Should Harvard Sponsor a One-Sided Conference Seeking the End of Israel?
In order to assess whether Harvard is acting properly in relation to the upcoming student-sponsored conference entitled: Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution, I propose the following thought experiment. Ask yourself what Harvard would do if a group of right wing students and faculty decided to convene a conference on the topic, Are the Palestinians Really a People?, and invited as speakers only hard right academics who answered that question in the negative? Would the Provost office at Harvard help fund such a conference? Would the Kennedy School at Harvard grant such conference legitimacy by hosting it? Would Harvard's Carr Center For Human Rights Policy or Weatherhead Center for International Affairs support such a conference? Would distinguished Harvard professors agree to speak at it?
If the answers to those questions are clearly "yes", then Harvard cannot be faulted for its role in the forthcoming anti-Israel hate fest. It would mean that in the name of academic and speech freedom Harvard will host a conference on nearly any kooky idea of the hard right or hard left. If the answer is "no", then the single standard of academic freedom would demand reconsideration of the Harvard Provost's decision to help fund the anti-Israel hate fest and the decision of the Kennedy School to lend its premises to this event. If Harvard were to decide to host the anti-Israel hate fest but not the anti Palestinian one, that would reveal either an anti Israel or pro hard left bias unbecoming a great university.
To be fair, the dean of the Kennedy School did issue a statement that his school "in no way endorses or supports the apparent position" of the conference, and that he hopes the "final shape of the conference will be significantly more balanced." But the question remains, would he have done no more than that if an anti-Palestinian conference were being hosted on his premises and supported by "centers" associated with the Kennedy School?
I believe Harvard would probably pass the "neutrality test," but I hope the issue is never directly put to Harvard, because it would be obnoxious for there to be a conference here on the subject of whether the Palestinians are a real people. They are, and so are the Israelis. The quest for a Palestinian state is a legitimate one, as is the need to preserve Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
The participants in the Harvard conference will deny that there is any parallel between the subject of their conference and the subject of my hypothetical one. They will claim that the "one state solution" is a serious academic subject, whereas the question "are the Palestinians really a people?" is not. This is a pure rationalization. The question regarding the Palestinians was raised by a candidate for President of the United States and has been the subject of debate and controversy in the media and in academic writings. Both subjects are essentially political in nature and both have similarly phony academic veneers. Both conferences would be unacademically one-sided in their selection of speakers. Moreover, a great university committed to free speech and academic freedom does not get to pick and choose which political issues it deems sufficiently "correct" to warrant its imprimatur.
The only real difference between the two subjects is that if Harvard were to sponsor a one-sided conference against a Palestinian state, there would be massive protests, especially by some of the very academics who are willingly lending their imprimatur to the anti-Israel hate fest. But the charge of hypocrisy has never stopped these professors from applying a double standard against Israel. They should not be stopped from speaking -- that would be censorship and a denial of academic freedom. But they should be shamed for participating in an unacademic one-sided hate conference, and for their hypocrisy in doing so in the name of academic freedom, when they would never tolerate a comparable hate conference against a Palestinian state or the Palestinian people.
Let there be no doubt that the call for a single state solution is a euphemism for ending the existence of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The major proponents of this ruse acknowledge -- indeed proclaim -- that this is their true goal. Tony Judt, who was the academic godfather of the "one state" ploy, saw it as an alternative to Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, which he believed was a mistake. Many of those speaking at the Harvard conference are on record opposing the existence of Israel. Leon Weiselteir was right when he observed that the one state gambit is not "the alternative for Israel. It is the alternative to Israel."
The "one state" solution failed in the former Yugoslavia. It failed in India. And it would fail in the Mideast. That's why most Palestinians and nearly all Israelis are against it. They favor a two state solution, as does most of the rest of the world.
