Academic Freedom or Hate Speech?

Academic Freedom or Hate Speech?

When senior David Lappin heard about an alleged anti-Semite coming to campus, he immediately took action. Asking to speak with specific departments sponsoring the event, he intended for them to withdraw support. However, after several meetings, some of Lappin’s efforts appeared unfruitful. This Friday, April 19, at 3 p.m. Alison Weir will give a lecture titled, “Israel-Palestine: What the Media Leaves Out.”

The event is sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Office of Institutional Diversity and an outside organization called Charleston Peace One Day. When Lappin first heard about the event, he contacted both the department and office. The office has withdrawn its support, but the department has made it clear that it will not withdraw its sponsorship.

Lappin is not the only individual on campus upset about Weir’s lecture. Many other Jewish students have expressed concerns. Marty Perlmutter, Director of the Jewish Studies Program, appeared cautious of the event and asked the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for an outline of her lecture to potentially provide a respondent to present an opposing side to the argument. However, the department said Weir’s office declined and referred Perlmutter to her website.

Perlmutter had never heard her name before and said he supports his colleagues, but after reading some of her articles, he became concerned. “Academic freedom is an important value where all sorts of ideas are expressed, but on the other hand, hate speech and anti-Semitic views are ones I’m cautious about,” Perlmutter said. “Alison Weir does not have academic credentials. It doesn’t matter if you bash Catholics, Jews or any other group. If that’s her mission, we shouldn’t encourage people to hear her.”

While Perlmutter said he wishes for the event to proceed, because Weir’s lecture falls under free speech, he said he does not support departmental sponsorship because it provides legitimacy to Weir’s words. Perlmutter said that if a student group was sponsoring the event, it would be a different case.

Who is Alison Weir?

According to the event flyer, Alison Weir is “generally considered the foremost analyst on media coverage of Israel-Palestine.” She is also the director of If Americans Knew, a non-profit organization, which some consider a factual source of information on Israel-Palestine, while others criticize it for its anti-Zionist message and portrayal of anti-Semitic imagery.

After leaving her position as editor of the local Marin Scope newspaper in Sausalito, California, she decided to tour the West Bank during the second intifada. Upon her return, she wrote several articles criticizing Israel. When she tried to return in 2002, Israel denied her entry.

Today, Weir travels around the country, addressing audiences through her lectures, which criticize the American media for hiding information about Israel for security and prosperity reasons.

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Weir has shared her viewpoint in interviews with notorious anti-Semites and media programs. The ADL notes that some of these programs serve as a “sounding board for Holocaust deniers, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists seeking to broadcast their hatred and anti-Semitism.”

According to the ADL, Weir’s criticisms of Israel has, at times, “crossed the line into distortions customarily found in the literature of anti-Semites.” For example, the ADL cites Weir’s accusations of organ harvesting done by Israelis on Palestinians without their permission as a means of revenge and reparation for the Holocaust.

In an April 4, 2008 opinion article, published in The Greenwich Citizen, Weir described Judaism as “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.” The article, titled “What Our Taxes to Israel are Funding” was criticized for defaming Judaism.

Controversy Surrounding Departmental Sponsorship

After reading some of Weir’s articles, Lappin expressed concern about her Friday lecture. Earlier this week, he contacted the Office of Institutional Diversity, which decided today to withdraw its sponsorship of the event due to Weir’s past remarks being inconsistent with the mission and values of the office.

With regard to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lappin along with traveling Israeli professor Naomi Gale, met with Department Chair Heath Hoffmann earlier this week. The two requested that the department withdraw its support of the event.

“We don’t want them to cancel the event,” Gale said. “We just want them to withdraw support.”

Lappin and Gale, along with Perlmutter, said they were concerned that if the department sponsors the event, it will add academic legitimacy to her message. Lappin expressed concerns by saying, “There is a difference between presenting a different perspective and presenting a message of hate,” Lappin said. “…we are not asking that she be silenced, and we all recognize freedom of speech… I am extremely upset that college funds are being used to compensate an anti-Semite, and this is an issue that should be explored for future speakers on campus who enter the hate realm.”

According to Hoffmann, he receives 10 to 12 money requests each year from various departments, programs, faculty and students to support a quest speaker. Hoffmann notes that he does not always personally support the events or have expertise in the topic being discussed. As a result, he does not “vet” the speakers.

Hoffmann said he supports his colleagues in making “sound judgments in bringing speakers and events to campus.” Hoffmann noted that several of his colleagues are interested in the intersection of peace studies, intergroup dialogue and the use of language to facilitate or hinder opportunities for reconciliation and peace. Weir’s visit is an extension of these interests.

“Ms. Weir’s visit to our campus does not in any way suggest that the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, its faculty (including myself) or its students endorses Ms. Weir’s opinion,” Hoffmann said via e-mail.

Academic Freedom or Hate Speech?

Hoffmann said it does not matter if he supports the content of a lecture because he is an advocate of academic freedom. Hoffmann cited the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which notes that universities have been rescinding invitations to controversial speakers to avoid criticism. The AAUP opposes institutional self-censorship, writing in 1967 “that the freedom to hear is an essential condition of a university community and an inseparable part of academic freedom.”

