It’s Time To Take Our Campuses Back
by Elizabeth (Liz) Berney, Esq.
Twenty-eight years ago, intending it to be a joke, the members of a fraternity at the University of Pennsylvania dressed up as ku klux klansmen, in white sheets. The university’s president was so outraged by this that she closed down the fraternity house, forcing all the fraternity’s members off campus.
Fast forward almost three decades: This coming weekend, the very same University of Pennsylvania is hosting a major national three-day “Penn BDS” (boycott, divestment and sanctions) conference aimed at dismantling the State of Israel. Speaker after speaker will spew non-stop anti-semitism and anti-Israel hatred. From Friday morning (February 3rd, 2012) through Sunday evening (February 5th, 2012), a veritable “who’s who” of anti-semites, including radical Muslims, Israel-bashing and Jew-bashing bloggers, far left professors, and some self-hating Jews, will depict Israel as an “occupation” which has no right to exist, falsely accuse Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” and urge participants to wage economic war (boycotts, divestment & sanctions), “lawfare” and other war against Israel. The many featured speakers include “Electronic Intifada” website co-founder Ali Abunimah (an old Obama buddy) and Columbia University Iran studies professor Hamid Dabashi, who accuses Israel of “global terrorism” and “a half century of systematic maiming and murdering.”
And what is the reaction to this of the University of Pennsylvania’s president, Amy Gutmann? So far, she has just made excuses for doing nothing.
Great Neck’s brave Jeff Weisenfeld recently attempted to contact President Gutmann. A college official wrote back, babbling about recognizing “student groups,” being “content neutral” and the “free exchange of ideas.” Free exchange of ideas? Since when is a professionally-organized 3-day hate-fest filled with the world’s leading anti-semites an acceptable event at an academic institution? There is a big difference between the “free exchange of ideas” and a nationally orchestrated barrage of outright false propaganda to incite hatred against Jews. Can you imagine the outcry if a university hosted a conference to delegitimize, boycott and ostracize black-owned businesses, or gay-owned businesses, or any other country in the world? Of course, it would never happen. Even a tasteless joke that was hurtful to a racial group was stopped. Yet, declaring open season on Jews and Israel is apparently no problem.
As Mr. Weisenfeld wrote to University of Pennsylvania’s officials about the Penn BDS conference: “This is a corruption of academia based on pure and unadulterated anti-Semitism which would not be tolerated against any other ethnic group.”
Sadly, the University of Pennsylvania is not the only campus where hate-filled weekends (and week-long) anti-Israel “conferences” have been taking place. Anti-Israel activities on college campuses, organized by national radical Muslim groups, are rampant. A few recent examples: UC Berkeley’s “Israel apartheid week”; the “occupation” of a campus building in “solidarity” with Gaza at the University of Rochester; and Brandeis University’s “Israeli Occupation Awareness Week.” In addition, the same radical Muslims and their co-conspirators who run anti-Israel events also violently stop Jewish and pro-Israel campus events and speakers. Apparently “free speech” does not apply when pro-Israel students and speakers try to say something. This all creates a dangerous and extremely uncomfortable atmosphere for Jewish students studying at the University of Pennsylvania and at other universities throughout the country.
It’s time that we start taking America’s campuses back from the anti-semites and Israel-bashers. Jews have given hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Pennsylvania. If a university allows anti-Israel boycott events, perhaps the university should be “boycotted” when the university asks for more contributions. I hope that readers of this article and their friends (especially the many University of Pennsylvania alumni in the local area) will cut their contributions off to U of Penn (and let President Guttman know why), and will contact the University of Pennsylvania to demand cancellation of this weekend’s outrageous, malevolent national “Penn BDS” conference. We all know the rconsequences of silence in the face of hatred. University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann’s telephone number is 215 898-7221, and her email is email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the Great Neck News & New Hyde Park Courier, and was reprinted as a Republican Jewish Coalition guest blog.