UJA threatens York U. cont'd.

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Lord Palmerston
UJA threatens York U. cont'd.

Here's something to think about:

[url=http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/wolfe/archive/2009/04/29/enough-with-the-... With the Campus Inquisitions![/url]


n January, Robinson sent an email to the students in his "Sociology of Globalization" course. In it he accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, drew analogies between the Israeli occupation of the area to the Warsaw Ghetto, and included photographs comparing Israeli actions in the region to the actions the Nazis had taken against the Jews. Some students complained. The Anti-Defamation League has called for an investigation. UCSB's response has been to say that an investigation is already underway. Many faculty have sent letters of protest arguing that Robinson's academic freedom is being abridged. On the contrary, say his critics: Robinson went way beyond his academic responsibilities by sending propagandistic emails to his students on a subject that had nothing to do with his academic interests.

For me, this is an open and shut case. Neither Robinson's leftist kind of sociology nor his activist kind of politics are mine. Yet the idea of investigating him is appalling and the ADL should be ashamed of itself. Precedents are being set in this case that could have serious ramifications for everyone teaching in public universities--and perhaps even private ones.

We ought to want professors in our universities who teach about controversial subjects to provoke, and even outrage, their students. We should be pleased that they care enough about the issues of the day and about what students believe to send emails to them when things happen in the world that bear on the major issues of the day. Academic apathy is a serious problem. No one could ever accuse William Robinson of that.

At the same time, we should be wary of anyone who views the university not as a place for the exchange of ideas, but as an environment for therapeutic self-affirmation. "This professor should be stopped immediately from continuing to disseminate this information and be punished because his damage is irreversible," one unnamed UCSB student argued. Nonsense. Whatever damage words and pictures can do is out-weighed by the arguments and discussion they provoke. This student was angry. That was the point. The idea that Robinson caused some kind of irreversible damage here is preposterous. Seeking to punish him is even worse.

Lord Palmerston

Howard English, the UJA of Greater Toronto's vice-president for communications, said the incidents have prompted Jewish donors to York to express concern to the administration. He added there is a history of anti-Israel expression at York.

There is also a history of pro-Israel expression at York.  So what?

remind remind's picture

I guess they think if they pay, they get to have a say?

Max Bialystock

To Jaku: Not only is Howard English facebook friends with Peter Kent, he is also in the facebook group supporting the election of Kent in Thornhill. 

LP: Thanks for posting the Alan Wolfe article.  Enough with campus inquisitions indeed!

Lord Palmerston

[url=http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/657519]What's openly discussed in Israel is toxic in Toronto[/url]

"I feel like I am in exile in my own city and my own community," says Sharryn Aiken the morning after a conference she helped organize and for which she was vilified by her Jewish community.

A Torontonian, she teaches law at Queen's University in Kingston. It took her and three academics at Osgoode Hall Law School 18 months to mount the three-day event, Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace.

It was to explore, among other things, the notion of one state in which Jews and Arabs would live as equal citizens, sans their religious identities. The idea, not new, is anathema to those who see it as spelling the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

That it was to be debated at York University made it worse, given the history of toxic relations between pro- and anti-Israeli groups on the campus, especially during the annual Israel Apartheid Week.

Charges were hurled that the conference would be anti-Semitic.

The Stephen Harper government ordered the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SHHRC) to rethink its modest $19,750 federal subsidy.

Pressure was put on York University to pull the plug. But it refused.

SHHRC stood by its decision.

About 200 people from Canada, the U.S., Israel and Europe came. A quarter were Jewish. The dialogue was civil, Aiken reported from the meeting, which was closed to the media.

She said that many delegates, "first and foremost, the Israelis," were outraged at the attempts to ban the meeting. Among them: Meron Benvenisti, deputy mayor of Jerusalem under Teddy Kollek (1971-78), now a columnist for Haaretz, the liberal Israeli paper.

He opposes the one-state solution. He also opposes the notion of not talking about it. Of the Canadian critics of the conference, he told me: "If they want to be more patriotic than me, I have no use for them ... I am not going to take any lessons about Israel from people living here ... It's hypocritical of them to use my national flag to stop dialogue."