It’s going to be a tough year on campus

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It’s going to be a tough year on campus.

Given the recent pictures from anti-Israel rallies nationwide indicate that the atmosphere has turned toxic for all of us who love and support Israel.  I know, from my conversations with many of you, that despite what we see and read in the media there is tremendous passion and affinity for Israel throughout our educational institutions, perhaps suppressed for the moment, but still strong.

The open hostility on the other side makes it difficult, even frightening for us to find a way to project our pro-coexistence voices back into the mix. Many of us may be hesitant to speak up, and our silence further emboldens our detractors and demoralizes our students.

I would like to share with you an experience I recently had which may reflect on how we can end this silence, clearly and elegantly, without uttering a single word, and in so doing, influence others to do the same. At a recent scientific conference, I decided to wear a simple U.S.-Israel Friendship lapel pin, which pairs the Israeli and American flags. For me, it just felt good making a statement of support for a tiny country fighting for the safety of her citizens.

What I did not anticipate was the reaction I received from people around me. From passengers at the airport, to hotel receptionists, to colleagues at the conference, students and professors, known and unknown, Jews and Gentiles, I was amazed and delighted to hear folks gushing with things like, “I love the pin you are wearing!” “Do you have one for me?” “I have a friend on a kibbutz!” and so on.

That was a surprise! And all it took was a simple gesture to release those bottled-up feelings awaiting an excuse to get out. Imagine what could happen if a few of us… then a few more… and a few more… started sporting those pins on campus. Could we actually begin to change that toxic campus atmosphere?

I believe we can.

Let’s display the pin proudly. Let’s wear it to classes, to lectures, to the cafeteria, to meetings with students, administrators, everywhere. Let’s show our colleagues exactly where we stand.

Even more important, let’s make sure our Jewish students know they’re not alone, that they have a safe place to go, role models they can talk to… mentors with whom they can share their love for Israel, their passion for democracy and justice.

As for those with opposing views, they, too, need to know which side common sense is on. Let’s not shy away from engagement. Let’s welcome it.. The stature we have earned through our dedication to research and education commands more weight than all the BDS forces put together, all the anti-Israel resolutions that student unions can draft or pass. I believe this non-imposing statement of identity and concern, heralded by that little pin, will portray us as people of principle and earn us respect in both camps; those who agree with us, and those who don’t.

So simple an act. So powerful the message.

I hope you’ll join me in making our sentiments visible, empowering our students to action and, we hope, restoring sanity to campus life.

You can receive U.S.-Israel Friendship pins free of charge by contacting [email protected]

It’s going to be a tough year on campus

  • Source: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)b
  • Originally published on 08/06/2014
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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.

Read all stories by Judea Pearl

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