Israel and Academic Freedom: An Exchange

Kenneth Waltzer, Mark Yudof

The New York Review of Books

Tue Jan 01 2019

...Beyond wrong and entering the realm of sheer fantasy is Franke’s support for Professor Cheney-Lippold at the University of Michigan, who would not write a letter of recommendation for a Jewish student who sought to study in Israel. Professor Franke reasons that professors should not write for students who want to study where other students are barred. But as we have seen in the case of Lara Alqasem, Palestinian and Arab students are not barred from studying in Israel, and universities with substantial study abroad programs in Israel have never had Palestinian or Muslim students barred. Indeed, during the Arab Spring, students studying Arabic in Cairo were evacuated to continue studying at Hebrew University in Israel.

Franke sees a concerted campaign “to shut down any discussion of Israel or Palestine that casts a critical light on the state of Israel.” She sees a purposeful effort “to undermine the university’s civic role as a crucial forum of democratic engagement.” But the primary opponents of democratic engagement and dialogue on these difficult issues belong to the BDS movement, whose members have used their prerogatives and power to shut down discussion, demonize Israel and American Jewish supporters of Israel, and politicize university classrooms.

Israel and Academic Freedom: An Exchange