Dear President McCormick:
As I am sure you know, the National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement will take place in October at the campus of Rutgers University, of which you are President. It is already clear that their agenda will include sessions on how to pressure colleges to divest from Israel-related investments. Their leadership, and especially the local organizer of this event, Charlotte Kates (a Rutgers Law student), have spoken out favorably on behalf of suicide bombers as a tool of justice, and against the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state. Moreover, similar conferences held at Concordia University and Berkeley turned very quickly into blatant hate-fests with anti-semitic speeches and encouragement to anti-Jewish violence.
I understand that you have condoned the conference in the name of freedom of speech. I most sincerely urge you to reconsider, because the issue is not freedom of speech, but what is the proper role of a university. Academic license should not include the license to incite to violence. As you probably know, "anti-Semitism" is a designation coined in mid-19th century Germany to offer a more politically correct term for Jew-hatred. Jew-hatred sounded bad, ugly, uncouth. Anti-Semitism sounded more scientific, civil, 'gentille.' Few spoke out against this euphemism. So the term gained acceptance, and entered the vocabulary of Western civilization. In doing so, it turned a primitive social psychosis into a politically correct social value. European, and especially German, society was then able to integrate this legitimized psychosis in to a political doctrine of hatred, repression and, ultimately, genocide.
Happily for Western society, especially post-World War II, this euphemism has been recognized for what it is. Most of the West's mainstream social, political, and intellectual leadership has distanced itself from anti-Semitism; recognizing that, no matter what faux veneer of acceptability is used, Jew-hatred is still just that: a senseless pathology, symptomatic of a sick mind and a sick society, leading in the end to injustice, repression, violence, and genocide.
Not so in the Arab world. Mainstream media and school books have for decades promoted the crudest and ugliest of the images, slogans, and canards of Nazi and Medieval European Jew-hatred; lending valence and acceptability to the basest of anti-Jewish lies, forgeries, and accusations. Witness, inter alia, the recent series of newspaper articles in Saudi Arabia, describing Jewish blood libel as scientific fact. And even more heinous, the textbooks used in elementary schools in Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, which demonize Israelis (and Jews in general) as Zionist "infidels," and Christians as blood-thirsty "crusaders." The children of much of the Arab world are educated into an ideology of hatred that de-legitimizes an entire people. That de-legitimization makes it noble to work toward the destruction of Israel and the butchering of its Jewish inhabitants. Dulce et decorum est...to slaughter the Jews.
Oddly, this Arab version of Jew-hatred has begun to insidiously infect Western society with the help of new euphemisms: anti-Israel and anti-Zionist. Clearly, one can be anti-Israel without being anti-Jewish. Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism. But it is precisely this truism that is exploited by the purveyors of the new Jew-hatred, who seek a more respectable label for their old psychosis. Palpable and unabashed hate crimes recently perpetrated against Jews and Jewish institutions are defended as expressions of reasonable political critique-against Israel. We are witness to a rerun of the phenomenon of 19th century Germany: find the right euphemism, and the hatred becomes acceptable, even in the most civil of societies.
Even odder, some academics and liberal leaders have adopted this newly revised edition of Jew-hatred as a cornerstone in their fight for 'truth and justice.' These erstwhile defenders of our social and political systems, which for centuries have been defined as having "malice toward none" (Abraham Lincoln) and equal opportunity of access for all (Thomas Jefferson), have incorporated the new euphemisms of Jew-hatred into their publications, speeches, and classrooms...much to the bewilderment of many -- and to the glee of a hate-driven few. And perhaps oddest of all, they have done so of their own free will, enthusiastically exploiting their faculty status and academic freedom to proffer anti-Israel propaganda as scholarship and anti-Zionist polemic as education. Their reckless misuse of their positions of trust among colleagues and students has contributed directly to the creation on many campuses of an atmosphere of hate and distrust toward Israel, Israelis, Jews, and anyone identifying with any of the above. I most sincerely urge you, therefore, to draw a line in the sand. The university should not be a promoter of Jew-hatred, nor an inciter of violence.
Sincerely yours,David Meir-Levi