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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
Honorable Intentions
The Cardinal of Westwood
The Littlest Bruin
Sensing the Future
Dershowitz, For the Defense
Bruin Walk

University Communications

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Winter 2003
Dershowitz, For the Defense
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Garrett: How do you balance what you see happening in regard to negative attitudes toward Israel on campuses with the tenets of academic freedom?
Dershowitz: Let me be clear, I don't think that academia [as a whole] is doing that. I think most deans and chairs of departments and responsible academics would like to see a fair dialogue on the Middle East. I think there are a small number of very vocal and committed hard-left people, many of whom are also very anti-American. The major problem is not within the curricula itself; it is outside the curricula. I am not really opposed personally to [anti-Israel] professors like Noam Chomsky or the late Edward Said [of Columbia]. They believe what they believe. That's their ideology. They're wrong. They have the right to be wrong.

My big gripe is against pro-Israel professors who don't have the courage to stand up and speak their mind, who are terrified about being perceived as uncool or divisive, who don't want to carry the label Zionist publicly, though they are prepared to carry it privately. These are cowardly professors who don't understand the meaning of tenure. Tenure means never having to be frightened of the implications of your views. Tenure means you have an obligation to speak your mind. There are some colleges in the United States today in which there is not a single faculty member who is prepared to speak up on behalf of Israel.

You are blessed at UCLA because you have considerable numbers of faculty members and others who are prepared to engage in the dialogue, but there are major colleges in the United States where you have many, many pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel voices and not a single faculty voice [to present the other side], and that makes it very difficult for students, many of whom are very courageous and are willing to speak out but are attacked and criticized bitterly when they do so.

What we need are open-minded students and faculty members, not empty-minded ones. We need ones who have the knowledge and information and who can come to their own nuanced conclusions.

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