Dear Letter to the Editor:
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that many of the “progressive” people who feel that calls to “kill the Jews” are simply expressions of their First Amendment free speech rights often deny others the right to express their own thoughts. (“Column: Flouting The Law Should Not Free ‘Palestine’ Defenders of Consequences” Boulder Jewish News December 14, 2023) The term “progressive” once described independent thinkers willing and able to defend their beliefs. It now indicates people who follow the dictates of certain leaders. And one of those dictates is that Israel and her supporters are always wrong. College leftists campaign to silence all talk of Zionism, Israel (nypost.com)
Thus, in 2022, at the University of California Berkeley, a group called Law Students for Justice in Palestine convinced nine groups of law students to amend their collective bylaws to exclude speakers who had ever expressed support for “Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel, and the occupation of Palestine.” The notion has now spread to Berkeley’s Rausser College of Natural Resources where Dan Kalb, a Jewish environmentalist and member of the Oakland City Council, was disinvited from speaking on local environmental issues because he had expressed support for Israel in his social media posts.
Yet, all is not lost. A UC-Berkeley spokesperson apologized for the cancellation of the presentation and promised that steps would be taken to avoid the repeat of such actions.
Several years ago, when students at Vassar College tried to drown out a speech by Hen Mazzig, a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, Vassar President Elizabeth Bradley issued a statement denouncing antisemitism and noting that discrimination of any kind would not be tolerated at Vassar. I urge other college presidents to learn from her example.
Toby F. Block