Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe
When Lawrence Summers became the president of Harvard last year, not even his greatest admirers predicted how resolutely he would make the university's motto -- "Veritas" -- his own. Almost from the day he was inaugurated, Summers has insisted on speaking unpopular truths: about the disrespect shown to Americans in uniform, about the rot of grade inflation in Harvard's classrooms, about the absence of "mainstream values" among "coastal elites" -- even about the failure of a celebrity professor like Cornel West to do serious academic work.
Last month, voicing another unpopular truth, Summers spoke out against the spread of Jew-bashing -- not only in Europe and at UN conferences, but at American universities.
"There is disturbing evidence of an upturn in antisemitism globally, and also... closer to home," he said on Sept. 17. "Profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are antisemitic in their effect if not their intent."
Actually, even antisemitic intent can be found on American campuses these days. At San Francisco State University, for example, pro-Palestinian demonstrators recently confronted supporters of Israel with signs reading "Jews = Nazis" and chants of "Hitler should have finished the job." Earlier this month, anti-Israel rioters at Concordia University in Montreal smashed windows and hurled furniture to protest a scheduled speech by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Fortunately, such naked Jew-hatred is still rare in academia. What Summers had in mind was something less blatant but no less disgraceful.
"Some here at Harvard and some at universities across the country," he said, "have called for the university to single out Israel among all nations as the lone country where it is inappropriate for any part of the university's endowment to be invested. I hasten to say the university has categorically rejected this suggestion."
The divestment campaign Summers was referring to demands that Israel be treated as a pariah, a country so toxic that American universities shouldn't even own stock in companies that do business there. It is modeled on the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s, and its planted axiom is that there is no important moral difference between Israel -- a free and tolerant democracy at war with dictatorial enemies bent on genocide -- and the former white-ruled South Africa. That is a position only a moral idiot could endorse.
Supporters of the divestment effort at Harvard and elsewhere were quick to condemn Summers for his "McCarthyesque" attack. "This is the ugliest statement imaginable," fumed John Assad, a neurobiology professor at Harvard's medical school, "to paint critics as antisemitic."
But Summers didn't "paint critics" as antisemitic or anything else; he characterized their *actions* as "antisemitic in their effect." He was not ascribing base motives to those who support the divestment campaign. He didn't presume to read their hearts. Rather, he was pointing out the impact of their behavior. One who supports a campaign that singles out Israel for demonization and obloquy is taking an antisemitic action, whether he intends to or not.
Are Israeli policies fair game for criticism? Of course. But it is not "criticism" to falsely smear Israel as racist -- not when the Arab world seethes with a hatred of Jews more rabid even than the Nazis'.
It is not "criticism" to portray Israel's lawful presence in Gaza and the West Bank as an illegal occupation, yet never murmur a word of objection to China's occupation of Tibet, or Syria's of Lebanon, or Turkey's of Northern Cyprus, or Russia's of Chechnya.
It is not "criticism" to lay the blame for the violence of the Middle East at Israel's doorstep while ignoring the immense risks that Israel has taken and the sacrifices it has made in pursuit of peace with the Palestinians.
It is not "criticism" to accuse Israel of apartheid, when it is the Arab world that preaches "Kill the Jews!" and dances in the street when terrorists do so.
This is not criticism -- it is calumny. It butchers the truth and subjects Israel to an outrageous double standard. It abets the cause of the world's foremost Jew-haters -- people whose explicit goal is the liquidation of the Jewish state. A professor who signs his name to something so grotesque is committing an antisemitic act.
"In our own day," Norman Podhoretz once wrote, "Israel has become the touchstone of attitudes toward the Jewish people, and anti-Zionism has become the main and most relevant form of antisemitism." Antisemitism used to express itself in demanding that good Aryans boycott Jewish shops. Today it demands that good universities boycott the Jewish state. It may look different on the outside, but it's the same old poison underneath.
Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.
Editors note: See how the effort to get universities to divest from Israel operates at www.HarvardMITdivest.org.
|Islamic fanaticism and secular humanism are the crucibles driving Christian Zionist and Jews together. Daniel Lapin ,Dennis Prager and Michael Medved all recognize the mutuality of values and Rabbi Irving Greenberg considers them descended from the same root. Both these groups are increasingly marginalized and if ," they do not stand together , they shall certainly hang separately."
- L. F. -0/3-/2005
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|It is heartening to see that in a world of idiocy and evil, there are still some (albeit so few!) who are both intelligent and truthful. May God bless this good man and yourself, Mr Jacoby. |
- B. L. -0/3-/2005
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|During the demonstration at San Francisco State where anti-Israel students frothed at the mouth and venum of hatred oozed from their noses, eyes and ears, evidence of the extreme hatred in their hearts, I managed to ask a few of them these few questions:
How did the state of Israel come to be?
What wars between Israel and Arab states are you aware of and aproximately when did they happen?
Not one could answer the war question and three said that Israel stole the land from the country of Palestine in the 90s.
To think that these people are supporting the destruction of a nation without knowing any of the history of the conflict is simply amazing.
If something isn't done to combat this new anti-semitism we're all at risk because the haters promoting the destruction of Israel are the same ones who wish to end western civilization. To think that American students would assist without knowing why is scary.
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|I am appalled that that antisemitism has reared its ugly head again. College campuses in their naive assessment of the world should be ashamed of this kind of thinking. The idea of divesting from Israel is a blatant example of antisemitism. |
- B. K. -1/1-/2002
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|I agree with the author that anti-Semitism is on the rise. Unfortunately, it appears to be on the rise in outstanding academic institutions like Harvard. I would ask those students who support this proposal to ban investment in Israel to remember one interesting fact. The only country in the Middle East where Arabs regularly vote for the own political leaders is in ISRAEL. Arab citizens in Israel have the same right to vote like Jewish citizens in Israel. In contrast, the Arab nations in the Middle East are not democracies. Arab citizens in Middle Eastern countries do not vote for their own leaders. Indeed, even the notion of a Jew voting in Saudi Arabia is beyond belief. I hope the good students will reconsider their position and be fair.|
- D. N. -1/1-/2002
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