Way back in the beginning of October and the end of September, CAMERA Senior Researcher and Ohio University alumnus, Eric Rozenman, wrote to the president of the university, Roderick McDavis. In his letters, Eric asked President McDavis to use the Blood Bucket Challenge as a “teachable moment” and strongly condemn academic boycotts of Israel.
It was not until Eric sent another letter to the Ohio University’s board of trustees (included in full, below) that President McDavis answered Eric’s last two letters.
CAMERA has answered President McDavis’s most recent brief response with another of our own. Eric and CAMERA have again asked the president exactly how the university administration is “supporting OU students as they work to find pathways to peace.”
Stay tuned for the next update, and be sure to read this latest correspondence, all included below.
October 20, 2014Victor GoodmanBoard of TrusteesOhio Universityc/o Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan and Aronoff, LLP41 S. High StreetSuite 2600Columbus, Ohio 43215Dear Mr. Goodman:Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Washington director of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Among other things, I have been a reporter for the Columbus Citizen-Journal and Ohio Scripps-Howard Newspapers, and Rep. Bob Shamansky’s press secretary.I am writing to you in your position as a member of Ohio University’s board of trustees. Enclosed you will find copies of my e-mail letters to Ohio President Roderick McDavis (September 24 and October 8) and his September 19 e-mail to me. This exchange followed my September 17 letter to the editor of the Ohio University Post regarding the controversy over the anti-Israel “blood bucket” challenge of Student Senate President Megan Marzec (copy also enclosed). The Post published my letter as a commentary and, as you will see, I copied President McDavis, Dean of Students Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones, Board Chair David Brightbill and Board Secretary Dr. Peter Mather.I am a bit surprised, both in my professional position and as an O.U. alum, that President McDavis has not responded to either of my letters to him. That is especially so since his September 19 letter followed by only two days my original submission to the Post.To ensure that the “teachable moment” President McDavis originally saw in the “blood bucket” controversy is not lost, substantive action by university leaders is required. Such action would assist Ohio students in understanding that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement some find “deeply meaningful” is bigotedly anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. One such welcomed action would be signing the online, academic anti-BDS petition mentioned in my letters. No doubt there are others.Perhaps you, as a board of trustees member, will find it appropriate to remind President McDavis and other leaders of the university’s administration that conflict management, while sometimes necessary, is not sufficient. Conflict resolution, including clarification of the issues at stake—in this case the legitimacy of the Jewish state and rights of the Jewish people—should be the goal.Thank you for your attention to this letter and enclosures, and the issues they raise. I look forward to hearing from you.Sincerely,Eric RozenmanWashington DirectorCAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in AmericaOctober 23, 2014Dear Mr. Rozenman,Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent events on our campus, and for your suggestions regarding our response.I believe that any lasting resolution on this matter must be made by students and for students, and we are actively supporting our students as they work to identify pathways to peace. It is my hope that you will join with Ohio University in supporting student efforts to promote healing.Again, thank you for your letters.Cordially,Roderick J. McDavisOct. 27, 2014Dr. Roderick J. McDavisPresidentOhio University108 Cutler HallAthens, Ohio 45701Dear President McDavis:Thank you for your October 23 reply to my October 8 e-mail letter.As you write, lasting resolution of the controversy caused at Ohio University by the hijacking of the ALS “ice bucket challenge” by Student Senate President Megan Marzec and her supporters will involve university students themselves. But I cannot tell from your brief note how you envision it being made “by students and for students.”Your September 19 e-mail called the controversy an “important teachable moment.” It also noted that viewpoints held by Ms. Marzec and those in agreement with her “are deeply meaningful to them.” As I pointed out in my September 24 e-mail letter, those views echo an international campaign to delegitimize Israel. This campaign, as my letter detailed, has been recognized by leading academics and statesmen to be based on anti-Zionist, antisemitic propaganda.That being the case, CAMERA is most interested in learning how, as you say in your October 23 note, the Ohio University administration is “actively supporting our students as they work to identify pathways to peace.” It goes without saying that civility, or peace, is indispensable to the maintenance of a university community. But the purpose of such a community, of course, is higher education for the next generation and the search for truth through trial-and-error inquiry in an atmosphere of open, respectful yet critical debate. These are not objectives students can reach on their own, not without knowledgeable, engaged, intellectually fair faculty and administrators.When it comes to the anti-Israel boycott, sanction and divestment (BDS) campaign advocated by Ms. Marzec and others, that search for truth will reveal an effort resting on indoctrination by falsehoods. It will expose an obsession with destroying Israel, the world’s one Jewish state and the only American-style democracy in the Middle East—not coincidentally home to several world-renown institutions of higher education—while isolating if not silencing its supporters.I am not quite certain what you mean by “join[ing] with Ohio University in supporting student efforts to promote healing.” As noted above, comity is a prerequisite to the work of any community of scholars. CAMERA, active on more than 50 college and university campuses, would be happy to join with Ohio University as it helps students learn the truth about the BDS campaign and Israel and, by doing so, assist in strengthening a positive campus environment by promoting free, rigorous intellectual inquiry.Again, thank you for your attention to this important issue, and I look forward to your reply.Sincerely,Eric RozenmanWashington DirectorCAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America