Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | May 15, 2012

Academia: Pro-Palestinians behaving badly

No, this wasn’t in the West Bank.  This happened in London on Monday, 14 May.  The Palestine Society of the University of London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) held an event at the Khalili Lecture Theatre, advertised with these words: “I am Palestinian!  Representation and Democracy in the Arab Revolutionary Age.”  The event was open to the public, and – as is often the case – was being videorecorded by people in the audience.

Blogger Richard Millett was one of those using a video camera – for the first few minutes.  About 8 seconds into the presentation, Millett was prodded in the shoulder and ordered to stop recording.  When he refused, a man got in his face, demanding he stop recording, and said “You’re a typical Israeli, you know.”  (Millett is not an Israeli, and it’s not even clear he’s Jewish.  I have no personal acquaintance with him.)  As that confrontation unfolded, a very large man seated in front of Millett got up, towered over Millett, ordered him to leave, and snatched Millett’s backpack, walking out of the auditorium with it.  The audience began rhythmic clapping, shouting at Millett to leave.  Millett tried to make the case for his presence at a meeting open to the public, being held at the taxpayer funded University of London facility, but the audience continued to shout at him:  noise for noise’s sake; noise to drown him out and preempt any rational discourse.

Eventually, Millett did leave, in part to ensure the recovery of his personal belongings.  The audience clapped ecstatically for his departure.

If you go through Richard Millett’s website, what you will see is documentation of a number of such events (at most of which he was able to stay and record throughout).  Millett is critical, no doubt about that, but all he does is document exactly what the anti-Israel – and often anti-Semitic – activists and lecturers themselves do.  He quotes them accurately and gets them on video when he can.  There is nothing unfair about his coverage; it is scrupulously honest.

The University of London should certainly look into this, and ensure that public events can be attended peacefully by anyone, and that videorecording is allowed to all or denied to all equally.  Such enforcement may have little effect, however, on a group mindset that resents not just criticism but the simple truth.  If a civic or political group, meeting publicly, is not willing to have its activities and statements recorded truthfully by critics, its purpose is suspect.  Forcible suppression of truth only works one way:  those who practice it have wrong intentions.  There can be no good purpose for preventing third parties – i.e., the whole of society, whether friendly or critical – from seeing what is said and done at a public event sponsored by the Palestine Society.

The flip side of preventing the coverage of pro-Palestinian events is silencing supporters of Israel and those who make a pro-Israel – or even just a balanced – case in the matter of Israeli-Palestinian relations.  College campuses in the United States are the scene of a growing number of such attempts.

Quite a few of the most noteworthy have taken place in California (although by no means all.  On a slightly different head, see here for a Rutgers event to which putative Israel supporters were denied entry, based on blatant profiling by the sponsors.  And here for the attacks on Israel supporters who mounted political displays at UCLA and Penn State).  Back in 2010, writers for the American Thinker summarized a series of events at California universities at which critical or pro-Israel speech was shouted down – including an event made infamous for this exclamation by Dr. Jess Ghannam, a psychiatry professor at UC-San Francisco (emphasis added): “Now, every single Israeli military official and politician will be afraid to speak publicly. It’s huge!”

In a similar vein, Israeli soldiers giving a presentation at UC-Davis in March 2012 were relentlessly heckled by Palestinian-activist students.  One accused the Israelis of having turned “Palestine into a land of prostitutes, rapists, and child molesters.”  He hollered at the soldiers (emphasis added):

“How many women have you raped?  How many children have you raped?  You are a child molester!”  And he admitted freely: “I can embarrass myself all I want.  I will stand here and I will heckle!  My only purpose today is that this event is shut down!”

The joker in all this, however, is that the passionate heckler turned out to be a student who admitted to having been paid $50 to do the heckling, and who was given a script to follow for his performance.  The authorities made no effort to quiet the hecklers during the event, or advise them that the invited guests had a right to be heard.  Read the full CAMERA story; it’s a doozy.

