Duke University and the Jews
25 October 2004

On October 15, 16 and 17 of this year, 2004, the Palestinian Solidarity Movement held a conference at Duke University. Not surprisingly, various Jewish groups protested the conference. The day after the conference ended, an op-ed piece titled "The Jews," written by Duke senior Philip Kurian, appeared in the DU student newspaper, The Chronicle. A great storm of controversy followed.

There are serious issues concerning the role of Jews in American society, culture, politics and foreign policy. For many decades following World War II, it was considered offensive to raise these issues in a negative light. These days, considering America's continuing war in Iraq, plus the ongoing violence in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, plus the obviously rather large influence of various Jewish individuals, groups, interests and the State of Israel itself on American foreign policy, we non-Jews cannot let mere courtesy deter us from asking serious questions, even if some of those questions echo claims made in the past by anti-Semites.

This is America. No one is exempt from criticism. Not Christians, not Jews, not Muslims, not Islamists, not conservatives nor liberals nor leftists nor rightists nor racists nor fascists nor communists nor libertarians, contrarians, Presbyterians, agrarians, Sumerians or vegetarians. Nor am I.

Many canards are leveled against Jews. But the idea that any criticism of Jews is motivated by a hateful spirit of anti-Semitism is also a canard.

In any case. The Duke University controversy offers a rather chaotic introduction to some issues we need to think about. Here are some links to get you started:

 
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