The brave and gifted Israeli journalist Amira Hass, daughter of Nazi Holocaust survivors and a past resident of Gaza (she authored a book about Gaza in 2000), was a featured lecturer at this year’s Eqbal Ahmad Memorial hosted by Hampshire College.
Howard Friel, author with Richard Falk of the excellent Record of the Paper and Israel-Palestine on Record, on Alan Dershowitz’s mad-dog tactics in silencing dissent, and the spinelessness of Hampshire College administration.
Suppose you are the president of a small college in the United States, or chairman of the board of trustees at the same school, and a prominent professor from the most powerful and prestigious university in the United States unfairly attacks a group of your students with baseless accusations of anti-Israel bigotry and political extremism. Do you first and foremost stand by your students—if indeed the charges are baseless and inflammatory—or do you submit an open letter to a newspaper in Israel, addressed to the university professor in question, and plead for mercy, knowing that this one professor can go a long way in ruining the reputation of your college with allegations of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bigotry?
The college in question is Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, the college president is Ralph Hexter, the board of trustees chair is Sigmund Roos, the prominent out-of-town professor is Harvard Law School’s Alan Dershowitz, and the students belong to a Hampshire College branch of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Whether the students inappropriately announced that the college had narrowly divested from investment funds that benefit Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is not addressed here, though it is a key component of the controversy that has unfolded on the Hampshire campus and in the Jerusalem Post. Rather, the concern here is that Hexter and Roos neglected to defend the underlying motivation of the Hampshire students against the McCarthy-era allegations of Alan Dershowitz, and instead engaged in a sycophantic and unprofessional public effort to distance themselves from the legitimate political and humanitarian concerns of the students.
Ever since it announced to widespread applause its decision to divest from the Israeli occupation, Hampshire College administration is being hammered by the Israel lobby’s flak machine led by Zionist fanatic Alan Dershowitz (best known for his academic malpractices) who is threatening the institution with withdrawal of funding, unless, Inside Higher Ed reports, ‘Hampshire resolves any ambiguities and clearly states that it rejects student efforts to divest from the Jewish state. “What they have to do is make it impossible for the students to plausibly be able to declare victory,” said Dershowitz, whose son went to Hampshire.’ But Hampshire students are standing strong (here they are in their own words). They are calling on the institution’s administration to embrace the moment. They recognize that this is ‘bigger than Hampshire‘.(For full coverage check out the indispensalbe MondoWeiss)
Following is a call from Hampshire students for support. This is a historical moment. Please take the time to apprise the administration of your views.
Over the last 24 hours, there has been a huge response from students, parents, journalists, activists, public figures, political organizations, and individuals such as yourselves from across the country and the world congratulating us for our historic achievement this week. We are impressed and heartened by your passion in supporting us in this exciting campaign.
The times they are a-changing. Students for Justice in Palestine have scored a major victory for their stated aim. Please distribute widely.
The excellent Afshin Rattansi of Press TV interviews Kanye D’Almedia of SFP on the divestment from Israel over the plight of the Palestinians…and could Harvard be next?
UPDATE: SJP reports that Hampshire College is being threatened by Alan Dershowitz with the familiar Zionist threat of withdrawal of funding.
Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP’s “institutional statement” calling for the divestment.