Alan Dershowitz: Harvard’s president stops an anti-Israel boycott against SodaStream
I have no doubt that some students and other members of the Harvard community may be offended by the presence of SodaStream machines. Let them show their displeasure by not using the machines instead of preventing others who are not offended from obtaining their health benefits. Many students are also offended by their removal. Why should the views of the former prevail over those of the latter? I’m sure that some students are offended by any products made in Israel, just as some are offended by products made in Arab or Muslim countries that oppress gays, Christians and women. Why should the Harvard University Dining Service — or a few handfuls of students and professors — get to decide whose feelings of being offended count and whose don’t?Harvard president asks for probe into SodaStream boycott
In addition to the substantive error made by Harvard University Dining Services, there is also an important issue of process. What right does a single Harvard University entity have to join the boycott movement against Israel without full and open discussion by the entire university community, including students, faculty, alumni and administration? Even the president and provost were unaware of this divisive decision until they read about it in the Crimson. As Provost Garber wrote, “Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy.” Were those who made the boycott decision even aware of the arguments on the other side, such as those listed above? The decision of the HUDS must be rescinded immediately and a process should be instituted for discussing this issue openly with all points of view and all members of the university community represented. The end result should be freedom of choice: those who disapprove of SodaStream should be free to drink Pepsi. But those who don’t disapprove should be free to drink SodaStream. Economic boycotts should be reserved for the most egregious violations of human rights. They should not be used to put pressure on only one side of a dispute that has rights and wrongs on both sides.
Drew Faust asked for an investigation into the decision, Provost Alan Garber told The Harvard Crimson student newspaper on Wednesday night.New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says
The request came following an article written earlier in the day by the newspaper reporting that the university’s dining service agreed in April to halt buying the equipment following protests by Palestinian students and their supporters.
The dining service agreed to remove the SodaStream labels on existing water machines and purchase new ones from American companies after university officials met in April with members of the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society, the newspaper reported Wednesday.
“Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy,” Garber wrote in an email statement to the Crimson late Wednesday night. “If this policy is not currently known or understood in some parts of the university, that will be rectified now.”
Garber said in the statement that neither he nor Faust was aware of the decision before reading about it in the newspaper.
In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views.
At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an award-winning author, arrives in Tel Aviv to give a speech but things don’t pan out so smoothly for him. His scheduled trip to Gaza has been blocked by the Israeli government, he deals with an obnoxious hotel waiter fresh out of the Israeli army who brings him cold tea, and then finds himself at the center of a major operation to assassinate an Israeli minister. Up until the final moment there is enough suspense and drama to fill the hotel room where the entire play takes place.
On the surface, Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv shows the struggle between a Jew, Tony, and a Palestinians extremist. But Safdie said the real “battle” in the play has a lot more to do with Israelis versus a growing Jewish diaspora critical of Israel. “The people more like the liberal Jewish community in North America versus the Israeli perspective,” he explained.
In an interview with The Algemeiner, Safdie talked about how bothered he is with American Jews and their sense of “arrogance, thinking that they know better” than those living in Israel. He asked, “Why is there a need to second guess Israelis who live in the middle of this small country surrounded by enemies?”