Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

At least someone at Brown has some common sense

Brown University, in common with most expensive American educational institutions, has a strong anti-Semitic wing that finds voice in demands that the University withdraw any investments it has that benefit Israel. A copy editor at the Brown Daily Herald, while accepting the moral relativism that now regularly characterizes the debate (that is, Israel and the Palestinians are at least equally guilty of wrongdoing), at least has the common sense to recognize that the divestment campaign is intellectually false and morally bankrupt. You can read the whole op-ed here, but I'll just highlight a few of his points, as they relate strictly to Israel (he also makes a good point about the fact that a University is not a democracy, with students dictating all institutional decisions):

The United Nations - sponsored World Conference on Racism did, in fact, speak against Israel's policies under the Barak government as ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. However, this same conference failed to mention human rights abuses in China, Rwanda or any place in the Arab world. Just because the opponents of Israel, including ARA, are well organized, does not necessitate that they are in the moral right. Their campaign seems limited, as they call for the University to single out Israel among the nations of the world. I'm not particularly pro-Israel or pro-Palestine; I'm just against a movement whose sole purpose is economic warfare against a sovereign state. I think we can have a vigorous debate about whether it was moral to create Israel in the first place [Ed. -- well, actually, I don't think that's debatable anymore], and certainly whether its foreign and defense policies are just. However, that dialogue is not created by a kind of movement based more on rhetoric than reasoned argument. Suggesting that the policies of Israel are a system of apartheid, to describe its actions as genocide, to characterize its procedures as crimes against humanity, are charges that are both thoughtless and odious. Stating conclusions without explaining how you got there does not amount to intellectualism, but rather a destruction of true fact-finding.
Having come out on the side of reason, not emotion, the article dips dangerously into that odious moral relativism I mentioned, almost seems to crash, but then pulls out of the dive for a clear statement about the need to avoid biased hyberbole as the engine in the Israel debate:
The pragmatic reality of the situation is that neither party is innocent in the Middle East, and both sides have spilled blood, and had blood spilled. [Ed. -- I would distinguish between blood spilled defensively against military targets, and destructive acts aimed at civilian populations, but that's just me.] The question now is how we can get all the parties to the negotiating table, and address the other questions of greatest importance - those of Palestinian statehood, the removal of the wall, the problems of refugees, how to recognize the national aspirations of both of these peoples and how the United States can play a positive role in the process. These questions should drive our debate, one in which reasonable people can passionately disagree. But as Jeffrey Garten and Anthony Kronman, the deans of the schools of management and law at Yale have written: "Those now campaigning for divestment from Israel contribute not at all to this debate. Their distortions of fact, hyperbole of expression and lack of moral judgment must be rejected with the same decisiveness that we embrace the cause of peace and the reasoned, careful and patient search for a pathway to it."
It appears that at least one person is getting some benefit from that pricey Brown education.