Opinion | Op-eds

Free speech at Barnard, but only when it’s easy

Barnard's selection of Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, as commencement speaker and its decision to remove a preapproved Students for Justice in Palestine banner from Barnard Hall reveal a double standard in Barnard’s commitment to free speech. Both actions have sparked debate and furor about the issues themselves, but the disparity in Barnard’s treatment of political speech and the idea of “endorsing” speech should be the real controversy.

I have always deeply admired Barnard College, and frequently pointed to its strong and simultaneous commitment to its students’ well-being and independence as a model for other undergraduate institutions. It is for this reason that I chose to give to the Barnard 2012 Senior Fund, instead of my own school’s senior fund, and why I plan to give to Barnard’s annual fund far into the future. However, Barnard’s actions this week have been deeply disappointing.

Although SJP went through existing administrative procedure to hang a banner that did not advocate violence, the banner was quickly removed by the administration. This was done out of concern that Barnard was endorsing the banner’s political message, due its proximity to an official Barnard banner and its prominence on the exterior of Barnard Hall. The administration’s action was in response to student groups’ and student leaders’ “discomfort,” which Seffi Kogen wrote about in an op-ed (“Politicized banners on Barnard Hall hurt community,” March 12).

Barnard’s choice of Richards, the head of the nation’s largest abortion provider, as commencement speaker caused similar controversy. Kate Christensen, president of the Columbia College Republicans, noted in an op-ed that some students found the selection “truly devastating” and “an experience of profound alienation.” However, rather than demanding that Barnard disinvite Richards, Christensen appropriately voiced her opposition in an op-ed (“Barnard College commencement speaker alienates many in community,” March 10). Barnard, for its part, does not seem too worried that people will think having Richards speak at a Barnard-festooned podium will “convey an endorsement” of Richards’ political positions. That’s because I think Barnard is smart enough to know that serving as a venue for ideas is not necessarily the same as endorsing those ideas. Barnard administrators also know that having political speech next to your logo or banner does not in and of itself constitute an endorsement. Barnard is choosing to hide behind that excuse in the case of SJP, even though its behavior in selecting Richards as speaker seems to demonstrate that it knows better.

As for the students who prodded the administrators to remove the banner, if LionPAC and students like Seffi Kogen disagreed with or felt uncomfortable with the message they interpreted in SJP’s banner, the appropriate response would not have been an attempt to remove the banner, but a submission of their own banner that expressed their feelings and beliefs, which could also be hung outside Barnard Hall flanking the Barnard banner. 

That, ultimately, is how students should express their opposition to an instance of political speech in an institution that values free speech. Students should not work to get speech they disagree with taken down, regardless of how close to a Barnard banner it is. LionPAC and Hillel should know this, being, along with SJP, members of the Student Governing Board—the governing board for values-oriented student groups that is dedicated to preserving free speech and student groups’ rights to self-governance.

A little over a year ago, Hillel alleged that SJP was taking down Hillel’s posters about Israel. They filed a formal complaint about the incident through SGB's judicial process, so I know that Hillel is deeply familiar with just how traumatizing it can be to have a poster taken down. But the point here is not to question the authenticity or validity of that emotional response—rather, emotional responses simply shouldn't be considered in decisions about permitting political speech.

So why the disconnect between Barnard’s actions regarding SJP and its invitation to Richards? My guess is that Barnard administrators know that freedom of speech for a pro-choice advocate is a lot easier to sell to an all-female student body than it is to sell freedom of speech for a banner advocating justice in Palestine to a student body which is somewhere between 33 and 45 percent Jewish and fairly pro-Israel.

Ultimately, Barnard made a choice that it is in favor of freedom of speech, but only when it is speech that is not too unpopular with its students (or worse, alumni donors). And that, of course, isn’t really freedom of speech at all.

Barry Weinberg is a 2012 graduate of Columbia College. He is the former chair of the Student Governing Board. 

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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Christopher Godshall posted on

Snaps.

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Tamsin posted on

Very, very, well written. Cheers.

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Proud Barnard Palestinian American posted on

Thank you.

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Marco posted on

Palestinian Arabs have exceeded the balanced scale of attention, when their are 28 other conflicts and border wars in the world today involving Muslim regimes and leaders.

And then the bulk of those without autonomy:

Kurd Net Daily Online News: 
"For years the 30 million Kurds spread across those territories have been the world's largest ethnic group without an independent homeland. Only the Kurds in Iraq, who displaced Iraqi forces in the 1990s when a U.S. and British no-fly zone was in place against Saddam Hussein, have managed to carved out an area of real autonomy."

