Professor’s Posts Create False Image of Israel

Isaac Shub, College senior

Editor’s Note: Since this letter was submitted, College President Marvin Krislov and the Board of Trustees have both released statements about Professor Karega’s posts on social media.

To the Editors:

I don’t know that Professor Karega’s online postings are anti-Semitic (though they might well fit at least one definition of anti-Semitism). They are, however, Glenn Beck-style crackpot conspiracy theories (albeit seemingly from the left), and particularly vicious and misleading in the way that they cast Israel as a prime mover in terrorist plots clearly orchestrated by others.

We ought not to restrict free expression, particularly online, which is an important and yet vulnerable place to showcase opinions and feelings. Nevertheless, there is a line, I think, between arguing that Israel, for example, plays a role in fomenting Arab hatred and terrorism through Israeli government terror, or on the other hand claiming that the Netanyahu government planned the attacks in Paris. The former is inflammatory for good reason: It challenges certain strains of ideological thought and posits a different worldview. What Professor Karega did was different: She vilified Zionism in a context in which it cannot be thought directly responsible for wrongs.

Not only does this look like race-baiting to many conservatives, but it undermines the Palestinian-rights cause because it invites the perception that the attacks on Israeli foreign policy aren’t substance-based, but are “ideological” (in the word’s impugned sense of denoting feelings and partisanship over facts) or are otherwise racially motivated. Professor Karega’s online publications would seem to do a great disservice to serious, honest, intellectual scholastic inquiry, which ought to be the goal of an academic’s endeavors.

I think Netanyahu is a supreme criminal, but statements about him lacking in evidence or sense are unhelpful. One of the responsibilities intellectuals should be held to and so often fail at is one of honesty, such that the public is not mislead into believing erroneous geopolitical theories. That said, I’m not sure where the overlap between screen and reality, private institution and public sphere, lie — especially considering that these posts were not published academic papers — but I would feel more comfortable if the administration denounced them more convincingly.

Isaac Shub
College senior