tv U.S.- Israel Relations Middle East Policy - Free Speech Panel CSPAN March 5, 2018 1:35pm-2:32pm EST
>> ladies and gentlemen, once again good morning and thank you for your patience as we try and stay on time and on schedule today. our next panel addresses an issue at the very heart of our country's identity, the right to free speech. an endeavor to control debate on college campuses and elsewhere, his recruits have increasingly sought legal measures to limit and even criminalize speech of those concerned about palestinian human rights. our first two boundless, or are too panelists will offer insight into his efforts and looks they had pushed back against against first amendment encroachment. our first speaker is barry trachtenberg, presidential chair of jewish history at wake forest university. a skull of jewish history and of
the nazi holocaust he earned his phd in history at ucla and a postgraduate diploma at oxford. try to join wake forest in 2016 he he was associate professor and director of programs in hebrew studies at the state university of new york's university at albany. an interim director from 2010-tweedle of university center for jewish studies. he's the author of two books including a new lease 2018 book the united states in the nazi holocaust, race, refuge and remembrance which you will be signing later today. on november 7 lsu testified before a house judiciary committee hearing on anti-semitism on college campuses which sought expert opinions on legislation that has passed would legally defined anti-semitism in the way many feared is designed to curtail activity critical of israel. today he will address challenging the anti-semitism awareness at, pushing back
against jewish exceptionalism politics. [applause] >> it's an honor for me to be invited to speak your today. it's nice because congress but you get a buzzer with five minutes and so it's nice to 18 for the red light appears. it's an honor for me to be on the panel with rabab is been a model of scholarly activism on the ship justice for palestinians and is been a target an unrelenting campaign to discredit her and her work. i'm very proud to be your warm-up for today. as we know for several years there's been a global campaign to thwart nonviolent movement. this involves governments around the world including israel, the uk and france and many state and local governments in the united states have likewise declared citizens risk being punished for choosing not to do business with israel. we know the statute are a clear violation of free speech guarantees and while they tend
to not stand up to constitutional challenges they are inactive of politicians who are pandering to what there quickly see us american jewish voters monolithic use visual. although it's a nonviolent form of protest the boycott is legally equated with terrorism and his supporters are cast as extremes and at the simmons. a quick aside to highlight the absurdity of this legislation, new york state what i i used to live is boycotting north carolina where i now live over the bathroom bill that discriminates against transgendered persons, and yet that same year they pass anti-bds legislation saying that boycotts are inherently discriminatory. so there you go. however, regardless of whether or not this would legislation is constitutional, the effect of this is to suppress criticism of israel and thereby sustain the occupation of the palestinians. as a consequence scholars and activists engage in self censorship, self reluctance,
criticize israel for fear of being slandered, even having their livelihoods threatened. and destroyed as we know. that campaign against bds has been effective at distracting our attention within focusing on the brutality occupation itself. as the skull and activist, we argue about the merits of bds, the occupational intensifies and too often we don't recognize our own complicity within it. as american taxpayers whose governments spend millions in u.s. hardware, as scholars are universities that strategic partnerships with israeli universities and businesses, and speak for myself as a professor of jewish history, professional organizations are in support of the occupation. another front in this campaign to restrict freedom of political expression was the attempt by members of congress in the last year to introduce legislation called the and the semitism awareness act which would amend title vi of the civil rights act of 1964 by declaring that anti-semitism is a violation under it.
