558 Comments

Thanks, Ken. One of the better pieces of analysis I've read on any subject in a long while.

That said, one bit of constructive feedback...near the end you omitted the fact that some, including Jews (like this one), detest the Israeli government. Detesting said government (and voicing as much) doesn't make one anti-Semitic (or self loathing), and clearly isn't hate speech (it's valid political discourse).

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I was probably wrong in thinking those points are self-evident.

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They can be deliberately overlooked, which takes some effort, but plenty of people are willing to make the effort.

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of course I don't want to say that you DON'T owe us an overly-comprehensive piece of writing every time. but I would say it if we valued you less. (much.)

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Yes. And isn't it sweetly obvious that any Israeli can criticise their government, which maeks Israel stand out in the neighborhood?

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Dec 7, 2023·edited Dec 7, 2023

Too bad for your point(?) that all the articles I linked weren't from Al Jazeera.

It's a perfectly reliable and respected news network, as much as any of the American news organizations that display a pro-Israel bias. I don't know how you measure "objective" in this context anyway; most news sources carry biases, because they are run by people. If you have proof that the article is false, I'm happy to entertain it.

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Even if Al Jazeera isn't objective, that is just one of four links.

Besides, inside Israel, all you have to do is read Haaretz. Which the Israeli government hates.

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Hates it about as much as the US dems hate Fox News. But neither one bans either. Not yet, anyway.

Can anyone cite (alive) dissent from Hamas government?

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If you consider the NY Times a relaible source, they just had a story about various Israeli citizens being imprisoned for liking facebook posts the government didn't like.

Which in no way detracts from anything Ken is saying, but let's not pretend that Israel gives its population extensive freedom of speech protections to criticize the government or its military. It does not.

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I think the point is that Israel has some freedom of speech (it used to have more, before Netanyahu--in those days, it was easier to criticize the Israeli government in Israel than in the United States) while the surrounding countries have no such concept.

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More extensive freedom than in any of the neighboring lands.

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Neither is Israel!

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Point to a single objective source in all the media on this issue. additionally you need to point to the falsehoods of the articles claims not a broad brush dismissal if you care about honesty.

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I was going to bring receipts that this is false, but I see @manders already did.

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Detesting the Israeli government is legit. Calling for Israel's dismantling is not.

It is very simple, really.

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Why, in precise terms, is calling for Israel's dismantling not legitimate expression? I ask because 1) Israel and the Jewish people are not synonymous; Israel is the product of a modern nationalism (Zionism) and Zionism is not a 3,700 year old religion. 2) The creation of Israel resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arabs and their descendants (as it happens, the displacement efforts continue today in East Jerusalem and the West Bank). Maybe it was all worth it, to make an omelette you have to break a few eggs. But if a Palestinian says, "I'm sadly not a Zionist patriot, Israel is unjust, I want a secular democratic state" -- should that be really be banned? Seems a bit off.

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to call for dismantling of a state is violence. There is no other way to dismantle a state from the outside. Also, calling to dismantle the one Jewish state existing next to 22 Arab countries who are part of 46 muslim majority countries, is ridiculously hypocritical.

Israel is a safe shelter for one of the smallest minorities in the world, that after hundreds of years of persecution finally have their measly tiny piece of homeland.

As they say, it's all about the context. Jews have no where else to go. Look at the waves of antisemitisms washing the west. What you don't understand is that Israel *is* a secular democracy, and arabs enjoy 100% equal rights. We have arab members of parliament, supreme court, hospital managers, bank managers, everything.

Is it perfect? No country is.

You talk about the 1948 displacement of Arabs, have you read what happened to Jews across the arab world since 1919? Hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered, deported, persecuted.

By the way, in 1948 a lot of arabs stayed in their homes, and Israel fulfilled its promise to safeguard them. The Zuabi family and the Abu gosh family, for instance, have members in the ruling party Likud.

Also, said palestinian in your example doesn't need to be a zionist. He can simply be an equal Israeli, like arabs who serve in the army, like the druze and bedouin who have special status. Israel is a complex country.

If you support dismantling the Jewish identity of Israel and say nothing about the 40 muslim majority countries who banned Judaism, that is double-standard antisemitism.

But yes, Jews deserve their own country, and we have 20% peaceful arab population who are equal welcome citizens of Israel.

Did you ask yourself how come no Jews live in our ancient cities? Nebulus, Ramallah, Gaza, Alexandria, Baghdad all had *thriving* Jewish communities for hundreds of years that predate Islam. But the Jews dared to demand independence, and hundreds of thousands of Jews were forcibly removed from their homes across the muslim world, homes some of them have been living in for over 10 generations...

Israel has *a lot* to fix. I criticize it a lot. But said palestinian sounds made up. according to most polls 90+% of palestinians support an Islamic theocracy. If he even exists, he is welcome to try and establish one under the PLO. Good luck with the fantasy.

Look around you. How many *arab* democracies are there? zero. How many muslim ones? 1 (Turkey), and it's barely free. There was something good happening in Tunisia, barely.

You are fooling yourself, they don't want it.