Many of the speakers at this conference will rail against "a Jewish State." But they will not protest the Palestinian Constitution which establishes Islam as the only "official religion" and requires that "the principles of Islamic Sharia shall be the main source of legislation." Moreover, it establishes Arabic as the sole "official language" of Palestine. Israel, in contrast, treats Judaism, Islam and Christianity equally, does not base its laws (except regarding family matters of Jews) on Jewish law, and has three official languages -- Hebrew, Arabic and English (with Russian constituting the 4th unofficial language and Ethiopian a 5th, manifesting its extensive ethnic diversity).
As this conference goes forward, and as the massive casualties mount in Syria, the resounding silence about the victims of the Assad brutality by those speakers, who use the G word (genocide) every time Israel acts in defense of its citizens, speaks louder than their hypocritical words. The extremists who will be speaking at this hate fest are so obsessed with Israel's imperfections that they ignore -- indeed enable -- the most serious human rights violations that are occurring throughout the world. That is the real shame of the double standard that is represented by this hateful conference.
A shorter and somewhat different version of this appeared on Newsmax.
February 27, 2012
by Andrea Levin
Harvard Can't Duck Ties to One-State Conference
Harvard seeks to quell the growing scandal
surrounding its high-profile hosting of the One State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One State Solution
, whose aim is the dissolution of the Jewish state. The university claims the event is student-inspired and organized, and not Harvard's responsibility. In the meantime, two erstwhile sponsors have removed their logos from the event — The Weatherhead Center and the Carr Center for Human Rights. The Kennedy School logo remains; however, a disclaimer has been added to the conference Web site, reading:
"The One-State Conference is run solely by the student organizers, and students alone are responsible for all aspects of the program, including content and speakers, as with all student-run events. It does not represent the views of the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, or any Harvard school or center."
As in the case of the BDS conference at the University of Pennsylvania in early February, when the administration there claimed it had to allow the event — including providing free space — because a legally constituted student group wanted it, the question has to be asked: Are Ivy League administrators selected for their ability to muster totally disingenuous, ludicrous defenses of university policy? Do Harvard's poobahs truly expect the public to believe the university would allow "student organizers" to run a campus gay-bashing conference, or KKK convocation? Clearly, Harvard accords special status to hate-speech directed against the Jewish state, whose annihilation can be promoted in one-sided panels and biased keynote speeches.
But there is another dimension to the disingenuosness of Harvard's disavowals. The conference is not just
a student affair. In many ways it represents the views of influential faculty and others. It grows out of fertile anti-Israel Harvard ground and it includes prominent faculty as speakers. The Kennedy School of Government, with its sharply skewed Middle East Initiative program; the university's virulently anti-Israel Center for Middle Eastern Studies and affiliated Outreach Center
; the various anti-Israel programs and personalities at the Weatherhead Center, at the Carr Center for Human Rights and in other departments — all have in recent years promoted bigoted attacks against the Jewish state. A conference advocating the dissolution of Israel in this environment is a logical continuation of classroom teaching, public lectures, educational "outreach" and extreme anti-Israel activism by numerous professors and other staff.
Funding for the event, it should be noted, is provided by Harvard's Provost and the Weatherhead Institute. And locating the conference in the prestigious Kennedy School Forum lends still greater prominence to the gathering.
Among Harvard faculty and affiliate staff in the conference line-up are the following:
Stephen Walt is a former academic dean at the Kennedy School and is currently a Professor of International Affairs there. He's part of the Kennedy School's Middle East Initiative and is also author of the ferociously anti-Israel and factually shoddy,The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
Walt writes a blog for Foreign Policy
that regularly attacks
Israel and its supporters.
Duncan Kennedy is a radical professor of law at Harvard Law School who has leveled extreme, factually inaccurate
charges against Israel. He teaches a course heavily reliant on fringe, anti-Israel voices, some of whom, such as Illan Pappe, are also appearing at the conference. Kennedy has called for boycott and divestment from Israel.
Diana Buttu, a Fellow at Harvard's Middle East Initiative, and former legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team, is the host of a seven-part lecture
series underway at Harvard. She is also an organizer of the One-State Conference.
