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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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49 Responses

  1. amigo
    amigo on June 21, 2015, 12:59 pm

    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. ” tor

    So he is demanding a democratic approach to the BDS debates.Funny guy. He is a member of nation whose Knesset,s Jewish members spend much of their time trying to silence any pro Palestinian voices .Take the vile accusations and actions carried out against MK Zoabi as one example.

    Sheesh.

    • Citizen
      Citizen on June 21, 2015, 2:00 pm

      WHAT IS THIS FOREIGN AGENT DOING TELLING AMERICANS HOW TO BEHAVE? WHO IS HIS “WE”? He talks like he’s in Israel, speaking to that state’s citizens, or at least its Jewish citizens.

      • amigo
        amigo on June 21, 2015, 3:18 pm

        “He talks like he’s in Israel, speaking to that state’s citizens, or at least its Jewish citizens. ” Citizen

        You know there is no daylight between the USA and Israel.They are one and the same in the minds of outside interferer’s like Tor.

        Btw, I found no links to support his claim that Iranian or N,Korean officials were invited to Campuses to give lectures.I wonder how many Palestinian voices are present at lectures at Yeshuvas or at the EGM at Adelson,s casino or in Synagogues where pro Israel speakers abound .No sireeee.

        FFS.do they ever stop whining.

      • aiman
        aiman on June 22, 2015, 4:57 am

        Actually, the statements of various American leaders, including Obama (who is a phony and not a chess master as his apologists claim), have made clear that these two countries share an unshakeable bond etc. etc. Tor wouldn’t be talking like this if he didn’t have the establishment already behind him.

    • HarryLaw
      HarryLaw on June 21, 2015, 3:26 pm

      They know its RIGHT [BDS] but it kills their donor base, so it is wrong.

      • on June 21, 2015, 5:18 pm

        I know for a fact that some colleges have had god damned IDF soldiers speak at them. Everything out of official Israel’s mouth is a Big Lie.

  2. amigo
    amigo on June 21, 2015, 1:48 pm

    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 and Germany and Norway etc etc.

    Whatever do they mean.

    Of course those of us who know better can hardly refer to Israel as a democracy in the real sense of the term.

    • Memphis
      Memphis on June 21, 2015, 6:47 pm

      India is the worlds largest democracy. Unless he meant land mass, but then Canada would be the worlds largest democracy. Both ways he is wrong.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak on June 21, 2015, 9:21 pm

        Memphis: Unless he meant land mass, but then Canada would be the worlds largest democracy.

        —————

        Actually, it would be Russia, not Canada.

      • Memphis
        Memphis on June 22, 2015, 3:46 pm

        if you consider Russia a democracy. Heck, Canada’s first-past-the-post-system barely qualifies it as a democracy. But this is besides the point. Either way, will grant russia status as a democracy, but he is still wrong.

  3. alfa
    alfa on June 21, 2015, 3:29 pm

    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 restyled with an increased application of “loyalty” polarity to conflate Zionism with Jewish. If this is not a 5th column then the German American Bund wasn’t either.

    • ToivoS
      ToivoS on June 21, 2015, 4:12 pm

      With all the money and power being organized it’s getting real interesting watching how it is being deployed

      It certainly is. Saban and Adelson are spending millions and all they have can come up with is this Israeli official spouting easily refutable lies. Hasbara is in serious trouble if they can’t do better than this.

  4. a blah chick
    a blah chick on June 21, 2015, 4:33 pm

    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 Israeli government official or ex-spook could just waltz into town, dispense some well rehearsed talking points for 45 minutes or an hour and then leave. BDS people do what they can to make you work for that speaking fee. And God help you if the local student Zionists haven’t kept the anti-Zionists out of the hall during the question and answer period.

    And from here on out it’s not going to get any better.

  5. a blah chick
    a blah chick on June 21, 2015, 4:37 pm

    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 needs to be tweaked. No my darlings, the message is just fine, some people just don’t agree with it.