In 2009 Hamas executed the palestinian democracy is Gaza, why have they not rebelled? Why wasn't there a violent uprising? Where are all the peace loving Gazans? Where are the Gaza-based peace organizations? Where is the Palestinian Bezelem? The Palestinian "Shovrim Shtika"?

Why do we in the west need to do their job for them?

Do you see Jews advocating for revenge against modern Germany? Itay? France? Why did the Jews establish a thriving high tech nation and the palestinians have been investing all the billions of dollars they receive in aid on stupid pointless wars?

Why did they not agree to the two state solution offered to them *several times*?

For duck sake, we are 14 million people in the whole world, why can't we have our one tiny state and leave us be alone. A state that doesn't even include our ancestral homeland of *Judea* and Samaria. Why is it that the PLO *made it a criminal offense to trade with Jews*?

I call for peace, I support the two state solution (btw, according to the PLO charter, a free palestine must be "free of all jews", and they are the *elected* officials), I want the end of violence. But I want my state, my tiny nation state, because I *don't trust you*. I don't trust the west, I don't trust the arabs, I don't trust anyone. For 2000 years we were trampled on again and again. And here we see once more, that leading academics can't even say that genocide is bad. So excuse me for wanting to keep my tiny piece of my forefathers' land.

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Who, among the sane, believes for a moment that a state made by Palestinians would be "secular democratic" ?

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Dec 22, 2023·edited Dec 22, 2023

Hi Andras. You know that the PLO, the longest-standing and most prominent Palestinian political organization, is secular, yes? Fatah is also secular. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA), and the Palestinian People's Party (PPP)? All secular. You may think they're all very bad. That's fine. But it's only after the leaders of these secular organizations have been killed, jailed, or bought off that Islamist groups emerged in Palestinian politics.

Hamas got its start in Gaza with Israel's implicit support; Israel saw Hamas as a useful nuisance to secular Fatah and the PLO, which were far more powerful than Hamas. Of course Israel has fought Hamas for decades, and has vowed to destroy Hamas after October 7th. But as numerous Israeli and U.S. reports attest, Netanyahu was happy to see Hamas in power in Gaza and didn't hamper its rule. Why? To keep the secular Palestinian Authority in a weak position, thus facilitating the building of settlements, and facts on the ground to make a two-state solution impossible. Fun!

Are Fatah or the P.A. democratic? No. But you can imagine that trying to have a normal government with normal democratic procedures is hampered when the P.A. "government" doesn't have real power, and isn't an actual state.

Your dismissal of the prospect of a secular democratic Palestine belies either ignorance, bigotry, or both.

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Nice recitation. And you recite it so well.

But I grew up listening daily to this kind of drek. I even believed some of it, until I saw what was actually happening in my society and in others living under similar creeds.

Which is what I do in this instance. I read your text, and even credit your lucidity.

But then I look at what Hamas actually did during those hours when it had the upper hand in a segment of Israel. Instead of attacking the IDF, those "heroes" carefully sought out unarmed civilians, prefering 80-year old women and youngsters in cribs, and proceeded to butcher them.

That is what Hamas is.

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I apologise for the many typos. This keyboard is new and atrocious.

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Dec 12, 2023·edited Dec 12, 2023

Don't worry about the typos, no prob. OK, you've written a long apologia for Israel and Zionism with some good details and others I'd contest. But it's neither here nor there: We're discussing what a person has the right to say about a nation-state (that is, Israel) that privileges one ethno-religious group over others. This is the explicit state of affairs in Israel, as Netanyahu's government made super-duper clear in 2019. In Netanyahu's words, Israel is “the nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people."

Can a person say "I don't think that system is just, it should be dismantled and replaced with something else. I suggest a secular democratic state with equality among all residents" -- or is that a call for genocide? (Btw your stat about 90+ percent of Palestinians wanting an Islamic state is hogwash and a red herring. If you think Palestinians don't want democracy I don't think you've spent much time among Palestinians.)

If you say such a position is, actually, a call for genocide, you're contorting yourself through a set of intellectual hoops to arrive at a pre-baked conclusion. It amounts to putting words in people's mouths.

To be clear I don't like the sloganeering of lots of Palestinian activists. And I'm all for calling out those who are obviously trying to intimidate and harass. But, with respect, you're saying: Criticize Israeli policy, but not its intellectual foundations. That is not free speech. And frankly, these arguments are allowed in Israel (more during peaceful times than right now) and they take place in Israel. Should they be allowed in Israel and not the U.S.?

As for the point that the "dismantling" of Israel's basic laws would involve violence: Right now, that would be true. But on the level of allowed speech: Are are you saying that advocating any position involving violence is banned? Then advocating military aid for Ukraine?--that would be banned. Condemning a cease-fire in Gaza and saying Israel needs to keep up the fight against Hamas?--that would be banned. You can only justify banning the advocacy of a secular state by saying it amounts to genocide. And it just doesn't.

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I owe you a good long answer, will hopefuly get there in the coming day

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I understand wanting to comment but not having time. In any event don't feel that you owe me, no problem.

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Not legitimate in what context? I think Ken gave pretty clear reasons, with specific examples, that effectively illustrated why most "calls for Israel's dismantling" are in fact protected speech under both the First Amendment and most school's code of conduct. Even if you think those examples he gave constitute violence, it's pretty clear that the courts largely do not agree with you. That doesn't strike me as very simple.

