You have to give credit where credit is due.
Tammi Benjamin, through the creation of the AMCHA Initiative, stuck her neck out as an instructor of Hebrew within the University of California System, at Santa Cruz, when almost no one was willing to stand against the rise of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism within the academe.
And, for chrissake, what a place to do it?
The woman is risking her career for standing up for both Israel and the Jewish people within a university system ideologically ill-disposed toward Israel and now she is being ganged up upon, even as being called a bully by Kenneth P. Monteiro, SFSU's Dean of Ethnic Studies.
Benjamin, I assure you, is the underdog in this fight and I very much hope that her department is standing up for her rights to free speech.
In the Jerusalem Post, Gil Troy has some words:
I am confused. Forty top Jewish Studies professors recently signed a petition “deplor[ing]” a threat to “the kind of spirited academic exchange that is the lifeblood of the university.” What so infuriated these academics? It wasn’t Israel-apartheid weeks. It wasn’t epidemic classroom anti-Israel bias. It wasn’t the fears many Jewish students have of being bullied this fall for supporting Israel.
No, the professors were criticizing a group called the Amcha Initiative, the purpose of which is to “monitor centers for Middle Eastern studies on American campuses.... Amcha has also circulated a list of more than 200 Middle Eastern studies faculty whom it urges Jewish students and others to avoid because, it asserts, they espouse anti-Zionist and even anti-Semitic viewpoints in their classrooms.”
As a lowly American historian, I am not as smart as these petitioners. But does the big threat to academic freedom come from a minor organization fighting campus anti-Semitism too passionately? Their worries seem misplaced, like warning firefighters confronting a 12-alarm fire that leaking hoses cause water damage.Precisely.
I intend to have more to say about this on Sunday at the Elder's joint.