It’s a good question how many universities realize the hit their academic reputations take from these events.  It’s one thing for the citizens to have to effectively subsidize the propagation of views they disagree with at the state-funded institutions.  But it’s another altogether for those state-funded institutions to silence speech on the taxpayer’s dime.

Not all the universities in question are taxpayer funded, of course.  But if you assembled the actual taxpayers for these events, they would behave much better than the student activists, faculty, and officials at almost any university.  (Fans at a minor-league hockey game would behave better.)  The best in the legacy of the English-speaking peoples – letting everyone have his say, tolerating dissent, prizing courtesy toward political opponents – is decreasingly in evidence in our most celebrated institutions of higher learning.  When the ordinary people are way better than the leaders of academia in this regard, it becomes a serious question why the taxpayers should keep funding the institutions’ sophomoric privileges.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.


Responses

  1. I’m not at all surprised that some of the people crusading for the Palestinians are behaving badly ..or that you would feature only those who do behave badly……

    • The short list of those behaving civilly is not the issue, just as newspapers don’t report all the planes that landed safely nor the names of those who didn’t die today. The point, which you missed, is the mounting number of churlish incidents being ignored by those we’ve entrusted to ensure fair treatment for all. Try reading it again.

      • churls, varlets, rapscallions and louts are not all concentrated in any quarter, my good man or woman.

        • … and so …? For the sake of argument, let’s adopt your empirically dubious proposition that civil and uncivil behaviors are proportionately distributed across all groups and “quarters” of society. The point of this piece is that we should care about the loss of a civilized standard of behavior – tolerance of free and civil speech – in a university setting, no less. In sad contrast, your ultimate point is unclear at best, but I will do you the favor of assuming you do not disagree the author’s concern.

          • dumbOx—- I do not at all disagree about that particular point.

            way back in antiquity, i was a participant in university life and was off-put by how uncivil and intolerant my fellows could be. As well, I was somewhat surprised at how intolerant the university administration proved itself to be.

            the mrs is participating in university life and she thinks that civility is no more honored now than in our day despite all the rules governing acceptable use of language that have been adopted.

            I’m not a fan of those rules and prefer incivility to political correctness……. freedom of speech is untidy.

            • The issue isn’t the ‘untidiness’ of freedom of speech, the issue is the denial of free speech and academia’s tacit support for the suppression of politically incorrect views. .

              Perhaps when its your speech being suppressed, it will be of more concern. By then of course it will be too late.

              • Well, GB, every day is an adventure. some days you read and comprehend and respond and other days you seem to be stuck a little and feel to need to pursue though no one is fleeing.

                • nice try at avoiding the issue; the suppression of politically incorrect views, which extends far beyond mere incivility.

                  Attempts at minimizing by incorrectly categorizing suppression of free speech, the foundation of liberty, as mere incivility, indicate an unwillingness to face up to the true nature and consequences of the issue.

                  • GB, maybe you would benefit from a nice nap and then, refreshed, you might re-read my comments and and formulate a response that doesn’t include telling me that I’m doing that which I am not.

                    • MF, you’ve never stopped proclaiming that which you are not. Like any dedicated troll, your only purpose is to be a distraction and general pest.

  2. There aren’t many institutions of higher learning that don’t receive taxpayer dollars.

  3. Documenting their words against them is a pretty low down, dirty trick. Mr. Millett should expect them to get pretty upset.

    Good to know, though, that the pro-Palestinians are so flush with cash they can hire hecklers.

  4. “It’s a good question how many universities realize the hit their academic reputations take from these events.”

    None whatsoever. Actually, there isn’t much left to hit anymore. 🙂

    rafa

    • Academia in universities suppressing unpopular views appear to have no idea that they are committing academic suicide. When they’re declared Trotskyites and sent to the reeducation camps, their befuddled expressions will declare to all that they were nothing more than the left’s cannon fodder, ‘useful idiots’ all.

