Like many US universities, New York University is having to deal with anti-Semitism on its campus, thanks as always, to the actions of the pro-Palestinian forces and their academic enablers. It has just been announced that there will be a federal investigation into allegations of campus anti-Semitism at NYU. Recently, a university department sponsored a speech at NYU by Noura Erakat, a well-known anti-Israel activist. In response, some Jewish students asked the department of Asian American Studies when they would host a speaker with pro-Israel views in order to balance the discussion. The answer was “Never”. I am cross-posting an article on the issue by United with Israel.
This, of course, reminds me of similar experiences I have had in attending such events, which are all the rage on American university campuses. Not only groups like the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine routinely sponsor speakers like Erakat, they are often invited by university departments lending their imprimatur to the Palestinian narrative. As a part-time teacher at the UC Irvine Extension from 1998-2016, I became involved in following such events on that campus as well as others.
In September of this year, I attended an event at UC Irvine in which the featured speaker was Lila Adib Sharif of the University of Illinois. Her apperance was sponsored by the Department of International and Global Studies, School of Social Sciences. You can read above what happened during the q and a when I asked the sponosors when and if they might hold an event featuring a pro-Israel speaker.
This was also similar to an event I attended at UC Riverside in 2014 sponsored by the Humanities Department and Ethnic Studies featuring BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti. I asked the same question. Only this time, departmental chair David Lloyd, a prominent BDS activist, told me my question was “preposterous”.
This points to an important point. If pro-Israel speakers expect to be invited to a university campus to defend the Jewish state, it pretty much has to be at the invitation of student groups like Students Supporting Israel or the College Republicans. Even then they can expect to be disrupted by SJP/MSA students or off-campus radicals. University departments prefer to expose their students and the public to anti-Israel speakers like Erakat and Barghouti.
In fairness, I should point out that in 2010, the UC Irvine Law School and Political Science Department joined with Jewish groups to host Michael Oren, the then-Israeli ambassador to the US. The results were disasterous as the speech was repeatedly disrupted by the campus Muslim Student Union. Eleven arrests were made. I was present and reported on it.
Perhaps that incident set the template for universities all over the nation as to why they think they should avoid pro-Israel events since they are going to be disrupted. If that is even part of the rationale, then universities are guilty of cowardice in caving in to the mobs. I suspect, however, that the real reason is that these departments tend to be sympathetic to the Palestinian narrative. That means they are guilty of betraying the fundamental purpose of the university-to expose students to differing points of view on topics. New York University has failed the test. Putting together an event dedicated to the study of anti-Semitism (and Islamophobia) hardly corrects the problem. Perhaps, they might look at their own role in helping to create an atmosphere of anti-Semitism on their own campus.