Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Freedom of Speech at Universities--Except for Supporters of Israel

Events this week in both the USA and the UK have once again shown the double standard for free speech at universities-- free speech for any type of radical Islamist cause is entirely acceptable, even rewarded, but any expression of support for Israel can be forcibly suppressed without apparent consequences.

Southern California saw this in practice on two UC campuses: Irvine, where Israel's ambassador to the US Michael Oren was speaking, and UCLA School of Law where Daniel Taub of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke. While Taub, Principal Deputy Legal Advisor to the MFA, spoke about the Goldstone report on February 8, protestors filed in front of him, preventing him from speaking until they were cleared by campus police. They justified their action by claiming that "“The Israeli government shouldn’t be able to speak with no response” from the Palestinian side" Of course, there are many events at UCLA that promote the anti-Zionist viewpoint, not only from students but also from faculty, without any "response" being allowed-- and without forcible obstruction of the event. At Irvine, which has been the site of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate speech for years without any condemnation from the university administration, Ambassador Oren was the target of a well organized series of disruptions that resulted in the arrest of 11 students-- and, at long last, Chancellor Michael Drake finally (and tepidly) indicated to the protestors that he was "embarrassed" by their actions.

Judge for yourself--watch the video:

Of course, the proof will be in the consequences provided by these universities. But don't hold your breath. There are two sets of rules in international relations-- one for all countries except Israel, and one for Israel. Other countries have the right to defend their civilians from cross-border attacks; Israel does not. Other countries have the right to decide who may enter their country; Israel does not. Other countries have the right to decide who may become citizens of their country; Israel does not. And, similarly, there are two rules for university campuses-- anti-Israel speech that often crosses the line to overt anti-Semitism cannot be restricted or even criticized, but any event in support of Israel or Zionism can be legitimately shut down by force. In the fall of 2008, the Tikvah student group at UC Berkeley was disciplined merely because some of their members shouted "liar" at Norman Finkelstein as they exited his talk. Yet no action had been taken against the Muslim Students Assocation at Cal when they shouted down Daniel Pipes and harrassed Israel supporters attending his talk in 2004.

Of course, things could be worse: when Israel's deputy foreign minister spoke at Oxford University 2 days ago, he was met not only by assailants who were restrained by police, but by a heckler who shouted "itbach el-Yahud" (Arabic for "slaughter the Jews", the battle cry of pogromists in Mandatory Palestine and of anti-Israel protestors in San Francisco). Ayalon is considering pressing charges . If he does, you can be sure that Muzzlewatch will be all over it--how dare those nefarious Zionists interfere with this man's right to promote hatred!


  1. Yes and yes:
    However I watched the video and this is much better than what happened a few years earlier at Concordia U. in Montreal when Netanyahu, then Prime Minister of Israel, was prevented from speaking there by such tactics.

    Here the hecklers are systematically arrested by security and threatened by expulsion from the university. (Not that they care as these "students" are professional agitators supported by Hamas type funds.)

    Most students at universities are there to listen and learn, not to engage in these kinds of actions.

    Bravo to the administration of UC Irvine. they are learning how to handle these situations.

  2. When is some organization going to
    bring a law suit and challenge these campus challenges to free speech,
    disinterest in harassment and hate speech against Jews, and biased and
    misinformed teaching ?

    A University's failure
    to protect the free speech of a guest lecturer or, even more derelict, its
    failure to protect the free speech and education of its students from
    intellectual harassment by their professors and racist "festivals" is
    a failure to teach.

    Such a failure constitutes
    a breach of contract with whoever is paying the bill for the student's

    There have been law suits
    on this issue where there has been a failure to learn. But here we have a
    situation where the university is from the beginning unable or unwilling to
    protect the basic rights of student in addition to failing in its contractual
    duty to provide an unfettered "marketplace
    of ideas."

    The Islamist have
    been using the democratic legal system for years to infiltrate our
    democracies, perhaps we can get it back the same way. (Ayalon has the right idea.)