By Lynne Lechter
(SEPTEMBER 18, 2023 / AMERICAN THINKINER) Religious and lots of less observant Jews worldwide are celebrating what are known as the High Holy Days or the Days of Awe — starting with the celebratory Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, and ending with a 25-hour fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in which Jews ask G-d to forgive them for their sins. This year, these days fall from the evening of September 15th through sundown on September 25th.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the University of Pennsylvania, from September 22-24 is hosting a Palestinian Writes Festival which will be extremely hostile to Israel. Many of the events will be held in a building right next to the one that will be hosting Yom Kippur services for Penn’s Jewish students.
When questioned about the event’s timing, content, and speakers, the university blithely stated that it condemns antisemitism but welcomes diversity of thought, even thought with which it may oppose. One can only wonder how sanguine these Penn officials would be if the situation were to be reversed.
Mort Klein, a Pennsylvania resident and national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which supports Israel and pushes back against antisemitism, has suggested that the university is in violation of the Title VI Civil Rights Act for hosting the event, which is being sponsored by a number of departments. Title VI prohibits any institution that receives federal funds for education from engaging in any form of discrimination. So while the University of Pennsylvania has used First Amendment right of free speech as a defensive shield against criticism of the event, they could still be asked to return about $600 million they have received in federal funding should a Civil Rights Title VI action against the university prove successful.
In a September 12, 2023 issue of the Philadelphia-based Jewish Exponent, Jarrad Saffren wrote:
“The Palestine Writes Festival is the only North American literature festival dedicated to celebrating and promoting cultural productions of Palestinian writers and artists… a quick perusal of the speakers shows that most writers are dedicated to doing just that…”
Well, not exactly. More than a quick perusal was necessary to expose what is a full roster of participants with a specific commonality of hatred towards Israel. Interestingly, the “Participants” page provides no biographical information about them. So one has to conduct individual research on each to reveal the true agenda. They advocate BDS — the movement to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction all of Israel, that express their desire to return to their “land” in that Israel ceases to exist. The few outliers, the aborigines from Australia for example, just dislike the white man. Though how that particular dislike is exemplary of Palestinian art has not been explained.
This festival does not belong on any college campus in the United States. Why Penn? Why during Yom Kippur?
Lynne Lechter is a practicing attorney in Philadelphia, and a Vice-President of the Philadelphia Chapter of Philadelphia.
This article was originally published in American Thinker and can be viewed here.