At UCLA, a culture of equating “Israel” with “guilty”

When Israel is constantly on trial, it is no surprise that Jewish students can only be socially acepted when they join the "indict-Israel' circus
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In what may seem to be a major victory for pro-Israel forces at UCLA, the undergraduate student government  unanimously passed Tuesday “A Resolution Condemning Anti-Semitism”.

Unfortunately, the impact of this resolution is destined to  be short lived, and will fail to seize up one an opportunity to deal head on with the real problem that plagues our campus: “Zionophobia.”

Tuesday’s resolution was galvanized as a reaction to a  February 10 event that triggered nationwide media attention and a tsunami of condemnations regarding  the anti-Jewish climate at UCLA and other college  campuses.  In that incident, pre-law student Rachel  Beyda was drilled by several council members on how she would maintain an “unbiased view,” given her affiliation with the Jewish community on campus.  While they didn’t name Israel, this was the insinuation.

Fabienne Roth, who started this line of questioning was apparently unaware of its combustible potential when she  used the word “Jewish community,” instead of “Zionist community”, which has  been designated by Israel’s maligners as a more acceptable object of contempt.  Roth’s mistake has evidently  touched an open nerve, resulting in a coast-to-coast  calls for apologies, suspensions and resignations.

In the widely watched MSNBC’s program Morning Joe, for  example, anchors asked each other with increasing outrage, “How did these students ever get into UCLA?” “Why does  the Chancellor not suspend them immediately?” “What culture is going on at UCLA, and in a lot of other colleges across the  country?” “What if these students did it to a black student?”

The good crew on the the Morning Joe show would not have  asked these questions had they been aware of the anti-Israel culture  that has been fermented at UCLA, largely unabated, for
the past decade or so.

It is a culture that depicts Israel as a village villain, or  “a controversy,” constantly facing public trial;  it is rarely seen for what it is: A respect-deserving symbol of identity for thousands of students on campus

UCLA is a campus that has allowed Middle East history to be taught by instructors who demonize Israel, and has permitted its Center for Near East Studies to be  directed and co-directed by BDS supporters. It is a culture  where students come to class wearing “Israel Kills”  T-shirts, yet any mention of Muslim symbols is sure to trigger the heaviest gun of political correctness, “Islamophobia!”

It is a culture where pro-coexistence students, especially   in the social sciences, prefer to keep silent rather than risk mockery and social estrangement.  Most importantly, it 1s a campus overrun by soft-spoken BDS propagandists who   managed to hijack the student government’s agenda with repeated proposals for anti-Israel resolutions,  the purpose of which is one: to associate the word “Israel”  with the word “guilty”.

Coming from this culture it is quite natural  for a council member to assume that  Rachel Beyda, as a Jew, is likely to have a  built-in reluctance to joining the never-ending  orgy of Israel indictments. Especially indictments authored by an organization like BDS, which  openly denies one of Jews’ most deeply   held convictions — the right of Israel to exist.

I am purposely using the generic term “as a Jew” here,  in its most inclusive, people-based sense.  I do it because the great majority of Jews  do consider Israel the culmination of their millenia-long  history. Likewise, I follow the observations of Hillel’s leadership, who repeatedly assures concerned parents and  outraged donors of its commitment to the Zionist dream, and to pro-Israel education. It is also an undeniable fact  that, with the exception of a few wannabe-creative academicians, Jews understand that their future as a people rests inextricably on the future of Israel.

So what is all the outrage about the misuse of the inclusive  term “Jewish”? Roth’s mistake was not that she probed into  Rachel Beyda’s faith as a Jew, but that she implied that  Jews can only gain social acceptance and student government credentials by joining the “indict-Israel” circus, as some of their professors have chosen to do.

Part of our outrage should also be directed at ourselves,  and at our leadership,  for failing to educate the campus that Jews are a people,   not merely a religion, that this people has a dream called  Zionism and that religion does not have a monopoly on human  sensitivity. In other words, that when it comes to campus norms of civility, Zionophobia is at least as evil as Islamophobia.

By reacting to anti-Semitism with greater sensitivity  than to anti-israelism  we reinforce the idea that religions are entitled  to a greater protection from discrimination than other identity-forming narratives, and we thus give anti-coexistence forces the legitimacy they  seek to harass Israel supporters with ideological impunity.

Judea Pearl is Chancellor’s professor of computer  science and statistics at UCLA and President of the Daniel Pearl Foundations.

At UCLA, a culture of equating “Israel” with “guilty”

When Israel is constantly on trial, it is no surprise that Jewish students can only be socially acepted when they join the "indict-Israel' circus
  • 0
AUTHOR

Judea Pearl

Judea Pearl was born in Tel Aviv and is a graduate of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He came to the United States for postgraduate work in 1960, and the following year he received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Newark College of Engineering, now New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 1965, he simultaneously received a master’s degree in physics from Rutgers University and a PhD from the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, now Polytechnic Institute of New York University. Until 1969, he held research positions at RCA David Sarnoff Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey and Electronic Memories, Inc. Hawthorne, California.

Pearl joined the faculty of UCLA in 1969, where he is currently a professor of computer science and statistics and director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory. He is known internationally for his contributions to artificial intelligence, human reasoning, and philosophy of science. He is the author of more than 350 scientific papers and three landmark books in his fields of interest: Heuristics (1984), Probabilistic Reasoning (1988), and Causality (2000; 2009).

A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a founding Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, Pearl is the recipient of numerous scientific prizes, including three awarded in 2011: the Association for Computing Machinery A.M. Turing Award for his fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence through the development of a calculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning; the David E. Rumelhart Prize for Contributions to the Theoretical Foundations of Human Cognition, and the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Other honors include the 2001 London School of Economics Lakatos Award in Philosophy of Science for the best book in the philosophy of science, the 2003 ACM Allen Newell Award for “seminal contributions that extend to philosophy, psychology, medicine, statistics, econometrics, epidemiology and social science”, and the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Medal for Computer and Cognitive Science from the Franklin Institute.

Pearl is the father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which he co-founded with his family in February 2002 “to continue Daniel’s life-work of dialogue and understanding and to address the root causes of his tragedy.” The Daniel Pearl Foundation sponsors journalism fellowships aimed at promoting honest reporting and East-West understanding, organizes worldwide concerts that promote inter-cultural respect, and sponsors public dialogues between Jews and Muslims to explore common ground and air grievances. The Foundation received Search for Common Ground’s Award For Promoting Cross-Cultural Understanding in 2002 and the 2003 Roger E. Joseph Prize for its “distinctive contribution to humanity.”

Judea Pearl and his wife Ruth Pearl are co-editors of the book “I am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl,” winner of the 2004 National Jewish Book Award for Anthologies, which provides a panoramic view of how Jews define themselves in the post 9/11 era.

Professors Pearl and Akbar Ahmed (American University), the founders of the Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding, were co-winners in 2006 of the Civic Ventures’ inaugural Purpose Prize, which honors individuals 60 or older who have demonstrated uncommon vision in addressing community and national problems.

Pearl lectures throughout the United States on topics including:

1. I am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl

2. Being Western, American and Jewish in the Post 9/11 Era

3. Creating Dialogue between Muslims and Jews

4. The Ideological War on Terror

5. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Case for Co-Existence

He has written commentaries about these topics for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The International Herald Tribune, The Daily Star (Beirut), The Saudi Gazette (Jeddah), and the Jerusalem Post. He writes a monthly column for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and is frequently interviewed on major TV and radio stations.


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