Coptic News: 
"Since Christianity came to Egypt in 57 A.D., we, the Christians of Egypt, have not had conflict with the Jewish people. Copts have been a marginal population held in captivity for sixteen centuries. We constitute the largest non-Arab, non-Moslem minority in the Middle East. The Church of Alexandria, is one of the oldest organizations in the Middle East. Despite this distinguished history, it is a church that has been under siege since the Islamic invasion."

Assyrian News Agency:
"Keep in mind that these Christian minorities, the Assyrians, Armenians, Copts, are actually the original inhabitants of these areas with roots going back thousands of years before Christianity. What we're seeing is a systematic attempt to cleanse the Middle East of its original inhabitants, this is a continuation of the genocide that took place in Ottoman Turkey in 1915."

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Anonymous posted on

So true!

Arabs slaughter other Arabs. The only thing that holds them together is their vile hatred of jews.

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BC2012 posted on

Very well-written Barry. I sent an email to Deborah Spar formally telling her that my significant other and I will not be giving to Barnard this year.

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Seffi Kogen posted on

Thanks for your contribution to this conversation Barry! I'm breaking my own rule of never commenting on Spec or Bwog articles (though I do love to read the comments) because of my respect for you and what you have to say.

There are a few aspects of what you wrote that I'd like to comment on. First, when you cite my op-ed, you wrote the word "discomfort," as though you were quoting me - except the word "discomfort" doesn't appear anywhere in what I wrote. This was intentional. I'm a big fan of productive discomfort and the learning opportunities that come with it; I regularly seek out opportunities to have my views challenged. So please believe me when I say that if the banner had merely made the pro-Israel community on campus uncomfortable, I hope that it would still be hanging today.

But that wasn't what happened. As I've written, the banner, with its message and map wasn't just discomfiting - it preached violence and hate. It took Israeli and Palestinian lands and turned them into one country called Palestine. In effect, it wiped Israel off the map. For so many of us here who love Israel as the homeland of our people, this came across as hateful. Just as I would never let someone say that the Palestinian people don't "deserve" a homeland, so too will I refuse to stand idly by when someone attacks the Jewish right to self-determination.

Did Barnard violate C-SJP's right to free speech by taking down their banner? No, they simply enforced the limits on free speech that already exist in this country. (I'll leave aside the obvious limit of false statements of fact, though I will maintain that Israel is not an apartheid state - and so will Judge Richard Goldstone: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/opinion/israel-and-the-apartheid-slander.html?_r=0.) Offensive speech is not constitutionally guaranteed. So when C-SJP hung a banner that left me and many of my friends feeling personally attacked and for the first time ever unsafe at Barnard, they had departed from the realm of free expression to that of hate speech, which should never be tolerated in our community.

Yet, there is something quite sad about the state of our community when, as I've seen in many of the comments and statements about this incident (including what the majority of SGB had to say), it is so impossible to see Jews as victims. No one seems ready to sympathize with the severe emotional duress that C-SJP's banner caused many within the Jewish community. Now that it's down, however, there are those who rush to express their solidarity with C-SJP. I'm thrilled to live in a world where many Jews are privileged to the point that the victimhood of our parents' and grandparents' generations is so foreign, but when Jews are attacked, as was the case in this incident, let's not blame the victims.

So yes, Barry, Just as I believe that it would have been better for Barnard to avoid such a controversial figure for commencement, so too do I think that the banner space is not the place for blatant hate speech - or political statements of any kind. As long as I've been here, there have never been political messages in the banner space. I think the best policy would be to keep it that way.

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Anonymous posted on

I am just going to reply to one thing you said: Jews were not attacked. Attacking Israel is not attacking Jews. The banner does not hurt the Jewish community, it hurts the feelings of the Zionist, pro-Israel community. Israel does not represent all Jews, saying that it does erases and silences many voiced of Jews who do not support the actions, the policies, or even the idea of Israel as a Jewish State. The banner was offensive to you as a pro-Israel Zionist and not simply because you are Jewish.

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Arafat posted on

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr., Harvard University 1968.

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Arafat posted on

"Criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic. But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to exist, to defend itself while systematically ignoring or excusing the violence and oppression all around it?"

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Anonymous posted on

Thanks a lot for that totally-pc-totally-relevant quote from 1968. It really added to the dialogue here.

