Middle East studies in the News
UCLA Middle East Profs question Israeli Spokesman
by Norm Abrams, James L. Gelvin, Michael D. Cooperson, Ambassador Alan Baker
Campus Watch editors' introduction:
Subject: [CNESCORE] Message from
I am pleased to invite you to a reception in honor of Ambassador Alan Baker, Legal Adviser and Deputy Director General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ambassador Baker headed
The reception will be held on
With best regards,
Subject: Re: [CNESCORE] Message from
Dear Clare: Here is a copy of the email message I sent Dean Abrams as an r.s.v.p. to his invitation:
I am writing to express my disappointment that the
Many of us in the UCLA community regard the
At a time when most of the international community has condemned the separation fence—particularly with respect to the suffering inflicted on over 700,000 residents of the West Bank, the illegal annexation of land by the Israeli government, and the Israeli government's attempt to impose a unilateral solution to a problem which our own government maintains can only be resolved through negotiations—feting an apologist for Israeli actions can only undermine the reputation of UCLA.
James L. Gelvin
Subject: Re: [CNESCORE] Message from
Thank you for the invitation. Any representative of the Israeli government certainly has many questions to answer regarding this abhorrent fence proposal. I hope the event was a productive one in that respect.
But is it necessary for UCLA to "honor" the man? I would feel the same way if we had been invited to honor a representative of the former South African government.
Subject: Re: [CNESCORE] Message from Dean Norm Abrams
Dear Prof. Cooperson,
I understand, from your reply to Dean Abrams, that you had some difficulty in attending a reception in my honour and a briefing I gave to faculty members at the kind invitation of Dean Abrams on
Had you chosen to attend, I am sure that you would have received answers to many of the questions and doubts that you evidently entertain regarding the nature of and justification for
I can only presume, from the tone and content of your response to the invitation and your refusal to attend, that your mind is made up, both regarding the fence as well as regarding
However, so that this exchange will not be wasted, kindly permit me to attach a copy of the summary of Israel's Brief to the International Court of Justice regarding the fence, in the hope that perhaps you might spend a couple of minutes reading it, despite your views. The full version may be accessed via the International Court of Justice website, or via the Israel Foreign Ministry website (assuming that you would go into such a site...).
Subject: letter from Ambassador Baker
Dear Ambassador Baker,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter.
First, a clarification: I did not refuse to attend the event. As I now realize, I was not invited to it (it seems only the History faculty were).
In any case, it was announced only one day before it was scheduled to take place, making it impossible, intentionally or otherwise, for many to attend.
Invited or not, I stand by my statement. "Academic and cultured discussion" means that proponents of controversial positions be invited to debate in a public forum. A reception in your honor does not meet that requirement: attending it presumes approval of whatever you have to say. More broadly, it gives UCLA the appearance of endorsing your position, which I do not believe it befits the University to do.
I am not sure what you mean when you say that I "refuse to be confused by the truth or the facts." It is disingenuous to claim that the Arab-Israeli conflict is open to one interpretation, all deviations from which stem from a denial of reality. With regard to the wall, there are Israelis who agree with me that it is a bad idea (see, for example, http://www.gush-shalom.org/thewall/).
Regarding your brief, I can certainly understand the impulse to protect oneself from terrorism by any means necessary. But just as the relevant Palestinian statements refuse to discuss terrorism, the Israeli brief refuses to discuss military occupation and illegal settlements. (Nor does it acknowledge that
the policy of illegal settlement, which imagines that an entire people does not exist, and that the right to self-determination applies to Israelis but not to Palestinians.
Fortunately, there are some signs that reality is sinking in. Last week on BBC World's Hard Talk, Ehud Olmert was asked whether the pullout from
Normally, the policies of foreign governments should be none of my business. But I and millions of other American taxpayers are forced to finance
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