    • diasp0ra
      diasp0ra on June 21, 2015, 6:48 pm

      I find that the whole Zionist narrative and argument depends on you not knowing the facts or the history.

      It is incredibly difficult for a Hasbarist to engage someone who is up to date on the news and history of what’s going on.

      • ritzl
        ritzl on June 21, 2015, 10:26 pm

        Bingo, diasp0ra!

      • Mooser
        Mooser on June 25, 2015, 5:43 pm

        “It is incredibly difficult for a Hasbarist to engage someone who is up to date on the news and history of what’s going on.”

        Especially when the Hasbarist is wearing a big button which says “Je Suis Generis“.

  6. diasp0ra
    diasp0ra on June 21, 2015, 4:41 pm

    Has he ever seen how much work and effort goes into organizing BDS and SJP activities on US campuses? Does he even have any clue the amount of red tape, double standards and demonization aimed at these groups?

    That no matter how rational, calm and logical you are, how peaceful and nonthreatening you present your case, all it takes is for one Jewish student to say that they feel “unsafe” because of criticism of Israel to make life very difficult for everyone involved.

    But he’s right on one count, there is McCarthyism at play, and it’s pro-Israel McCarthyism. It’s just that it’s starting to lose grip and they are in full panic mode. It is only going to get worse, so enjoy touring the world while you can without fear of legal prosecution.

  7. Keith
    Keith on June 21, 2015, 7:04 pm

    “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.”

    To be able to make a public statement such as this without fear of massive public ridicule strongly suggests that the speaker is supremely confident in his power to discourage the professional commentariat from stating the obvious.

  8. echinococcus
    echinococcus on June 21, 2015, 7:09 pm

    No matter what, the more they spout nonsense about the boycott the more free publicity it is for the BDS movement. We couldn’t have paid for such free advertisement. While we are uneasy about the fake boycott of the Zionists, their moneybags and diplomats are helping radicalize the movement beyond anyone’s dreams. They are morons, too. Doesn’t that Thor guy know what the impact of his statement on “losing the donor base” will be on any normally constituted, honest person?

    • piotr
      piotr on June 21, 2015, 8:17 pm

      I am not as optimistic as you are, echinococcus. It seems to me that Americans by and large accept that as “average Joe’s” they are clueless, so they have to follow their betters, the most able and productive citizens, with net worth in at least 10 figures, and thus it is only natural, and by no means regrettable, that any election is preceded with so-called money primary. The politician who find support among at least some of the ablest and most productive can participate in the subsequent primaries. They are attested as “serious mainstream candidates”.

      If echonoccus was right, disclosure that for years Mario Rubio would be bankrupt the instance after Norman Braman would withdraw his largest would make him laughingstock. Mrs. Clinton is definitely more financially responsible, but her family owes a lot to the largesse of the rich. And her donor base is quite decent as well, hence, she belongs to the ranks of serious politicians.

      Of course, such rational attitude is insufficiently prevalent among the youngsters, hence some some campus troubles. Really, Israeli diplomats should count their blessing that they are not in trouble among, say, farmers. Then they would need to attend country fairs and speak just before and just after the something like that:

      “Can you call your husband better than anybody else? What about your hog? Fairgoers who think they can do either of these amazing feats will have an opportunity to display their unique skills when the husband and hog calling contests return to the Clay County Agricultural Fair.

      HOG CALLING CONTEST is sure to get a few laughs out of those in attendance. Three judges will choose the best hog call from among the contestants. … come by the J.P. Hall Livesrock Arena Monday April 6, 2015 @ 6:00 PM” (I guess that each competing wife must have a husband and a hog).

  9. John Reagan
    John Reagan on June 21, 2015, 11:38 pm

    You always have to fact check Israel. They do or say anything to further their state. Nothing wrong with that, but you still can’t trust them to be honest. I know of several Universities that have had Israeli diplomats speak:. This is just a couple:

    Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, who presented at the University of California at Irvine. ( 2010)

    Consul-General David Siegel spoke at San Diego State University campus. (2015)

    I don’t keep a list of this stuff, but if you check, you’ll find others.