Regarding what is academic freedom and what is hate speech, Hoffmann said he questions “the ability of humans to neatly, consistently and accurately classify speech in this way. But, let’s assume we can accurately classify and categorize hate speech, what should we do when we encounter it?”

Hoffmann notes that the best antidote to hate speech is counter-speech, which exposes hate speech for its deceit and false content by setting the record straight, but also promoting tolerance and diversity.

“In that context, I – as an individual or Department Chair – am neither a supporter or defender of Ms. Weir’s ideas. However, I do believe that all ideas and perspectives – even great ideas that marshal unanimous support – need to be scrutinized under the light of day as close examination often reveals flaws,” Hoffmann said. “Allowing ideas – good or bad – to ‘fester in the darkness’ does not allow for dialogue, which my colleagues and I believe is central for positive change and intellectual and cultural growth.”

While Perlmutter said he supports discussion and academic freedom, he said he is not sure if he will attend the event. “I do value academic freedom,” Perlmutter said. “But I don’t value hate speech or anti-Semitism.”

 

Update (April 19): The College of Charleston has officially withdrawn all monetary support of the event.
To read about the actual event, click here

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About the Author

Sarah SheaferSarah Sheafer is the editor-in-chief of CisternYard News. She is a senior, double majoring in political science and international studies with a focus in the Middle East.

View all posts by Sarah Sheafer

50 Comments

  1. If Americans Knew04-19-2013

    Sarah Sheafer’s article about Alison Weir’s upcoming lecture on “Israel-Palestine: What the Media Leaves Out” (“Academic Freedom or Hate Speech?”, April 17, 2013) is factually inaccurate and unconscionably one-sided. It defames Weir as an “anti-Semite” engaged in hate speech without giving her any opportunity to respond to these terrible, and grossly incorrect, accusations.

    Instead, in a shocking example of hasty journalism, Sheafer simply uncritically repeats defamatory allegations seemingly without either having checked them out herself or having offered the target a rebuttal opportunity – two fundamental tenets of journalism. One can only assume that time pressure led Sheafer to forget the basic of fair and accurate reporting.

    Weir is not a monster or hate monger. Her speeches discuss her experience of the humanitarian horrors being perpetrated on Palestinians with American money and support, as well as the vast underreporting and misreporting on the topic by the mainstream media. While well-meaning students and others are no doubt taken in and sincere in their mistaken concerns, it seems likely that the originators of these hateful untruths about Weir are more likely engaged in trying to silence her on topic.

    Weir has received national awards for her groundbreaking work from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), from the Council for American Islamic relations (CAIR), and other organizations working for justice and fairness in American society. In 2004, she was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society, founded in 1845 at Illinois College. The award cited her as a: “Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights. The first woman to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha history.”

    In her seemingly hasty roundup, Sheafer cites three alleged examples of “anti-Semitism” by Weir – all inaccurate and presented out of context. First, the article says that Weir “has shared her viewpoint in interviews with notorious anti-Semites and media progra Sheafer Sheafer” Weir’s policy is to share information about the plight of Palestinians and the massive US aid to Israel that enables it – which she considers critically important to world peace, and to peace for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans — via any means offered. She accepts invitations to be interviewed by far-left, far-right, corporate and independent media. As with anyone else granting an interview, her acceptance of an interview request is not an endorsement of the interviewers.

    Second, Sheafer quotes a statement from an article by Weir out of context, saying that she called Judaism “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.” However, this statement referred clearly to certain extreme views, as is immediately apparent in reading the article in question. In fact, in the very next paragraph, Weir states unequivocally that “the above citations do not in anyway represent the whole of Judaism.” We can only assume that Sheafer did not actually read Weir’s article, but only repeated uncritically the defamatory accusation.

    Finally, Sheafer uncritically repeats allegations that Weir bandies about anti-Semitic “distortions” in “accusations of organ harvesting done by Israelis on Palestinians without their permission as a means of revenge and reparation for the Holocaust.” In fact, Weir’s articles on organ harvesting are thoroughly footnoted, relying heavily on research by a respected scholar from the University of California Berkeley, Nancy Scheper-Hughes. Hughes is the Chancellor’s Professor of Medical Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, the founder of Organ Watch, and the author of scholarly books and articles on organ trafficking — a pundit that the mainstream media call upon when they need expert commentary on the topic.

    Nowhere in her long, 1,200-word article does Sheafer discuss the viewpoint of Palestinian, Arab or Muslim students who may be concerned at this attempt to block, yet again, information about the horrific injustice that has been ongoing in the Middle East for over half a century – the core issue in so many regional and world conflicts. Rather than trying to discredit the messenger with untruthful distractions and intimidate the event sponsors, students and faculty who disagree with Weir should address the points she raises.

    Hopefully members of the campus community will attend Weir’s lecture and decide for themselves.