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I don't give 1 ppm F what "the courts" think. I don't believe in the courts, I definitly do not revere them as some sort of biblical level truth.

It seems people forget that "legitimate" and "legal" are not synoninous, and that there are things private institutions can (and imho should) do that the governmant shouldn't.

It is not legitimate in the contwxt of being a sane human being with any sembkance of morality.

Not everything you can say, you should say. And the fact you do not break the law doean't mean we shouldn't ban you from polite society.

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it’s offensive and stupid but it’s legit free speech

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Enough of your mealy mouth bullshit, is a taco a sandwich or not?

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No. It has three sides covered while a sandwich has two opposing sides covered.

You're dodging the real question: Is a hotdog a taco?

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Also no, in so far as a tortilla, while folded similarly to a hot dog bun, is in fact NOT a hot dog bun.

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Dec 7, 2023·edited Dec 7, 2023

Ah, but the use of a single slice of sandwich bread for a hot dog instead of a hot dog bun does not negate its identity as a hot dog. So then, why should the use of a tortilla shell?

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If you can fold a piece of bread over, and call that a sandwich, then a taco is indeed a sandwich.

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so a tostada is an open-faced sandwich. and vice versa?

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A Tostada would be an open face sandwich, enchiladas are a sandwich, 3 layer enchiladas would be equivalent to a BLT. A Burrito would equate to a hot dog. I don't eat bread.

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If you roll all those up into an omelet what would it be?

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Omelets don't include bread or tortillas. If you fold your omelet over, with stuff in the middle, you can call that a sandwich. I generally put things straight into the eggs, and only cheese in the middle. We put eggs on our enchiladas, either over easy or sunny up. Scrambled eggs in a burrito makes it a Breakfast Burrito, and those are great!

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That's not the question. The question is, "Are horses folded in with ponies for the purposes of evil?"

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SCOTUS, citing the originalist view, rules 6-3 that a taco is NOT a sandwich. The Earl of Sandwich did not have access to tortillas so could not have employed one to keep his hands clean while playing cards.

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Thank you for making me chuckle.

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Allow me to use my favorite test:

Pretend you’re the Earl of Sandwich. You have demanded that ordinary foodstuffs be brought to you in bread so they might be more easily consumed one-handed whilst gambling. Someone brings you a taco. Does this meet your requirements?

Applying that test, we see that a non-overstuffed taco is a sandwich. As is a hot dog.

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Topologically, you’re incorrect. Tacos and hotdogs are in a category distinct from sandwiches. https://kottke.org/plus/misc/images/cube-rule-food-01.jpg

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Stuff Inside A Kind of Bread. Call it what you want (every culture has), it's fuckin' delicious every time <3

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Bullshit. Is a hot dog a sandwich or not? THAT'S the real question, amigo.

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so I'm not a lawyer, & I hate Stefanik as much as the next decent person. But I thought this, from 2 democratic congressmen who went to Harvard, seems like an irrefutable point: "Harvard ranks last out of 248 universities for support of free speech but when it comes to denouncing antisemitism, suddenly the university has anxieties about the First Amendment. It rings hollow." And I know Jewish college students are getting harrassed and threatened on campus & these schools are doing little to nothing about that, which seems off-brand for them. Something is inconsistent here. Also the defenses put out a full day later from the presidents of Harvard & Penn are extremely weak, and if they had a better argument, presumably akin to yours, that would have been the time to make it. All that said, I despise agreeing with MAGA Republicans on anything at all, but I've felt somewhat politically homeless for a couple of months now, is what it is. At any rate, this is the first explanation or defense of any sort I've seen so far, so thank you for that.

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Harvard ranks last? According to whom? I didn't know that amendments came with rankings.

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I pulled that from a bloomberg news article this morning but its a quote. I'd like to assume 2 democratic congressmen didn't make it up but it didn't explain the source. Doesn't seem counterintuitive, however.

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It’s probably a FIRE rating. FIRE’s litigation to defend speech of all kinds is peerless. I am not a fan of its rating systems.

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Got it. I mean I don't care very specifically about the actual rating of course. The point is that Harvard is quite clearly not overly concerned with free speech so much as are about student's feelings and about equality. Until now.

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What does that mean?

Is there an instance where the Harvard President gave an inconsistent answer when faced with racism to someone else?

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Specifically to what Jonathan said, President Gay let a law professor twist in the wind when students objected to him defending Harvey Weinstein, a pretty clear case of putting students feelings ahead of a lawyer performing their duty (something even higher than freedom of association or free speech, no?)

She also recently failed to defend Professor Hoover (Hooven?) who recently wrote a book about testosterone and said in broadcast television that humans had two sexes, male and female. This one is pretty clearly putting the professor’s free speech rights behind the feelings of her students, some of whom joined a protest led by a DEI administrator (there’s that program [pogrom?] again!)

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Happy to disagree about it but this is why I mentioned the quote - clearly FIRE at least believes she/they have (whether or not the specific ratings are of much use)

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at a very bare minimum I would hope we can all agree that given everything, their explanation/defense after an entire day of planning could have been a whole lot better than what they put out. Putting out a weak defense, one of them hostage video style, strongly suggests having no good explanation at all.

