Activism

Israeli diplomats ‘are not allowed to speak’ on US campuses, but North Korean diplomats are, Israeli official says

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Israeli diplomats “are not allowed to speak” on US campuses, while North Korean and Iranian diplomats are, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official complained last week.

Akiva Tor, head of World Jewish Affairs in the Israeli government, spoke at a June 9 panel on “the coming storm” on campus over BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. Asked if campuses should bar pro-BDS speakers, he said:

I don’t think that we need to ban speakers. I think that North Korean diplomats, Iranian diplomats, Russian diplomats, and Israeli diplomats should be allowed to speak unimpeded on campus, and that university students should be able to hear what they have to say. The problem is that right now only the Israeli diplomats are not allowed to speak.

Tor made a similar statement earlier in the discussion, at the American Jewish Committee‘s global forum in Washington. He said Israel backers have failed to organize active support for Israel on campus.

We need to create a situation where on campus there will be much more Israel studies, many more Israel academic events, taking place publicly. We cannot allow a situation where an Israeli diplomat is not allowed to speak on campus, which is essentially the situation right now.

While Tor’s statements may be exaggerated, they surely reflect the growing sense of isolation Israel is experiencing in the world and even in the American scene. The absence of invitations to Israeli diplomats might reflect a soft form of BDS, in which institutions boycott Israel without saying they’re doing so. (And Norman Finkelstein has observed that it is very unpopular to be pro-Israel on campuses these days.)

(The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea. North Korea has diplomatic relations with Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil and Mexico in the Americas. I have never heard of a North Korean diplomat speaking on a US campus, but maybe you have?)

Tor also emphasized the role of pro-Israel donors in his talk. He said that there’s a “war on campus,” and Jewish students are showing up, but not Jewish faculty or school administrators, and they have to start speaking out.

“Senior university administrative leadership… all disagree with BDS, they don’t like it, it kills their donor base, they know it’s wrong. But they’re not showing moral courage. And therefore we have to do more to bring them together, to bring them to Israel, to convene them in the Catskills, I don’t know where, but to get them to stand up and be counted and call it what it is, a kind of a new McCarthyism.”

The panel was called The Coming Storm: BDS on the American Campus. The speakers reflected a message coming out of the Las Vegas conference against BDS, that pro-Israel forces have to become more assertive. This will surely create more of a battle, and give BDS more attention, but will it work? It’s Israel’s conduct that is really driving the criticisms of the Jewish state. There was brief acknowledgment on the panel that Israel could be doing more to make peace, but the panelists quickly agreed that the hasbara — or public explanation — has to get better. And spending lots of old people’s money to do that–it’s the dead hand of the past, the young aren’t buying.

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amigo

Senior university administrative leadership… all disagree with BDS, they don’t like it, it kills their donor base, they know it’s wrong. But they’re not showing moral courage. And therefore we have to do more to bring them together, to bring them to Israel, to convene them in the Catskills, I… Read more »

amigo

At the link at top of page, the following statement is made!!. “The Worlds largest democracy and the only Jewish one are finding common ground.” Correct me if I am wrong but isn,t India the only Indian democracy as Ireland is the only Irish democracy as is Spain and Holland… Read more »

alfa

This panel is really an hasbara organizing conference, establishing the party line, framing issues, talking points, marching orders. With all the money and power being organized it’s getting real interesting watching how it is being deployed, certainly this narrative outlines the plan. It’s more of the same old-same old illusion… Read more »

a blah chick
a blah chick

I hear about Israelis speaking at colleges all the time, Iranians and North Koreans not so much. I think what he is REALLY complaining about is that when he and his fellows turn up on campuses there are plenty of counter demonstrators on hand. Gone are the days when an… Read more »

a blah chick
a blah chick

And another thing, it is the height of arrogance to think that if people would just hear you out that of course they would support your views. The whole current hasbara campaign is based on the idea that the message is not getting out or that the means of communication… Read more »