  5. … and so …? For the sake of argument, let’s adopt your empirically dubious proposition that civil and uncivil behaviors are proportionately distributed across all groups and “quarters” of society. The point of this piece is that we should care about the loss of a civilized standard of behavior – tolerance of free and civil speech – in a university setting, no less. In sad contrast, your ultimate point is unclear at best, but I will do you the favor of assuming you do not disagree the author’s concern.

    • My apologies to the thread that this comment, originally directed to MikeFoxTrot, was misplaced here (and I can’t see how to to delete it) … a lesson to me to log in *before* hitting the reply button.

      • apologize not….. nothing wrong with your comment and not offensive to read it twice.

        • Like the song goes, “you really think this song is about you, don’t you …”

    • and BTW, I’m not sure that I went as far as to posit an evenly proportionate distribution,Ox.

  6. Check out these recent events in UCSD:
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/155587#.T65zwesV3js
    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=1594958
    http://frontpagemag.com/2012/05/07/smear-attack-against-israel-defenders-at-uc-san-diego/

    Smear Attack Against Israel Defenders at UC San Diego
    Posted by Arnold Ahlert Bio ↓ on May 7th, 2012 Comments ↓

    The University of California San Diego (UCSD) is the latest campus where false charges have been leveled at Israel defenders in order to advance the genocidal campaign against the Jewish State. A UCSD pro-Muslim student association, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), orchestrated what could be a potentially libelous campaign of false charges against a campus-wide elected member of the student government, Ashton Shahyad Cohen, and pro-Israeli professor, Shlomo Dubnov. What animated the campaign? Despite SJP attempts to obfuscate the issue, both men were targeted because they were against an SJP-sponsored resolution demanding that UCSD divest itself of holdings in companies that do business with Israel. The resolution was brought before the UCSD Student Council on February 29, 2012. After seven hours of debate, it was defeated 20-13. Shortly after, both men came under attack.

  7. There is a difference between “public events” and “events open to the public”.
    The former are events held in places where the public has access as of right. The latter are events held on private property where the organizers allow the public attend. Insofar as the latter are concerned it is a matter for the organizers as to whom they admit or exclude. Universities, whether publicly funded or private, are private property. Meetings and events held on university property are private events, and the organizers are perfectly free to exclude anyone, including abusive people whose intention is not to participate in debate but to disrupt. Millett falls into the latter category. He has had to be ejected from the Westminster Parliament Buildings for disorderly behaviour. Millett’s modus operandi is not “debate”. It is disruption by shouting slogans and filming the participants at events he objects to.
    The purpose of his filming these meetings is to pass the footage to the Israeli authorities so that the latter can identify and exclude the international witnesses who travel to the West Bank to support the Palestinians, and give testimony and publicity to the home-demolitions, crop-burning, and other activities of the Israelis and the criminal settler enterprise they enable and protect. Millett’s objective is not freedom of expression. It is suppression of information and publicity.

    One can well imagine what would happen if some Palestinian supporter got past the goons at the door and crashed a meeting of that settler-front organization, the soi-disent “Children of Holocaust Victims”, and started screaming slogans and shouting down the speakers, and then started filming the attendance. But presumably, his swift and forceable expulsion wouldn’t be portrayed as an attempt to suppress debate. It would be more bad behaviour on the part of the Palestinians.

    The real agenda here is to de-legitimize opposition to the Israeli land-grab by those who support robbery when it isn’t their own property that’s being stolen (er, I mean “disputed”)

  8. what’s this “de-legitimize’?
    if it means to argue and convince the majority of people that something or other is ethically poor, then what’s the problem?

    debate, discussion, argument are all well and good.

    not allowing any debate or argument in private meeting is legit as well.

    but public discussions are different and using weight of numbers or other advantage to prevent a civil expression of any dissent is not good.

