Is it ‘Taboo’ to Defend Israel on Campus?

horrendous-headlinesEven though Israel Apartheid Week – and the shrill spectacles it inspires on many college campuses – has come and gone, the anti-Israel climate at a number of universities refuses to cool.

A case in point is the University of Michigan, where the student government voted down a call for divestments from Israel. The vote, 25-9, with five abstentions, ended a tense week of campaigning, which included threats and intimidation of Jewish students on campus.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, some students even requested a police investigation into threats that have created “an atmosphere of fear among pro-Israel students” on the campus.

University of Michigan police were contacted Wednesday evening after two pro-Palestinian activists allegedly threatened a student who refused to support their boycott initiative.

The threatening rhetoric used by these pro-Palestinian activists is part of wider campaign by the University of Michigan’s pro-Palestine group Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), which is part of the virulently anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement (BDS).

Join the Fighting BDS Facebook page and take a stand againt Israel’s delegitimization.

Writing about an “open forum” taking place at the Vasser College, Jonathan Marks of Commentary, noted the pro-Israel speakers were shouted down when they attempted to express their views.

At least at this Vassar forum, it was not even possible to have a debate about the desirability of BDS because the students who support BDS have no intention of engaging in a debate or even letting their opponents speak without disrupting them.

While the forum may not have sunk to the level of intimidation and anti-Semitism that was reported at the University of Michigan, shouting down or disrupting pro-Israel students has its own chilling effect on free speech and open debate.

But as Marks noted, the tactic is unlikely to serve the BDS movement well in the long term. He also pointed to one of the central conceits of the movement that underlies such behavior:

BDS supporters, who usually say they are fighting a “taboo” against discussing Israel on college campuses, rarely concede that they actually think the taboo is against supporting Israel.

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