February 2: The campus muzzle

Grotesque displays of radical chic on campus are a sign of intellectual decadence and conformity.

The campus muzzle
Sir, – The article “BDS and academia” (Comment & Features, January 31) points out the blinkered nature of acceptable free speech on campus. While it is okay to debate boycotting Israel, examining Islam as a problematic political ideology is off limits, despite its ubiquity in the news.
There will be no equivalent of the Herzliya Conference on American campuses.
There are consequences to academic irrelevance. One is that serious critical study of such topics as Shari’a Law, international terrorism and strategic threats to the West is being increasingly adopted by think tanks and private organizations outside universities. In the free market of ideas, there is no monopoly.
The grotesque displays of radical chic on campus are a sign of intellectual decadence and conformity rather than free-thinking.
DAVID KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont
That’s how it is
Sir, – In “Is the European Union doomed?” (Comment & Features, January 31), Douglas Goldstein continuously cites opinions without providing sources. He also says the global economy will collapse if the European Union breaks apart.
There is no evidence of this.
Certain currencies may become weaker and others stronger.
Certain countries will go bankrupt and some will have stronger economies. This is how the market works.
One-state victory
Sir, – Gershon Baskin writes in “A victory for our side?” (Encountering Peace, January 31) that a one-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians will soon be inevitable. His reason: Building in Jewish towns and villages is taking away land “sliceby- slice” from a possible Palestinian state.
Baskin has been saying the same thing for many years, without bringing a solution one step closer.
If he were to change his perspective by just a few degrees, he would understand that Jewish residents and their dwellings are no threat at all to “Palestine.”
What Baskin and his ideological colleagues should be saying is: “Let the Jews stay and build all they want. Jewish towns and villages do not prevent the creation of a Palestinian state any more than Arab villages prevent an Israeli state. Nor do they unilaterally determine Palestinian borders. Palestinians should pursue diplomacy and state building without any reference to Jewish residents in their future state. They should welcome Jews and all others who are willing to live as citizens in Palestine.”
If the Palestinians and their supporters in Israel and around the world negotiate on this basis, new possibilities would open up in the diplomatic process toward a two-state solution.
Sir, – Gershon Baskin speaks of the contribution of Israeli leaders to the failure of the recent peace talks in Jordan. He blames Prime Minister Netanyahu for playing a game with words while in reality wanting to stop negotiations.
His column of criticism includes Yitzhak Shamir. At the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, then-prime minister Shamir justified his decision to participate by saying we would negotiate with the Palestinians for 20 years and move half a million Israelis into Judea and Samaria. “That was perhaps the most honest thing an Israeli prime minister has ever said about negotiations with the Palestinians,” baskin writes, “and Shamir’s vision or plan has been realized.”
Baskin further informs us that he had a meeting with a Palestinian minister last week. “He told me what was on the table ‘was a loaf of bread – and as we speak the Israelis are eating the bread slice-by-slice, but saying the loaf belongs to both of us, let’s talk about how to slice it.”
What Baskin does not grasp is that the loaf of bread belongs to Israel, and we speak about giving Israel away in slices. Did he forget that we gave the Arabs Gaza, which was then made into the largest terrorist base in the Mideast? Israel also gave away parts of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority. The peace we received in return was rockets, missiles and Katyushas from Gaza, and Israeli bodies, blown to pieces in terrorists attacks by Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem.
What have we achieved so far? Not peace, but pieces.
It boggles the imagination what would have happened if Arafat accepted 99 percent of the bread that was offered to him by former prime minister Ehud Olmert. The Palestinians refuse to accept anything but the whole loaf.
With all this, Baskin still questions how we can consider the defeat of the Palestinian state “a victory for our side.” My answer is: Very easily. By ending this farce of a peace process and prohibiting the emergence of a Palestinian state, Israel will not be committing suicide.
Sir, – Gershon Baskin tries unsuccessfully to blame both sides for the failure of a twostate solution. However, has he ever really asked PA President Mahmoud Abbas the hard questions?
For example, why does Abbas meet publicly with released terrorists? Why does Palestinian TV broadcast messages of praise for the Awad cousins, who murdered members of the Fogel family?
If recent events in the Middle East have taught us anything, it’s that true peace is made by nations, not by leaders. So is it any wonder that Baskin has never convinced us that Palestinian Arabs are ready to make real peace with the Jewish state of Israel?
Explaining itself
Sir, – With regard to letter writers Sydney L. Kasten and Efraim A. Cohen (“‘Hasbara,’ and how!,” January 30), Kasten seems to think that digging up one article from a whole halfyear after the Six Day War, from a single newspaper in just one country, can undermine the universally known fact that Israel enjoyed astronomically-high Western popularity before the occupation of the West Bank and the settlement expansionism there.
Cohen, in saying that all countries use public diplomacy, blurs the meaning. He makes no distinction between the normal promotion of a country’s policies, which Israel used to do so successfully, and the two sad types of public diplomacy Israel uses today – explaining its right to conquer another land and people, and railing against the Western delegitimization (with which I disagree) that has come about as a tragic consequence.
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts
Confused citizen
Sir, – The article “Peace Now posts ‘Migron File’ in online campaign against outpost” (January 27) raised several important issues.
First, how did Israel gain authority over Judea and Samaria? This land fell to us in a defensive war purchased with the blood of our sons and brothers. The Arabs, as the aggressors, forfeited all rights.
Second, how is it that we allow Peace Now to provide our enemies with intelligence, even aerial photography, and to appeal to our High Court of Justice on behalf of these enemies? Does this not border – to put it mildly – on government negligence? And now, how is it that the Israeli government is willing to negotiate with the Arabs over land that is no longer theirs?
This confused citizen has a suggestion. Set up a planning and zoning commission for Judea and Samaria and start auctioning the land to citizens who served in the IDF. And in the meantime, launch a really thorough investigation into Peace Now.