  10. CigarGod
    CigarGod on June 22, 2015, 8:33 am

    Wait a minute…is he begging to replace Iraq…in The Axis of Evil?

  11. ckg
    ckg on June 22, 2015, 9:44 am

    Tor is one of the players who helped to successfully sue the Olympia Food Co-Op before the state supreme court to overturn the co-op’s boycott. During the court proceeds the plaintiffs maintained that their complaint had nothing to do with Israel or BDS, but rather that the co-op had violated its own procedures.

  12. Mooser
    Mooser on June 22, 2015, 11:59 am
  13. hophmi
    hophmi on June 22, 2015, 2:46 pm

    ” 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. ”

    You’re misunderstanding what Akiva Tor said. He didn’t say that Israeli diplomats weren’t receiving invitations. He said that they weren’t being allowed to speak. There’s a difference. He’s speaking from his personal experience as Consul-General in San Francisco, where he was invited to speak on several campuses, and then shouted down when he tried to speak. Universities and students are not shying away from inviting Israeli diplomats. Small groups of fanatical students, some of them antisemites, are proactively working to suppress the speech of the Jewish community and those that they bring to campus, often while bringing speakers of their own who have a history of making anti-Jewish statements. As we know from what happened to Rachel Beyda at UCLA, some of these campuses have discriminated against Jewish students.

    And by the way, Finkelstein’s wrong. It’s not unpopular to be pro-Israel on “campus.” It’s unpopular on some very liberal campuses in the Northeast and West, particularly if there aren’t many Jews on campus, or if there is a large Arab population, like in Chicago and Michigan. But it is hardly an issue elsewhere. There are a couple thousand college campuses in the United States.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on June 22, 2015, 7:00 pm

      “As we know from what happened to Rachel Beyda at UCLA, some of these campuses have discriminated against Jewish students.”

      Squelch! Every steaming pile, and Hophmie lands square on it, with both feet.
      Hophmi, you may have Ziocaine Syndrome Amnesia, but an awful lot of people here don’t.

      “He’s speaking from his personal experience as Consul-General in San Francisco, where he was invited to speak on several campuses, and then shouted down when he tried to speak.” Hophmi

      And all media mention of these events were suppressed! So there’s no links.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod on June 24, 2015, 11:43 am

        So, there were protestors at an event?
        That is your argument?

        Here is your homework assignment:
        1. Make a list of all the speaking events on controversial topics in your area. Please make special note of attendee’s opposition to opinions of guests.

        2. Be prepared to argue in front of class, that anyone who disagrees with a guest is an anti-semite…no matter what the topic is.

      • hophmi
        hophmi on June 24, 2015, 5:06 pm

        “So, there were protestors at an event?”

        No, there were people shouting him down so that he couldn’t speak and had to end his speech early, and it was bad enough that the university had to apologize to him. Here’s a homework assignment: learn to read. It’s fundamental.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod on June 24, 2015, 6:58 pm

        Oh no, hophmi. I stay away from you fundamentalists.
        You ain’t fun, but you are mental.
        Sorry, Mooser…sometimes your words just jump right into my mouth.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on June 25, 2015, 5:47 pm

        Oh, I’m just waiting for Hophmi to name the “two dozen dictatorships” which, having “surrounded” Israel are “bankrolling” a “campaign” (I think he means BDS, but who knows?) against Israel.

    • talknic
      talknic on June 24, 2015, 10:07 pm

      Liars deserve to be shouted down hophmi

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak on June 25, 2015, 2:08 am

        talknic: Liars deserve to be shouted down hophmi
        ——————

        Tempting idea, admittedly. But facile, and quite pernicious. As history has repeatedly shown, the coercive shutting down of debate is antithetical to democracy. The reason is simple: without the free exchange of ideas it is impossible to determine what is lie and what is the truth and what is in-between.

        It’s always an ugly, highly flawed process, but the alternative–the suppression of speech by self-appointed Guardians of The Truth– is far, far worse.