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You're down to "they could have done better"? Thanks, minimalist-boy.

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Wow, you're STILL here with the pathetic non-sequitur insults? What a sad life you lead. Xitter still exists, you know, go nuts. Off to find a mute button now.

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Dec 7, 2023·edited Dec 7, 2023

Yes it is a FIRE rating.

https://www.thefire.org/college-free-speech-rankings

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What makes you not a fan of their rating system?

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It’s subjective, opaque, based on perceptions that are highly questionable (just as people’s perception of whether crime is up are down are highly questionable), based on perceptions to which they contribute, sometimes argumentative, sometimes out of date, and sometimes arbitrary.

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FIRE's standards and criteria are clearly delineated. The organization has done a better measure than any other I've seen. Any suggestions as to an alternative?

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Not gonna speak for Ken, but a big issue with it seems to be that the ratings are largely based on how much students "feel silenced" by their peers (not even the school!) as opposed to actual policies and practices of the school in terms of free speech - essentially, it conflates "people use their speech against my speech" with "my speech is literally censored or punished by the administration."

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That's fair. I'm not a big fan of the "feel silenced" standard myself; that's the kind of standard that got us into this mess in the first place. I do think there is a role for the administration in cultivating an environment and a student body that tolerates minority views and opinions, but that's very difficult to judge, and kids "feeling silenced" is not a good benchmark.

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"I heard it on Bloomberg" is not the recommendation you think it is.

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if you're going to claim that bloomberg news makes things up including quotes then we do not speak the same language enough to have a conversation

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Dec 7, 2023·edited Dec 7, 2023

I don't speak "dumb" so you may be right.

But in any case I wasn't saying they made up the quote, I'm saying that they took it uncredulously enough to just print it without checking -- as did you, so go back to my original point about me not speaking "dumb."

(Also, the ranking is probably FIRE's because that's what I got when I googled it, something you easily could have done. EDIT: Ninja'd by Ken)

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The rankings are by the FIRE foundation. A very credible non-partisan organization that defends free speech and people of all political backgrounds when their free speech is assailed at American Universities. The rankings are derived from extremely extensive nation-wide surveys: https://rankings.thefire.org/rank/school/harvard-university

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Whoosh. Missed the whole conversation above you, didn't you?

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I did not... You either pretended not understand what was being discussed because you were being intellectually dishonest or genuinely did not understand what was being discussed. I did not originally hazard an unflattering guess though I dare say that I will now.

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Read. Please.

Respect for the Bill of Rights "come with" rankings.

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Which part is incoherent? That they haven't done enough to protect free speech or that they are doing too much to protect free speech? The incoherence is as much in the criticism of Harvard as it is in their actions. So pick a side, they should do more to protect it? Or less? Far be it from me, but I think what they are doing here is a step in the right direction, which is to support more free speech.

And for people looking for the ranking, it is indeed FIRE:

https://rankings.thefire.org/rank/school/harvard-university

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I believe I am being fairly clear that I would like enough consistency that the only free speech they would care about is that which threatens jews, especially the ones right there on campus

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And which ones specifically are threatening Jews on campus? Are there people running up to Jews and yelling in their face that they should all die? Then yes, I agree. Are you referring to someone's anti-Zionistic poster? Then no.

Nor do I understand what consistency means to you. Because that fundamentally comes back to what kind of consistency that you want. Consistency to protect their speech, thus ostensibly reversing the trends that FIRE says are there. Or do you want to kick out more kids for exercising their (shitty) free speech and thus further eroding the speech issues of FIRE.

So, no, I don't think you're clear enough.

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you can't be serious. You don't believe that many jews on campus feel personally threatened and are reporting incidents, without me showing you proof? its rampant. ok I'm done now. Life's too short, this has gotten twitter level of stupid.

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People, and students in particular, can feel threatened by real threats (the former of my examples) and also by statements that pose absolutely no threat (such as the latter of my examples). I didn't ask for proof that they happened, as I know both are happening. I asked which you wanted to be completely intolerant of.

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I think (and maybe I'm being charitable here) that the Harvard/Penn/Other Ivies feel caught between 2 traditionally targeted groups, IE Jewish folks and Palestinians/those sympathetic to them. Maybe they feared overstepping on pro-Palestine demonstrations, especially since the phrases that Stefanik singled out aren't pro-genocide per se, even if they are often interpretted as such.

Ultimately it's like Ken said - this is a very difficult, thorny, multi-faceted issue without a simple answer.

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All fair, and I think Ezra Klein put it best on of his recent podcasts, but there's a unique loneliness that the liberal Jew is now experiencing post 10/7, and it's being felt most acutely in places like higher ed. These are Jews who were at the forefront of every progressive cause, including calls to oust Likud and end incursions of settlements, and are now experiencing venomous antisemitism from the very same people whom they previously locked arms with.

I think that pain needs to acknowledged a lot better by people on the left, and democrats are in the best position to do so. Which is why it's little more than rank incompetence that they've let Elise Stefanik take that mantle right out from under them. The moral high ground for persecuted Jews has been ceded to a woman who advocates for the Great Replacement Theory and likely has a browser history littered with her theories on the various ills George Soros has inflicted on America.