the one the face of it the legislation looks encouraging and when my reflectively be supportive, particularly since the rise of the trump presidency which has emboldened white supremacist to once again target jewish communities. for this reason a measure sailed through the senate. yet the truth is this legislation is also intend to suppress it activism and speech that is in support of palestinian human rights. the effect of this bill is to define opposition to israel's at the semitism come to equate judaism with zionism and to sanction schools that permit holocene human rights activists from appearing on the campus. with legislation against bds this act would likely not withstand constitutional challenges but it is shipping of college campuses talk about at the semitism and continue with political activism against the occupation. this legislation was prompted by a growing activism on college campuses that challenge of the israeli occupation by groups such as jewish voice for peace. who are often working to pass
dbs resolution on the campuses. backers of this legislation such as anti-defamation league, aipac, christian zionist groups have portrayed campuses as a hostile and dangerous to jewish students and that american universities wahhabism anti-semitism because of threats to pro-palestinian activist. they have produced a set of academic studies and i put that in quotes that purport to document a rise of anti-semitism on campuses yet a close reading of most of the studies demonstrate that in each of them the research definition of anti-semitism includes activities that are critical of israel and american complicity in the occupation. given student activism against the occupations on the rise these studies are more red as a testament to tenacity than of rising anti-jewish hatred. to be clear attacks on students must not be tolerated. the truth is the old racist or
religiously based at the semitism such as was we saw in charlottesville this summer where torch bearing marchers carried nazi and confederate flags and chanted you choose what replaces and murdered a protester still present in the united states and requires vigilance persistent resistance. as their testimony before congress attest the backers of the bill carry little about combating white supremacy. that would put them at odds with the current administration and supporters in congress. if not -- it's not what this legislation addresses. the anti-semitism awareness act relies upon the state department classification of anti-semitism which is itself appropriate from the working definition of anti-semitism of the european monitoring center. a definition those good for the purposes of research and not governmental policy. as well intention of the state department's concern for anti-semitism may be, it defined anti-semitism so broadly as to
include jewish -- declaring israel to be a racist date or by refusing to accept that israel is an expression of jewish self-determination. even the author of the original working definition of free speech advocate ken stern who is opposed to the academic boycott official has testified the definition was not drafted and was never intended as a tool or to target or to chill speech on a college campus. the state department's definition upon which the legislation was based is so poorly constructed that it is entirely unusable. it insist an instant of anti-semitism is quote accusing your citizens of being more loyal to israel or to their budget priorities of jews worldwide and to the interests of their own nations. this is one of the founding premises of zionism. the first of the 20th century in particular showed us that as
with other marginalized groups, juices and should any particular country cannot so easily be taken for granted. the founders of zionism consequently conclude regardless of where in the world they live, jews have more in common with one another than it did with non-jews. such arguments can be traced back to the founder of zionism himself, theodore hartsell who argued in 1896 book the jewish state that anti-semitism in its inescapable fact of modern, jews are one people and for that reason it's useful for us to be loyal patrons. elsewhere the definition states in nine the jewish people the right to self-determination come tonight israel the right to exist is an example of anti-semitism. this ignores the plurality of views use that exist within the jewish community regarding israel. aipac and other groups testified to congress would like to assert, that unequivocally not a spokesperson for all of american jewry. majority of them feel you should not support israel's occupation of the west bank.
since the first strength of zionism in europe groups of jews in america rejected jewish nationalism for some of the metaphysic and for others out of loyalty to the united states and for others it was out of commitment to universal ideas of human rights. for many jews today and since 1948 the state of israel decidedly not an expression of jewish self-determination. for another the question israel's right to exist is not the same thing as its right to exist as a jewish state and that is predicated on the displacement and oppression of the non-jews within its borders. given the flaws in the state department definition of anti-semitism, no place on the campus speech codes. discussions about israel and zionism may be uncomfortable for its supporters and detractors alike, something i witnessed in my class, it's the responsible students and educators to foster dialogue come to understand the restorable implications of our speech and allow for the meeting and definition of fraud turned to develop and change as a
consequence of informed deliberation debate. it's profoundly difficult to create a definition of anti-semitism that can be useful legislative purposes. the root of the current debates on anti-semitism lies in the intractable problem of how to critique jewish collective power in a way that doesn't immediately resonate with yvonne tucci of anti-semitism. at the last dozen years of european history jews were characterized as an incommensurate an exception list element who sought to undermine the established religious political or economic order. they are accused of being killers of christ in seeking to repeat this offense with the murder of innocent christian chile. such accusations led to blood libels, first conversions and exile. in more recent centuries jews were characterized simultaneously as usurpers of national identity, as disloyal citizens, schemers and revolutionaries. such allegations led to discriminatory legislation, riots, expulsions in early 20
