Denounce the Hooligans Who Shouted Down a Visiting Israeli Professor at the University of Minnesota

(Minneapolis Star Tribune) Oren Gross - On Tuesday, the University of Minnesota Law School hosted Prof. Moshe Halbertal - a world-renowned philosopher, political theorist and historian of Jewish thought, as well as one of the world's leading military ethicists. As my colleague, Prof. Dale Carpenter, described the scene: "[O]ne by one...protesters stood up to shout denunciations of Israel and were escorted from the hall by university police. One young woman came screaming back into the lecture after having been ejected. Outside the hall, the protesters chanted so loudly that it was difficult to hear Halbertal." These acts of cultural hooliganism present a real threat to free speech and the free exchange of ideas. As Carpenter noted, "there is no right to shout down a speaker at an academic lecture" and that "members of a university community have an obligation to consider opposing viewpoints and, if not always a duty to listen to them, then at least a duty to allow others to listen to them." The affront to free speech in the appalling conduct of the protesters should be disturbing to anyone. So too should be the overtly anti-Semitic attitudes demonstrated. It is absolutely legitimate to criticize the State of Israel and the policies of its government. Unfortunately, much of the anti-Israel discourse is but a thin disguise for anti-Semitic sentiments. To call for the utter destruction of the Jewish state and for a Jew-Free Zone between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, as the protesters repeatedly chanted, is anti-Semitic. To single out Israel as the only country for such criticism while maintaining a deafening silence (and at times even support) for Arab and Muslim regimes that brutally murder their own citizens and harbor genocidal plans against the Jewish state is anti-Semitic. Had the invited speaker been anyone other than an Israeli and a Jew we would not have seen the protests that we witnessed on Tuesday. The protests occurred because the speaker was an Israeli and a Jew. That, too, is anti-Semitism. The writer is Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School.

2015-11-06 00:00:00

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