Students at Cambridge University hit back at Israel-attacking academics

“We aim to show that by no means do all of the members of Cambridge University hold the stance expressed in the academics’ statement," the letter reads.

October 19, 2014 00:19
2 minute read.
Building at Cambridge University in England.

Building at Cambridge University in England.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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LONDON – Over 60 students at the University of Cambridge, angered by their academics who had launched an attack on Israel following the recent Gaza conflict, have condemned their professors, branding them “misguided and myopic.”

In a letter written by Josh Goodman, a third-year classics student, and signed by the others, the students said a statement that was signed by 55 university teaching staff showed a “severe lack of nuance surrounding the complexity of the Arab-Israeli conflict” and, in the students’ view, was “un-academic.”

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“We aim to show that by no means do all of the members of Cambridge University hold the stance expressed in the academics’ statement, and that there is strong support for Israel within our community,” the letter adds.

The 55 staff signatories, including mathematician and physician Prof. Raymond E. Goldstein, said they wanted to “add our voices to those of the Palestinian resistance” as well as show their support for 300 Holocaust survivors who lodged an open grievance against Israel’s actions during the war with Hamas.

Furthermore, the academics claimed that the Gaza Strip was “occupied territory” because of Israel’s control of the borders and surrounding land, sea and air space, before pointing out that there was “no legal right of self-defense by an occupying power against the people under its occupation.”

They also registered their concern about the “victimization of students and lecturers, inside and outside of Israel, for speaking out on this issue,” adding: “We demand an end to the persecution of critics of Israel within academia.”

In response, the Cambridge students wrote: “We condemn these academics for singling out Israel… which has been deemed by this group to be the only country in the world worth criticizing.”

They added that they felt they had a responsibility to speak out against the discriminatory practices of their university lecturers.

Goodman and his student colleagues said it was “almost laughable” to suggest that the Gaza war and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians “absolves anyone of the immorality of singling out Israel as these academics have done,” and then listed a range of world conflicts about which Goodman said the lecturers had said nothing.

And in equally strong language they noted that the academics, “who purport to be concerned with the humanitarian condition of the Palestinians,” had offered no comments on the plight of Palestinians in Lebanon who are denied citizenship or the thousands of killed and millions of displaced citizens in Syria.

And in a clever twist using the guise of three disciplines, the students highlighted three failings in the academics’ statement.

Lawyers, they suggested, could point out that every rocket fired from Gaza at an indeterminate location in Israel was a war crime. Philosophers might emphasize the moral hypocrisy in condemning Israeli actions without a single mention of the abhorrent acts of terrorism committed by Hamas. Historians might insist that “the blockade of Gaza was the result of Hamas’s eviction of Fatah government officials and the ensuing rocket attacks, and not a cause.”

And they concluded by attacking the academics for calling for an end to victimization of critics of Israel “without also calling for an end to victimization of Israeli supporters on campus and in the media,” which they said “continues the theme of discrimination by these academics.”

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