century jews are branded as biological racial threat at entire armies was up to exterminate them. in each of these moments jews were enacted as a united group to possess power and authority far beyond the actual numbers. in 1948 with the founding of visual as a solution to anti-semitism of the situation changed dramatically. for the first time a significant number of jews identify as a national group gained actual and not military power. imaginary power. today the state of israel has borders, police, courts, military, a nuclear arsenal, political parties and a marginally democratic system, at least for its jewish citizens. like all other states its actions are and must be permitted to be a matter of debate and discourse within the jewish community and outside it. speech that is critical strikes me as anti-semitic. mom is were selling had talk of israel's actual power and repeated claims represent jews all over the world in ways that
do not go much older and anti-semitic depictions of imaginary jewish power. this in part because a long history of anti-jewish hatred in the west but it's also because as we see legislative initiatives such as the anti-semitism awareness act, the movement to stop bds come to characterize any speech critical of visual as intrinsically anti-semitic has been highly effective tool and play by those who uncritical support every action visual and seek to stigmatize the critics. considering the shifting funds of advances some -- anti-semitism at the end of 19 century it's one for congress to establish legal authority on a definition of anti-semitism as so contested. to insist israel cannot be protested or objected to, to mandate that jews collective power cannot be analyzed or debated, or to conclude jews because they were once victims of one of humanities greatest genocidal crimes, are somehow immune from becoming perpetrators of acts of violence
against other peoples would only reinforce the at this medically that jews are fundamentally different people. moreover, and perhaps most dangerously of all attempts to broaden the definition of anti-semitism to encompass are clearly not anti-semitic cannot only make it more difficult, can only make it more difficult to recognize isolate and oppose actual anti-semitic behaviors when it appears. it appears the legislation in congress has stalled it may be its advocates will still get their way. last month congress from the appointment of kenneth marcus, and israel lost their strategist, the group is been targeting as head of the department of education office of civil rights. over the objection of democrats and civil rights organizations and attorneys, he will now be in position to permit the state department definition and continue his long time his decades long effort to suppress acting speech and campus activism that is critical of visual. so to conclude, in the
invitation letter we were asked to offer some signs of hope in these difficult times. [laughing] it's true, we were. the first thing i want to say is during the break i checked my phone and i saw the news that benjamin netanyahu was just question today for five hours by the police. so i take that as a good sign. [applause] on the eve of the aipac conference it seems to be a good thing and shabaab shalom for that. i think if we're serious about defeating actual anti-semitism, we also to commit herself to any occupation of palestine. these are intertwined issues, intertwined struggles. [applause] we have to recognize that anti-semitism doesn't exist in a vacuum. if you think about in these ways do we need to see the history of anti-semitism is part of the modern world legacy of racial discrimination of persecution. in the present moment is no exception. instead of perpetuating
narrative of jewish six exceptions by declaring somehow the only country we cannot criticize on college campuses is israel, we might instead draw from earlier times of american history when jews linked the fate that of other oppressed people. just as italian and jewish workers organized together to form labor unions, as jewish philanthropist and community leaders continue to the founding of the naacp, as jewish college students participate in voter recruitment drives and desegregation campaigns with african-americans in the south, and religious figures helped foster post-world war ii jewish christian dialogue in the name of mutual understanding, jewish americans have an opportunity to forge alliances in the name of combating hatred and intolerance. it was a coalition of palestinian rights organizations both arab and jewish that came together to stop the advancement of the anti-semitism awareness act in the house. the very next day on november 8, a petition was over 20,000 safety was delivered to the
anti-defamation league by jewish voice for peace demanding they stop facilitating police training between israel and american law of fission -- enforcement officials. [applause] that same day the suit against rabab was thrown out by judge to recognize the weakness of the complaint. so there are reasons, we'll keep fighting can continue working side-by-side with one another to create the bond of solidarity. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much. our next speaker is rabab abdulhadi, the director and senior scholar in the arab and muslim ethnicities and diasporas, an associate professor of ethnic studies and resistance studies at san francisco state university. she is a cofounder and editorial board member of the islamophobia studies journal for which she is co-editing the forthcoming
special issue on gender, sexuality and racism. she is co-author of mobilizing democracy, changing the policy in the middle east and co-editor of arab and arab-american feminism gender, violence and the long which is for sale to thursday. her work has appeared in seven languages in academic journals that she was the winner of the 2012 national arab american nonfiction book award. as many of you are aware and as was referenced, she and san francisco state have been the targettile environment for jewish students but that case was thrown out by a judge in november. as her bio and work shows should not let this smear campaign to find her career so we are pleased to welcome her to discuss how and why the israeli lobbyists is suppressing free speech and academic freedom on college campuses. [applause] >> will good morning.
