“the notion that Palestinian voices are silenced – a claim I hear frequently on campus – is an inversion of reality”

2024-04-07 18:00:23

I don’t interact much with other accounts on Twitter very much, in fact, almost never. I don’t have a lot of followers, and I mostly use Twitter as my news feed, to share LI posts, and to RT things.

So it was a rarity for me to respond to a thread by someone I’ve known through interacting on Twitter. The person is a free speech lawyer and also was active against Covid lockdowns. It doesn’t matter who it is for the purpose of this blog post, so I’m not naming or linking.

I knew she was partially Palestinian from her name and a small number of family facts she has tweeted. She’s never been political on Twitter about the Middle East.

Here’s what she tweeted:

One reason I’m a fierce defender of free speech is that I, the daughter of a Palestinian, grew up witnessing the silencing of criticism of Israel through false allegations of anti-semitism. 1/

I’ve remained silent for far too long b/c I, too, am terrified of being the recipient of such charges. I’m afraid of losing my job, harming my professional reputation, losing friends, and incurring wrath on this platform. But I have had enough. 2/

I know that when I’m breathing my last breath, I won’t forgive myself for remaining silent out of cowardice. What job is worth having, & what friends are worth having, that require remaining silent in the face of crimes against humanity, including against one’s own relatives? 3/

Israel has been able to control this narrative for decades by ensuring people like me won’t speak the truth about our family’s experiences or betray our own opinions because we are afraid. I’m deeply ashamed at how many times I’ve failed to speak up in the past few months 4/

Most Americans have zero concept of the heinous treatment to which Palestinians have been subject for decades, culminating in this atrocity. And that’s because of the successful silencing of Palestinians & Palestinian Americans. I won’t play along anymore. 5/5

I responded because she’s a credible person asserting an incredible but very common claim that Palestinian voices are silenced. Just the opposite is true. “Palestinian voices” dominate almost everything, and every other suffering ethnic or religious group needs to step aside so everybody can talk about Palestinian grievances.

Here was my response:

I wish you well and hope you speak your mind without retribution, but the notion that Palestinian voices are silenced – a claim I hear frequently on campus – is an inversion of reality.

On campuses, including @Cornell, there are few openly pro-Israel faculty left because for a generation having anything Zionist or pro-Israel on your CV made getting hired almost impossible in the humanities and social sciences. Pro-Israel faculty are aging out, and the younger faculty who are active on the issue are radically anti-Israel, and they use their power to make Palestinian voices heard. Hardly a week goes by without a clearly anti-Israel event sponsored by faculty departments, yet I can’t recall a single clearly pro-Israel event that had departmental sponsorship, the best we can hope for is something that’s not a complete anti-Israel hatefest.

All we ever talk about are Palestinian grievances, usually coupled with false and malicious charges that Israeli Jews are white colonizers and that having a majority Jewish state is an ‘ethnostate’ and apartheid, charges never made against majority Muslim states that incorporate to varying degrees Islam into their laws.

Almost the entirety of the U.N. and its agencies, and the representative governments, are devoted to demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and elevating Palestinian voices. Major ‘human rights’ organizations like Amnesty and HRW have been coopted into attacking Israel. The most heinous accusations regularly are made against Israel without disruption of speakers or events, yet pro-Israel events and speakers need extensive security and even then regularly are disrupted. I’ve yet to see a pro-Palestinian speaker shouted down.

Good luck getting a job in journalism if you are pro-Israel. Increasingly high tech also is hostile, as leaked chats have revealed.

The Democratic Socialists, BLM, and a host of other leftwing political groups and unions, have endorsed the boycott of Israel, as have several faculty professional groups. The academic boycott of Israel silences Israeli scholars and American scholars and students who want to interact with Israelis.

That Americans still mostly support Israel and vote for pro-Israel politicians does not mean that Palestinian voices are silenced, people simply don’t agree that Israel is the demon it’s portrayed to be.

I agree that the accusation of antisemitism has been overused, but so have false and overly broad accusations of racism, something which has been a Democrat political cudgel against Republicans and conservatives for decades. Groups like CAIR have weaponized false accusations of Islamophobia to silience criticism of even the most extreme Islamist groups very effectively.

There are two sides to this coin.

Again, good luck.

Here are some other responses:

From Jordan Schachtel: “The idea that you can’t be critical of Israel is absurd. Israel is the most criticized nation in the world. The Palestinian movement is led by jihadist terrorists, supported by a majority of Palestinians. If they won’t hold their leaders accountable, nothing will change.”

From the account Wasted Thoughts: “I respect your stalwart defense of free speech. I vehemently disagree with your claim that false allegations of antisemitism silence criticism of Israel. Publicly criticizing Israel is not rare or brave. Israel is by far the world’s most criticized nation, mostly unfairly so.”

[Featured Image: Berkeley City Council Meeting]


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