New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) helped initiate and facilitate, along with the Columbia University chapter of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) a landmark academic conference entitled, “The Middle East and Academic Integrity on the American Campus.” This major event is being held on Sunday, March 6, 2005, 10AM – 5PM, at 301 Uris Hall, Columbia University, NYC (117th and Broadway).
The group at the New York chapter of the ZOA who helped conceive and worked on this project include: Dr. Marvin Belsky, Liora Brosh, Jeff Daube, Robert Friedman, Janet Lehr, Rodger Parsons, Barbara Sommers and Jeanette Morrison.
The Columbia University faculty leaders of this Conference include: Prof. Awi Federkreun of the Business School and Dr. Judith Jacobson of the School of Public Health.
Nearly 600 people have already registered to attend and over 1,000 are expected to participate in this conference to speak out against Israel bashing in favor of balance, fairness, truth and diversity in courses on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In addition, this conference wants to send a message that the intimidation of pro-Israel students on campus must stop.
A distinguished list of speakers will be participating including Natan Sharansky, Alan Dershowitz, London Professor Ephraim Karsh, Martin Kramer, Nat Hentoff, Charles Jacobs, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Debora Schlussel, and Martin Peretz. In addition, Jewish organizational officers Morton Klein of the ZOA and Ken Jacobson of ADL, as well as Susan Tuchman of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, will be speaking.
The motivating force for the NY chapter of ZOA to call for a mobilization of ZOA members and others to put together a conference was the mounting evidence that Columbia and other universities tolerate anti-Israel distortions, omissions and outright falsehoods by faculty members teaching about the Arab-Israeli conflict, and this occurs in a discipline where fair and balanced faculty members are rare. In addition, students who challenge such biased faculty are regularly demeaned, intimidated, or dismissed as pro-Israel extremists.
This has created an atmosphere on Columbia and other campuses that create fear and confusion among students, as well as promoting anti-Jewish sentiment and delegitimizing Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, and the concomitant delegitimization of the existence of the sovereign Jewish State of Israel.
ZOA president Morton A. Klein said: “We applaud the ZOA activists and the SPME for working tirelessly to put this symposium together. We believe it will succeed in bringing to the attention of the public, community leaders and Columbia students and faculty the anti-Israel distortions, incitement and indoctrination of students against Israel that has been occurring on major campuses from coast to coast.
We applaud SPME for calling for a fair and balanced presentation of the Mideast issues. The teaching of this important and emotional issue must be free of bigotry, extreme bias and certainly outright falsehoods. A University would never allow a professor to teach that the earth is flat; they should also not allow lies being promulgated about Israel.
“Any professor who promotes falsehoods about her/her field should not be allowed to hide behind the banner of “academic freedom.” The university should not be a welcome place for such professors.”