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July 1, 2016 6

Free Speech and Fair Treatment for All

Jonathan Green­blatt, CEO and National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League, has joined the Aspen Ideas Fes­ti­val to dis­cuss the debate on col­lege cam­puses and beyond about the mean­ing of free speech and lan­guage that crosses a line and actu­ally dimin­ishes, rather than fos­ters, open discourse.

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

The tug of war betwJG @ Aspeneen ideas is not new on col­lege cam­puses. The very nature of the uni­ver­sity is to gain knowl­edge and to “unlearn [the] habits” of con­ven­tion in the words of Leon Wieseltier. And yet, many argue that free speech is under siege. In recent years, these issues have flared up across the coun­try, grab­bing head­lines as inci­dents at the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­souri, Yale Uni­ver­sity, and Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity have sparked a national con­ver­sa­tion about the exchange of ideas and the foot­print of history.

As Yale Col­lege Dean Jonathan Hol­loway shared at the Aspen Ideas Fes­ti­val yes­ter­day, these were highly charged debates punc­tu­ated by intensely per­sonal moments. Through­out our dis­cus­sion, it became clear that a sim­ple assess­ment of right ver­sus wrong often doesn’t work. The clash of the­ory and prac­tice con­founds admin­is­tra­tors and trustees who strug­gle with the com­plex real­i­ties of how to ensure the uni­ver­sity is an inclu­sive envi­ron­ment and yet one that cul­ti­vates debate and dissent.

But some­times, it’s actu­ally very simple.

For exam­ple, the issue of Israel has been a flash­point on many cam­puses for some time. While there is noth­ing wrong with debat­ing its poli­cies as a mat­ter of prac­tice, there is some­thing pro­foundly wrong when some with strong views exploit aca­d­e­mic free­dom to shut down the free exchange of ideas and mar­gin­al­ize a seg­ment of cam­pus, in this case Jew­ish stu­dents. Yet this often hap­pens when Israel is the topic. We have seen anti-Israel agi­ta­tors intim­i­date Jew­ish stu­dents, shout down Israeli speak­ers and attempt to pre­vent Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions from even dis­cussing issues of social jus­tice.

Sadly, such inci­dents are not sur­pris­ing. These are the tac­tics of the anti-normalization strat­egy tak­ing hold in some cir­cles, the idea that even talk­ing to stu­dents who are Jew­ish con­sti­tutes an offense because of their poten­tial views on Israel. Such dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tices clearly fall far out­side all soci­etal norms but their influ­ence can be felt in broader circles.

Anti-Israel Protest - U-Michigan

An anti-Israel protest by Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan students

Indeed, in the halls of some of our most elite uni­ver­si­ties, stu­dent lead­ers are traf­fick­ing in vicious anti-Semitic stereo­types. Oth­ers bizarrely con­flate Zion­ism with all the per­ceived ills at their insti­tu­tions. We have seen attempts to exclude Jew­ish stu­dents from tak­ing part fully in stu­dent life or sug­ges­tions that they only can do so if they would sub­mit to oaths not required of their peers.

Such big­otry is not the norm across the span of higher edu­ca­tion. Yet these inci­dents should serve as reminders that anti-intellectualism and intol­er­ance on cam­pus can con­geal into hos­tile envi­ron­ments that intim­i­date and mar­gin­al­ize peo­ple based on faith or nationality.

Uni­ver­sity admin­is­tra­tors can take con­crete mea­sures to pre­vent such occur­rences. First, they can cre­ate appro­pri­ate time, place, and man­ner poli­cies that allow those who want to protest a par­tic­u­lar speaker to do so — but in a man­ner that does not infringe on the free­dom of speech that should be accorded to the speaker and to the audi­ence who wants to hear their views.

Univ-California Irvine - Anti-Israel

Sec­ond, the admin­is­tra­tion can use its own voice to respond to hate­ful speech. Finally, the admin­is­tra­tion can take swift puni­tive action when stu­dents phys­i­cally threaten their peers, demon­strat­ing that there is a price to pay when you phys­i­cally intim­i­date others.

Cam­puses should be a place for debate not silenc­ing. Hos­tile envi­ron­ments that impair the free exchange of ideas injure us all. When the topic is Israel, let’s do more to ensure that all stu­dents can take part and that prej­u­dice is left out of the debate.

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July 1, 2016 2

Iranian Commemoration of Al-Quds Day Includes Anti-Semitic and Harsh Anti-Israel Expressions

Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, which takes place on the last Fri­day of Ramadan, was ini­ti­ated in 1979 by Aya­tol­lah Khome­ini, leader of the Islamic rev­o­lu­tion in Iran, as a show of sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tini­ans and to assert the Islamic claim over Jerusalem. While events are held around the world, in Iran, it is often marked by a hate­ful demon­stra­tion of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sen­ti­ment, man­i­fest in gov­ern­ment orga­nized ral­lies and other activ­i­ties. Before this years’ Al Quds day (July 1), Iran’s lead­er­ship ral­lied the coun­try.  Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Khamenei called its com­mem­o­ra­tion and sup­port for the oppressed Pales­tini­ans an impor­tant reli­gious duty.