Timothy McCarthy is a lecturer at the Carr Center at the Kennedy School and a member of the Board of Advisors ofFreedom Forward
, a pro-Palestinian, activist group.
Naor Ben-Yahoyada is a Visiting Lecturer and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in Harvard’s Anthropology Department, Director of Undergraduate Programs at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and a Visiting Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. In 2007 he was part of a campaign
that distributed wanted posters
for Israel's Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, calling him a war criminal and in 2009 he spoke at an Israel Apartheid Week
event in Rhode Island.
Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood has reiterated the school's claim of institutional innocence in a February 24 release. He could only say Harvard does not "endorse or support" the conference goals. Evidently deploring, denouncing or condemning a conference that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state would be sticking his neck out, and perhaps offending too many faculty members. And, ultimately, the public will see through the absurdity that a conference held in a prestigious Harvard venue, underwritten by Harvard funds, organized by Harvard "Fellows" and featuring Harvard faculty is not a Harvard event!
February 24, 2012
STATEMENT BY HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL DEAN DAVID ELLWOOD ON THE "ONE-STATE" STUDENT-LED CONFERENCE
We have received a number of inquiries concerning the "One-State Conference" organized by a group of students. The students involved are members of recognized student organizations at the Harvard Kennedy School and other Harvard schools. Their stated goal has been "to bring students from across Harvard University together to enrich academic discussions about possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The aim is to explore the merits of a one-state solution…"
Let me emphasize that Harvard University and the Harvard Kennedy School in no way endorse or support the apparent position of the student organizers or any participants. We would never take a position on specific policy solutions to achieving peace in this region, and certainly would not endorse any policy that some argue could lead to the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.
Academic freedom is a central value of Harvard University and the Harvard Kennedy School. We work hard to impart the values of open expression to our students. The goal of academic freedom is to provide the free and open exchange of ideas, and the hope and expectation is that a wide range of diverse viewpoints will be represented and explored. It rests on a belief that the power of open and often strongly competing speech is the best antidote to tyranny. We also encourage students to exercise these freedoms fully and responsibly.
I am deeply disappointed to see that the list of speakers for this student conference is so one-sided. While not all speakers support the so called "one-state solution," I would certainly have expected to see a much broader debate on a topic that is so contentious. Without the balance of divergent views that characterize the most enriching discussions, the credibility and intellectual value of any event is open to question. All our students have a right to take any position they choose. And we do not control whom students invite to their conferences. But it is in intensive give and take that insights can best emerge, particularly around highly controversial issues.
I am particularly concerned that many of the initial conference materials and the comments of some outsiders may have given the false impression that the University supports the agenda or the position of the conference organizers. Use of the University’s facilities and modest financial support for cross-school, student-led conferences in no way constitutes endorsement of any policy agenda, and we are actively working to ensure that this misimpression of institutional endorsement is corrected.
I want to emphasize once again that Harvard University and Harvard Kennedy School do not support the policy positions of the conference organizers or speakers. And we hope the University will always be a place where academic freedom ensures that the free exchange of ideas and reasoned debate is a precious right.
For Immediate Release
8 February 2012
Cambridge, MA -- Students at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Law School, and Harvard University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will be hosting a conference aimed at exploring the one-state option to resolving the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The conference, titled “The One State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One State Solution” will take place on Saturday 3 March and Sunday 4 March 2012 at the Forum at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Conference panelists include Professor Ilan Pappe of Exeter University, Professor Duncan Kennedy of Harvard Law School, and Professor Stephen M. Walt of Harvard Kennedy School of Government. A complete list of conference panelists is appended below.
Ahmed Moor, a student at the Harvard Kennedy School and conference organizer remarked, “To date, the only remedy to the Israel/Palestine conflict is the two-state solution. Yet, increasing numbers of people on both sides are talking about sharing the country. This historic conference aims to begin the process of defining what one state could mean -- including obstacles to achieving it.”
