Re: UW & Israel: Justice and Politics in Academia, Jan. 24

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I read with interest the January 24 community editorial “UW & Israel: Justice and Politics in Academia” by Majd Al-shihabi and Zeinab Ramahi.

The very first sentence of the editorial, “On Monday, Prime Minister Harper delivered a hardline speech to the Israeli Knesset in which he declared all criticism of Israeli policies to be anti-Semitic,” is false. 

According to the CBC’s web page, on which one can read the prepared text of Harper’s speech and see and hear a video of the actual speech, Harper said:

 “Ladies and Gentlemen, support ­­­— even firm support — doesn’t mean that allies and friends will agree on all issues all of the time.

“No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism….

“Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic.

“But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself, while systematically ignoring — or excusing — the violence and oppression all around it?”

That the very first sentence is false does not augur well for the veracity of the claims of the rest of the editorial.

The ultimate irony of this editorial is that it is a perfect example of what Harper is talking about when he said, “Single out Israel for criticism on the international stage,” “And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain,” and “But, this is the face of the new anti-Semitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.”

Daniel Berry

Professor, Computer Science