Dershowitz, For the Defense
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How do you balance what you see happening in regard to negative
attitudes toward Israel on campuses with the tenets of academic
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.
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.
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
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.