Middle East studies in the News
The Intifada Comes To Austin [incl. Ami Pedazhur]
Earlier this month, on November 13th, twelve members of a group calling itself the "Palestine Solidarity Committee," descended, lynch-mob style, upon an American campus in Austin, Texas. What happened next makes the grossly objectionable Apartheid Week follies slightly pale in comparison.
The ringleader, Mohammed Nabulsi, is a law student and presumably an American citizen. He is educated, not illiterate; he is not living in a Jordanian refugee camp; presumably, he has options. This suggests that his rage and his motivation are coming from other sources.
Political tracts, religious texts, perhaps? Or, does he believe that this will advance him personally in some way? That's been known to happen.
Perhaps what's new about the intifada in Austin is this:
Such anti-Israel anger is no longer merely yelling itself hoarse outside on the campus pavement. Nor are the protestors conducting brief "aktions" and then fleeing the scene. Now, they are holding forth at great length instead of scheduled lecturers.
The non-invited Nabulsi claimed that he was there to give a speech—and not Professor Ami Pedahzur's invited guest, Dr. Gil-Li Vardi from Stanford University. Nabulsi said he would not leave until he, too, was heard.
What exactly are Nabulski's credentials? Well, he had a grandfather who...
Such entitled aggressiveness, this pure example of Islamist supremacism, is being tolerated (is that because it is so familiar?) for longer periods of time in the American classroom.
Professor Pedazhur had invited an academic to deliver a lecture. He had not publicized a debate or an open mic or a Speak-Out. However, increasingly, all classes that touch on the Jewish presence in the Middle East become shouting matches unless the discussion is a completely anti-Zionist presentation. Then, there are no disruptions and no debates.
This apparently unaffiliated group unfurled the Palestinian flag, accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing," and shouted "Long live the Intifada" which, by definition, is a genocidal call for Israel's destruction.
Why is this group even allowed on campus? They are not an academic group. They are a goon squad, the 21st century equivalent of the Hitler-era fascist Brownshirts. They are trespassers with hate in their hearts and on their lips.
What is the University of Texas administration planning to do about harboring such haters in its midst?
Precious little, it seems. Both the President and the Dean have released mealy-mouthed statements.
But how will UT-Austin handle the lawsuit that Nabulsi and others in his group are now threatening to bring? Yes, the aggressors are potentially suing for having been..."offended?" "Violated?" Predictably, Nabulsi's group is not only threatening to sue, they are whining that they—the bullies-in-chief—no longer feel "safe" on campus.
They are enacting the role of both the persecutor and the victim, just as Palestinian Jihadists do. They—the Jerusalem jihadists and the American students in their image—initiate the violence and then insist that the world count them as "victims."
Here's what we must wrestle to the ground: The continued claim that such angry, highly propagandized disruptions are intrinsic to learning in the West; that deeply "felt" propaganda is equivalent to objective facts; that such in-your-face false "equivalencies" are what academic freedom and free speech are supposed to protect.
This must change. Someone has got to legally "unpack," as the deconstructionists might say, the difference between free speech, hate speech, academic freedom, and the First Amendment--and the difference between a civilized learning environment and intimidation which permits no independent thought to flourish or survive.
Neither President Greg Fenves nor Dean Randy Diehl at UT-Austin seem to understand that a lecture is not supposed to be interrupted; that debates can be civil and carefully planned; that a political rally is not the same as an academic lecture.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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