Letters to the Editor: Boycotters, the West's War on Syria and Judeo-Christian Heritage

A Syrian doctor treating a child following a suspected chemical attack at a makeshift hospital in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. April 4, 2017.
A Syrian doctor treating a child following a suspected chemical attack at a makeshift hospital in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. April 4, 2017. Uncredited/AP

Lists of faculty boycotters are fair game

In response to “Blacklists: When Our Fellow Israel Defenders Go Too Far” by Ken Waltzer and Mark Yudof, while we admire the Academic Engagement Network for their efforts to address the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on college campuses, we respectfully disagree on the issue of U.S. faculty who have endorsed an academic boycott of Israel.

As faculty at the University of California, we witnessed firsthand the growing anti-Semitism threatening Jewish students and founded AMCHA Initiative to combat that hate and ensure Jewish students have access to a safe campus that is free from harassment and discrimination. And as faculty, free speech and academic freedom are principles we hold very dear. Discourse and dissent on the Middle East or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is appropriate and encouraged. Debate on these issues and others, particularly those that hit a nerve, belong on the college campus. There’s nothing more Jewish than debate and disagreement.

However, faculty members who sign onto an anti-Israel academic boycott statement or petition are not merely expressing disagreement. They’re not even just endorsing a campaign that targets Israeli universities. They are committing to directly subverting the education opportunities, academic freedom and safety of Jewish students and faculty at their own American institutions.

The boycott campaign they endorse explicitly calls on them to work toward shut down very popular study abroad programs in Israel, refuse to write recommendations for students who want to attend them and scuttle their colleagues’ research collaborations, directly suppressing their own students’ and colleagues’ academic freedom and inflicting harm on them.

In 2015 and 2016, acts of anti-Jewish hostility were four times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty members who endorsed an academic boycott of Israel. The more faculty boycotters there are on a particular campus, the more incidents of anti-Jewish hostility. This is not surprising since BDS-promoting events on campus, many of which are organized by faculty boycotters and funded with university dollars that professors have access to for educational purposes, are often laced with centuries-old classic anti-Semitic stereotypes that inject hate into the campus. The BDS movement that these faculty members have signed onto actually calls for ostracizing Jewish and pro-Israel students and suppressing their speech.

Sharing this truth with university leaders, elected officials and the community is key to combatting the wave of anti-Semitism threatening Jewish students on a regular basis. Many of our colleagues are happy to condemn students and student groups that inflict harm on Jewish students but for some reason, faculty is off limits. We disagree. Just as professors have every right to put their name on a public petition that calls for inflicting harm on American Jewish students, watchdog groups like AMCHA have a right and a responsibility to share that information with the public.

Tammi Rossman Benjamin and Leila Beckwith
AMCHA Initiative co-founders and directors

Is war the West's only answer?

So the West is going to go to war with every country that orchestrates a chemical attack. And like North Korea, every country that test-fires a missile is going to be threatened with an attack too. And like Iran, every country that seeks to develop nuclear energy is fair game as well.

Who is the aggressor here? Why is war the only answer for the West? Haven’t we learned in the last two decades that war is not a solution? Syria has thwarted outside aggression for the last five years. Funny that a chemical attack supposedly orchestrated by the Syrian Government is justification for the West committing mass murder against Syrian civilians, when the West has been arming and training jihadi fighters in Syria since before the conflict began. (Seymour Hersh and WikiLeaks, anyone?)

Funny that the countries funding the Islamic State, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are safe from attack. The West even sells these ISIS funders military hardware. Why? Because the West can do whatever it likes. So it’s okay for the U.S., Israel and the U.K. to possess nuclear weapons, test-fire its military hardware (Marshall Islands and Bikini Atoll) and to carry out chemical attacks (white phosphorus on Gaza, agent orange on Indochina, depleted uranium on Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.) but it’s not okay for any other country to even try to possess what the West already possesses or to commit warlike acts that the West has committed repeatedly.

And remember, the West wasn’t being invaded by a foreign, aggressive army like what happened in Syria.

Louis Shawcross
Hillsborough, North Ireland

Islam and our Judeo-Christian heritage

In regard to “Jews Pay the Price When ‘Judeo-Christian Values’ Are on Sale,” we should be asking when and why we decided to replace our Judeo-Christian heritage with Islam, a belief system that holds little in common with Western liberal thought.

For all of its 1,400-year history, Islam has taught subjugation of infidels in the vast territories it conquered and colonized.

We forget that Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was Hitler’s ally. He directed attacks against British Mandate troops and pogroms against the Jews of Palestine and Iraq.

After World War ll, the Middle East and North Africa rejected all Christian and Jewish rights and history. Seven hundred thousand Christians were forced out of Lebanon by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s civil war and 850,000 Jews were evicted from the region. The PLO displaced 80% of Bethlehem’s Christians.

Europe is in trouble. Sharia law has replaced European law in hundreds of neighborhoods.

Who voted for this?

Len Bennett
Ottawa, Ontario