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Anonymous posted on

By this comment, you reveal yourself as a good old fashioned jew hater.

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bjw2119 posted on

Thanks for continuing the discussion, Seffi. I appreciate your response, but I take issue with a few matters of fact, as well as to your conclusions. I would like to make it most clear, though, that I have not and am not taking a stand on Israel's legitimacy or Palestinian claims of apartheid in Israel. I am confronting the question of process and rights of free speech when that banner, whatever it said, was taken down. I believe that all speech short of that advocating specific and near-term localized violence (i.e. violence against people in the audience or in a position to be attacked by the audience, in this case, students, not, say, speech supporting the War in Iraq or calling for military intervention in Crimea), should be protected. This belief is essentially shared by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brandenberg vs. Ohio, not that it matters.

First of all, I do not agree that the banner called for the violent destruction of the State of Israel. It is a picture of a landmass colored in green, with a call for "justice." I'm not a legal scholar, but I'm almost absolutely sure that a court would never find that such a banner called for immediate violence against a local population (i.e. Barnard's Jewish or pro-Zionist population), and I'm even skeptical that lots of people would interpret it as a call for violence against the state of Israel. No one ever seems to complain that the United Nations' logo calls for the dissolution of all countries into one world government. Then again, maybe my conspiracy theory senses aren't that in-tune. Nevertheless, there is a big difference between violence against a state and violence against people on campus. I doubt that anyone would say rallies in support of the Vietnam war and the wars in Iraq were "preaching violence and hate" even though they were very clearly calling for violence against a state. Basically, I contest your factual claim that the banner called for violence against students at Barnard and Columbia. I also contest the claim that it called for the "erasure" of the State of Israel, but that's not central to my argument, so I'll grant you it and assume that it was calling for the destruction of Israel. It doesn't change my argument that it should be permitted if Barnard is a place that respects freedom of speech.

As a second point of fact, offense speech is in fact legally protected by the First Amendment, as has been affirmed by many, many Supreme Court precedents. I'm not a legal scholar, but even I know that this is the case. Regarding intent to intimidate, the Court has found in Virginia vs. Black that speech (in this case, cross burning) cannot on its face be considered intimidation, but the intent to intimidate must be proven. I don't know if this applies to Barnard as a private institution, but my point is that Barnard should not claim to protect freedom of speech while not actually protecting freedom of speech. It's a moral argument about honesty (and in favor of freedom of speech), not a legal one about whether what they did was constitutional.

On a more personal side, in response to your second-to-last paragraph, I think that we have very different conceptions of what our obligations are as Jews to society and the position of difficult speech. It is true that we have come a long way from previous generations and as a result are far more privileged for that. It is my belief, though, that with those privileges comes a great responsibility to help others and to do all in our power to right the wrongs and injustices we find. While emotionally we may sympathize with students who felt hurt or alienated by this banner, I think it is worth looking at the example of David Goldberger, the ACLU attorney who defended an American neo-Nazi group's right to demonstrate in Skokie, IL, even as he abhorred the group's ideology and faced immense backlash from his own community in order to stand up for the right to freedom of speech, even the most horribly and personally offensive speech. I would hope that our community would always stand up for the principles and values that helped make the American ideal something that our forebears believed in enough to leave their homes and cross oceans to come to this country, even when it means incurring emotional duress or backlash from our own community.

In short, I apologize for misquoting you, but I don't think that "discomfort" was too far off from a middle position between "annoyed," "distraught," "hurt," and "alienating." Even if it isn't comparable, I don't think the idea that some speech is "alienating" is grounds for silencing said speech. You are right that Barnard was legally within its rights to take down the banner, but I was not making a legal argument. I was making a moral argument by simply calling Barnard on its hypocrisy in claiming to allow freedom of speech, but then seemingly allowing one official-seeming presentation of speech while taking down a (presumably) less popular one. Finally, when it comes to making a decision on whether or not to permit speech, I do not care that pro-Zionists (or even accepting your assertion, the entire Jewish student body) suffered "emotional duress." I would not care that anti-Zionist (or even all Palestinian) students were to have suffered "emotional duress" if there had been a banner supporting Operation Cast Lead in 2008 hanging on Barnard Hall. Had the Kingsmen been an SGB group, I would have defended their right to have offensive posters as well. These are not popular decisions or positions, but you simply cannot make decisions about freedom of speech based on how someone feels about the speech itself. If you do that, then anyone can feel "emotional duress" about any speech, and "freedom of speech" then becomes meaningless. This is basic, John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty" stuff from CC. If someone feels "emotional duress" from some speech, then the appropriate response is to speak out and argue against that speech. If you feel comfortable having the authorities quash such speech, then you do not support freedom of speech. The easiest way to come to this conclusion is to ask "Who gets to draw the line?" between what is acceptable speech and what is not. You might be comfortable with President Spar and Dean Hinkson drawing that line, but you might not be so comfortable if this were, say, Liberty University administrators or even our own known anti-Semitic University President Nicholas Murray Butler.