thank you so much for having me. washington report on middle east affairs and is a different beast. i also want to acknowledge them begin by acknowledging that we're convene on indigenous peoples stolen lands under want to acknowledge the people -- yes. [applause] and white of notice the people are fighting day in and they had against all forms of racism and racial discrimination, from the people are fight against white supremacy to the people who are fighting against anti-semitism, islamophobia and at the arab discrimination as well as people who are trying to clean up washington. thank you for having me. [applause] so last week, i need to come here to see. last week president wong, san francisco state issued a statement saying that scientists are welcomed on campus. he had met with members of
hillel and he basically came up with the statement that i can share the slide with people. for my presentation i wanted to just ask, and if you question what a statement mean to welcome signs to campus? what is the history behind his statement. how does it relate to our discussion of the israel lobby and what -- would we go from here? immunity after president wong issued a statement i issued a statement were saying san francisco state is abandoning its social justice mission by working sinus and i called upon people to reclaim the social justice of san francisco state and to celebrate 50th anniversary of the 1960s san francisco state. i also argued asberry has argued before me that there is no equivalence between zionism, israel and anti-semitism. they are not one and the same. what happened also in addition
to my statement is that there were multiple statements. black students publish a statement along with other black student groups on campus. groups against zionism publish a statement and jewish voice for peace published a statement condemning president wong's statement. this is something we were noticing 15 years ago or 11 years ago i joined san francisco state. this is something that's important also to the argument that barry is making. things are changing. the tide has turned and it think we really need to keep that in mind. and when we know the tide has turned can we know that they're going to become more vicious and they will target as more and try to silence us. i also sent another statement last week also fighting the works of richard spencer who said on israeli tv that i'm a white scientist, as well as netanyahu, the site of netanyahu
basically trashed people who argued and organized against the white supremacy in charlottesville and said that actually organizes around palestinian rights are more damaging. obviously we know where the alliances are. so meeting with a little, the president, what does it stand for? i would read a couple of points wherever we stand with individual. ll action is national organization is involved in silencing, does not allow jewish students to -- long war for sanctions. does not allow this. one of the questions we racing its against signed as and jewishness are one and the same, or who owns jewishness. barry has talked about the so i'm not going to get to. but we have history silencing palestine at san francisco state so what's going on with a lawsuit that the judge dismissed on november 8, but gave them say to them in. so they may come back.
they always said they're going to be amending. the project is aided by a law firm in san francisco that is almost a thousand lawyers pro bono. i have two incredible, amazing pro bono lawyers who are standing by me that in a day out, and i would not change them for anybody. so we are fighting. [applause] and justice is on our side, that's really important. but who is attacking palestine at sfs you? it's a lobby industry network. the network report of 2015, it outlines who are some of these donors and the fact the israeli government also has put in millions of dollars. when talking about -- with the people who are quite organized. this is a list of groups that i do have time to go into it. the only two groups that are not directly attacked us although we're getting of the printer request is the brandeis center which i'm sure he is somewhat.
friends of ideas have been involved. that's all that we do have, israeli soldiers on campus the continued be in active duty in the israeli army. so we are calling this new mccarthyism and the reason are saying it's is, because it is exactly as mccarthyism in the '50s worked. it attaches a terrorism label. it incites islamophobia, uses the islamophobia by building arabs, palestinians as terrorists so it engages at the somatic smear and spreads misinformation for the allegation. ..
into the university if you can discipline and shut down the armistice of the program. with a lack of transparency and they don't even release the public record. and the reason we actually have the record because they asked for a copy of the public record that they give that we don't know if they gave us everything. what the office of the compliance is not in touch with other people. so in the federal court they would be watching for what is going on. i will not give you all of the history but at least where
palestine has been silenced and criminalized et cetera. and with organizations so when we talk about the war of attrition we talk about groups outside the university. we don't see the two of them. in 2002 they asked them to remove the sanction he said weiss you can put the bombs in january? one of the things you want to talk about in 2005 is a student is a student.
