Actor Michael Douglas is currently on a tour of US college campuses with Natan Sharansky, the Chair of the Jewish Agency, to discuss “Judaism, Israel, and current-day anti-Semitism.” Students at their first stop, Brown University, were nice enough to oblige them by providing a first-class example of the problem they went to discuss.
Brown Students for Justice in Palestine’s statement calling for a protest of the talk gives extraordinary insight into exactly how deceitful and hypocritical this group is. Some highlights:
The Jewish Agency for Israel will be funding the lecture as part of a massive push made by the Israeli government to conflate pro-Palestinian activism with anti-Semitism. . . . It is immoral to smear social justice activists with claims of anti-Semitism, and this is a strategic tactic used to delegitimize BDS and turn attention away from Israel’s apartheid regime. . . .
Natan Sharansky is well-known in Israel for campaigning against the rights of African refugees. He has been relentless in refusing to allow them to settle in Israel, saying to the Times of Israel, “we cannot automatically give everybody the status of a refugee and treat them as political refugees because really there could then be millions of these.” It has also been discovered that he stole aid funds pledged to African refugee settlement and put the money towards the Jewish Fund for Israel. It is a disgrace that such a bigot with an ugly track record of anti-Palestinian, anti-African racism is being lauded on this campus.
This is an affront to academic freedom: Brown students should not be exposed to propaganda campaigns executed by state powers, especially colonial state powers.
In one breath, they claim it is “immoral” to call the BDS movement — which demonizes Israel, delegitimizes Israel, and holds Israel to an impossible double standard — anti-Semitic. In the very next breath, they call the head of the Jewish Agency a racist. (You can read more about Sharansky, a “hero of the Soviet Refusenik movement, and an inspiration to the freedom movements in Eastern Europe,” in this write-up at Legal Insurrection.)
Even more absurd, however, is the claim that exposing other Brown students to a point of view with which SJP disagrees is an “affront to academic freedom.” To borrow an overused cliche, I just don’t think “academic freedom” means what SJP thinks it means. The BDS movement thrives on lies that well-meaning but under-informed students accept as fact. Truth is the biggest threat for them. That is why they disrupt events and attempt to drown out speakers. That is why Michael Douglas and Natan Sharansky scare them so.
An article about the event quoted Sharansky:
The moment you move to a logical debate, they have nothing to say. . . . They are only shouting . . . . Behind it there is a desire to destroy Israel. It is not about human rights. The question is, how to destroy Israel.