Middle East studies in the News
Rashid Khalidi, Ramaz and Peter Beinart's Double Standard
by Daniel Greenfield
February 28, 2014
Some left-wing students at Ramaz, an Orthodox Jewish school, wanted to invite Rashid Khalidi, an anti-Israel figure who repeatedly lies about Israel.
The school told them that was inappropriate. The Forward, JTA, Jewish Week and other left-wing media outlets began circulating criticism of Ramaz for not giving students the other perspective. Buzzwords like "balanced perspective" and "open dialogue" were thrown around.
Anti-Israel activist Peter Beinart ,who apparently instigated the invite, wrote, "What does it say about the administrators at Ramaz that after immersing their high school students in a passionately Zionist environment for years and years, they lack the self-confidence to expose them to one lecture from a Palestinian?"
How many Reform or Conservative schools would invite a JDL member to provide a "balanced perspective" and "open dialogue".
Are black colleges expected to host KKK members to get a balanced perspective? If not, then why is Ramaz supposed to host Rashid Khalidi?
The dialogue isn't open. Jewish organizations are expected to provide a forum for anti-Jewish speakers, but it doesn't work the other way around?
In all these cases leading Jewish institutions were willing to open their facilities and lend their names to anti-Israel voices in the name of 'fairness,' 'openness' and 'dialogue.' Protests were then condemned as 'censorship" and 'delegitimization.' The need to invite anti-Zionists into Jewish institutions, when these individuals and their viewpoints are widely known and available, is simply taken for granted. Jewish institutions, whatever their purpose or orientation must be open to even antithetical viewpoints and be seen doing so.
What is remarkable is not that these manipulations go on but rather how transparent and shameless they are. They take advantage of what has become a defining characteristic of the American Jewish community, an obsession with fairness and balance, an eagerness to listen to and internalize the narratives of others, to be "other directed," guided by external trends and standards. Sometimes this is justified as a Jewish value, akin to the ever-malleable concept of "tikkun olam," and sometimes as an American value. And of course there are kernels of truth to this. But it is dramatically one-sided.
Rarely are there comparable gesture by non-Jewish institutions, secular or religious. The Friends Seminary school in New York City felt perfectly comfortable inviting anti-Zionist and antisemite Gilad Atzmon to present his views. A few polite complaints from a handful of Jewish students and parents were swept aside. No balance was required.
Atzmon's views incidentally are so anti-semitic that they are considered beyond the pale even by many anti-Israel groups. It really says something that a Quaker seminary chose to invite a man whom Palestinian advocates don't want to be associated with.
Elder points out that Peter Beinart's own dialogue also goes one way.
When Peter Beinart was the editor of the ill-fated "Open Zion" experiment, he did not seek to include a single Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria as a regular writer. (He had one token right winger, and people he claimed were right-wingers but who support a two-state solution.)
I have never seen a Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria invited to speak at any event at Amnesty International, at Human Rights Watch, at any non explicitly Zionist event at any university, at any "Jewish Voice for Peace" event, or at any "Peace Now" event.
Let's put this balance nonsense to rest right now. The people calling for balance want to open up Jewish forums to anti-Jewish speakers like Khalidi, but they don't reciprocate. This isn't about a dialogue, it's about a sustained assault on Israel.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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