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I would suggest reading David French in todays NYT. I never agree with him but I think he got this right. I am in the Academy. I value free speech and I see some of these progressive institutions failing to defend it consistently. The U of Chicago took the right path years ago.

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"Hate" and "despise" are the dominant words in your post.

And yet, some light through yonder window shows: You are questioning your bigotry.

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Dec 7, 2023Liked by Ken White

I'm deeply offended at being called a dupe. I find that simple problems, like the multimillenial Israeli Palestinian conflict, call for simple answers. Yes and no. Simple. That's why I support the

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I watched the Stefanik "yes or no" video yesterday and I cringed at her treatment of the administrators. So I today I was glad to see I'm not alone among near-absolute supporters of free speech to have that reaction, and grateful to Mr. Hat for expressing my view so cogently.

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I agree with you but also got a chuckle out of you referring to Ken White as Mr. Hat.

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Another question I have since I am new to this Report. How did it come to be called The Popehat Report? Just wondering as a Catholic who sees the Pope once in a while and think he has a pretty cool hat.

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Here's an explanation. I knew that Ken went by Popehat for years, but wanted to find the particulars.

https://outlookvalleysun.outlooknewspapers.com/2019/10/31/local-lawyer-finds-second-act-in-passion-projects/

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Thanks for the explanation!

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Always wondered. Thanks!

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Dec 8, 2023Liked by Ken White

In September, the standard line of attack was that Universities were too restrictive of speech with all their "political correctness." Now it's December and the attack is that Universities aren't restrictive enough. Maybe some people just really don't like universities?

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Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

It makes sense when you realize that about 90% of handwringing about free speech from right-wingers is just them wanting the window of acceptable political speech to be taken a few notches to the right, not a general widening the scope of what people can say without social sanction.

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"Until I can say the N-word in public without fear of social sanction, no man is truly free."

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"However, those that call people racists must provide specific evidence otherwise they should be sued for defamation"

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One of the more silly things they believe is that they are persecuted because the right wing does not have the same representation as ‘the left’ This is false because almost all econ and most policy sci and IR departments would qualify as right wing. However, the right moved further right so the conservative view isn’t held by many Republicans now. Also, we have business schools on many campuses, etc. In addition, we have very few ‘truly left’ professors. However, we do have a high concentration of people that vote Democrat. But it’s also not necessarily something we can do much about in a free society! You have to persuade people of your views. They aren’t persuading people of their views. It just seems very silly to think that the failure to persuade enough people in a certain sector of society where everyone is very evidence-sensitive and you deny the theory of evolution, climate change, etc. turns out to be THEIR FAULT.

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I'll make it simple for you:

Calling for violence is not free speech. Calling for genocide, "gas the jews", dismantling israel, "from the river to the sea" are all forms of "Threats". Threats, like its brothers coercion and Fraud, is not free speech, it is aggression.

It is really a very simple, very clear line - you should be allowed to say *whatever* you want, so long as it is not a threat or a call for aggression, under no context. Violence is only permitted in self-defense.

Here, I'll throw you another tough cookie - "Palestinians should be allowed to forcibly and violently resist occupation by targeting *Israeli military personnel*" is free speech. "World Intifada" is not. It is really not that complex...

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See what you did there? Put "gas the Jews" and "from the river to the sea" in a list, like they're equivalent.

Try to imagine this: A hundred students marching through a college campus, waving signs that say "Cease fire now" and chanting "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." Are you saying their intention, their desire, is to kill all the Jews?

But sure, I'll bet it's all very simple - to you.

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No, I am saying that the sentence "from the river to the sea" is *explicitly* a call to "destroy the state of Israel". I don't know if you bothered looking at the map, there is no other place except between the river and the see, and that chant belongs to the PLO, whose charter clearly states that a "free palestine" must have "no Jews".

Try to imagine you are a Jew, an Israeli, studying there. Do you feel *safe*? Say that those chanters are simply ignorant westerner spoiled kids who have no idea what they're chanting, suppose. Can you *be certain* that none of them intend it so?

"Cease fire now" is a perfectly legit call. so does "free palestine", "end the occupation", I can give you quite a few of them. "From the river to the sea" is not. It is an explicit direct call to dismantle, violently, a sovereign democratic state. It's just NOT LEGIT. It is the exact line beyond free speech.

It is simple to me, and I think it should be simple to every sane person - it doesn't matter if they know what they're chanting or not. It's a slogan of terror and violence, it should be banned.

Not generally, I do not trust the government to police speech. But a higher education institute that claims to be 'inclusive' and 'condemns violence' should ban it from campus.

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"Can you *be certain* that none of them intend it so?"

Is that how it works now? We assume people are for genocide until they prove themselves innocent of the charge? Banning speech, conviction of the crime of genocide without trial, you've got lots of interesting ideas, don't you?

