DESIGNED TO SQUELCH CRITICISM
Two weeks ago The New York Times reported that the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights now under the leadership of Kenneth L. Marcus, was reopening a case that had been already investigated and closed back in 2011 based on a complaint by certain Jewish students at Rutgers University that speaking out against Israeli occupation of the West Bank constituted “anti-Semitism.” Marcus had previously been head of an organization working to squelch all criticism of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
Looking critically at the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is not anti-Semitism. Jimmy Carter addressed this issue in his book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. The recent decisions of the Knesset officially declaring Israel as a “Jewish state” and eliminating Arabic as an official language, the recent closing down of Birzeit University in East Jerusalem, and the refusal to admit anyone who has spoken out in favor of the BDS movement (boycott, divest, sanction) are not steps toward a lasting peace in the region.
Rather than squelching criticism of political actions by a government, we need to discuss these issues in the open. Driving criticism of the Israeli occupation out of the public sphere only serves to advance the cause of terrorism.