What disappointed me most about this was not even the Barnard administration's hypocrisy, but it was the role of SGB groups and student leaders of SGB groups attempting to get speech censored. It's fine not to believe in freedom of speech, but it is another thing entirely to head a group that is a member of a body dedicated to protecting students' freedom of speech and right to self-governance and then go and try to take down another student group's banner. It not only quashes the rights of one student group, but it undermines the entire institution set up to protect the rights of all the values-oriented student groups. It was not only hypocritical, but deeply damaging to all student groups' shared interests in strong protection of freedom of speech on campus.

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omf2102 posted on

I was going to reply, but bjw2119 made all the right points so cleverly (and politely). Thank you.

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Fred posted on

Barry, you graduated, move on from Columbia.

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Well posted on

this was a useless comment.

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Anonymous posted on

I was wondering what Barry Weinberg would say about all this. Now I know. Thanks for showing the broader campus community that most Jews aren't Likudnik retards.

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Goy CC alum posted on

False equivalence drawn. Analysis invalid. 1) "Stand" marks an overtly political alignment in the rhetoric of American political English. There is no "stand", nor its performative cognate, made explicit in the decision to invite and the decision to not disinvite PP's director. 2) "for justice" holds as it's logical implication the existence of an explicit and clearly identifiable status of in-justice that need be corrected by active intervention (or, the statement implies that readers should assume responsibility for the negating motion within a dialectical arc). While I personally disagree with many Israeli policies, this statement ignores the contested status of many claims made by advocates of both Palistenian and Israeli rights. Because it presents a closed status where in fact no such status exists it is a falsification and is therefore combative/dictatorial, in keeping with the absolutive mode of the preceding "stand". The comparison made in this article's analysis is invalid, for the invitation to the director of PP implies no such endorsement or rejection of a normative value of "justice"; she was not, for example, asked to expound on the merits of abortion practices. 3) Palestine and abortion are the two functional values for "controversy". This false equivalency stumps even me, beyond the fact that people like to make impassioned and illogical rants about both. 4) The poster in question visually erases Israel and is therefore overtly ahistorical and political in sentiment. The invitation to director of PP does not in any way deny the existence of so-called "pro lifers" or seek to remove them and their history from the face of the earth. It does not entail a genocidal episteme. False equivalence. QED.

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Anonymous posted on

this comment really makes you an a-hole, goy cc alum. thanks for your unwavering support to irrelevant and elitist columbia jargon.

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Anonymous posted on

name calling is an effective debate tactic

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Anonymous posted on

Free speech is good. But throughout Columbia University, free assaults happen very often too. The leaders are irresponsible.

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Anonymous posted on

We only have "free speech" if you are pro Israel.

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Arafat posted on

Free speech only when Israel is involved?

This is the typical lie from those who want to destroy Israel. Goebbels said tell a big enough lie often enough and....

If this were true then why did Edward Said teach here? Why did Ahmadinejad speak here?

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Anonymous posted on

Exactly the point, you proved it perfectly by your comment. If anyone has an anti Isreali position, you do not want them to teach here or speak here or even be seen here. Is that fair? Is that just? Is that free speech?

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Arafat posted on

Exactly my point Ahmadinejad and Said and their ilk are always here. The Palestinians have more bleeding-heart support than any refugee group in the world.

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Anonymous posted on

They are only refugees because Israel kicked them out of their land.

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Marco posted on

It is also worth noting that the Palestinian refugees are the only refugees in the world whose status is hereditary.  While every other refugee population in the world, such as the millions of displaced persons after the Second World War, has decreased with the passage of time, the Palestinian refugee population continually increases.  Therefore, those refugees from 1948 have today become millions.  The Arab world’s demand that these refugees be allowed to return to the State of Israel, known as the “Right of Return”, therefore becomes a powerful weapon, as an influx of that magnitude would cause the demographic destruction of the Jewish State.  This would be in violation of Paragraph 11 of Resolution 194, which required that those returning should and desiring to “live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”  The Right of Return, being a weapon for the demographic destruction of Israel, fits neither the “live at peace” clause nor the “earliest practicable date” clause.  There is no practical, let alone moral, way for Israel to accept and enable its own demise.

