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Offense Welcome: In Defense of Free Speech on Campus

By Daniel Mael – Originally published in Gatestone Institute 

In 1902, the Russian Jewish author and early Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940) responded to a fellow journalist’s effort to label Zionism as “historically retrograde”, “politically reactionary” and “unworkable”. “Defame it if you must!” he wrote. “The dream is greater than its slanderers. It need not fear their calumny.” [1]

In 2015, the pro-Israel campus movement, through its collective attempt to combat anti-Israel forces, risks failing to uphold Jabotinsky’s proclamation.

Supporting Israel is now labelled an act of “racism” by some professors and certain campus organizations, such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Opposing Israel, however, is not considered the actual act of racism that it more likely is.

Hamas, which openly promotes genocide — not only of Israel, but of all Jews — is apparently considered justified in its behavior. Meanwhile Zionism, which has never even touched on the subject of genocide, is now thought of as a genocidal creed by the anti-Zionist groups on campus. In 2011, SJP founder Hatem Bazian organized the “Never Again for Anyone” speaking tour, which abused the memory of the Holocaust and claimed that Israel’s actions toward its Arab neighbors resembled the actions of the Nazis. So how could Hamas not take up arms against “occupation”?

Students on campuses across the country are then left to decide how to respond. A select few on the pro-Israel side have attempted to carve out an argument that would call for censoring the “offending parties.” Some have called for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to be blocked from receiving school funding; others have called for racist or bigoted speakers to be banned from campus.

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