April 29, 2011…It has been reported, by Standwithus that the “Assoociated Students, the official student representatives at UC San Diego, passed a resolution authored by Academic Senator Adi Singer, stating that it was not the place of the Associated Students to pass resolutions that will divide the campus community and alienate specific groups. The resolution called for neutrality of the student senate, and reinforced the mission statement of building a cohesive campus community, and representing a diverse but unified voice.
An Open Letter To Our University Community About Troubling Hypocrisy On Our Campus
THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2011 THE UCSD GUARDIANn Open Lett
The past few months have witnessed historic political unrest engulfing Arab and Muslim countries in the Mideast, including Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Yemen, Bahrain and others. On our campus the muted reaction to this volcanic eruption of civil unrest and the ensuing horrific slaughter of thousands of civilians by their own leaders has been quite revealing. Sadly, it has confirmed strong suspicions of many students and faculty that the highly vituperative activism spearheaded by the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the Arab Student Union (ASU) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and directed relentlessly against a single Mideast country, Israel, is driven less by positive impulses of fraternity toward fellow Arabs and Muslims than by hateful impulses to destroy the world’s only sovereign Jewish nation.
The current maelstrom in the Mideast has laid bare for all to see the reality that, by any objective measure, the greatest human rights abuses suffered by the greatest number of Muslims and Arabs have been inflicted by the despotic regimes of the Mideast’s 17 Arab countries and Iran, and not, as the MSA, ASU and SJP would have us believe, by Israel, the only country in the entire region consistently rated by Freedom House International as bestowing full civil and political liberties upon its Jewish and Arab citizens.
So, if hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims have suffered severe, long-standing repression throughout the Mideast, as is now highly evident, why then have those students who relentlessly pounce on every action and policy of Israel-which comprises 0.04% of the Mideast-been deafeningly silent all these years regarding the egregious injustices occurring in the other 99.96% of the Mideast? Why haven’t the websites and Facebook pages of the MSA, ASU and SJP been abuzz with plans for social activism and moral outrage over the murder of civilians who are fighting to gain liberty in Arab countries as they always are when Israel exercises self-defense by striking at Palestinian terrorist groups who launch rockets at its civilians from Gaza or when it erects barriers to block suicide bombers? Are those students simply less moved by injustices carried out by Arabs and Muslims against their own people? Or is it possible that human rights and social justice have been hijacked by these groups for use as expedient intellectual weapons in the service of a culturally driven agenda-to bludgeon the Jewish state? In this regard we do well to heed the assertion of Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, “What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state” and “ending the existence of Israel.”
Critical debate is a cherished mainstay of universities, and Israel should, by no means, be above reproach. As a small and isolated democratic nation in a highly volatile geopolitical environment, some of its actions and policies will surely be considered misguided by fair-minded citizens of other nations, as they are by many Israeli citizens-a fact reflected in Israel’s vibrant free press. However, as pointed out by Natan Sharansky, the respected Israeli human rights activist and former Soviet political prisoner, one test of malevolently motivated criticism of Israel is the “double standards” test-criticism of Israel that is applied selectively.
In a few weeks our campus will, once again, witness the flagship event in the Israel-bashing calendar: the weeklong hate-fest whose centerpiece is a wall on Library Walk that promulgates deliberately one-sided and selective information and inflammatory descriptive terms to provoke the moral indignation of students and convince them that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be simply reduced to egregious Israeli is deeds visited upon totally innocent Palestinians. Nearby we can expect the usual mock cemetery (commemorating Palestinian casualties exclusively) to offer emotive reinforcement of that message. Anticipate our university community to, once again, become polarized over the event.
However, this does not have to be the case. The organizers of the acrimonious and divisive spring event have a golden opportunity this year to show that they are genuinely interested in the rights and dignity of all the people of the Mideast by expanding their focus beyond the tiny Jewish state and, in so doing, put on an event that will do more to unite our campus than divide it. Will they rise to the occasion? Will they hold candlelight vigils and establish mock cemeteries also for the Arabs who have been recently massacred by their own leaders? Will they-dare we dream it-find a way to commemorate the innocent Israelis who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists, like the 3 young children and their parents who were brutally stabbed to death in their sleep a few weeks ago? Will these student organizations sponsor an A.S. resolution this year calling for UCSD to divest from the many Muslim countries stained by egregious human rights practices, such as Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to vote or to drive and where public practice of any religion other than Islam is prohibited, or Iran, where homosexuals are executed by the state decree? Or, as they have in past years, will these human rights crusaders selectively sponsor initiatives against Israel, a country where Arab women sit as elected members in Parliament, where gay men and women serve openly in the military and hold annual gay pride parades in Tel Aviv and where Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baha’is and others freely practice their religions under full protection of Israeli law? Will the SJP decide this year to fully embrace its mission statement, “to promote justice, human rights, and the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people,” by also raising awareness of how Palestinians in Gaza are denied political freedom by the ruling Hamas government, which suspended democratic elections indefinitely after it consolidated power through force of arms? Will it call on Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and E.U., to remove from its official charter overtly anti-Semitic quotes from Islamic religious texts, recognize Israel’s right to exist and put a stop to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians? Or will SJP just continue to apologize for Hamas while relentlessly hammering Israel?
Absent these changes, students of good will should ask themselves if this event and the others like it are sincerely designed to educate and raise their awareness, or if they are being subjected to a cynical exploitation of human rights for a sinister agenda. Advocacy that deliberately distorts and omits information to convince others of a partisan viewpoint, that uses calculated, inflammatory rhetoric to demonize a nation, its citizens and its supporters, may be protected as free speech but should nevertheless be scorned by fair-minded students as a form of intellectual abuse. As the Liberal Party leader of Canada, where the first anti-Israel hate week took place, recently asserted, “By portraying the Jewish state as criminal, by demonizing Israel and its supporters…the organizers and supporters of Israeli Apartheid Week tarnish ourfreedom of speech.”
David Feifel MD, PhD Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Joshua Fierer, MD Professor of Infectious Diseases
Ami Berkowitz, PhD Professor, Department of Physics
Joseph L. Witztum, MD Professor of Medicine
Seth M. Pransky, MD Clinical Professor of Surgery
Sidney Zisook, MD Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Larry Millstein, PhD Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ron Evans, PhD Professor, Department of Mathematics
Eyal Raz, MD Professor, Department of Medicine
Gary Frost, PhD Founding Dean, Earl Warren College
David J. Printz, MD Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Nora Laiken, PhD Assistant Dean for Educational Support Services, UCSD School of Medicine
Alex Groisman, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Physics
Howard Taras, MD Professor of Pediatrics
Pamela Cosman, PhD Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Herbie Levine, PhD Professor, Department of Physics
Brian G. Keating, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Physics
Neal Swerdlow, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Shlomo Dubnov, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Music
Sonia Ancoli-Israel, PhD Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Ruth Covell, MD Clinical Professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
Mort Printz, PhD Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmacology
Murray B. Stein MD, MPH Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Vitaliy Lomakin, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering
Daniel M. Tartakovsky, PhD Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Ivan Schuller, PhD Professor, Department of Physics
Yeshaiahu Fainman, PhD Professor, Jacobs School of Engineering
Daniel Arovas, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Physics
This message has been paid for by a grant from Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (spme.org).
Send comments to UCSD.SPME@gmail.com