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"I don't know if you bothered looking at the map, there is no other place except between the river and the see"

Sigh. Can't believe we're arguing about what a map clearly shows. A Palestinian state along the lines of the '67 borders, something clearly contemplated and discussed as part of negotiations sponsored by the US for a "two-state solution" would have one border on the Jordan river and one border on the Mediterranean. It would go "from the river to the sea" and NOT require the destruction of the state of Israel.

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No, that is not what that phrase means... It never did. For that we have "End the Occupation", among a host of others.

Also, it is not from the river to the sea, since it is not one continous territory. Which si exactly the problem with the ridiculous insistance on 1967 borders - they will never work.

Also, who are we talking about? Both Hamas and the PLO and *every elected palestinian official since 1967* has rejected that solution.

Why do we insist to keep on suggesting a solution the palestinians *do not want*? The PLO charter calls for 1 palestinian state, on the entire area of palestine, and the dismanlt of every "zionist colony since 1919".

Why do we not *believe them*?

Again, despite the mockery, this *is* context dependant. Context matters. That slogan has a very specific history, which sets it as stricktly refering to a no-israel solution.

I am sorry to say, the real shameful thing in the past 2 months on US campusea is the sheer amount of *ignorance* I hear form all sides. It's like blind people talking about the sunset.

What are they teaching there?

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"Also, it is not from the river to the sea, since it is not one continous territory. "

Ah, now I get it. The Israelis have stolen so much land between the West Bank and Gaza that it is no longer possible to create a contiguous Palestinian state between the West Bank and Gaza (excuse me, "from the river to the sea") without murdering all the Jews in between, therefore "from the river to the sea" means "kill all the Jews", QED.

I have to admit that's a novel argument.

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What borders will work if you throw out the 1967 ones? Why doesn't Israel give equasl rights to everyone in the country including the occupied territiries (even actual citizens have the "Jewish" class and all the others. It is explicitly (as in part of the law and founding documents) a racist and aparthied state. You are straight up lying when you call it a democracy.

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Ask protestors what they are calling for when they say "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" I have asked dozens. To a person they say they are calling for equal rights for all peoples currently in the land, and an end to the explicitly racist and aparthied state. Do you think ending apartheid is genocide? Was ending apartheid in South Africa genocide?

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I completely agree that "from the river to the sea" is a slogan of terror and violence. It is a horrible, antisemitic thing to say, and as an American Jew I don't feel safe hearing that.

All that said, it is speech protected by the First Amendment, and is covered under free speech. Even explicit calls for genocide are protected free speech.

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Sorry, you don't to say that the way a phrase makes you FEEL defines, without question, what it MEANS.

Because there are other people involved here, specifically the people who use this phrase. Do they get any say in what it means? Of course they do. When 30,000 people march in D.C. and chant "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free", do you really think they're seeing it as a "slogan of terror and violence"? How come your interpretation wins out over theirs?

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> Sorry, you don't to say that the way a phrase makes you FEEL defines, without question, what it MEANS.

To be clear, I never said this.

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Do you agree with Humpty Dumpty in "Alice in Wonderland" that words mean whatever you want them to mean?

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The thing we're accusing them of NOW is the opposite of what we were accusing them of THEN, which is all their fault, just proves they're hypocrites.

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Um no.

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Yes, Mike, exactly!

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1 In context of the hearing where mass demonstrations were the topic, advocating genocide would by my convention meet pervasive criteria. No one was talking about private or in class academic discussions. 2. The concern is that these rules are applied differently to classes of people which would therefore constitute discrimination. We could discuss if this actually happens. 3. The presidents would have done themselves a favor if they actually used the kind of examples you provided. That they couldn’t suggests they don’t really understand the issue. It was a trap but they walked right into it.

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We agree they were badly prepared and handled it badly.

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I find it hard to fathom that they were not prepped by a team of legal scholars and crisis management experts prior to their testimony.

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Would have been helpful if you said this up front.

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David, I think you’re going to continue to find that I write about my point, not your point, and once I again I invite you to leave if you don’t like it.

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What part of "The college presidents did a rather clumsy job of saying, accurately but unconvincingly, that the answer depends on the context" from KW's post did you not understand?

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The part where it completely refutes the commentor's complaint, obviously.

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Dec 8, 2023Liked by Ken White

Stefanik: "Does killing someone count as first degree murder? Yes or no?!!"

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"Don't give me none o' that egghead legalistic mumbo-jumbo!"

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allow me to cite chapter and verse from Penn's code of student conduct "The University condemns hate speech, epithets, and racial, ethnic, sexual and religious slurs. However, the content of student speech or expression is not by itself a basis for disciplinary action."

Magill made a tactical error in playing according to Stefanik's terms but she was 100% correct in relaying Penn's rules on the topic.

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This entire line of argument relies on taking at face value Stefanik's claim that "intifada" is a synonym for "genocide the Jews on this college campus," which is of course preposterous.

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I don’t know if she cabined it to the Jews “on this college campus.” They did not correct her, “actually the statement was X and that’s not a call for the genocide of Jews because of Y.” I assume they thought doing that wouldn’t go well for them. I understand some people see this as debatable, but to my mind there isn’t a ton of light between those two things. I don’t really think “intifada,” “globalize the intifada” “there is only one solution, intifada, revolution” “we don’t want no two states, we want 48” and “from the river to the sea” are that ambiguous. I’m not sure why it would be ok if targeted only to Israelis rather than Jews worldwide. Seems to me all of those can be seen as at least a call for ethnic cleansing of half the world’s Jewish population.