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Marco posted on

1.5 million Palestinian Arabs live in Israel proper as citizens on land that hypocritical activists claim was ethnically cleansed.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas wants to define "Palestine" as an Arab and Muslim State. They have applied to the United Nations for Statehood, and to be the 23rd Arab Country. They want Jerusalem to be an Arab Capital. This is quite hypocritical of a Government who believes that a Jewish State has no right to exist.

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Marco posted on

UNRWA definition of a Palestine refugee in 1952: "A Palestine refugee is a person whose normal residence was Palestine for a minimum period of two years preceding the outbreak of the conflict in 1948 and who, as a result of this conflict has lost both his home and his means of livelihood."

In 1993, UNRWA changed its basic definition to the one in use today: [Palestine refugee] shall mean any person whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.

This definition omitted the reference to persons of Arab origin in the 1948 General Assembly proposal, and opened the possibility of including stateless persons who had been residents of Palestine.

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Arafat posted on

The Columbia Spectator will not publish my comments because they speak truth to Islam and its supremacist tenets.

Free speech at Columbia means PC speech, not free speech

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Gennaro Pasquale posted on

Israel settlers also treat all of historic Palestine as one country except to them it belongs only to Jews with the Palestinians having no rights even though they were the majority until expelled by Zionists who stole their land. A thief never acquires good title and the Palestinians have a Right of Return recognized by the UN and in international law. The Palestinians have a right to resist occupation and no country recognizes the legality of any Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem.

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Arafat posted on

Everyone has a right to resist, but most people (other than the Palestinians) understand life is better spent living than fighting.

There are NO indigenous people other than arguably the black people of Ethiopia.

In fact wherever Islam exists it does so by force. Why don't the Berbers of North Africa resist, or the few remaining Hindus of Pakistan and Bangladesh?

Why don't the Buddhists of Malaysia resist? What of the Armenians of Turkey or the Kurds of northern Iran and Iraq? What of the Animists of Sudan?

A more cogent question is why do you only focus on the Palestinians while ignoring the tens of millions displaced by Islamic jihad?

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Gennaro Pasquale posted on

if everyone had your spirit South Africa would still have apartheid and blacks would still be in the back of the bus with woman in Heredi buses in Israel. Islam is the fastest growing religion and there have never been forced conversions in Islam as their has been in Christianity. The Golden Age of Judaism was in Islamic Spain. Anti-semitism, the Inquisition, forced conversion of Jews and expulsion of Jews were all based on Christian hatred. I focus on Palestinians because their suffering is unending under Zionism which can never cleanse itself of its hatred of the indigenous Palestinian population of the Holy Land and which is a threat to Judaism.

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Arafat posted on

Gennaro drowned in the kool-aid.

Islam IS the fastest growing religion as Nazism was once the fastest growing ideology.

Just as Nazis invaded country after country so have Muslims. Just as Nazis invaded Czheckoslavakia (and forced the people there to support Nazism) so did Muslims in Sudan.

Just as Nazis forcibly took over Poland and forced the Poles to support the Nazi war machine so have the Muslims done in countless countries from Pakistan to the Caucuses and from Indonesia to Morocco.

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Marco posted on

The question of Statehood was resolved with the 1947 U.N. partition plan (a Jewish State and an "Arab" State living side by side in peace and security). However, six "Arab "armies invaded the newly formed Jewish State, in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to destroy it, they lost this gamble. Several more Arab wars were launched against the tiny Jewish State and much terrorism. It is ironic that Palestinian Arabs, seek statehood now via a path they have rejected for tiny Jewish State all these years.

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Anonymous posted on

Students for Justice in Palestine advocates BDS, which includes academic boycotts of Israel. In other words, they seek to deny Israelis a voice on campus no matter who they are. Apparently there's free speech at Barnard but only for certain racial and religious groups, the ones that meet with SJP;s approval.

By the way, the banner called for the annihilation of the state of Israel and the deprivation of the Jewish people's human rights. Not "justice" for Palestinians.

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Marco posted on

The banner of Islam flies over 99.9% of the Middle East land mass, and many want to see it fly over 100% of the land. Hamas: No Muslim shall rest until the banner of Islam flies over every inch of the land.