[inaudible] so this was the first edition by two artist and designers with the jewish artist. and if you look on the left side you can see the character to carry the keys in the other hand is that head because that signifies the palestinian word that is my sword. that is important to emphasize that intellectual value. that all of you have is your education.
lobby san francisco state but it was organized by students. 2009 the war on gaza and separate physical state college they organized the organized event. this was a. [inaudible] but holliston and/or muslim or black or asian but the university said they would not take it down because of freedom of speech. now the second anniversary of the mural san francisco state president says we are conducting into the program and the chief of staff testified the board of
supervisors and had a reception. that campaign is killing even with the arrow and we were gearing up so that was the link. they already canceled the session. and then had no operating budget. and now is the time to go for the kill. so once the program is instituted it doesn't matter. so in 2013 the israeli lobby supported -- was accused so
san francisco state president did not investigate but immediately condemned but then when i was being attacked he also condemned and free speech groups in san francisco conference. in 2014 i led a delegation to palestine in which we began to talk to the university for understanding and collaboration because the university president wanted to engage with other institutions. i do have relations with palestinians. i was doing that. here is who we met with.
and then they started again and also criminality. with taxpayer funds. and though should be used to build bombs. and they demanded a criminal investigation. but by the -- university administration and all of these allegations are unfounded. to publish a public statement and in the meantime the lobby was not happy so doing a five year audit of my international travel every question was political.
why are you doing this? how are you associated with university? what does this mean? at the same time they revoked my trip to palestine and it took weeks before the state department issued me to travel. fall 2014 we passed the memorandum of understanding and with the college of ethnic studies and we talked about how this would be supported and twice they said to me we do not find the deniers. but i teach jewish history in my courses. but nobody goes to my defense. now none that people approve this in spring 2015 we began
we issue a statement. and university so the students protested and attacked and others organized a hunger strike. and this is where we meet with the families. then my myself and the students they give away their home addresses and work with you shows sexual violence. in the summer at the university it is concluded the student said that the speech and there was a violent and it
wasn't about anti-semitism. but in the fall pllgt we have attack after attack then they launched a petition with the palestinian university they accused me of terrorism. also called extremist and calling for me to be fired. and then david horowitz said that 26% but she took them down but the police said they would not do nothing. so then they support the majority of those organizations that passes out for the campaign. this is what was on campus.
all over campus included administration building. and we did not do anything about them. we have two courses approved and with the standing room only. the students protested the coming of trump. and in february it was also under investigation and they also organize events with those students who went on a hunger strike in april. so now these ads are appearing on campus and actually only
found out about it from capital watch tweets because nobody bothered to tell me. that was going through one month afterwards that is what i got my lawyers. so we organize with other colleagues at the university and we had big participation. but again is how the students associated. they published posters and they said we will not be silence. but what we do we continue to do.
but we continue to do what no public education programs using the classrooms and faculty and students in classrooms do every single day. and we continue to teach palestine and we are proud to announce in 12 weeks we will hold two conferences to teach palestine and justice. we will not be silence. we will not be stopped. b-17. [applause] [applause]
>> thank you very much. we have about ten minutes for questions. find an usher if you have cards and send them forward. someone wants to know if you can elaborate on the definition of anti- summit is him? what president or administration was in power when that happened? was that congressional action and was that done without public knowledge? >> i think it began around 2009. during the last administration. and it was the appropriation of the working definition undertaken by the european monitoring group that is just a working definition so they
could trace it in europe but it becomes encoded into state department policy. and the primary definition isn't offensive in any way but there is a certain perception of jews that could be expressed as hatred toward jews. rhetorical end manifests toward jewish and their property and so on. but the problem becomes where they give you the example of what it is it is demonizing jews to make allegations and so on but then to say things like accusing jewish citizens
to be more loyal to israel or others worldwide. then the results section on intake semitism related to israel. this is where exceptionalism begins to be encoded into policy. and then into law. and demonizing israel, double standard and to delegitimize israel. if you use symbols associated with classic that say israelis they agree with that then there are other comparison that are illegitimate in my mind like drawing comparison of contemporary israeli policy to that of the nazis. but that happens all the time with jews. you hear israelis talking to one another acting like not these and all sorts of ways. so that jews can say them each
other but others cannot say that it is anti-semitic and this is where exceptionalism comes in. such comparison began when -- came to the united states did. he was a fascist and others that he should not be allowed into the united states. when the tragedy just occurred in europe so they are making these comparisons so since definitely since the beginning of the nazi is him. but there is a caveat that says however a person of israel similar to that level cannot be regarded as anti- somatic. as long as you are criticizing other countries that is okay but if you focus your
attention on israel that it is anti- somatic. if you are an organization to defend the human rights of north korea then you are anti- korean for doing so. so again they are insisting on this exceptionalism. to make someone want to know if you have noticed in your classroom or on campus the reduction of students willing to speak out for their career? >> yes. the good news is twitter has taken down the account. so at least we know there are some people that are holding people to the same accountability.
