I went to the last BDS conference at Hampshire College in Massachusetts and nobody paid any attention to us. But this weekend! Holy moly! Isn’t this an utter fulfillment of the Gandhi law of activism: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win….
I’m reading the Daily Pennsylvanian. Props to these great college journos (Jeffrey Goldberg first inked his quill there, o ye ambitious young wretches) for their coverage. First the bad news then the bad news–
Donor threats reported by Sarah Smith in the Daily Pennsylvanian. This was inevitable. It happened with Walt and Mearsheimer at Harvard.
“I think there’s a lot of major donors that have threatened or plan to withhold significant financial support from Penn as a result of this,” said an alumni donor who wished to remain anonymous to maintain his relationship with the administration.
Alumni have been calling and emailing the administration expressing opposition to the conference, he said….
“I ultimately don’t particularly understand why Amy Gutmann and the trustees agreed to hold this conference and are essentially hiding behind a veil of protecting free speech and free expression,” he added.
1996 College graduate Aaron Ross has been working with fellow alumni to spread his discontent with the administration’s decision.
“Certainly in the short term this would affect [donation] decisions,” he said.
“That’s unfair because we haven’t done anything wrong,” said College sophomore Jacob Minter, a PennBDS member. “All we’re doing is standing up for human rights.”
You go, Minter! You’re building character through this ordeal.
Now here’s David Cohen, chairman of the Penn board of trustees, writing with Penn President Amy Gutmann to deplore BDS.
This conference is not a University sponsored or promoted event.
The stated purpose of BDS is to advocate for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel. We want to be absolutely clear on this point: the University has repeatedly, consistently and forcefully expressed our adamant opposition to this agenda. Simply stated, we fundamentally disagree with the position taken by Penn BDS.
Who is David Cohen? He led off for Dershowitz last night at the anti-BDS conference conference (I told you they’re paying attention!), and he is the executive vice president of Comcast, which owns NBC and MSNBC. Cohen raised $1.2 million for Obama in one night last summer, and has been a fierce supporter of Israel. Hark, Chris Matthews– your boss is in the Israel lobby!
Here is some more incitement– to follow Professor Ruben Gur’s nutty piece that describes Jews who support BDS as “kapos.” Prameet Kumar of the Daily Pennsylvanian reports on a flyer being handed out outside the Dershowitz talk last night at Penn:
The flyer, apparently printed and distributed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, compares some Penn professors’ support of the BDS movement to the actions of Nazi Germany.
Yet another Nazi scare, in a letter from Yali Elkin, ’97 graduate of Penn:
If ever there was a time for leaders of our academic institutions to unite and stare down bigotry, racism and intolerance, surely this is it. As a History major at Penn, one of the many things I learned was the tragic cascade of repercussions from silence and neutrality in the face of such malevolence. As Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel lamented, “we learn from History that we do not learn from History.” Indeed, if Martin Niemoller’s famous words don’t resonate here and now, when will they?
You didn’t see the Holocaust reference? I’m no dummy, I got Wikipedia: Martin Niemoller is the former Nazi who recanted and warned that the Nazis were coming for the Jews first, then you later…
OK, had enough? Here’s part of a beautiful letter to the Daily Pennsylvanian by Judith Beck, a ’64 alum who praises the boycott divestment movement for noble reasons.
the BDS movement, which is international in scope, is a nonviolent attempt to address the inequities that exist between Israelis and Palestinians. Inequities that continue to obstruct the process to peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine. When Palestinians have their water turned on only once every fourteen days, as they do in Hebron in the occupied Palestinian territories while the residents of the illegal Israeli settlement immediately above have water 24/7 and swimming pools, it is hard to see how that is equal coexistence.
As one who is old enough to have been a young woman involved in the civil rights movement in this country and then to have had the privilege of working for the anti-apartheid boycott and divestment movement for black South Africans, it is indeed troubling to see that my own alma mater faculty is resorting to the same hateful discourse that so obstructed the goals of both of those morally imperative actions.
Judith, you made my day. I can show this to my mom to explain why I’m in Philadelphia this weekend. So can Minter. We’re not going away.