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So you think if the Presidents went into a long discussion about the discourse around the Middle East, that Stefanik would have started a seminar to explore the issue? Are you always this stupid?

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Help me out here: I've got a map of Israel and a black Sharpie, can you draw me a Palestinian state that doesn't touch both the Mediterranean and the Jordan river? Thanks.

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Yeah, the West Bank region does not touch the Mediterranean.

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Exactly, so it's impossible to construct a Palestinian state that includes the West Bank and Gaza that doesn't go "From the river to the sea." Funny how all those American Presidential administrations that supported a two-state solution with a Palestinian state that included the West Bank and Gaza didn't know this thing they were for meant GENOCIDE.

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You're being ridiculous, for numerous reasons.

1. A Palestinian state does not need to include both the West Bank and Gaza. It might just include the West Bank. Or there might be two separate states, one in the West Bank, one in Gaza, as many have proposed.

2. Even if a hypothetical state "touched" the West Bank and Gaza, that doesn't mean it "goes from" the West Bank to Gaza. Example - if New York and Los Angeles seceded and became a discontiguous independent country, would that new country "go from" the Atlantic to the Pacific? No, though it would touch both oceans.

3. More importantly, legalistically interpreting the phrase to simply mean a two-state solution ignores the context and how the phrase is used. It means the entire area, sweeping all the way from the river to the sea, covering all of Israel. Come on now, if someone says "Jews should be sent to the showers" would you think they just meant a refreshing spa with nice hot showers?

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"ignores the context and how the phrase is used."

OK, let's talk about how the phrase is used today. Since we're talking about college campuses, we just had a protest on our campus that included students chanting "From the river to the sea..." Did they mean by this "Kill all the Jews?" I know you're not a mind-reader, but maybe a little common sense would help to answer that question?

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It doesn't matter what it "needs" to do. It matters what a just two state peace would look like.

Your entire argument is specious. And even if you decided it needed the Palestinian state to be contiguous to fit the chant. Why shouldn't Israel gave up a tiny sliver of the land it stole to make the Palestinian state a functioning entity? That is not genocide.

What Israel is doing in Gaza as we speak is genocide. The joke of actually committing genocide as we speak and not condemning that, while winning about a slogan that calls for a just peace. Displays insanity.

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They are not ambigious. they are clear calls for total equality of all people in the lands between the river and the sea. Of course if you think equality is genocide, I invite you to fight to return this land to pre civil war times as that is the model you revere.

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And, as I know Ken knows, sometimes language criticizing Israel is anti-Zionist but not antisemitic.

Contra Stefanik, the GOP chuds other than Massie, and half of House Democrats, and thus contra HR 894, anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. Also contra them, the IHRA definition of antisemitism is NOT "widely accepted."

Don't like it?

Talk to Phil Weiss at Mondoweiss. Talk to Norman Finkelstein. Talk to Raz Segal.

Or, if you don't like those options, either? Talk to the hand.

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I agree that antizionism isn't necessarily antisemitism. That said, if there are poster children for the proposition that antizionism IS antisemitism, their names are Phil Weiss, Norman Finkelstein and Raz Segal. I can't imagine more self-defeating support for your argument.

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So many antisemitic Jews about. Curious, eh?

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I believe "self hating Jew" is the more technical term. I don't know about Dr. Marvin, but, yes, I've heard and read that phrase used in recent months more than once.

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Dec 8, 2023·edited Dec 8, 2023

I called them neither antisemites nor self-hating Jews. I assert only that what they espouse is antisemitic. One needn't be a bigot to disseminate bigotry. To me that's an important distinction, but if it's too nuanced for you, fine, let's say for the sake of argument I called them antisemites. What's so implausible about antisemitic Jews? Do you dismiss the possibility of black racists? Muslim Islamophobes? Women misogynists? Gay homophobes? Because what I find hard to believe is that anyone who's paying attention hasn't seen all of those.

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Yes, good examples, all such people exist. But if you're frequently turning up Jews who are, according to your definition, antisemitic, this could also be a sign that your definition of antisemitism is overly broad.

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What Steve B. said. No, I don't dismiss any of these ideas. I do dismiss the idea that the trio of people I mentioned are espousing antisemitism. Anti-Zionism, yes. Antisemitism, no.

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You say:

"I assert only that what they espouse is antisemitic."

Got any example?

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And yes, "self-hating Jew" is the standard insult. I've heard it many times, including that one time someone directed it at my wife.

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If you really think that, I can't imagine more self-defeating support for whatever argument you may base on that.

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I think I've lost whatever it was this argument was about. but I also feel like I'm not missing much.

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Absolutely none of the participants were serious, not Stefanic and not the college presidents. There were absolutely no good faith actors present. We must not forget how little these same schools cared about supposed "context" in the very recent past when those offended were of much more concern to the administration.

