This weekend’s One State Conference at Harvard University has prompted predictable cries of outrage and calls for cancellation from the Israel lobby and its allies in Congress. Senator Scott Brown, a Republican from Massachusetts, is the latest Friend of Israel to join the chorus of condemnation, calling for Harvard to ban the conference altogether. The campaign of intimidation and smears highlights America’s pro-Israel community as the political element most devoted to suppressing free speech and academic inquiry on campuses across the United States.
Abraham Foxman, the national director for the Anti-Defamation League, is at the helm of the campaign to censor the discussion at Harvard of equal rights in Israel-Palestine. In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, Foxman wrote, “Let’s be frank. The term ‘one-state solution’’ is a euphemism for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.” He attacked the conference participants for their ” alleged concerns about Israel’s ‘occupation’’ and treatment of the Palestinians,” claiming that their true goal was to “make anti-Semitism more acceptable and more likely.”
In light of Foxman’s assaults on the academic discussion of equal rights for all living under Israel’s control, it is worth recalling an angry letter he sent to the editors of the New York Times on June 20, 1984. In the letter, Foxman took issue with an editorial the Times published calling for a two state solution that would have required Israel to give up control of the West Bank. Foxman criticized the authors for casting Israel’s undemocratic control of the West Bank in a negative light, insisting that Israeli control of the Palestinians was not “deleterious to [Israel’s] well being.” And in the end, he suggested that Israel should consider”fully integrating the Palestinian Arabs into the Israeli body politics.” This is the very concept that will be discussed and promoted at the One State Conference this weekend at Harvard.
Below the fold is the full text of Foxman’s letter, which I retrieved from Lexis-Nexis:
To the Editor:
The debate as to whether Israel’s control over the West Bank is irreversible or not is a legitimate and important one. Unfortunately, the writers you chose to conduct that debate on your Op-Page, David Shaham and Geoffrey Aronson, share the assumption that Israel’s control of the West Bank is bad.
The issue of reversibility aside, Times readers should not be given the impression that Israelis or those who write about Israel are united in thinking that Israeli control of the West Bank is deleterious to its well-being. Indeed, a vibrant and ofttimes emotional debate is taking place among the people of Israel as to what would be good for Israel – considering Israel’s narrow security options in that small area, considering the arms buildup of its neighbors, considering Israel’s historical and religious ties to the area and considering whether fully integrating the Palestinian Arabs into the Israeli body politic is the best thing for the country.
The tragedy of the West Bank has been the tragedy of the region for 35 years. While Israelis debate the wisdom of a particular regional policy, the Arabs continue to reject peace and negotiations, making the debate in Israel abstract rather than real.
Your biggest contribution would be to find people who would advocate that the Arabs finally come to the peace table. ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN New York, June 13, 1984
The writer is associate national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.