One of the premises of Campus Watch, the project to improve Middle East studies that I started in September 2002, is, as Jonathan Schanzer and I wrote a few months earlier, that "The radical notions espoused in the classrooms and in campus demonstrations have recently had dangerous consequences. These are especially visible with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict." Faculty statements and actions have been understood "as implicit permission to harass Jewish and pro-Israel students. The result: a wave of verbal and physical attacks."
A clear case of officially-sanctioned anti-Zionism veering into antisemitism took place on Oct. 7 at Northwestern University, when former congressman Paul Findley, a standing disgrace to the Republican party, gave a talk titled "The truth about our failed Middle East Policy." In the course of it, he stated that "Sept. 11 would have never occurred if any president in the last 35 years had had the courage and the wisdom to suspend all U.S. aid to Israel." He also claimed that "Jews, mainly Jews" had set in motion events that were "calamitous in the Middle East and later in America."
What makes this event notable is (1) that the university's Student Activities Finance Board allocated $10,952 to the Muslim Students Association to hold the talk (meaning that each student had contributed a small portion of Findley's costs) and (2) it was designated an "Essential Northwestern University" event, meaning that freshmen received credit for listening to Findley's wretched screed.
Comment: Let's hope that certain students don't take this kind of officially-sponsored talk as a license for aggressive action. (October 12, 2004)
Nov. 8, 2004 update: Mirabile dictu: The Daily Northwestern runs an editorial today about the Findley talk having been an officially sponsored event and states that "the university should be more vigilant in selecting which events will fulfill the diversity requirement."
Nov. 11, 2004 update: Mirabile dictu: The university administrators, President Henry Bienen and Dean of Students Mary acknowledge a problem and are rethinking the "Essential Northwestern University" program. The Daily Northwestern paraphrases Bienen as saying that the Findley lecture "revealed a need to re-evaluate the current diversity requirement."