Hate in the Campus
a professor of law at Harvard
If a visitor from a far away galaxy were to land at an American or Canadian university and peruse some of the petitions that were circulating around the campus, he would probably come away with the conclusion that the Earth is a peaceful and fair planet with only one villainous nation determined to destroy the peace and to violate human rights. That nation would not be Iraq, Libya, Serbia, Russia or Iran. It would be Israel.
There are currently petitions circulating on most North American university campuses that would seek to have universities terminate all
investments in companies that do business in or with Israel. There are also petitions asking individual faculty members to boycott scientists
and scholars who happen to be Israeli Jews, regardless of their personal views on the Arab-Israeli conflict. There have been efforts, some
successful, to prevent Israeli speakers from appearing on college campuses, as recently occurred at Concordia University.
The intergalactic visitor would wonder what this pariah nation, Israel, must have done to deserve this unique form of economic capital punishment. If he then went to the library and began to read books and articles about this planet, he would discover that Israel was a vibrant democracy, with freedom of speech, press and religion, that was surrounded by a group of tyrannical and undemocratic regimes, many of which are actively seeking its destruction.
He would learn that in Egypt, homosexuals are routinely imprisoned and threatened with execution; that in Jordan suspected terrorists and other opponents of the government are tortured, and that if individualized torture does not work, their relatives are called in and threatened with torture as well; that in Saudi Arabia, women who engage in sex outside of marriage are beheaded; that in Iraq, political opponents are routinely murdered en masse and no dissent is permitted; that in Iran members of religious minorities, such as Baha'is and Jews, are imprisoned and sometimes executed; that in all of these surrounding nations, anti-Semitic material is frequently broadcast on state-sponsored television and radio programs; in Saudi Arabia apartheid is practised against non-Muslims, with signs indicating that Muslims must go to certain areas and non-Muslims to others; that China has occupied Tibet for half a century; that in several African countries women are stoned to death for violating sexual mores; that slavery still exists in some parts of the world; and that genocide has been committed by a number of countries in recent memory.
Our curious visitor would wonder why there are no petitions circulating with regard to these human rights violators.
Our visitor would be perplexed to hear the excuses made by university professors and students for why they are prepared to delegitimate Israel
while remaining silent about the far worse abuses committed by other countries.
It is not surprising, therefore, that as responsible and cautious a writer as Andrew Sullivan, formerly editor of The New Republic and now a writer for The New York Times Magazine, has concluded that "fanatical anti-Semitism, as bad or even worse than Hitler's, is now a cultural norm across much of the Middle East and beyond. It's the acrid glue that unites Saddam, Arafat, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran and the Saudis. They all hate the Jews and want to see them destroyed."
Our intergalactic traveller, after learning all of these facts, would wonder what kind of a planet he had landed on. Do we have everything backwards? Do we know the difference between right and wrong? Do our universities teach the truth?
These are questions that need asking, lest we become the kind of world the visitor would have experienced had he arrived in Europe during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
©Copyright 2002, an Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center