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Colleagues’ Washington Post Op-ed for Free Speech on Campus


Two TTN colleagues active in the Alliance for Academic Freedom, Professors Cary Nelson (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and David Greenberg (Rutgers), have published an opinion piece entitled “Students are shouting down pro-Israel speakers — and silencing free speech,” in the Washington Post.  They argue that although past disruptions of on-campus speakers from Israel or deemed to be pro-Israeli have generally been condemned as free speech violations, such incidents have more recently gained a disturbing degree of acceptance due to the “anti-normalization” campaign against Israel:

. . .  For decades, Israel’s detractors struggled in vain to rebut the point that they were unfairly targeting a relatively liberal democracy while ignoring the far worse human rights violations of numerous state and nonstate actors. Anti-normalization offered a convenient principle specific to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — one that could create a rhetorical escape hatch from questions of why, by this logic, defenders of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia or China didn’t also deserve to be silenced.

As anti-normalization spread as a tactic, it acquired a higher status. Advocates of BDS — the campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — began to grant this “principle” a quasi-theological character, lending its application to campus events an air of moral urgency and ethical superiority. By last year, BDS supporters had a transcendent reason to voice their contempt for academic freedom when they refused to participate in “normalizing” dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to block campus access to speakers deemed sympathetic to Israel.  . . .

Click here for the entire article at the Washington Post website.

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