    • college of charleston student04-19-2013

      today, i sat through ms. weir’s entire lecture, including questions and answers – 2 hours worth. while she presents herself as soft-spoken, sweet, innocent, and truth-seeking, she is none of these. she began her presentation with statistics about palestinian (more)and israeli (fewer)children killed during the second intafada. what she left out was the reason for this difference. the israeli children are protected by their parents and their government in shelters when rockets from gaza rain down on them; the palestinian children are used as human shields. in presenting statistics about children killed, she failed to present statistics about children psychologically damaged by regular shelling from gaza. she went on to claim that the israeli’s were the initiators of all but one of its wars with the arab countries in the region (not only the palestinians). this is patently false. when making statements of her “facts”, she invariably said that such “is fully documented”. just because she repeatedly said so, does not make it true. as an example, on her website she claims that israeli doctors harvest palestinian organs for profit (a historic, classic, blood libel, anti-semetic charge). when you check the source cited for this “fact”, you find that her source identifies and relies on her, in a different guise, as the ultimate source. she asserted that u.s. political and financial support of israel is because of the strong pro-israel lobby (another classsic anti-semetic assertion). when asked by two non-jewish, minority students in the room whether there actually might be u.s. national interests behind the u.s. support for israel, she rejected that truth out of hand. it is beyond her comprehension that the u.s. believes that a stable, reliable, democratic (but not perfect) ally in that volatile part of the world is an asset. her basic premise is that israel is the problem, which view colors her entire narrative. while she was not asked whether she knew that 80% of the defense assistance dollars given to israel by the u.s. is requiired by law to be returned (spent) through u.s. companies, i’m certain she would have dismissed that. yet, that is a fact. look it up. she was also not asked whether she thought that israel and the u.s. were responsible for all of the problems in the middle east and for terrorism there and in the u.s. however, i am confident that her answer would have been “yes”. she is clearly not what she purports to be. she is a partisan with an agenda, and is willing to distort the facts to advance her false narrative.
      i am sympathetic to the plight and suffering of the palestinian people and to their nationalistic ambitions. i wish for the former to stop, for the latter to be realized and for peace to prevail. ms. weir’s narrative does not reflect reality, and her tactics are obvious and unworthy.

  2. Darlene Jones-Owens04-19-2013

    I attended Alison Weir’s talk this week in Knoxville. The presentation was excellent. She is an American who speaks carefully and presents only well-documented information.

    Americans have been beaten down by pro-Israel hasbara in media for too long. This letter by Sheafer is a sad effort to prevent free speech and discussion.

    Although, Ms. Weir did not mention organ harvesting at the UT event, the fact is wildly available:

    “After getting permission from family members to perform an autopsy, “we felt free” to harvest organs, he said.
    Organs were not harvested if it was believed relatives might discover it, he said, adding that in some cases glue was used to close eyelids to hide missing corneas.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/12/21/israel.organs/index.html

  3. Students for Justice in Palestine UTK04-19-2013

    Alison recently spoke at our school, and her talk was fantastic. She presented her own facts, research, and experiences. She had NO anti-Semitic comments whatsoever. In fact, if she had, the Students for Justice in Palestine at UTK would not have tolerated or supported it. We are against attempts to equate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. We have several Jewish members in our group. I even remember Alison saying, “I don’t support Palestinian Muslims and Christians being killed, and I don’t support Israeli Jews being killed either.”
    Below is the review of Alison’s talk at UTK.
    http://utdailybeacon.com/news/2013/apr/19/weir-speaks-palestine-inaccurate-media-coverage/

  4. College Student04-19-2013

    Alison Weir’s information and purpose is to inform the public of FACTS that the media leaves out. That is it. Her work and effort is so important and for those wanting to prevent the freedom of speech, that’s one of the most important things our country is based on, freedom. She is NOT anti-Semitic but rather merely informing others of the sad truth. Perlmutter is just like others that just doesn’t want people to know how the media and the world bends the truth about the Israel-Palestinian conflict and it’s facts and figures. Shame on you for preventing knowledge.

  5. Brandon04-19-2013

    Allison presentation is solely focused on her experience in Palestine and comparisons between the mainstream media and official humanitarian watch numbers reported by ISRALEI human rights groups. There would be nothing more intolerant or ignorant than to ignore her on the premise that she doesn’t praise Israel for murdering Arabs. Regardless of one’s position on isralei politics, an issue such as genocide deserves attention and understanding on both sides. Go see the talk and stop being afraid it might not reaffirm your world view. Ignoring Allison is a vote for comfortable ignorance

  6. John Gowen04-19-2013

    The Board of Regents in California recently attempted to equate Anti Zionism speech and or criticism of Israel as Anti-Semitic. Certainly if that is the case then we have a United Nations assembly whose majority must vote against Israel on human rights issues not because they find fault with Israeli policies but because secretly they all hate Jews. Certainly the idea of Israel or it’s American supporters playing the role of victim is rather absurd following the likes of Operation Cast Lead or the recently increased financial aid to Israel. Israel is losing the propaganda war on American campuses. In the 21st century objective students no longer buy the excuse that having undergone the Holocaust Jewish citizens are entitled to do whatever they want in the name of Israel. So in very organized and coordinated attacks students and outside groups, such as the ADL, attempt to limit speech, remove endorsements, to cry foul when they don’t get their way. The internet has brought to life a 24/7 news cycle, people see what is happening every day to the Palestinian people. It can no longer be hid and attempts to silence the truth are ultimately futile.

