Letter: Free Speech? Or Free Disruption?

Dear editor:

I wouldn’t characterize the students who are calling for Death to Israel and Death to the United States on our college campuses as being pro-Arab or even pro-Palestinian. Israel and the United States are not persecuting Arabs or Palestinians and the disruption of classes on American college campuses won’t improve the lives of Arabs or Palestinians one iota. (Column: Now The World Can See That Pro-Arab Activists Are Mashugah Boulder Jewish News April 26, 2024)

The protestors are Woke Folk who’ve fallen under the spell of the authors of some mysterious Woke Manual which declares that Israel and Zionism are irretrievably evil, putting Israelis, Jews, and Zionists beyond the Pale, meaning that no decent person should have anything to do with them. This is a process that has been growing in recent years.

Not that long ago, a number of student groups at Berkeley Law incorporated into their charters a statement that no one who had ever spoken or acted in support of Zionism would be invited to address the group on any topic. Thus, law students had voted not to invite Alan Dershowitz to talk to them about the role of the defense attorney in a criminal trial. More recently, Ran Bar Yoshafat, an attorney, Deputy Director of the Kohelet Policy Forum, and an Israeli army veteran, was prevented from delivering a scheduled address at Berkeley when protesting students vandalized the venue where the talk had been scheduled.

Israeli speaker whose talk was shut down returns to UC Berkeley (jweekly.com)

It is ironic that University Presidents accept the protesting students’ claims that they are exercising their free speech rights while the protestors are making it unsafe for Jewish students to come to in-person classes and, in some cases, have restricted access to certain parts of campus. It would be entirely proper for students with varying points of view to schedule debates on issues of the day in which each side was permitted to make the case for its side. But that is certainly not happening on many Ivy League campuses right now.

When Martin Luther King was preaching (and practicing) civil disobedience in the battle for Civil Rights, he and his followers were often arrested and served their time in jail. The anti-Israel students who disrupt traffic, block other students’ entrance to campus, prevent their opponents from speaking, cause harm to people or property, should, likewise, be arrested and serve their sentences, whether in prison or by doing community service.

Toby F. Block
Atlanta, GA 

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