    • Many organizations advertise meetings which they invite the general public to attend. however, I am unaware of any organization that tolerates people who attend, not to engage in debate, but to shout slogans and disrupt, or who film the attendance without permission. I dare you to attend any meeting held by AIPAC, or one of Dyer’s land-grab support groups, and when you are at the meeting, stand up and shout pro-Palestinian slogans at the platform, and then try to film the audience with your camcorder. You will be ejected by the goons and your camera seized before you can say “jack robinson”. We would then be able to read the howls of outrage from Dyer and her ilk about a pro-Palestinian lout “behaving badly” and attempting to stop the relevant land-grab front-organization from exercising its right of “free-speech”.
      So, how come the Palestinians are behaving badly when they do the same thing? It’s because people like Dyer portray everything the Palestinians do as motivated by malice. It doesn’t suit to admit that if she and her ilk tried to steal the homes and property of fellow Americans, they would not be met with protest meetings, they would be visited with righteous armed resistance by the enraged American homeowners defending their property. (Or by legal action. Except that Palestinians don’t have the legal option. The property of non-Jews doesn’t enjoy the protection of Israeli “law”)

      In any case, it isn’t just London University that has a problem with Millett’s idea of free-speech. Lobby groups – including Israeli, and Palestinians – visit the Westminister complex as guests of the MPs and Peers. To my knowledge, no one has ever disrupted a visit to the British Parliament by Israeli politicians. Millett entered Westminister illegally and tried to disrupt a visit by Palestinian legislators. Millett doesn’t give a toss about free-speech – no more than Dyer gives a damn about property rights – unless its the rights of people they like.

      • A prerequisite for getting to the truth is respecting simple facts. I just wasted too much time trying to find evidence of your assertion that Richard Millett attended the meeting in question (or any other) to “shout slogans and disrupt”. Can you provide any evidence?

        A filmed record of the meeting would be helpful, wouldn’t it? Why do you think that other groups would react with hostility to a camera? Can you provide any evidence of that assertion?

        Can you provide any evidence – citation of a particular law will do – that Israeli law provides property protection only to Jews?

        • dOx—Can you provide any evidence – citation of a particular law will do – that Israeli law provides property protection only to Jews?–

          the law doesn’t offer property protection only to Jews, but the administration of the law is meant to separate Arabs from their property, particularly in Jerusalem.

          Meron Benvenisti i was Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem from 1971 to 1978, during which he administered East Jerusalem and served as Jerusalem’s Chief Planning Officer.
          He write a book or two about it, might even have published some other stuff about how the Arabs are getting screwed out of the land and houses and pushed out of the city.

          You might even see if you can get hold of the Jerusalem Law which sorta does say that if you’re born in Jerusalem and own property in Jerusalem, but aren’t an Israeli citizen, that if you leave town for a while….like if you go to school in the USA, you aren’t ever getting back into Jerusalem and aren’t ever gonna see your house and land again.

        • dOx—Can you provide any evidence – citation of a particular law will do – that Israeli law provides property protection only to Jews?–

          the law doesn’t offer property protection only to Jews, but the administration of the law is meant to separate Arabs from their property, particularly in Jerusalem.

          Meron Benvenisti i was Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem from 1971 to 1978, during which he administered East Jerusalem and served as Jerusalem’s Chief Planning Officer.
          He write a book or two about it, might even have published some other stuff about how the Arabs are getting screwed out of the land and houses and pushed out of the city.

          You might even see if you can get hold of the Jerusalem Law which sorta does say that if you’re born in Jerusalem and own property in Jerusalem, but aren’t an Israeli citizen, that if you leave town for a while….like if you go to school in the USA, you aren’t ever getting back into Jerusalem and aren’t ever gonna see your house and land again.

          See, that doesn’t mean that the Israelis aren’t going to protect your property if you’re not a Jew in Jerusalem, it just says that they’re gonna protect your property from you.

          • Looks like those bulgy eyes are seeing double. I guess some people see being a sock puppet as a way of life.


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