Making a difference

We are incredibly fortunate to have Professor William Jacobson here in Ithaca.

Professor Jacobson is an inspiring speaker, educator and all-round mensch.  I have previously written about his talk on “Standing up for Israel”, and his ability to engage young people here.

On campuses around the country, the anti-Israel narrative on campus is fueled by professors who dishonestly and divisively promote a biased agenda. Sadly, it is possible to spend all day every day fisking such fraudulent academics. But simple demonstration of facts are not sufficient if the academic and his/her audience refuse to acknowledge and correct the errors. One general characteristic of such academics is a refusal to engage in discussion. An example of this is Prof. Jacobson’s recent talk at Vassar. NOT A SINGLE ONE of the 39 Vassar professors who had signed a letter containing egregious slurs against Israel agreed to meet Professor Jacobson in debate.

So it is great to see an opinion piece in the local newspaper, the Ithaca Journal, that is an excellent rebuttal to one such nebulous academic. Here is the article (click on picture for larger version):

guest viewpoint

For additional background on Cornell campus and around Ithaca, see these links:

Cornell Student Assembly rejects BDS motion

The case for Israel and academic freedom – watch the video of Prof. Jacobson’s talk

Kudos to the fantastic work of Prof. Jacobson and his efforts to expose and rebut BDS. I think that these assaults on truth, freedom and justice are matters that should concern us all, across the political spectrum.

And again, as has been pointed out by Prof. Jacobson and others, happiness is the best response to the haters.

Academics and Israel

As a student in the UK, I witnessed first-hand how negative memes about Israel gain rapid traction in campus settings.

The nature of these “academic” debates have generated a climate where a significant fraction of British society sees nothing untoward about the following image, taken from a rally held in the heart of London:

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

With the recent news of the ASA vote to boycott Israel it is concerning that a campuses in the US are embarking on a similar journey. Although the US is very different to the UK, it would seem prudent not to be complacent.

As a college town, Ithaca can expect to be ensnared in these debates (see this recent editorial in the The Ithacan for a classic example of misinformation).

What can you do? If you are an academic, you can join the effort to contact the academic institutions who are members or support the ASA so they can take an appropriate stand against academia being hijacked in this discriminatory manner. This response is being coordinated through the Legal Insurrection blog.

As community members and parents, we should be cogniscent of the fact that our college-bound children will increasingly be required to address issues arising from the activities of those who seek to delegitimize Israel.

Now is the time to pay attention to our children’s education and strengthen their connections with Israel. Let’s make sure that our children have the historical facts and understanding that will enable them to rebut anti-Israel propaganda and stay confident and secure in their minority identity.