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Middle East crisis and Bay area universities



Paul Simon calls our attention to a Jerusalem Post (5/16/02) article on the anti-Israel protests at San Francisco State University, based on the account widely distributed by Prof. Laurie Zoloth, director of its Jewish studies program, describing the virulence of the anti-Semitic rhetoric and the campus's seeming inability to halt such occurrences. There has been a less violent incident at Berkeley. "More than 100 anti-Semitic incidents, including graffiti, vandalism, hate speech, and violence have occurred on US campuses since January", according to the Anti-Defamation League. Most of these protests were against Israeli military actions against Palestinians, and were therefore anti-Israel and not anti-Semitic, although they may have degenerated into the latter. The local press has carried balanced accounts of these troubles; the report by Laurie Zoloth is naturally ex-parte. Stanford's behavior to date has been exemplary.The Stanford Daily (5/16/02) carried two carefully balanced articles, one by a pro-Israel, one by a pro-Palestine group. History Professor Joel Beinin, a Jew and a well-known expert on the Middle East, gives a balanced picture of events, but he has been the target of nasty Jewish attacks. There has been a serious imbalance in our universities. With funds provided by Jews, Jewish Studies programs have been established, but when Arabs tried to fund Arab programs they were often blocked. If universities must have programs of this kind, there should be Jewish programs and Arab programs engaged in academic discourse. A better solution would be to have neither, but a Middle East program in which both sides would participate. This should be a language and area program, involving geography, since a key element in the confrontation concerns geography. There is much talk about two states living peacefully together, but the devil is in the details--the geographic details.

Ronald Hilton - 5/17/02


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