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Stop the witch-hunt; preserve democracy and academic freedom

Reader comment on item: An Inadvertent Endorsement of Campus Watch [at Georgia Tech]

Submitted by Pro-Israeli Democrat (United States), Apr 18, 2006 at 10:40

Perhaps proponents of Campus Watch are right when they call for more diversity in Middle East Studies.

Yet, I believe there is a sinister undertone to this and other right-wing "reform" movements (and this is not meant to insult or demean Mr. Pipes. I respect him. He has his opinions; I have mine). Even as a staunch supporter of Israel, I am very concerned that these people, who frequently appear on the prpaganda network FOX News to rail against our non-existent "liberal" media (unless you count Democracy Now, for MSNBC, CNN and even PBS ARE OBJECTIVE, they are not "liberal"). The American right believes that the "right" way is the only way, and that all other opinions are inherently illigitimate. Most do not care much for Jews or for Israel. What they want is to stamp out criticism of Bush administration policies, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. That, of course, means stamping out criticism of Israel...in my opinion, there is not much to criticise about Israel. It is a secular, liberal, democratic state that granted citizenship to the Palestinians who stuck around after the '48 war. It is important for pro-Palestinian activists to remember that Israel has granted citizenship to about 100,000 Palestinians. And what have Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria done for the Palestinians? The answer is: nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Still, when looking at the Middle East, one must understand that it is not a black-and-white, good guys and bad guys issue. That is why lively debate between partisans of Israel and the Palestinian Authority is vital for dialogue. The American right-wing has zero interest in this and only wants to make our country believe that George W. is a divine authority, that post-war Iraq is a happy place with happy people, that we actually have leverage in stopping the increasingly threatening Iranian nuclear program (thanks in large part to Iraq, they have the leverage, not us, and consequently the survival of the Israeli state IS in danger) and that the Patriot Act actually keeps Americans safe. Apart from stamping out criticism of GOP foreign policy, they also seek to end abortion, the separation of church and state, and possibly the rule of law. Their agenda for a "more diverse" Middle East curriculum is to put trash such as pastor John Hagee's "Jerusalem Countdown" on the syllabus, or to have the Reverend Jerry Falwell (who I don't think cares much for Jews, either), rather than say, Alan Dershowitz or Rashid Khalidi teach students about the Arab-Israeli conflict. You need resources based on credibility and reliability. At my college, for example, we have a course taught both by a practicing Muslim and a member of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. It is a unique, balanced, and very inspiring course.

Even as a staunch supporter of Israel and American allocations of aid (and I would support withdrawal from Iraq for the purpose of INCREASING military aid and assistance to Israel against Iran), I believe the following: STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS ) both Arab and non-Arab), IF THEY WANT TO, SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE ISRAEL, JUST AS I HAVE A RIGHT TO CRITICIZE THE PALESTINIANS (AND I HAVE MANY CRITICISMS...FROM THE ELECTION OF THE VILE HAMAS TERRORIST PARTY TO ARAFAT'S 'LEADERSHIP') WHEN THEY SO DESIRE, provided that it does not cross the border into anti-Jewish (or anti-Arab) diatribes. That is a fundamental principle of our constitution. We are heading into an era in which McCarthyism is about to be reborn, thanks to the American Right, and we cannot mistake their call for "diversity" in Middle East curricula as anything but the scheme it is. If one does not think that there are so-called "liberals" out there who support Israel, pinpoint the continuing struggle within Islam, and stress the need for AN EFFECTIVE war on terrorism (which has NOT occurred), then they should think again. I do all of the above, and so do many others. Our main objective is to stand up for our own beliefs while fighting for the preservation of American democracy. If that includes hearing criticism of Israeli policy that I do not agree with, then so be it. Even as a proponent of Israel, I would rather hear that then see our universities turned over to those right-wing pundits who think that FOX news is a legitimate, scholarly source of information. When that happens, we will no longer have democracy.
Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

You got it right in the first sentence: Campus Watch primarily argues for more diverse views and argues against a party-line orthodoxy that now exists.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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