The Islamic Prop­a­ga­tion Coor­di­na­tion Coun­cil in a state­ment called for wide­spread par­tic­i­pa­tion in Quds Day demon­stra­tions and asked them to repeat the same slo­gans “Death to Amer­ica, Death to Israel and Death to inter­na­tional Zion­ism and Impe­ri­al­ism.” It was reported that in one Quds Day demon­stra­tion, plac­ards were held up which called for Israel’s destruc­tion by the year 2040, and peo­ple chant­ing “Death to Amer­ica” threw stones at a mock Statue of Lib­erty. In advance of Al Quds day, Iran’s Fars news agency pub­lished a wave of harsh anti-Semitic and anti-Israel car­toons, some with clas­si­cal anti-Semitic themes, such as Jew­ish world dom­i­na­tion, depict­ing the world under the con­trol of a Jewish/Israeli octo­pus, worm or spider:

Oth­ers are of a more anti-Israel nature, yet sim­i­larly con­spir­a­to­r­ial in that they imply Israel is a part of a broader, if not global, U.S. plot. One depicts Israel as a dog oper­ated by the U.S. against Gaza, while another shows the U.S. and an Arab fig­ure – most prob­a­bly rep­re­sent­ing the Saudi royal fam­ily who are bit­ter rivals of the Islamic Repub­lic – form­ing together a Star of David, as though they are work­ing in the ser­vice of Israel and the Jews.

Other car­toons depict an Israel on the verge of destruc­tion.  One depicts an Israeli fig­ure run­ning away just before a dam with a Star of David col­lapses, as a result of a mass of peo­ple, with the cap­tion “Death to Israel”. Another car­toon shows an Israeli sol­dier drown­ing in blood rep­re­sented by the red part of the Pales­tin­ian flag.

Other car­toons demo­nize Israel by deform­ing the appear­ances of an Israeli sol­dier shown with satanic ears and with teeth shaped like nuclear mis­siles, while another of for­mer Israeli pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres depicts him as a demonic figure.

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April 13, 2016 451

Anti-Semite Ken O’Keefe On A U.S. Speaking Tour

Ken O’Keefe, an anti-Zionist ex-Marine and anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist with a sub­stan­tial fol­low­ing on YouTube, is cur­rently on a national tour of the United States titled “F-ck the USSA/TSA/ Home­land Secu­rity Tour.” He is sched­uled to visit cities all over the U.S., as well as Canada.

O’Keefe proudly announced that he would embark on this tour, tak­ing Amtrak instead of fly­ing. In announc­ing the tour, he claimed that the secu­rity polices of the TSA and Home­land Secu­rity vio­late people’s rights by “order­ing” them to undergo a body scan, which he termed “radi­a­tion crap.” How­ever, while osten­si­bly focused on secu­rity poli­cies, his talks mostly pro­mote anti-Semitic and anti-Israel themes.

Ken O'Keefe

Ken O’Keefe

For exam­ple, at a talk in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, on March 17, hosted by the con­spir­acy the­o­rist group 9-11Truth.org, O’Keefe pro­moted a vast array of con­spir­acy the­o­ries vil­i­fy­ing Jews and Israel. He alleged that a small group of individuals—later referred to as Jew­ish bankers—controls the world’s money. He called these indi­vid­u­als trai­tors, psy­chopaths, sociopaths, pedophiles and “oth­er­wise cor­rupt, immoral, lack­ing in empa­thy peo­ple” who “bought every­thing and every­one that can be bought.”

He went on to say that Jews con­trol the media and Hol­ly­wood. He also claimed that Israel oper­ates within “Tal­mu­dic dic­tates” and alleged that the Tal­mud allows for Jews to rape non-Jewish three-year-old girls.

Later, when talk­ing about Israel’s 1967 acci­den­tal attack on an Amer­i­can ship, the U.S.S. Lib­erty, O’Keefe asserted that Israel can do any­thing with impunity. He added, “They even abduct, tor­ture, have sex with and rit­u­ally sac­ri­fice young chil­dren.” He also pro­moted the con­spir­acy the­ory that Israel would take the “Sam­son option,” and exter­mi­nate the world “if it feels that its exis­tence is threatened.”

Ear­lier in the week, at a pro­gram in San Diego, also hosted by the 9-11Truth.org, O’Keefe expounded on sim­i­lar anti-Semitic themes. He claimed that Israel and Mossad were behind the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. O’Keefe’s tour con­tin­ues into the end of April, and he has stated that he plans to reach 17 cities across the U.S. and into Canada.

In 2014, O’Keefe attended Iran’s New Hori­zon Con­fer­ence, which drew anti-Semites and Holo­caust deniers from the U.S. and other parts of the world. He has also appeared on Press TV, the anti-Semitic Eng­lish lan­guage sta­tion run by Iran, and has writ­ten arti­cles for Vet­er­ans Today, an anti-Semitic conspiracy-oriented website.

O’Keefe has been an anti-Israel activist for many years. His YouTube videos, some of which have gar­nered hun­dreds of thou­sands of views, fea­ture anti-Jewish and anti-Israel themes. He sup­ports the Pales­tin­ian cause and has claimed both Irish and Pales­tin­ian cit­i­zen­ship. He was on a flotilla in 2010 that was stopped by Israel before the ship made it to Gaza. A num­ber of activists on that ship were killed by Israeli armed forces and O’Keefe was arrested and deported. In addi­tion, he was on a flotilla that entered Gaza in 2008. He was also jailed by Israeli author­i­ties in 2004 when he attempted to enter the Gaza Strip to dis­cuss with Pales­tin­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tives his pro­posed plan to bring 10,000 activists to the West Bank and Gaza.

As O’Keefe trav­els the coun­try, it is likely that he will con­tinue to pro­mote vir­u­lent anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries to his audi­ences. The spon­sors of his talks often tout him as a peace activist and ignore his anti-Semitism. In some cases, they have been recep­tive to his anti-Semitic tropes, as they were in Berke­ley, and even applauded his rhetoric.

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