  7. Susan Gist04-19-2013

    I have not had the privilege of hearing Allison in person, but follow her work in “If Americans Knew” and other writings. I have never seen one ounce of anti-seminitism reflected in her words, if anything, the very opposite. She writes about her humanitarian experiences in truth with facts and unfortunately, that is something we don’t get from our own mainstream media.

  8. UTK Student04-19-2013

    The claim that Allison Weir is an anti-Semite could not be further from the truth. Allison spoke at my school very recently and said several times that she did not wish to generate any sort of negativity towards the Jewish population. She even commented a few times about how some of her past Jewish colleagues knew about the subject that she now focuses her work on before she did and how they felt the exact same way she does. Even in her lecture about the injustices Palestinians must face, she never discredits the injustices that Israelis face as well.

    All Weir aims to do is to create awareness for the injustices taking place in Palestine. Honestly, it is laughable how someone can misinterpret Weir’s obvious love her all of humanity and somehow twist it into something of hate. The fact that Weir is being criticized for doing something that she is so against is very sad, and I hope that many attend Weir’s lecture and see how wrong Sheafer is.

  9. Andrew S.04-19-2013

    Alison Weir’s work presents a factually sound, accurate, and incisive account that undermines the fictitious narrative propagated in mainstream American media outlets on the Israel/Palestine conflict. This narrative, primarily constructed by the Israeli lobby, the Israeli hard-right, and the quislings at B’Nai Brith, falsely potrays the IDF and the Israeli settlers as the innocent victim of Palestinian agression, which in some cases, they unjustifiably and tragically are. Allison, as well as her organization, however, present the facets of the current phase of this conflict within the larger historical context of Palestinian dispossession and destruction, exposing the asymmetrical and unjust features of the occupation, now in it’s 46th year with unwavering U.S. support.
    For these reasons, she and her organization are the targets of hysterical and unfounded deprecations and attempts to stifle criticism of official Israeli policies. I wholly support Allison’s courageous work, and issue a challenge to her detractors to debate her solely on the facts without resorting to ad hominem or intimidation.

  10. Patricia Ann Abraham04-19-2013

    Having traveled to Israel-Palestine extensively, I can attest to the fact that the whole truth is in short supply when it comes to Israel-Palestine and what the media publishes. Ironically, Sheafer’s ‘report’ is a perfect example of the bias and misrepresentation I have witnessed, and that Alison Weir documents. Worse, this ‘news article’ comes from the pen of Cisternyard’s Editor-in-Chief. Pity the College of Charleston’s student body if it looks to Cisternyard for anything approaching journalistic integrety. Pity the CoC’s Administration for indulging such a poor public example of what the College offers.

  11. Rich Forer04-19-2013

    Go See Alison Weir. She brings much needed clarity to the Israel-Palestine problem and cuts through myths that for many years have been used to justify an support injustice. The truth is always important for anyone, even for those who cannot acknowledge it for fear of what it will reveal about themselves.

  12. College of Charleston Student04-19-2013

    Having lived in Israel and other parts of the world, I have had first hand experience with new and coverage of issues in the region. Like all media sources, there is only so much journalists can report on. Alison Weir recognizes Palestine, a country which does not exist. Alison Weir does not recognize Israel’s right to defend herself from extremists. Like all other militaries, Israel has made, and will make, mistakes. But you have to recognize the fact that Israel only acts when provoked. If Ms. Sheafer’s article was biased, then so are all of Ms. Weir’s discussions.

    • Darlene Jones-Owens04-19-2013

      “Israel only acts when provoked.” Does that mean if Palestinians pack up and flee in silence when Israel declares their property “state land” or “military zones”, then Israel isn’t provoked?

  13. Benjamin D.04-19-2013

    This article is a classic effort by American Jewish supporters of Israel to end all criticism of Israel. Apparently anti-Semitism has come to mean you are critical if Israel. Fine, if by anti-Semitism you mean opposition to apartheid, oppression, and war-mongering, then I’m proudly an anti-Semite.

    ADL and a whole network of other Jewish groups support these students, often in bringing frivolous law-suits against university groups that sponsor any speakers that criticize Israel. Increasingly, the civil rights of Americans are being targeted all in the name of defending Israel.

    Even in Israel, there is a more open debate about Israeli policy. I know this to be true both from my own travels there, reading Hareetz, and work with Israeli academics.

