popular blog. Pipes has recently settled a lawsuit brought by an Oregon professor who fought back against Pipes' customary slanders.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP, former Clinton diplomat Dennis Ross, mythmaker of the "generous offer"), provides a "respectable" Washington think tank image for those who regularly bring their arguments to a more official academic environment, albeit in campus venues that systematically exclude Palestinian voices. At a more vulgar level, David Horowitz's frontpagemage.com website works to disseminate the latest in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim propaganda from himself, Pipes, Phyllis Chesler, and others to Zionist students, including campus newspaper columnists. Horowitz's website has its origins in his Center for the Study of Popular Culture, with its far right critique of "political correctness" of (liberal) campus culture.
The venerable Anti-Defamation League provides a "civil rights" cover for equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, as it has done for the past 35 years. As an adjunct of the B'nai B'rith, the ADL has institutional access to Hillel. Hillel provides a "campus center for Jewish life" networking environment for Zionist Jewish students, connecting them to organizations like AIPAC and Campus Watch, and ferrying them to Washington and Israel for indoctrination in " Israel advocacy." Local Jewish Federations provide a larger institutional context for campus repression, disseminating Zionist propaganda, demonizing campus advocates for Palestinian rights, and advising alumni to withdraw financial support unless demands to repress criticism of Israel and U.S. support for Israel are met. The Reform movement (Union for Reform Judaism) advises students on "how to talk to critics of Israel ." Students are told not to seriously consider a variety of perspectives, but instead to learn to detect "anti-Semitism" among critics of Israel who may either "deny Israel 's right to exist," or "hold Israel to a higher standard." The implication, of course, is that critics of Israel are to be either vilified or dismissed as Jew haters.
It is in this context that the current academic year has seen the fabrication and framing of several celebrated instances of conflict and repression on college campuses, most prominently at Duke and Columbia . But there are also numerous other minor skirmishes, such as at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Illinois . I have intensively documented events at the latter campus in an open letter to its Interim Chancellor. I will conclude by referencing links to that letter and others that document the current Zionist campaign, as well as the efforts of those who struggle for both their own political freedoms and, more importantly, the human and political rights of Palestinians.
1. Tour of U.S. Schools Reveals Why Zionism Is Flunking on Campus
By Natan Sharansky, Forward, October 24, 2003
Sharansky has since become the high-minded theorist of democracy for George Bush.
2. The War on Academic Freedom
By Kristine McNeil, The Nation, November 11, 2002
A good background summary.
3. Anti-Semitism on Campus
Richard M. Joel, Hillel President and International Director on Lawrence Summers Speech on Anti-Semitism , Hillel Website , September 24, 2002
After using anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israel , Summers is now complaining that he is being silenced for expressing his view that women may be genetically unable to compete in math and science.
4. Don't Tell Anyone!
E-mail message to Norman Finkelstein, March 12, 2005
Reveals the tactics of the Pittsburgh Jewish Community prior to Finkelstein's visit.
5. Jewish community lines up to blunt message of anti-Zionist author
By Caitlin Cleary, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 15, 2005
Reports on efforts to deny people an opportunity to hear Finkelstein, but not on the substance of the talk; a talk with a similar message from Vancouver can be accessed in Finkelstein's website (see above ).
6. "Columbia Unbecoming" in the clear light of day
Monique Dols, The Electronic Intifada, 5 November 2004
A graduate student exposes the film as propaganda.
7. Students, Outsiders Spar at Columbia Conference
by Nathaniel Popper, Forward, March 11, 2005
Details an astonishing display of racist hatred.
8. Columbia "Unbecoming"
A European Student's Experience at Columbia By Marc Robert, Counterpunch, March 26, 2005
The whole truth and nothing but from a bewildered foreign student.
9. Academic Integrity Travestied at Columbia Middle East Studies Conference
By Terri Ginsberg, Z Magazine, March 14, 2005
A critical Jewish perspective.
10. N.Y. officials fire left-wing professor: Witch-hunt at Columbia
By Jonah Birch, Left Hook, March 2005
Rashid Khalidi is prevented from speaking to New York City public school teachers.
11. PSM draws continued criticism; Jewish schools withdraw support from Duke, TIP
By Kelly Rohrs, Duke Chronicle, September 29, 2004
To be fair, Jewish students at Duke did not try to prevent the conference-that effort came from outside Jewish organizations and Duke alumni.
12. Conference closes on peaceful note
By Kelly Rohrs, Duke Chronicle , October 18, 2004
The conference itself, of course, was constructive and peaceful.
13. Jewish community decries Chronicle; Students voice concerns about column, coverage at FCJL meeting
By Liana Wyler, Duke Chronicle, October 20, 2004
The Duke student paper is criticized by some Jewish students regarding its response to a student columnist who articulated painful truths.
14. PSM: Imagining Peace
By Bridget Newman, Duke Chronicle, October 26, 2004
A positive view of the Palestine Solidarity Movement conference.
15. Student against terrible concert
By Amelia Herbert, Duke Chronicle, October 28, 2004
A negative view of the efforts of Jewish student to pretend that they were not simply supporting Israel .
16. The Jews
By Philip Kurian, Duke Chronicle, October 18, 2004
The above-mentioned column that created hysteria by stating that Jews are a privileged group in American society, and by mentioning Norman Finkelstein; note the e-mail responses.
17. Repressive MEMRI
By Juan Cole , Antiwar.com , November 24, 2004
An attempt to intimidate a respected professor and blogger.
18. UO professor, authors settle defamation suit
By Bill Bishop, The Register-Guard ( Eugene , Oregon ), December 2, 2004
Daniel Pipes' customary slanderous tactics finally cost him some money.
19. Pressure in Colorado
By Paul Harvey, History News Network, December 30, 2002
Attempt by Pipes and others to silence Hanan Ashrawi; background for the Ward Churchill case .
20. An Open Letter to Chancellor Richard Herman Regarding Charges of Anti-Semitism and Issues of Freedom of the Press at the Daily Illini
By David Green , Urbana - Champaign Independent Media Center , December 17, 2004
Zionist student columnists express openly racist views against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims; Chancellor responds by commenting on anti-Semitism.
21. The Holocaust Industry Comes to the University of Illinois
By David Green, Counterpunch, March 19, 2005
Israeli Holocaust historian uses academic platform to promote hysteria against what he sees as "Hitlerism" in the Arab and Muslim worlds.