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Provocative Speech on Ohio U Campus Must Be Protected

By Academic Advisory Council

Calls for Equally Energetic Rebuttals on Substance, Civility and Strategy of “Blood Bucket” Protest Against Israel

 

New York, NY – September 11, 2014
CONTACT: Professor Cary Nelson
217-356-0649
or
Gideon Aronoff
212 366-1194 (After hours 347-583-7277)
gideon@ameinu.net
http://thirdnarrative.org

As progressive academics committed to the promotion and protection of academic freedom around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we are very troubled by recent events at Ohio University. Nominated to take the ALS “ice bucket challenge,” student senate president Megan Marzec broadcast a video of herself pouring (fake) blood on herself, along with a message protesting the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza during the war with Israel this summer. As a result she has received hateful messages, including death threats. We strongly denounce this reaction to her video.

We uniformly support the right of Ms. Marzec to express her political views in the manner in which she did. No matter how offensive her actions, threats and intimidation have no place in campus discussions. Strong opinions and provocative statements are essential components of the academic enterprise. The proper response to offensive or misguided speech is more speech, explaining why it is offensive or misguided.

Hence, we want to take the occasion also to criticize the inflammatory imagery Ms. Marzec chose to convey her message. Despite our shared concern about the bloodshed during this summer’s war, we found her action counterproductive for its condemnation of only Israeli military action. Such simplistic claims are contrary to the type of dialogue and exchange necessary to create a sovereign Palestinian state living at peace with Israel—a goal our organization supports.

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