By Mosheh Avraham
Where do anti-Israel attitudes come from? How do these untruths spread in society? Part of the answer may be found at San Diego State University. As an alumnus of SDSU, my interest was peeked by an e-mail I received the other day from Stand With Us notifying their network that SDSU brought another anti-Israel lecturer, Richard Falk, to their campus.
From my days at SDSU, I knew that pro-Palestinian groups often brought in anti-Israel speakers, and so my initial reaction was, “Nothing new there…” But the e-mail also emphasized a point that caught my eye; Falk’s lecture was part of a series that would give the students academic credit for attending.
At this stage, I assumed the lecture series was about the conflict in Israel. Since this is a two-sided issue and the series counts for credit, I figured that it would at least attempt to present the two sides equally.
But my assumptions were wrong. I contacted the chief of staff of the office of the University’s president and received a listing of the lectures to be given.
I did a little research and found that half of the speakers are known to be guilty of either spreading blatant anti-Israel propaganda or subscribing to false intellectual trends regarding Israel’s so-called “violation of UN laws.” (2)
One of them, Falk, is described by the article as “[having] built a career on the public advocacy of offensive, extremist, and intellectually irresponsible views”,(1) and was even ejected from the UN for his conspiracy theories and bizarre and insulting material.(1)
Yes, it is true that a couple of the speakers may at least be unbiased enough not to turn the entire series into an anti-Israel rally. But four speakers stand firmly against Israel and three out of four of these pro-Palestinian speakers are vehemently against Israel. To bring in speakers with such extreme leanings against Israel most certainly skews the overall message of the series in the wrong direction.
Concerned, I contacted the chief of staff of the office of the University’s president again and asked:
“If it was established as factual that 4 of the speakers are intimately involved with the ‘Israel Palestine’ conflict and it was also established as factual that 3 out of 4 of those speakers were vehemently against Israel in this conflict, would SDSU still give academic credit for this lecture series?”
The response was:
“Students who are enrolled in the Institute on World Affairs course receive course credit for their active participation in the lecture series as well as other course assignments.”
So I guess it is acceptable SDSU policy to bring an assortment of Israel-bashing speakers onto the campus as long as the course has other assignments included. Never mind that I would not trust Professor Graubart to balance the lecture material in his course material (imagine using your tuition money to bring speakers such as Norman Finkelstein as Professor Graubart has done). And never mind that even if he did, his course material is NOT what SDSU is presenting to the public. Never mind that the lecture series is funded by the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace – and that money is suppose to be used for “cooperation on programs of mutual benefit and interest” and not biased series of anti-Israel speakers. (3) Which this lecture series has nothing to do with.
Offering college credit for attending such a biased series effectively presents this biased set of views as academic truth to young people in the process of forming their world view. When they leave university, they bring this mindset with them into their workplaces, circles of friends, and conversations on their morning commute. Since their views come not from internet propaganda but from what they learned in a respectable academic institution, they are more readily accepted by others. Little by little, society becomes more and more against Israel.
Please let SDSU know that this bias is unacceptable. I also encourage alumni of SDSU to stop contributing to our Alma Matar and direct that money towards Hasbara (Israel Advocacy).
See the list of lecturers for yourself.
Research collected by StandWithUs
Falk – See (1)
Arraf – Co-founder of ISM (Wikipedia), She advocates for sending men from Hamas to perform Jihad – http://netwmd.com/anti-ism/ISM%20by%20any%20means.htm
Also “Needless to say, her talk was long on Israeli injustices and violence on Palestinians and short on any Palestinian transgressions over the years including hijackings, the Munich Olympic massacre, bus bombings, other suicide bombings, or rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.”
Gallagher – who says about Israel “And this is of great concern in light of the many civilian deaths in the occupied Palestinian territories and other violations of international law that have so far been met with impunity, rather than accountability.”