  14. Patricia Ann Abraham04-19-2013

    If the update is true, I commend to everyone’s attention the following publication, available from If American’s Knew website. Pressure on Campus: Interest groups successfully stifling academic discourse How pro-Israeli students and organizations have worked to prevent free academic inquiry at American universities. By former Congressman and author Paul Findley

  15. College of Charleston Student for Justice04-19-2013

    This is in response to If Americans Knew:

    You cite the Alison Weir has received awards from the ADC and CAIR. Multiple chapters of the ADC have been involved with the organization Al-Awda which has supported violent action against Israel. The ADC has also opposed counter terrorism background checks, and visa wait times. This organization is not interested in keeping Americans safe. CAIR has fought against the condemnation of Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, and the FBI and US Treasury Department have recognized the organization’s ties to Hamas. The fact that Ms. Weir would accept an award from organizations that have ties to terrorist organizations is unacceptable.

    You then accuse Ms. Sheafer of taking Ms. Weir’s words out of context in regards to the “such a ruthless and supremacist faith”. Here is a link to the article from your own website http://ifamericaknew.org/us_ints/pg-weiroped.html . Nothing has been taken out of context.

    In response to the organ harvesting issue, you cite the work of Nancy Scheper Hughes. Her organization, Organ Watch, also alleges that Jews traffic organs as revenge, restitution—reparation for the Holocaust.” Is this not anti-Semitism? If Arabs were afraid of having their organs stolen by Israeli’s would Gazans beg to be treated in Israeli hospitals, would victims of secretarian violence in Iraq beg to be treated in Israeli hospitals, and victims of the Syrian civil war on both sides of the conflict beg to be treated in Israeli hospitals. Israel has opened its borders to all of these individuals free of charge, and NO ORGANS HAVE BEEN STOLEN. Alison weir has also accused Jews of conspiring with the Nazis; obviously this is ludicrous.

    You then criticize the article for failing to record the point of view of a Muslim student. The article chronicles anti-Semitism by a non-Muslim non-student. Why then are you critical of the article for failing to capture the point of view of a Muslim student.

    Lastly, your attempts to slander Ms. Sheafer are petty and unacceptable. She reported the fact and you are trying to cover up Ms. Weir’s anti-Semitism by defaming Ms. Sheafer and you should be ashamed.

    • Darlene Jones-Owens04-19-2013

      As listed above in my first comment (see the link), illegal Israeli organ harvesting has indeed occurred.

      Why do you support the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and why do you wish to hide it from Americans? Your name calling by labeling critics of Israel as anti-semites is soundless. The conflict has never been about hatred of Jews, it is about mistreatment by the “Jewish state”.

  16. Brandon04-19-2013

    It is not anti-Semitic to criticize the political decisions made by israel, thats like saying i hate Christians because i criticize the American government.

  17. Donna N.04-19-2013

    Use of the word anti-Semite in the case of Alison Weir are simply a knee jerk reaction from Zionists trying to protect their faulty narrative. It is a tactic that has been used to intimidate and stop folks from criticizing the policies and actions of Israel since 1948. Instead of listening to the information with an open mind and heart offered by an award winning journalist, it is less painful to attempt to discredit her.

    This tactic as old and tired as it is continues to be used by those unwilling to face the painful truths about Israel. Ms. Weir is a journalist. She values truth even when many people do not want to hear it. She continues to courageously stand up for her journalistic values. She is not pushing hatred. She is trying to change the paradigm whereby journalists ignore the reality for Palestinians and what the U.S. taxpayers are funding.

    Having spent time in E. Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza I admire and appreciate what Ms. Weir is doing. I have looked into the eyes of Palestinians living under a brutal occupation. Their stories need to be told. The American public deserves to know what we are responsible for.

    Please continue to offer truth to all of us. Do not remain silent when the corporate media ignores the reality on the ground. We are counting on you Ms. Weir!

  18. Jay Meeks04-19-2013

    This is a very tired and completely exhausted political tactic to discredit any speaker that speaks on the nation-state of Israel and the Zionist political movement. This smear tactic is always applied when issues of Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians, irrational U.S. foreign aid to Israel, or illegal settlements and house demolitions are discussed in either Washington, the American national media, or within American academic circles. Misguided slandering of this sort will often work on uneducated minds, but Americans who understand history, historical events, and current international political structure can easily decipher between empty hate speech aimed toward an ethnic group and the rational political criticism of a nation-state government. Dr. Weir is only pointing out factual political and human rights issues that concern the American people and the entire global villiage. She is a beacon and an example for American intellectual evolution, and I only hope that I can eventually take my family to hear her speak.

  19. J04-19-2013

    I don’t understand what all the fuss is about, no where in this article does Sheafer label Ms. Weir as an anti-Semite. She is simply stating the facts of Ms. Weir’s blog and what people at the college has said in response to the subject. Stop using her as a scapegoat for the obvious.

  20. Will04-19-2013

    One argument that has continually been made on this thread is that anti-Semitism should not be equated to anti-Zionism. Believing that the Palestinians have a right to their own sovereign state is not anti-Zionism, and arguing that Israel has made some missteps is not anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism is the belief that Israel does not have the right to exist and the belief that the Jewish people do not have the right to a homeland and this position is inherently anti-Semitic.