      • talknic
        talknic on June 25, 2015, 3:25 am

        @ Sibiriak June 25, 2015, 2:08 am

        // Liars deserve to be shouted down//

        “Tempting idea, admittedly. But facile, and quite pernicious. As history has repeatedly shown, the coercive shutting down of debate is antithetical to democracy”

        I didn’t mention shutting down debate.

        “The reason is simple: without the free exchange of ideas it is impossible to determine what is lie and what is the truth and what is in-between”

        … and when found to be lying, liars deserve to be not only shouted down but booted out, because it is impossible to further constructive debate in order to reach a just conclusion while their lies sway opinion

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak on June 25, 2015, 5:37 am

        talknic… and when found to be lying, liars deserve to be not only shouted down but booted out,
        —————–
        And just WHO gets to decide who is lying? Who gets to arrogate to themselves the right to shout someone down and boot them out? Any person? Any group?

        What are you going to say if someone shouts you down because they say you are lying? How will you defend yourself if you can’t speak? How would anyone?

        I didn’t mention shutting down debate.

        Shouting someone down shuts down debate.

        it is impossible to further constructive debate in order to reach a just conclusion while their lies sway opinion

        Lies need to be exposed as such. That’s they way they are neutralized in a democratic society. If a small group shouts down a speaker, it’s more often assumed by neutral observers that the speaker is telling some unpalatable truth.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod on June 25, 2015, 6:03 am

        You mean like MK’s do with Zoabi and other Arab MK’s?

        When universities offer platforms to speakers with controversial message, and then deny those with opposing views a voice, it gives students a right to disrupt.

        But as in the MK example, Zionists want it both ways.

        A recent example of frustrated students is at Muzzlewatch.

      • lysias
        lysias on June 25, 2015, 10:14 am

        and when found to be lying, liars deserve to be not only shouted down but booted out, because it is impossible to further constructive debate in order to reach a just conclusion while their lies sway opinion.

        Just the justification Nazis and Communists used for persecuting dissenting opinions in the last century. And in the centuries before that, just the justification Christian churches used for persecuting dissenting opinions.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod on June 25, 2015, 10:43 am

        Lysias,
        Will you give us a few words on the similar behavior of Israeli MK’s toward MK Zoabi and other Arab MK’s?

      • eljay
        eljay on June 25, 2015, 11:34 am

        || CigarGod: Lysias, Will you give us a few words on the similar behavior of Israeli MK’s toward MK Zoabi and other Arab MK’s? ||

        IMO, one should not use the behaviour of Zio-supremacists (Israeli MKs or otherwise) as a benchmark for one’s own behaviour.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod on June 25, 2015, 1:13 pm

        Of course not, Eljay.
        However, the commenter has no comment history at all on similar MK behavior. I just wanted to point that out to him/her.

      • eljay
        eljay on June 25, 2015, 1:15 pm

        || CigarGod @ June 25, 2015, 1:13 pm ||

        Understood. :-)

  14. ckg
    ckg on June 22, 2015, 3:25 pm

    And by the way, Finkelstein’s wrong. It’s not unpopular to be pro-Israel on “campus.” It’s unpopular on some very liberal campuses in the Northeast and West, particularly if there aren’t many Jews on campus… hophmi

    It seems to me that the campuses with the most active Palestinian solidarity groups (e.g. Pitzer, Tufts, UCLA, most Ivy League schools) are among those with large Jewish student populations.

  15. michelle
    michelle on June 23, 2015, 2:13 pm

    .
    H. Clinton
    seems like even grandmothers aren’t ready to have a grandmother for their POTUS
    picture a grandmother handing out baskets of bullets & bombs with the words ‘for the Palestine children their friends & their loved ones’ written on a laced lined note card
    quite Grimm
    .
    liars are not able to debate
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

  16. Boo
    Boo on June 24, 2015, 9:06 am

    “Senior university administrative leadership…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…

    The Catskills?! And what? This guy’s auditioning for the tummeler job?

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