The conference is being sponsored by a number of student groups, including The Palestine Solidarity Committee (Harvard-wide), Justice for Palestine (HLS), the Palestine Caucus (HKS), the Arab Caucus (HKS), the Progressive Caucus (HKS), and the Alliance for Justice in the Middle East (GSAS). Conference co-sponsors include: The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy (Harvard Kennedy School of Government) and The Sexuality, Gender and Human Rights Program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Financial support was also provided by The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (Harvard University), the Office of the Provost (Harvard University), and the Harvard Arab Alumni Association.
Professor Susan Akram
Dr. Dalit Baum
Assistant Professor Amahl Bishara
Professor Marc Ellis
Associate Professor Leila Farsakh
Professor Emerita Elaine Hagopian
Professor Duncan Kennedy
Professor Timothy McCarthy
Professor llan Pappé
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Professor Nadim Rouhana
Professor Sarah Schulman
Professor Eve Spangler
Professor Stephen M. Walt
We are students within the Harvard University community who seek to explore the questions around the one-state solution in Israel/Palestine. We come from a diverse set of countries that include Palestine, Israel, Brazil, and America.
The conference is being sponsored by several student groups - namely, Justice for Palestine (HLS), the Palestine Caucus (HKS), the Arab Caucus (HKS), the Progressive Caucus (HKS), and the Association for Justice in the Middle East (GSAS). Its principal organizers are Sa’ed Atshan (PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), Elisha Baskin (graduate student at Brandeis University and an extern with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy), Diana Buttu (Harvard Kennedy School/Harvard Law School Fellow), and Ahmed Moor (MPP Candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School).
Among the participants:
Naor Ben-Yehoyada is a Visiting Lecturer and Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in Harvard’s Anthropology Department, Director of Undergraduate Programs at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and a Visiting Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He studies the historical anthropology of region formation in the Mediterranean, specifically between Sicily and Tunisia and in the Levant in the 20th century. In his dissertation, Mediterranean, Becoming and Unbecoming: Fishing, Smuggling, and Region Formation between Sicily and Tunisia since World War II, as well as in his published articles, he examines the political economy and the cultural processes that maritime region formation entails. His publications include “The Moral Perils of Mediterraneanism: Second Generation Immigrants Practicing Personhood between Sicily and Tunisia,” in Journal of Modern Italian Studies, and “The Reluctant Seafarers: Fishing, self-acculturation, and the stumbling Zionist colonization of the Palestine Coast in the Interbellum Period,” forthcoming in Jewish Culture and History. Naor will teach the course Mediterranean Becoming: Historical Anthropology of North Africa and Southern Europe in fall 2011, and Conflict and Coexistence: Historical Anthropology of Israel/Palestine and a seminar on Political Economy in the spring.
Dr. Dalit Baum is a feminist teacher and activist in Israel and co-founder of Who Profits from the Occupation, an activist research initiative of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel. During the last five years, "Who Profits" has become a vital resource for dozens of campaigns around the world, providing information about corporate complicity in the occupation of Palestine. This year, she is working out of San Francisco as the regional program coordinator of the Middle East program of AFSC - the American Friends Service Committee, and with the Economic Activism for Palestine Program of Global Exchange, which aims to support corporate accountability campaigns in the U.S. with research, training and networking.
Professor Ilan Pappé teaches at history at the University of Exeter. He obtained his BA degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1979 and the D. Phil from the University of Oxford in 1984.
Professor Pappé founded and directed the Academic Institute for Peace in Givat Haviva, Israel between 1992 to 2000 and was the Chair of the Emil Tuma Institute for Palestine Studies in Haifa between 2000 and 2006. He was a senior lecturer in the department of Middle Eastern History and the Department of Political Science in Haifa University, Israel between 1984 and 2006. Professor Pappé was also appointed as chair in the department of History in the Cornwall Campus, 2007-2009 and became a fellow of the IAIS in 2010.
His research focuses on the modern Middle East and in particular the history of Israel and Palestine. He has also written on multiculturalism, Critical Discourse Analysis and on Power and Knowledge in general.
Professor Pappé has written a number of books including A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (London and New York: Oneworld, 2006).