How many of these people are boycotting Islamic Countries for institutional apartheid, religious apartheid, gender apartheid, minority apartheid, sectarian apartheid, along with repression of free speech and expression, where unauthorized sex and marriage carries severe penalties.  What happened to "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" ?

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Anonymous posted on

It's interesting how popular organizations like SJP are on liberal campuses like Columbia. Why is that one wonders?

I mean Palestinian leaders have said their state would be Jew-free.

Palestinian women are often brutalized as our homosexuals.

Freedom of speech in Palestinian schools, media and elsewhere is at a minimum. Those who support Israel are "silenced" and the schools teach hatred and genocide.

Why is it leftist schools like Columbia typically have such a strong affinity for organizations like SJP?

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Marco posted on

We have history that we can examine: Of the 57 seven declared Muslim Countries, what happened to the indigenous people who "rejected Islam"? Answer: They were killed, they left, they converted, or them remain marginalized from power. What happened to the Jews and Christians of Mecca? What happened to the West Bank, the cradle of Jewish civilization, the birth place of Solomon, David, and Jesus? It appears that Arabs/Muslims do not want Jews to live there.

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Gennaro Pasquale posted on

Marco. If you want to talk about marginalization, look at the non-Jewish citizens of Israel who are second class citizens by any standards. They receive less governmental services, inferior schools, are denied access to 90% of the land which is for "Jews Only" under the racist JNF rules and cannot have their non-Jewish wives move to Israel to live with them. Jews and Christians were never forced to convert under Islam and the "Golden Age" of Judaism was under Islamic rule in Spain where the mother tongue of Jews was Arabic.

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Marco posted on

@Gennaro, if you believe Israel to be a true apartheid state, please tell us all: Which Israeli hospitals refuse to admit Israeli Arabs? Which Israeli restaurants refuse to serve Israeli Arabs? Which Israeli universities refuse to admit Israeli Arabs? Which Israeli buses refuse to board Israeli Arabs? In what elections are Israeli Arabs not allowed to vote? In what area of public life are Arab women not allowed to serve?

Are there pockets of discrimination, yes, racism, tribalism, nationalism, sexism, sectarianism is universal. But please do not compare human rights in Israel to its neighbors.

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Gennaro Pasquale posted on

Marco. Its an apartheid state because is not a state of all its citizens, as you know its the state of the Jews. The israeli flag is a Jewish flag. Uri Davis, in "Israel, An Apartheid State" describes in great detail how non-Jews are second class citizens in all important matters. It is not "petty apartheid" with separate water fountains etc, it is Apartheid writ large in that the Jewish Agency and the JNF are run for Jews only. Non-Jewish citizens cannot get permission to build houses or expand their towns, much less build up industrial area, all of which are reserved for Jews. Are there any Palestinian citizens of israel in the Cabinet? Are there any non-Jewish supervisors of Jews in any industry? No! If a Palestinian citizen cannot bring his wife into the country while an atheist Jew from Brooklyn comes in freely. THAT IS RACIST APARTHEID ON A GRAND SCALE.

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Marco posted on

@Gennaro, there are 57 Countries that are declared Muslim States at the United Nations, all belonging to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (the OIC), that votes as a bloc in the UN General Counsel. And you take issue with one tiny Jewish State. Do you have a balanced scale?

Egyptians were not Arabs, nor did they speak Arabic.  Syrians were not Arabs, nor did they speak Arabic, Moroccans were not Arabs, nor did they speak Arabic, Iraqis were not Arabs not did they speak Arabic, Libya was not Arab, nor did they speak Arabic, the Sudan was not Arab, nor did they speak Arabic, Tunisia was not Arab, nor did they speak Arabic, Sudan was not Arab, nor did they speak Arabic.   Why are they all called Arab Countries, speak Arabic, and belong to the league of Arab Nations, and live under some form of Islamic Sharia, which is Arabian?  But the one tiny Jewish State is a major issue for you. Why? Do you not have a balanced scale?

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Alum posted on

It amazes me how people such as Gennaro are able to be such jew haters and be able to use the politics of the Middle East to rationalize their hatred. It is mind blowing how anti-semetism will never go away. Gennaro, get it straight, the only reason their is a state of Israel is because the Jews were kicked out of Europe, the Arab world and the former Soviet Union. It exists because of hateful people like you.

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Marco posted on

@Alum-- racism, tribalism, nationalism, sectarianism, classism, sexism, are universal.

