In the U.S. & Canada too, “Hating Israel is part of campus culture”

September 26, 2002


1. Summers: "Anti-Israel activists at Harvard: Anti-Semitic in their effect, if not their intent"
2. "Hating Israel is part of campus culture" (By Jonathan Kay, National Post, Canada, Sept. 25, 2002)
3. "Summers's truth-telling" (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, Sept. 26, 2002)
4. "Anti-Semitism in Harvard Yard" (By Suzanne Fields, Washington Times, Sept. 26, 2002)


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach three editorial pieces relating to Harvard University President Lawrence Summers' characterization of the actions of some anti-Israel activists at Harvard as "anti-Semitic in their effect, if not their intent."

1. "Hating Israel is part of campus culture" (By Jonathan Kay, National Post, Canada, Sept. 25, 2002). The author notes that only last week Canadian philosopher and London University professor Ted Honderich told an audience in Toronto that Palestinians have a "moral right" to blow up Jews and that it was not only "permissible" to do so, but "obligatory". The author says "Honderich is a symptom of a poisonous, unapologetic hatred of Israel that is now part of mainstream campus culture."

2. "Summers's truth-telling" (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, Sept. 26, 2002). The writer notes that at San Francisco State University pro-Palestinians demonstrators recently confronted supporters of Israel with chants of "Hitler should have finished the job".

3. "Anti-Semitism in Harvard Yard" (By Suzanne Fields, The Washington Times, Sept. 26, 2002). The writer says that Summers' "bold" speech (which is posted on the Harvard Web site) should be "assigned reading".



Hating Israel is part of campus culture
By Jonathan Kay
The National Post (Canada)
September 25, 2002

Last week, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up on a Tel Aviv bus, propelling pounds of densely packed metal shrapnel into the vehicle's passengers. Five people were killed instantly, and 60 others wounded.

The event presumably failed to darken the day of Ted Honderich, a Canadian-born philosopher who teaches at University College London. Last week, he told an audience in Toronto that Palestinians have a "moral right" to blow up Jews. And he encourages them to exercise it: "To claim a moral right on behalf of the Palestinians to their terrorism is to say that they are right to engage in it, that it is permissible if not obligatory."

In Britain, where Honderich now lives, his theories have generated controversy. A disgusted Daily Telegraph reviewer called his new book, After the Terror, "one of the worst books I have ever read." But on his Canadian tour, Honderich was greeted warmly. Following his lecture at the University of Toronto, audience members lined up to respectfully parse the fine points of his philosophical theories. And since Honderich blames the West and Israel for what happened on Sept. 11, the CBC naturally regards him as star material. On Sept. 8, Michael Enright interviewed Honderich on national radio an opportunity Honderich used to repeat his claim that suicide bombings are a proper response to Israel's "rape" of Palestine.

Honderich is a symptom of a poisonous, unapologetic hatred of Israel that is now part of mainstream campus culture. In the United States and Europe, academics have tried to boycott Israeli scholars but not those from, say, Syria or Iraq, whose violent "rape" of dissenting minorities makes Ariel Sharon look like the world's most tender lover. Here in Canada, Sherene Razack, director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at the University of Toronto, has distributed hysterical mass electronic mailings accusing Israel of "atrocities beyond belief," and calls on Canadian academics to demonstrate "solidarity" with the Palestinians.

Do all of these pronouncements rise to a sort of soft anti-Semitism as Harvard University President Lawrence Summers argued last week? It's an attractive theory. While anti-Israel academics claim they are merely standing up for the world's "oppressed," they have a remarkable habit of ignoring anyone who doesn't happen to be oppressed by Jews. In Chechnya, many times more Muslims have died at the hands of Russians than Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. In Sudan, more than a million Christians and animists have been killed by a genocidal government in Khartoum. But last time I checked, Europe's profs weren't targeting Russian chess players or Sudanese mullahs. All their wrath and attention is reserved for Israel and the United States. Following Honderich's lecture last week, I asked him whether the people of Lebanon would be justified in using terror to fight back against the "rape" committed daily by 35,000 Syrian troops. He had no opinion. "I'd have to look at the situation," he told me. "I don't know much about it."

But anti-Semitism even the indirect variety Summers talks about can't be the only culprit. Like most of the academics who bash Israel, Honderich does not come across as a bigot: In fact, he suggested in his speech that early Zionists too had a "moral right" to terrorism. The real problem is more generic, and has to do with the lingering instinct among academics to romanticize terrorism as an expression of righteous class struggle. Honderich and his European colleagues still see Yasser Arafat as Che Guevara in a kaffiyeh.

