If you look at “Latest Academic News” on our website, you will see that there has been a recent flurry of protests and actions on the part of various anti-Israel groups. Most recently, there was a protest attempting to terminally disrupt Ambassador Michael Oren at UC-Irvine. Similar attempts to silence Israeli speakers have taken place at the University of Chicago, Oxford University, York University and Cambridge University, among others. Clearly a new pattern is emerging as pro-Palestinian groups attempt to control what is being said and heard on campuses regarding Israel. This is all happening as we are rapidly approaching the “Sixth Annual Israel Apartheid Week” which is scheduled for March 1-7 according to the Israel Apartheid Week website (http://apartheidweek.org/ ).
It is not yet clear to us where IAW events will take place, or what kinds of events are in the works. There have been some rumors that there might be mock war criminal trials based on last year’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. This is certainly something local faculty need to be aware of. What is clear, however, is that there will be regular and increasingly widespread attempts to control the discourse on campuses by silencing voice that pro-Palestinian groups do not want to be heard.
I would like to ask all of you to help keep us informed as to what you hear or see happening on your campuses. Our intention is to try to monitor anti-Israel events and to see what we can learn in terms of developing strategies to counter these events more effectively. We feel, as always, that informed, civil and respectful discussions of the complex issues of the Middle East in general, and the Palestine-Israel conflict in particular, are the surest ways to peace for all in the region. To this end, I call your attention to the statement we have issued concerning civil discourse on campuses. You can find it on our website at https://spme.org/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=6483.