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Anonymous posted on

Wow, what are you spewing?
Let's say I agree with every single claim you make against Israel -- even the most ridiculous and malicious claims of Apartheid, racism, murder -- whatever you want. Even then, Israel does not hold a candle to any of the 21 Arab states in the region or the Palestinian territories. You are forgetting that every nation in the Middle East would love the opportunity to wipe Israel of the map. That as a Jew, it is impossible to enter any of the Arab countries and literally illegal to own property. (When Jordan owned the West Bank until 1967, its treatment of Jews was far worse than even the most far-fetched claims about Israel.) You are forgetting all the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced out of all the Arab countries in the last century, many of whose descendants go to Columbia and Barnard. (And by all, I mean ALL. The number of Jews left in many of these countries you can count on your fingers.) Even nominally there are more Arabs in Israel than Jews in all the Arab countries. You are forgetting that homosexuals and genderqueer are executed in the Arab countries and that for the most part women can't even drive. And, you forget that even Arabs receive better human rights by literally every possible standard and measure in Israel -- even according to your ridiculous claims -- compared to each and every Arab country.
Besides, most of your claims are egregiously false. Even the few you list here are misleading at best. Since when is 90% of the land for "Jews Only"? Israel, which by the way is about 20% of Mandatory Palestine, is not "Jew Only" but has a large and thriving minority of Arab citizens. (Even those who claim Apartheid only apply this term to the West Bank -- Israel itself is widely accepted to be fair and free.) Perhaps you are confusing it with the proposed Palestinian state, which would be "Arab only."
Last, your sentence about Jews in Islamic Spain is both wrong and offensive, and makes me think everything you are writing here is written out of blind ignorance. There were many well-documented times in history when Jews were forced to convert to Islam. Maimonides himself was rumored to have converted at a certain point, and he later changed halacha, against years of tradition, to allow Jews to convert rather than martyr themselves. The time period in Spain which you speak of is called the Golden Age, but not the actual best time for Jews under any standard. I'm sure every Jew of the time would rather be living during the times of the Temple, for example, considering it is in the daily prayers. And, the implication that Jews should be forever grateful to Moslems because of some isolated time period hundreds of years ago when they refrained from massacring Jews at every turn (and only a fraction of current ethnic Jews and Moslems are probably even descended from them) is bizarre.

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Gennaro Pasquale posted on

Because generally people on the "left" recognize the humanity in every person while people on the "right" often refuse to look at anyone different as being really human at all. It is distasteful to them to even hear a "foreign" language being spoken on "their" campus.
Muslims have never driven Jews out of their countries. That was done by "right" wing western countries. And Orthodox Jews brutalize and subjugate their woman as much as anti other primitive people. If Palestinians leaders said Jew-Free they probably meant Zionist-Free just like when Israeli soldiers or settlers beat them and they respond by saying they hate Jews when they mean they hate the Zionists who beat, oppress and enslave them.

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Marco posted on

To Gennaro, if you are on the far right or the far left, you have gone to far. I have no use for any religious extremists, to include orthodox Jews.

No one is further right than religious extremists, as you can see Islamists are at odds with just about everybody today- Muslim Shiites against Sunnis in Pakistan, the Shiite/Sunni divide in Bahrain, Muslims against Hindus in India, Muslims against Christians in Nigeria, Muslims against Buddhists in Southern Thailand, Muslims against Copts in Egypt, Muslims against Jews in Israel, Muslims against Christians in the Philippines, Aceh (Indonesia), Kosovo (Serbia), Muslims against Maronites in Lebanon, Muslims against Hindus in Bangladesh, Muslims against Russian Orthodox, Muslims against Greek Cypriots, Muslims against non-Arab minorities and Dinkas in the Sudan, Muslims against Zoroastrians and Bahai in Iran, the Muslim/Buddhist divide in Myanmar, Muslim sectarian conflict in Syria, the Central African Republic……

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Anonymous posted on

I think the most interesting thing about this whole debate is all the different things people have said the banner is "calling" for. The banner is a picture. Viewers can interpret it in many different ways, but it really a stretch to say the picture in itself is "violent" or is an "attack" on anyone in particular, particularly the whole Jewish student population. It represents a distinct narrative and perspective on a very controversial topic, which may be offensive to people of the opposite viewpoint, but how it's interpreted it is up to you. Sometimes in this big, bad, world, you see images or words that are offensive. That doesn't mean that they don't have a right to exist. What's actually "violent" is silencing that voice and preventing any debate about it.