Indeed, Honderich spent a good deal of his speech talking about poverty in Africa and the evils of capitalism (which he calls a "vicious economic system"), and suggested both had something to do with the assault on the World Trade Center. "Is it possible to suppose that the Sept. 11 attacks had nothing at all to do with ... Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Sierra Leone?" he asks in After The Terror. "In thinking about it, remember that the attacks on the towers were indeed attacks on the principal symbols of world capitalism."

Never mind that the first major al-Qaeda supported attack against Americans came nine years ago in Somalia, where the United States sacrificed the lives of 18 soldiers in an attempt to distribute food to famine-stricken Muslims. Never mind that the words "Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Sierra Leone" appear in al-Qaeda exhortations rather less frequently than, say, "exterminate the infidels wherever you find them." Never mind the West's campaign to liberate two million Muslims in Kosovo. Never mind that the majority of al-Qaeda murderers are middle-class doctors, engineers and civil servants from Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich sheikhdoms. By the deluded lights of warmed- over Marxists, it all comes down to class struggle. Apocalyptic Islam and anti-Semitism are just clever cover stories for liberating the masses.

William F. Buckley once said that he'd be better off living in a country governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by tenured members of the Harvard faculty. He's still right. A five-year-old child has the sense to know that slaughtering innocent civilians is wrong. To convince yourself otherwise, you have to spend years hanging around a university.



Summers's truth-telling
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
September 26, 2002

When Lawrence Summers became the president of Harvard last year, not even his greatest admirers predicted how resolutely he would make the university's motto "Veritas" his own. Almost from the day he was inaugurated, Summers has insisted on speaking unpopular truths: about the disrespect shown to Americans in uniform, about the rot of grade inflation in Harvard's classrooms, about the absence of "mainstream values" among "coastal elites" even about the failure of a celebrity professor like Cornel West to do serious academic work.

Last week, voicing another unpopular truth, Summers spoke out against the spread of Jew-bashing not only in Europe and at UN conferences but at American universities.

"There is disturbing evidence of an upturn in anti-Semitism globally, and also ... closer to home," he said on Sept. 17. "Profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."

Actually, even anti-Semitic intent can be found on American campuses these days. At San Francisco State University, for example, pro-Palestinians demonstrators recently confronted supporters of Israel with signs reading "Jews = Nazis" and chants of "Hitler should have finished the job." Earlier this month, anti-Israel rioters at Concordia University in Montreal smashed windows and hurled furniture to protest a scheduled speech by Benjamin Netanyahu.

Fortunately, such naked Jew-hatred is still rare in academia. What Summers had in mind was something less blatant but no less disgraceful.

"Some here at Harvard and at universities across the country," he said, "have called for the university to single out Israel among all nations as the lone country where it is inappropriate for any part of the university's endowment to be invested. I hasten to say the university has categorically rejected this suggestion."

The divestment campaign Summers was referring to demands that Israel be treated as a pariah, a country so toxic that American universities shouldn't even own stock in companies that do business there. It is modeled on the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s, and its planted axiom is that there is no important moral difference between Israel a free and tolerant democracy at war with dictatorial enemies bent on genocide and the former white-ruled South Africa. That is a position only a moral idiot could endorse.

Supporters of the divestment effort at Harvard and elsewhere were quick to condemn Summers for his "McCarthyesque" attack. "This is the ugliest statement imaginable," fumed John Assad, a neurobiology professor at Harvard Medical School, "to paint critics as anti-Semitic."

In fact, Summers didn't "paint critics" as anti-Semitic or anything else; he characterized their actions as "anti-Semitic in their effect." He was not ascribing base motives to those who support the divestment campaign. He didn't presume to read their hearts. Rather, he was pointing out the impact of their behavior. One who supports a campaign that singles out Israel for demonization and obloquy is taking an anti-Semitic action, whether he intended to or not.

Of course Israeli policies are fair game for criticism. But it is not "criticism" to falsely smear Israel as racist not when the Arab world seethes with a hatred of Jews more rabid than even the Nazis' was.

It is not "criticism" to portray Israel's lawful presence in Gaza and the West Bank as an illegal occupation yet never murmur a word of objection to China's occupation of Tibet, Syria's of Lebanon, Turkey's of Northern Cyprus, or Russia's of Chechnya.

It is not "criticism" to lay the blame for the violence of the Middle East at Israel's doorstep while ignoring the immense risks that Israel has taken, and the sacrifices it has made, in pursuit of peace with the Palestinians.