  21. J04-19-2013

    Jay Meeks: How do you know her political and human rights issues are factual?? Also, she is in no way shape or form a doctor. Not sure where you got that information…

  22. Jay Meeks04-19-2013

    J, the answer to your question is by verifying the facts to the best of my ability. In areas of U.S. foreign aid, a person only needs to study the annual USAid/Function 150 fiscal year budgets to see a heavy annual amount of U.S. foreign aid to Israel (despite large amounts of U.S. debt and increasing domestic cuts on education, law enforcement and other vitals U.S. domestic areas). In the area of foreign lobbyist action on congressional decision making measures dealing with Israel, one only needs to monitor Senate and House resolutions and the lobbyist initiatives on these resolutions. An example of this would be Senate Resolution 65, just passed by the Sub-Committee on Foreign Relations which will more than likely drag the U.S. into an Israeli-Iranian conflict. For current events, and how U.S. funding and the U.S. UN Veto impacts the Palestine-Israeli region, especially on issues such as home demolitions and Israeli settlements, human rights violations against Palestinians, the lop-sided death statistics from both sides of this so-called conflict, and other events….verification can be obtained through various world media outlets (to include Israeli media) and non-profit organizations such as IGOs and NGOs. I see no discrepacy or hypocrisy in what Dr. Weir speaks on. International politics is an ugly game, but it is irrational and quite unjustified to cry anti-semitic wolf on anyone who brings up issues that oppose the political tactics of a nation-state governmenmt.

    • J04-19-2013

      She is still not a doctor…the U.S. sends aid to a plethora of countries, why does she single out Israel? Similarly, the money being spent on Israel only comes back to the U.S. in the forms of military advancements (i.e. Iron Dome technology), medical advancements and everyday advancements which in return stimulate our economy and make the U.S. stronger and more advanced than ever.

      • Jay Meeks04-19-2013

        Israel has been the top economic recipient of U.S. foreign aid, averaging over 3 billion dollars annually, since the 1950s. The U.S. is paying to sell its own military products and recently Israel has even cancelled U.S. contracts and bought from Italy. If you add on the annual 2 billion dollars plus that the U.S. has provided Egypt since the beginning of the Mubarak regime, in order to protect the southern flank of Israel, it totals quite a bit an American funding. The U.S. just sent F-16s to Egypt. The foreign aid situation is simply not a rational foreign policy under the current economic condition of the U.S., and it is sadly maintained through a Congressional body that is greatly influenced by the foreign lobby. From a humanitarian view of how that U.S. money is spent, Israel has certainly committed arguable human rights violations over the decades and appears to continue to do so. Reviewing the UN resolutions over the past 30 years, resolutions that simply condemn Israeli actions, it is amazing to see how many times the US veto has been used against the consolidated international vote. The history of the conflict is a land conflict and it is not a pretty history. Israel has been established and it is part of the international community, but no nation-state should be shielded from rational criticism based on history. With all teh funding that the U.S. has sent to Israel, Americans have a right to question, research facts, and offer proper criticism as to how that funding is used and how the U.S.-Israeli so-called alliance impacts the American future. Getting back to topic, Weir is not an anti-semitic. She is an educated American that is concerned with American interests and the global human village. She should not be painted an anti-semetic, she should be listened to with an open mind and her facts verified. Good luck to you in the future. We may share different views, but knowledge and verification of facts are teh bridge that connect us. peace.

  23. Haedyn King04-19-2013

    I saw a poster for Ms. Weir’s lecture and thought how I do not appreciate someone telling me that the medium of where I get my news is leaving out information. So I went, and my eyes were open to the other side of an argument that I believed the Israelis were on the just side only because the US supports them and they are our “allies”. Ms. Weir dismantled all thoughts that I ever had on the Israel/Palestine Conflict and revitalized them so that when it comes to the subject of “genocide”, NOW I know who is the wrathful, savage human hunter – the Israelis – and who is the victimized, misunderstood, cornered beast trying to survive in an unjust world – the Palestinians. The only mentioning of anti-Semitism to ever escape Ms. Weir’s lips was how to be a credible debater siding with the true victims when the opposition happen to be the descendants of a persecuted people. How do you take on ignorant critics and journalists? You follow Ms. Weir’s example: you present the facts siding your argument and their sources; acknowledge the facts given by the opposition and their sources; then you let the audience choose who to believe. Ms. Alison Weir has more knowledge than over half the journalists in this country; however, what makes her exceptional is that she tells the knowledge that a majority of those journalists do not want audiences to know about.

  24. Mike04-19-2013

    Anyone on this wall who continues to deny that Alison Weir is antisemitic need only do a quick google search and the information is verified and widely available.

    Anyone who continues to defame the author is article is only trying to silence and cover up facts which are open source information.

