Activists for Palestinian rights have long known that our universities are overwhelmingly hostile environments where freedom of speech about, and critical inquiry into, Israel’s oppressive policies are heavily censored. Over the past few weeks, two separate and noteworthy incidents have illustrated this heavy-handed approach.
Human rights advocates welcome the decision by PEN America to hold the World Voices Festival of International Literature without funding from the Israeli government.
Israeli authorities denied Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, a work visa, the group announced in a statement on Friday. The group said Israel’s Interior Ministry accused HRW of “Palestinian propaganda” and not being a “real human rights group.”
Racism, Islamophobia and sexism were not a problem for Milo Yiannapoulos’s relationship to the mainstream media. But pedophilia was the red line.
Forty years ago, Harvard sociologist Nathan Glazer warned that Israel was a strategy “liability” to the U.S., and Israel’s dependence on the Jewish lobby’s ‘influence’ threatened to bring “hostility” to Jews from other Americans. Why didn’t people listen?
When Donald Trump stopped all incoming travelers from seven primarily-Muslim countries, Iran was on the list. Iran retaliated by blocking all Americans from traveling to Iran, including the U.S. wrestling team who were scheduled to compete in the annual wrestling version of the World Cup. When the ban got knocked down stateside, the Iranians relented and the plot thickened when it all came down to the U.S. vs. Iran in the finals. You might think a sports drama like that would be of interest to the media. But NBC, who had rights to cover the event, instead opted for a blackout on it.
Today, the Israeli military attacked the annual Open Shuhada Street protest of around 1,000 people, organized by Youth Against Settlements. Hundreds of fully-armed army and border patrol troops opened fire as soon as eye contact was made with the protesters.
Donald Trump’s pick for the U.S. ambassador to Israel has turned out to be one of the most controversial appointments in recent years, with five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel condemning the pick, calling David Friedman “unqualified for the position” due to his “extreme, radical positions.” While Friedman’s appointment has also been condemned by Jewish Americans as well as international human rights groups, Palestinian Americans, in particular, feel disenfranchised by the prospect of a Friedman appointment.
How will the ADL and more progressive Jews respond to Trump’s unholy alliance of white nationalism, Zionism and Islamophobia? The history is worrying. In 1982, ADL’s director said, The need was to fund Israel’s military. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”