but the canary mission definitely has scared people on campus also the various ways of the israel lobby is working. in the sense that now students and then to have those events with that mismanagement and so now where palestine is temperance is the state on february 7 it was the first time in 11 years that was the first time and i objected before it happened. and citing student safety was one. but we never had problems. or we have to many people and we don't have enough space on
campus. so why is this constructed? so now every single event they have to be insured. in the students are afraid to speak last week they had an argument and one of the classes about love and they complained to the administration. as a result the student was called into the office now she has to go through a lawyer because she does not know what will happen and is being prosecuted left and right. to say there is nothing anti- somatic or any violence but nonetheless the lawsuit was filed june 22 and came up with
the statement. it doesn't make sense. the only way to make sentences because san francisco now just has one set of funding from the state of california. so now they rely on donors privately. this is the defunding of the education so now the donors say we will give you millions of dollars in grants and take it away if you don't stop the program. so all of this makes it very difficult. it isn't just the canary mission but it is much bigger than that. we are demanding transparency. so now let's see who is following the law who violates the law who was trying to silence us.
so if we put that out there for support. >> do you believe in hate speech is it ever a good idea for the government to police that? >> i am not a free speech or hate speech expert. but i do think there is hate certainly. when it is targeted against particular groups, based on racial identity, ethnic, sexual, many categories. but i think it makes sense for universities to always debate the subjects. i am concerned about codes of speech although at times it is necessary. such as what we have been
seeing like charlottesville. that should be in a lot of college campuses. but that is a tricky question. it is hard to identify what hate speech is especially in the case such as this one but you have people who have instrumental lies speech against israel to successfully make the case in the form of hate speech and insisting on the association that israel and judaism and zio zion's b12 is not the case. >> have professors across the country developed communication to have a coordinated plan to counteract the zionist campus message? >> there are networks.
as we know it isn't a big block organizing mostly because of the fear of the israel lobby. this is not a call for jewish organizations. but as a result of fear mongering we are in touch with each other. it is important to emphasize the people who are working for justice it is not a special interest group. this is a question that involves justice that affects all of us. [applause] and involve all of us with our campuses. thank you for debate and for
learning and not to be scared every time or police to say something. it is really important it isn't just about us. but what is happening to professors not only about palestinians. but we think of palestine but we really need to think about them in particular if we institute that framework then we can see how these are connected and that pass twice the resolution to support. the first time the history resolution on palestine it is very significant so the fact that young kids last friday on campus. i was not on campus but they
took it upon themselves that zionism is racism it wasn't even palestinian or muslim but that coalition is for back on campus. people from the student union and the japanese and asian community. and latinos. we have a huge coalition. but i think this is really important one thing we need to remember is the majority of community supports palestine. because if they except support from the government then people do not realize the
people in the united states are joining the rest of the community for justice for palestine. it takes a while for people in this country but there are more and more people to say this is not okay. so what is important to say yes we are targeted but every time you think about all the people that are struggling this is an amazing coalition. so the most important thing the people of palestine they stay put and those of us that are also responding to that so i think it is important to
our next speaker is discussing the topic of christian zionism if you don't know christian zionism is the belief establishment of the modern state of israel to the holy land is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and deserves unrelenting support from christians. and when president trump said he would declare jerusalem as the capital of israel many turned to the power of christian zionist who are part of the constituency as a devoted member of vice president mike pence. but how powerful they are