May 16, 2009
Ahmadinejad Can Speak on a US Campus, But Netanyahu CannotBy Edward Olshaker
Imagine it's 1940, and picture Adolf Hitler speaking at a US university, receiving a polite reception, while Winston Churchill is barred from speaking because his safety cannot be guaranteed.
It's unthinkable, yet the very same pro-fascist dynamic is a reality in 21st Century America.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to America knowing he is a second-class citizen who is denied the free-speech rights enjoyed even by prominent jihadists, having been violently prevented from speaking on campuses in the US and Canada in recent years.
Protestors at Berkeley, the campus once synonymous with the term "free speech," forced the cancellation of Netanyahu's speech there, as well as two subsequent speeches, in November 2000. The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California reported:
The vitriol that greeted Netanyahu at Berkeley only worsened in the ensuing years. Anneli Rufus of the East Bay Express recalled that in 2001:
The same mentality was on display in spring 2002 at San Francisco State University, where pro-Israel students and elderly Holocaust survivors trying to hold a rally were stopped by violent protestors screaming "F-- the Jews," "Jews, go back to Russia," "Too bad Hitler didn't finish the job," and "Get out or we'll kill you."
Threats of "we'll kill you" appear to have led to the logical next step in the recent violent death of 38-year-old pro-Israel activist Daniel J. Kliman in San Francisco.
It appears that present-day northern California is to Jews what Mississippi in the early 20th Century was to African-Americans-the epicenter of explosive hate-although the same bigotry permeates much of the academic world.
That would include Concordia University in Montreal, where Netanyahu was prevented from speaking about the war against terrorism. Daniel Pipes, writing in the New York Post on September 17, 2002, described the violent scene:
Pipes noted a revealing contrast involving another speaker the same week:
Yet the protestors did not block the terrorist spokeswoman from expressing her opinions (a mere year after the 9/11 attacks), and she is just one of countless pro-terror speakers who are welcome on US campuses. Sheikh Khalid Yasin, a convert to Islam, has been invited to numerous colleges to preach that terrorism is justified, homosexuals should be murdered, and Christian missionaries in Africa are injecting people with AIDS. Terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, of course, have never had to worry about efforts to shut them down at the universities where they teach.
Little wonder that when the genocide-espousing Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University on September 24, 2007, the event did not seem out of the ordinary. His politely received speech was hailed by many observers as a fine display of one of the noblest ideals of institutions of higher learning -the free exchange of ideas.
Hardly anyone in the media noted that, the day before he departed for America, Ahmadinejad re-emphasized the two most heartfelt ideas to which he and his regime are dedicated--"Death to America" and "Death to Israel," emblazoned on signs in a military parade over which he presided.
Were the deaths of America and Israel debatable propositions? For many in the academic world, the answer apparently is yes. After all, they would tell us, that's what universities are for. Let all views be heard.
All views, that is, with certain exceptions, including the anti-terror message of the prime
minister of Israel.
Edward Olshaker is a longtime journalist whose work has appeared in History News Network, The Jewish Press, FrontPage Magazine, and other publications.