By Ron Feingold
As the number of students walking through the halls of Universities increases, so does the role of academia in policy making. Essentially, what is easily the most energetic and effortlessly mobilized demographic in the world; young, educated, passionate, compassionate, ambitious, and idealistic- is constantly under the watchful eye of professors that have an ability to dictate what students hear, and why they care. There is no other conceivable demographic that can organize so well as to create movements remotely comparable in size and meaning to the anti-war protests of the seventies and the anti-apartheid movement of the sixties. I am a student, part of this demographic, and this is my futile letter to academia- recognizing defeat.
It is futile because this will likely not be read by most of my fellow students. At best I will simply be viewed as a rebellious twenty year old who thinks he knows the world. But academia, you should know that you have failed us. You have failed now for the same reasons you succeeded in the past, you have let down entire generations, and even though this letter may be futile- I am angry.
When in your name, a panel of professors in my university actively promotes the de-legitimization and annihilation of the country in which I was born – I am angry.
When they call her a Pariah and demonize her citizens in the same panel, in your name, and hide behind the freedom that you provide them I am angry.
When Professor Keya Ganguly who teaches “cultural studies” hosts a “teach-in” in which she explicitly pushes to boycott the culture of my people – you have failed.
When in your name, academia, cultural studies Professor Vinay Gidwani promotes the same cultural boycott by reading nothing more than an arbitrary, unverifiable, “letter” from a Palestinian child to an American Jew named Yakov – my blood is boiling. Since when have you been reduced to nothing more than an emotional appeal to demonize? I beg for an answer.
When professors without major publications from the last decade on Israel or its political situation such as Geography professor Bruce Braun are the ones that are condemning, criminalizing, and explicitly silencing those that do- something is wrong.
On the night before the anniversary of the massacre of Babi-Yar, where nearly 34,000 Jewish souls were taken in one operation– English “Professor” Timothy Brennan had my people condemned as European Colonialists, as imperialists, as seekers of genocide, and as repeat offenders of Holocaust – all in your name.
He and the others are silencing your fellow members, academia, while being protected by the freedom that you offer. They have used your name to speak hate, yet have called my fellow students a “disgrace” for speaking up.
The despicable Jew hating nature of your claims, academia, are summed up by the words of African American civil rights activist Chloé Valdary: “There is a type of Palestinian-Arab privilege which exists today that makes anti-Semitism ‘okay,’ acceptable in academic discourse, and even politically correct. It enables college students of the anti-Israel persuasion to question a Jew’s very identity, to reduce him or her to a monolithic creature which exists solely for the purpose of living in a dejected, victimized, dehumanized state. It divorces them from their past in their native land, and thus strips them of their history, and therefore allows them no future.”
See, academia, not only have you let me down in my school, but you have let down a generation of students who suffer at the hands of what you have created. Not just Israelis, not just Jews, not Just Christians, Muslims, White, Black, or Hispanic –but entire communities of students that want better– you have failed.
At Columbia University, professor of Journalism Todd Gitlin said that the attacks of September 11th were a Jewish conspiracy- I can assure you that they were not.
At California State University in Long Beach, Professor Kevin McDonald said that Jew hatred and Nazism are a rational response to Jews because we are a “hostile elite”- I can assure you, they are not.
At Lincoln University, Professor Kaukab Siddique organized a campus wide rally urging Muslims to rise up against “the genocidal, terrorist, hydra-headed monster which calls itself Zionism.” – In what world do you help disguise such Jew Hatred under your freedom?
When I read that Jewish scholars should be stopped due to their excessive amount of influence in the decision making process of academia, I thought I was reading an excerpt from when humanity was at its lowest point. I was wrong. It was from Professor Alessio Lero of Temple University. You are now at your lowest academia, and I want you back to brilliance.
I and the world deeply cherished the freedom that you provide, but the moment that hiding behind your freedom gives people a shield to support your disgraces, you have failed- we all have failed.
In reality, I hope this letter is not futile. Academia has provided the world with too many successes, too many brilliant minds, too many challengers of Marxism, capitalism, social structures, colonialism, democracy, theocracy, racism, and welfare. What we forgot is that we do have the power to challenge the bigotry of those that e hate, and force them out of their shelter of “academic freedom”. Until we do this, will see more swastikas drawn on Jewish Fraternities (Emory University), more Jews being told to “burn in an oven” (University of North Carolina), and more Jews being violently attacked when they challenge bigotry (Temple University). These are not isolated incidences and this behavior will surely one day leave the confines of campus.
Now is the time to fight because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Rise up!
Ron Feingold is the Director of Public Relations and Journalism for Students Supporting Israel- an international organization founded in Minnesota. While presiding over the University of Minnesota Chapter of Students Supporting Israel he also serves as an Emerson fellow for StandWithUs, a Hasbara Fellow, and Liason to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Having been trained by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, his work has been published in the Times of Israel, Truth Revolt, Campus Reform, the Minnesota Daily, the MN Republic and more. His political work includes being an intern for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and an intern for Senate candidate Mike McFadden.