  25. kyle04-19-2013

    I acknowledge that Weir’s statements may feel anti-semetic to a pro-israel jewish person but from an objective prospective Alison is not anti-semetic. This article is nothing but a bunch of Israeli propaganda used to silence radical leftist critics of the GOVERNMENT of Israel. Authors like Noam Chomsky, Slavoj Zizek, and Norman Finkelstien are labeled as anti-semetic by The government of Israel and groups like the American-Israeli political action committee in order to delegitimize their critiques in the eyes of the common uninformed viewer. Hate speech is just words; apartheid is RACIST ACTION and Racist actions are the things that make hate speech scary in the first place. Dropping the anti-semite bomb in order to cover up the Israeli government’s apartheid against Arabs is racist hate-speech, because it places a higher value on jewish people’s sense of security over arab people’s lives. I’m sad this article came from my school.

    • College of charleston student04-20-2013

      Nothing in Israel remotely resembles apartheid. Israel is no more or less perfect in regard to human rights than other democratic countries in the world. To see the extent to which uman rights, including rights of Palestinians, read some cases of the Israeli Supreme Court on the subject. It does backflips to find and remedy human rights violations and protect Israeli minoities. Educate yourself before making accusations. By the way, words have consequences.

  26. COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON STUDENT FOR JUSTICE04-20-2013

    Kyle,
    Alison Weir called Judaism “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.”

    How is this not antisemitism?

    • CofC Student04-21-2013

      I would argue that most, if not all faiths are ruthless and supremacist. This does not mean that I am a racist. I just think religion in general is dangerous and bad for humanity.
      I do not, however, in any way devalue the humanity of any person who believes any religion and I do not devalue any person on the basis of their ethnic group, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
      You can criticize a religion, and in this case the theocratic manifestations of that religion, without being a racist or devaluing anyone.

  27. kyle04-20-2013

    Criticizing a religion is not racism, and the only group that ties their religion to their ethnicity are Jews. Your cheating by claiming that a critique of your religion counts as a critique of your ethnic group. Saying that an ethnic group is either superior or inferior to others is racism. That statement is not racist because all religions are ruthless and supremacist, particular individuals that subscribe to religion might not be, but religion ruthlessly devalues all other forms of world explanation and depicts its believers as being superior to believers of other faiths. ALL RELIGIONS DO THIS indisputably. They have to because they are made up to drive wedges between us just like the social creation of ethnicity.
    Words do have consequence. Those consequences are racist actions like apartheid which is happening in Israel, those checkpoints that prevent ambulances from reaching sick and dying palestinians and guess who set up those road blocks? the IDF and who else is a part of the israeli government or the perpetrators of apartheid? The Israeli supreme Court! There is a conflict of interest in admitting to the crime of apartheid which prevents them from doing it because no country is going to admit to itself that it is committing a human rights violation, especially not one that was founded after the holocaust. Therefore you should try listening to the israeli leftist organizations and israeli human rights groups instead of always listening to the government of Israel. Governments never openly admit to their crimes and try to cover them up so they don’t get into international trouble don’t be ignorant.

    • Student04-20-2013

      False. Hindus tie their religion to their ethnicity.

    • College student04-20-2013

      And you should try checking the facts.

    • College student04-20-2013

      And you should try checking your facts.

      • College student04-20-2013

        My last yow posts were intended for Kyle.

  28. kyle2 this is not a repost website04-20-2013

    Criticizing a religion is not racism, and the only group that ties their religion to their ethnicity are Jews. Your cheating by claiming that a critique of your religion counts as a critique of your ethnic group. Saying that an ethnic group is either superior or inferior to others is racism. That statement is not racist because all religions are ruthless and supremacist, particular individuals that subscribe to religion might not be, but religion ruthlessly devalues all other forms of world explanation and depicts its believers as being superior to believers of other faiths. ALL RELIGIONS DO THIS indisputably. They have to because they are made up to drive wedges between us just like the social creation of ethnicity.
    Words do have consequence. Those consequences are racist actions like apartheid which is happening in Israel, those checkpoints that prevent ambulances from reaching sick and dying palestinians and guess who set up those road blocks? the IDF and who else is a part of the israeli government or the perpetrators of apartheid? The Israeli supreme Court! There is a conflict of interest in admitting to the crime of apartheid which prevents them from doing it because no country is going to admit to itself that it is committing a human rights violation, especially not one that was founded after the holocaust. Therefore you should try listening to the israeli leftist organizations and israeli human rights groups instead of always listening to the government of Israel. Governments never openly admit to their crimes and try to cover them up so they don’t get into international trouble don’t be ignorant.

    • College of charleston student04-20-2013

      Israel, as every nation, has an obligation and a right to protect its sovereignty and its citizens. If it takes checkpoints and walls, so be it. Self defense is not apartheid.

      By the wy, the 1.5 million Arabs, Muslim and Christian, living in Israel enjoy more political and religious freedom than ethnic and religious minorities do elsewhere in the region and the world.

      Contrary to your point that governments do not acknowledge human rights violations, the Israeli Supreme Court does that quite often. As I said before, Israel is not perfect regarding human rights, but it is far better than most countries and trying harder.

  29. CofC Student04-20-2013

    I attended Ms. Weir’s presentation at CofC, and while I cannot attest to the accuracy of every statement presented, I thought she gave a very interesting and thought provoking presentation on HER RESEARCH.