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I was almost duped, so thanks for un-duping me so ferociously. Thanks also for discussing 1st Amendment speech exceptions, Title IX, and how Harvard's policy mirrors these legal definitions. Why don't those - especially elected representatives and journalists - who are so quick to denounce these college leaders consider these points before going all hair-on-fire? Answering my own question, I suspect it's because we can't resist an opportunity to add fuel to our culture wars. Shame on ordinary citizens and double shame on our reps and journos.

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Thought this was interesting and worth reading from a Rabbi who just quit the Harvard antisemitism advisory committee. The issue is how this stuff is framed.

https://twitter.com/RabbiWolpe/status/1732847413214208141

"However, the system at Harvard along with the ideology that grips far too many of the students and faculty, the ideology that works only along axes of oppression and places Jews as oppressors and therefore intrinsically evil, is itself evil. Ignoring Jewish suffering is evil. Belittling or denying the Jewish experience, including unspeakable atrocities, is a vast and continuing catastrophe. Denying Israel the self-determination as a Jewish nation accorded unthinkingly to others is endemic, and evil."

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I mean “Denying Israel the self-determination as a Jewish nation accorded unthinkingly to others is endemic, and evil” is smuggling a whole lot of arguments and decisions.

Which borders is it antisemitic not to support?

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Also the very term "as a Jewish nation" is explicitly saying it is racist (anti-semetic=racist) not to support racism (Jewish nation=Jewish supremacy in Israel).

It's hella ironic.

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Dec 7, 2023·edited Dec 7, 2023

Oh, this takes me back. I remember decades ago, being in a large crowd at the school I was attending, vigorously denying apartheid South Africa its "self-determination."

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No you don't understand it's about state's rights!!!

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Looks like this Rabbi is in fact an apologist for oppresion. It is incontrovertable that the Israeli government is and has been oppresing palestinians in the occupied territories in the most brutal ways for decades. Glad to see the racist jerk outta there.

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I agree that the hearings were largely designed largely for grandstanding and fundraising and were never going to be the place for a nuanced conversation. And that the university presidents were poorly prepared and bungled the questions posed. I see it as a missed opportunity to address actual anti-semitic conduct, not speech, that is occurring around campuses. For instance, at Harvard, protestors (one a Harvard Law Review editor) surrounded/mobbed a student who tried to film them with his phone and grabbed at him in an attempt to prevent him from recording the encounter. At other schools, pro-Palestinian students built barriers to block students as tney tried to walk across campus, they have physicallty assaulted Jewish students at, among other places, Tulane and Columbia, they have disrupted classed, they have padlocked doors to a university building to prevent students from taking a midterm, they pounded on doors and windows, trapping Jewish students in the Cooper Union library, they spray-painted swastikas and slogans on school property at American University, among numerous other examples. It would have been more helpful to have asked the university presidents whether such conduct -- not speech -- violates their respective school codes and, if so, why such students are not being punished. At this point, before we get into what pure speech violates school codes of conduct, I would be happy if the schools actually took some steps to protect Jewish and other students from conduct.

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Dec 7, 2023·edited Dec 7, 2023

Uh, I just googled a couple of the things that you mentioned and in each case (Harvard, Tulane) the universities reacted by having the police investigate immediately (Harvard, still ongoing) or having the people arrested (Tulane). At Columbia, the person carrying out the assault was arrested and charged.

What exactly are you asking?

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I believe Andy would like an explanation as to why the admissions office did not look into their crystal ball and proactively reject the protestors for committing these assaults. Failing that, it would perhaps be sufficient to immediately expell them without investigating, as long as we ensure that islamophobic students can't make up similar incidents to harrass and punish people they don't like.

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You would expel them .... WITHOUT investigation?

This whole thing is apparently bringing out the full Anti-BOR crowd.

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Me? No.

I'm just trying to come up with "solutions" to this sort of problem that would satisfy the desire for instant, all-encompassing, and perfectly accurate punishment of all wrongdoers. You may notice that these facetious proposals involve the use of time travel and the unerring ability to distinguish righteous claims from abusive ones.

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Whoosh. You may just have heard that sound over your head.

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Any student activism to draw attention to genocide is anti semetic? I guess anyone who participated in civil disobedience for civil rights or against aparthied in south africa is anti white? You sure do know how to pretzel.

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Wait a second, am I going to have to add a state affiliation to my Substack handle?

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Dec 9, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

As always, I appreciate your thoughtful, well reasoned analysis Ken. But there are two issues here:

1.) The presidents of these elite institutions should have been smart enough not to fall into such an obvious trap. This called for a Joseph Welch "do you have no decency, sir?" clarity of response -- not legalese fumphering. That's what leaders do. and

2.) The double standard on university free speech is appalling. As a straight, white male if I call someone the wrong pronoun I'm accused of a micro-aggression harassment. If some racist asshat has a rally where he says " all the black students here are lazy (n-words)" the reaction would be swift and unequivocal. Why wasn't there the same reaction to calling for genocide against Jews? Can't have it both ways, sir.

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"I appreciate your thoughtful, well reasoned analysis Ken. But consider this: Why can't I harass trans people?"

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Becuase no one actually called for genocide against jews. They actually called for the end of genocide against the people of Gaza. But that doesn't match your framework. Do you support the slaughter in Gaza?

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