It is not "criticism" to accuse Israel of apartheid when it is the Arab world that preaches "Kill the Jews!" and dances in the street when terrorists do so.

This is not criticism it is calumny. It butchers the truth and subjects Israel to a cruel double standard. It abets the cause of the world's foremost Jew-haters people whose explicit goal is the liquidation of the Jewish state. A professor who signs his name to something so grotesque is committing an anti-Semitic act.

"In our own day," Norman Podhoretz has written, "Israel has become the touchstone of attitudes toward the Jewish people, and anti-Zionism has become the main and most relevant form of anti-Semitism." Anti-Semitism used to express itself in demanding that good Aryans boycott Jewish shops. Today it demands that good universities boycott the Jewish state. It may look different on the outside, but it's the same old poison underneath.



Anti-Semitism in Harvard Yard
By Suzanne Fields
The Washington Times
September 26, 2002

Let's give a round of applause to Larry Summers, president of Harvard, for standing up to the anti-Semites in Harvard Yard. He delivered a bold speech admonishing all those whose actions are "anti-Semitic in their effect, if not their intent."

Petitions have been circulating on campus demanding that Harvard divest its endowment of any investments in Israel. Harvard is not alone. The divestment movement has been gathering momentum on many college campuses where the elite and privileged heap scorn on Israel for "human rights abuses," but never find an offense in China, Rwanda or any Arab countries that support suicide bombers and other terrorists.

Mr. Summers' speech was not academic. The Harvard president put his mouth where his policy is. He rejected a petition signed by 69 Harvard professors calling for divestiture in Israel. But when so many college presidents and faculty drop their eyes when confronting an anti-Semite on campus, he must be counted among the brave for using his bully pulpit to criticize men and women who consider themselves to be "serious and thoughtful people."

He carefully examines the image of "the new bigot." No longer is the anti-Semite one of the uneducated rabble-rousers of the politically uncouth in brogans and white hoods. The new bigot carries petitions in Harvard Yard in the heart of the Ivy League decked out in running shoes with politically correct labels. "Where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israel have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists," says Mr. Summers, "profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities."

The usual suspects on the campus left accuse him of misunderstanding the difference between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. But Mr. Summers doesn't buy that argument, nor does he limit his concerns to issues of divestment. He criticizes student fund-raising events for groups that support terrorism, which enjoy "at least modest success and very little criticism." He observes that many university students who condemn global capitalism lash out specifically at Israel, comparing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with Hitler. He reminds the campus that only Israel was singled out with human-rights violations at the U.N. Conference on Racism, with no mention of abysmal human-rights violations by the governments of China, Rwanda, and most of the Islamic countries.

Mr. Summers describes himself as a secular Jew who grew up in an America where his religion was hardly noticed by others in school, college or work. He had not been born in 1922, when A. Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard, sought quotas for Jews. The freshman class that year was 21 percent Jewish, three times higher than in 1900 and Lowell observed that anti-Semitism among students grows "in proportion to the number of Jews." It was mere coincidence, of course, that Jews ranked high in intellectual competitions, winning scholarships and academic prizes. After much sturm and drang, the quota idea was dropped, but merit qualifications were diluted and geographical requirements altered. Jewish enrollment fell to 15 percent, rising again in the 1930s when merit qualifications were restored. Anti-Semitism has many faces, and some faces wear sinister smiles. Legitimate criticism of Israel, of course, is not anti-Semitic. But protesters at Harvard who single out the Jewish homeland sound suspiciously anti-Semitic.

For Jews in 2002 (as in 1922) there are no distinctions at Harvard between actions that are anti-Semitic in their "effect" if not in their "intent." The Jewish stereotype subtly emerges and corrupts even those with "good intentions." A good college education depends on disciplined thinking and debate.

The phenomenon cited by the president of Harvard infects academics abroad too, where hundreds of European intellectuals demanded that Israeli researchers be removed from their ranks; Israeli scholars were ousted from the board of an international literature journal.

In this country, Jews who are aware of increasing attitudes of anti-Semitism arising from the conflict in the Middle East have found substantial support from Christian evangelicals who share their fears. The president of Harvard wants to broaden Christian support. He delivered his speech at the morning prayer service of the Memorial Church of Harvard, a nondenominational Protestant congregation. The daily morning-prayer service has been a tradition at Harvard since its founding in 1636. The service, meant to bring teachers and students together before classes start, opens with a brief speech by a member or friend of the university.

Mr. Summers said he was speaking out against anti-Semitism "not as president of the university but as a concerned member of our community." He posted the speech on his Summers' Page on the Harvard Web site. It should be assigned reading.

(Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times.)

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.