Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Poisoning The Well

By now much has been made of the paper "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," recently produced for Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government by Stephen Walt, its academic dean, and Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, which charges that such a lobby influences American foreign policy against American interests. If you read the paper, all 35,000 words of it, it isn't much different that what one might read on a neo-Nazi or anti-Semitic hate site. A few Jews in government have undue influence, Jews bias the media, and so on. Think of it as an updated Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion with all the trappings of academia and prestigious institutions of higher learning.

This paper didn't happen in a vacuum. It is part of an extremely disturbing trend of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attitudes being taught on university campuses by supposedly scholarly professors. Earlier this month the US Commission on Civil Rights found that anti-Semitism on American college campuses is a serious problem, adding that there is "substantial evidence" that some universities "may repress legitimate debate concerning Israel." What actually is happening is that anyone who defends Israel is intimidated into silence or worse. I had reported on problems at Columbia University in New York and in the University of California system in my 25 October 2005 post on intimidation of Jewish students on campus. Similar problems exist at prestigious universities across the United States, in Canada, and in Europe.

Harvard University Professor of Law Alan Dershowitz, in his 2005 book The Case For Peace, charges:I will demonstrate that there is an explicit campaign of vilification against Israel ...the goal of this well-coordinated campaign is entirely negative: namely, to produce a generation of future leaders--political, economic, religious, academic--who are virtually programmed to be stridently anti-Israel.He names professors such as Noam Chomsky of MIT, Norman Finkelstein of DePaul, and four Columbia professors. In Britain he cites Oxford professor Andrew Wilkie and Mona Baker at UMIST, among others.

If a young, impressionable student is paying tens of thousands of dollars to attend what he or she believes to be one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the world they are, by and large, going to believe their professors are telling the truth. They will not recognize historical revisionism, propaganda, and outright lies when they are taught as history unless they have already studied the subject in question. In future posts I will show how the campaign Dr. Dershowitz alleges is already bearing dubious fruit.

[NOTE: This post, albeit in slightly different form, also appears on Blogs of Zion, where I am a regular contributor writing under my Hebrew name.]

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