The goal of such protests is not merely to disrupt, embarrass, or discomfort Israeli speakers but to silence them. “But ultimately,” as the Arab American News quotes Baydoun, “our goal is to prevent someone like this from even arriving on campus in the first place and we feel confident that we will be able to accomplish this as we continue to spread awareness.”
In this respect, Khaldi’s treatment resembles the so-called Irvine 11’s orchestrated disruption of Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at UC Irvine last year. In that case too, the protesters admitted that their intent was to shut down the pro-Israel side of the debate. Indeed, it is now fair to say that there have been efforts nationwide to prevent university speakers from delivering presentations that deviate from the anti-Israel orthodoxy that reigns on too many campuses.
It is ironic that academia’s self-appointed guardians of academic freedom and freedom of speech do not recognize this concerted effort to squelch one side of the debate. On the contrary, some are all too eager to recognize academic freedom only when it does not apply and to ignore anti-Semitism where it does. Those who support academic freedom should insist that it not be used as a weapon in support of the silencers and against their victims. If they cannot speak out on the right side of this debate, they should at least not join the wrong side.
This op-ed was distributed by Joint Media News Service.
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