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Marco posted on

@Anonymous, we know what one banner stands for. Muslim Countries have not signed the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights because it conflicts with Islamic Sharia, and instead have opted to sign the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 19 states: "There shall be NO crime or punishment EXCEPT as provided for in the Sharia."

Article 24 of the declaration states: "All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia."

ARTICLE 25: "The Islamic Shari'ah is the ONLY source of reference for the explanation or clarification of ANY of the articles of this Declaration."

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same anonymous posted on

you are an idiot. i sincerely hope you don't actually go to columbia.

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Anonymous posted on

let me break the tough news to you Marco, no country has ever signed the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. I know this may sound shocking to you, but the declaration is not a treaty to be signed, it is a resolution voted on by the UN General Assembly.
Another shocking piece of news, Muslim countries are not one country.
Now the most shocking piece of news, the only Muslim country not voting for the resolution was Saudi Arabia.
Thanks for giving me a good laugh before going to sleep

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Marco posted on

It is an implied condition when applying as a member state in the United Nations.
In a joint written statement submitted by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a non-governmental organization in special consultative status, the Association for World Education (AWE) and the Association of World Citizens (AWC): a number of concerns were raised, that the CAIRO DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS limits Human Rights, Religious Freedom and Freedom of Expression. It concludes: "The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam is clearly an attempt to limit the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants. It can in no sense be seen as complementary to the Universal Declaration."

When implemented, the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights essentially removes the universality that underpins the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, providing the 45 signatories and all of their citizens with a set of human rights based on an undefined interpretation of Shari’a law. -- London School of Political Science

Laugh on that!

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Marco posted on

The signatories of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam were: Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Arab Emirates, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman , Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Djibouti.

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con posted on

Thanks for writing this article. I think these are important points to be made, though I think the conclusions are erroneous. I agree with the comparison, but disagree with most of the implications drawn by the author.
1. "Barnard is choosing to hide behind that excuse in the case of SJP, even though its behavior in selecting Richards as speaker seems to demonstrate that it knows better." I would argue exactly the opposite: Barnard knows better than endorsing a political message (as proven by the SJP incident), yet would rather keep the current speaker for various reasons. I don't see why the author thinks he has proved one way or another. All he has proved is that either Barnard was right for taking down the sign and wrong for keeping the speaker, or vice versa.
2. "As for the students who prodded the administrators to remove the banner, if LionPAC and students like Seffi Kogen disagreed with or felt uncomfortable with the message they interpreted in SJP’s banner, the appropriate response would not have been an attempt to remove the banner, but a submission of their own banner that expressed their feelings and beliefs, which could also be hung outside Barnard Hall flanking the Barnard banner." Seriously? An appropriate response would have been to have two opinions hung on the opposite sides of the Barnard banner? How can you not see what reaction **that** would receive? It would be even more polarizing to the campus, and would make this even more into a two-sided argument with no room for compromise. Why can't there be a multitude of opinions? Why does it have to be one side directly at odds with another? That's a recipe for disaster.
3. I still don't understand why the author does not think that having the sign hang next to the Barnard banner does not look like endorsement. When I walked into Barnard on that day, I completely thought Barnard was endorsing SJP. Why would they want to give off that impression, and why is that not a big deal to the author?
4. "But the point here is not to question the authenticity or validity of that emotional response—rather, emotional responses simply shouldn't be considered in decisions about permitting political speech." I respectfully disagree. I admit this is a weaker point, but many students (including myself) felt personally vilified and attacked when walking into Barnard Hall on that day. I legitimately reconsidered whether Barnard was still the right place for me. Sure, it might be irrational and it might be an overreaction. Sure, my own personal response in an ideal world shouldn't have happened and shouldn't be considered. But the reality is that when you hang a political sign up like that, you get an emotional response. We consider emotional responses all the time: with regards to rape and triggers, for example. (I don't mean to be drawing a parallel, only arguing that emotion does play a role even though it probably shouldn't.) My point is that why is the SJP's right to hang a poster in one very particular spot more important than my right to feel comfortable on my own campus?
.
My main point is that I completely agree there is a disconnect between Barnard's policy with regards to the SJP poster and the Commencement speaker. But I don't see how that proves that they were wrong in the SJP poster incident rather than wrong with the Commencement speaker, which is a much more tenable position.

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Anonymous posted on

Let's talk about the TENS OF FLYERS hung by pro-Israel groups that members of SJP RIPPED DOWN with their own hands. No emailing involved. And now SJP cries "free speech"? Hypocrisy at its finest.

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meTYG posted on

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