On Tuesday, October 3, Ali Abunimah will speak at Oberlin. His talk is titled, “How to End Israeli Apartheid.” Mr. Abunimah is notorious for his anti-Semitic vitriol, which seeps through his attacks on the world’s only Jewish state. Former Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network and left-wing columnist M.J. Rosenberg said, “it is clear that he cannot stand Jews.” The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights: “As a veteran professional activist, he usually delivers smooth presentations that tend to obscure the fact that his often invoked demands for ‘justice in Palestine’ require the injustice of doing away with the world’s only Jewish state in order to replace it with another Arab Muslim-majority state.” Abunimah regularly compares Israel to Nazi Germany, a comparison that has been deemed antisemitic by the Obama State Department.
Mr. Abunimah’s talk is sponsored by Oberlin’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). While those groups are entitled to invite speakers of their choosing, why does Oberlin’s administration and faculty not make efforts to ensure that students are exposed to speakers who challenge this type of antisemitic propaganda, especially in light of the events of last year? Those events included the revelation that one of Oberlin’s faculty, Joyce Karega, was making blatantly antisemitic posts on her social media pages, leading to the termination of her contract, and the vandalization of a Jewish professor’s home with swastikas. Oberlin’s reputation has suffered and applications have dramatically declined — yet Oberlin doubles down on its passionate anti-Zionist theme without providing opportunities for students to hear a range of perspectives. Unless the administration and faculty get serious about ensuring that Oberlin offers rigorous debate, robust dialogue, and civil discourse around a myriad of complex issues confronting our world, we believe that the decline in applications, donations and reputation will continue.
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