JUSTICE - No. 68

43 Summer 2022 speakers we do not like, and meeting our opponents on the podium. He castigates pro-Israel activists, such as Kenneth Marcus of the Brandeis Center in Washington, D.C., who refused to share a podium with the director of a pro-Palestinian organization who supports BDS (p. 16). Stern’s position is that dialogue – even with people you cannot stand – is the way to move forward. Stern will not, of course, appear with a Holocaust denier, but he rejects the claim that supporting Palestinian nationalism or Jewish nationalism are the intellectual or moral equivalent of being a Holocaust denier. There must be no debate that the Holocaust happened. Nevertheless, there is debate over the history of British Palestine, the history and policies of both the Arab world and Israel, the competing narratives offered by Jews and Arabs, and how to move forward in the Middle East. In arguing that progress is only possible through discussion, Stern reminds us of the wisdom of one of the greatest jurists in United States history, Louis Dembitz Brandeis, who wrote in Whitney v. California (1927): Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.9 Implicitly, Stern urges the Jewish American community to adopt the Brandeis position that you defeat “bad” speech with good speech. Ironically, the Israeli Foreign Ministry official I encountered undermined support for Israel among a group of Jewish academics by refusing to offer “good speech” to what he, incorrectly, viewed as a hostile question. Stern criticizes Jewish funders, alumni, and organizations for pressuring universities to ban BDS and anti-Israel speakers. He similarly pushes back against Jewish academics who refuse to participate in forums with supporters of Palestinian causes. As a matter of strategy, I think Stern is right. Supporters of Israel undermine the cause by being associated with attempts to suppress the speech of their opponents. Such actions allow BDSers to wrap themselves in the First Amendment, claiming they are defending democracy, campus free speech, and academic freedom. You cannot logically complain about BDS suppression of Jews and Israelis, and yet try to prevent pro-Palestine advocates from speaking on campus. Stern emphatically condemns the hooligan behavior of students, some faculty, and others who disrupt Israeli or Zionist speakers. The heckler ’s veto has no place on a college campus. He criticizes the unprofessional and sometimes antisemitic conduct of professors who refuse to write recommendations for students hoping to study in Israel. Equally, he attacks supporters of a Palestinian state refusing to appear with Israelis or Zionists. He exposes the deeply anti-intellectual positions of presumably serious academic organizations, such as the American Studies Association (ASA), boycotting Israeli scholars and students. He also reminds us that very hard work by Jewish and non-Jewish scholars – some of whom are quite critical of many Israeli policies – helped defeat boycott resolutions in the Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Historical Association (AHA), the two largest academic organizations in the humanities. Significantly, in 2017 the MLA formally denounced any boycott (p. 106). Noting the absurdity and irony of BDS, Stern reminds us that “after the ASA passed its boycott resolution, a Tel Aviv doctoral student could not find an American faculty member willing to be an external examiner of his thesis.” Significantly, this victim “of the boycott was Palestinian” (p. 108). A boycott against all people of a particular nation is blatant bigotry and racism. Stern supports safe spaces for “students gravitating to those with similar backgrounds or experiences or interests” such as a Hillel House, Black Student Union, Newman House, and various LGBTQ, Hispanic, or Muslim organizations (p. 71). He emphatically argues that colleges must “make sure that students aren’t harassed or physically assaulted” (p. 71). However, Stern stresses how Zionist and anti-Zionist leaders fail their students by “protecting” them from 9. Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, at 375, 377 (1927) (Brandeis, J., concurring).

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