    I was appalled at the way that students, faculty, and community members reacted. In my four years here at CofC, I have never seen anything like it. No guest presenting their research should be spoken to so disrespectfully and with such vitriol as I saw Friday. I was frankly embarrassed to be part of the college, as I had previously thought this was a place for academic integrity and for open-minded discussion of different points of view. Apparently I was wrong, and any person that should criticize a government should be publicly roasted. So much for behaving like adults. When (most of) the students are acting more professionally than the grown adults in the room there is a serious problem.

    I would like to personally apologize to Ms. Weir for the appalling behavior that was displayed yesterday, and to let her know that it is atypical of the academic climate here at CofC.

    • Cofc student 204-20-2013

      To cofc student: Please look up pastor Martin niemoller and his poem “first they came for the socialists…” Then consider what happened yesterday. Perhaps not pretty or PC, but appropriate in this instance.

      • CofC Student04-20-2013

        I am familiar with the poem, and I think its great. However, you can’t just state that someone claiming a media bias is anti-Semitic and compare them to a Nazi (I think this is what you are alluding to). One should always speak out for injustice in any capacity, and shoddily done research should of course be questioned.
        I personally felt that this woman was speaking out on behalf of injustices she saw, and presented her research, albeit in a fairly emotional manner that is un-befitting of an academic presentation. Regardless of whether or not that is accurate, it would have been great if we could have discussed the issue and Ms. Weir’s research in a reasonable manner.
        I’ve heard it said that you can tell who holds the power by the fact that you can’t criticize them…

        • Cofc student04-21-2013

          I assure you that her ” research” would not meet standards of scientific nor academic rigor. What she presented was not research, but propaganda. She is not a legitimate researcher nor academic.

          Ms. Weir also wanted to control the format of the event so as to prevent the facts to come out . She spoke for an hour without interruption, but did not want to allow statements that took issue with her version of the facts. She only wanted questions that would allow her to reiterate or expand on her views. I fully support academic freedom, discussion, and debate. I honor and value views different than my own, even on this subject. Her presentation was neither academic nor intellectually honest. Unfortunately, the nature and format her presentation forced and warranted the response you observed.

          I respect you for standing up for academic freedom, and for civility. I do as well.

  30. THE cofc student04-20-2013

    I actually could not be more proud to be a CofC student after what happened yesterday. The students and the community took action and made it known that her extremely leftist, biased, and inaccurate presentation was neither acceptable nor beneficial to the college and its members whatsoever.

    • CofC Student04-20-2013

      I am all for people calling out inaccuracies and biased research, trust me. What I am not for is people just shouting down the woman who came to present her research.
      Everyone just started shouting that she was anti-Semitic and a liar, neither of which assessments anyone backed up. She didn’t make any anti-Semitic statements at all, every criticism was aimed at the Israeli government. I thought the presentation could have commented on the Palestinian gov’t too, but that isn’t the point of my problem with yesterday’s presentation.
      I am not defending her research, and I’m not an Israel-Palestine expert by any means. However, I do expect people to behave with dignity in these situations.
      When people speak that I disagree with, I don’t shout, run around the room being disruptive, steal microphones from the moderator, etc. I wait my turn to speak like one learns to do in kindergarten.
      Regardless of where one stands on the issue, the behavior by the audience yesterday was embarrassing.

  31. Emily Richards04-23-2013

    I am a former CofC student and attended Ms. Weir’s event this past week. As someone who follows American politics closely, I know very little about the conflict and was very interested on Ms. Weir’s topic of media bias in this country concerning this issue. I think most of us would agree that media bias is alive and doing very well here in the US. Why not with this issue as well? So I was all ears when the presentation started. I was horrified with her findings and the results of her study, although not at all surprised. But what I did find surprising was the blatant and uncivilized attacks on a guest speaker at such a prestigious school like CofC. Of course strong opinions run deep regarding this issue. However, I was absolutely appalled and ashamed of those that took it amongst themselves to ruin and hijack an event, leaving the rest of us with a bad taste in our mouths. I would even go as far as saying I expect behavior like this from young, enthusiastic college aged people/activists, but the majority of this was coming from individuals, my parents and grandparents age. What an example to set. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Disagreement is to be expected, outright ad hominem attacks and vitriol is not. Those that rudely spoke out of turn, yelled over others, threw insults and had no respect for other view points surely lost gaining anyone to their side of the debate after such behavior. Not one of these folks asked questions pertaining to Ms. Weir’s subject matter, media bias in the US. They only asked questions and had statements concerning Israel’s right to exist, defense of Israel and to attack the presenter. Shameful. The college was also entirely unprepared to host such a controversial speaker, but I’m glad they did. I hope they keep having such events and allowing ALL points of view to be posed. This is still America right?
    I hope Ms. Weir had a better experience outside of the College and gave our fair city a second look. Maybe next time she can reach out to the CofC chapter of YAL (Young Americans for Liberty) as hosts. I’m sure they would be glad to have her.

  32. mat catastrophe04-23-2013

    You all need to find some more relevant things to worry about.

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