Dershowitz: Would Harvard Sponsor an 'Invented Palestinian People' Conference?


Things are heating up.

While there is no sign Harvard University will move to cancel a disgraceful anti-Israel conference scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday, the rhetorical war against Harvard is in full bloom.

As noted here previously, students at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government will hold a conference entitled "Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution" whose goal is to "expand the range of debate" on the so-called "one-state solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This purported "solution" calls for the return of all 5 million Palestinian refugees to Israel's borders and the nullification of the Jewish law of return. In other words, the one-state solution is a euphemism for Israel's destruction.

Alan Dershowitz, a law professor who teaches at Harvard, has penned a piece that asks readers to consider an appropriate thought experiment. Harvard University officials have said they can not stop the conference because its students enjoy the right of academic freedom and free speech. Fair enough, writes Dershowitz. However, if put to the test, would Harvard's leaders allow a conference on the "Invented Palestinian People" to take place? He thinks not, and herein lies the problem.

The only real difference between the two subjects is that if Harvard were to sponsor a one-sided conference against a Palestinian state, there would be massive protests, especially by some of the very academics who are willingly lending their imprimatur to the anti-Israel hate fest. But the charge of hypocrisy has never stopped these professors from applying a double standard against Israel. They should not be stopped from speaking—that would be censorship and a denial of academic freedom. But they should be shamed for participating in an unacademic one-sided hate conference, and for their hypocrisy in doing so in the name of academic freedom, when they would never tolerate a comparable hate conference against a Palestinian state or the Palestinian people.

Indeed, Dershowitz notes that conference participants will surely not call attention to the racist, anti-Semitic, and undemocratic portions of the Palestinian constitution

which establishes Islam as the only "official religion" and requires that "the principles of Islamic Sharia shall be the main source of legislation." Moreover, it establishes Arabic as the sole "official language" of Palestine. Israel, in contrast, treats Judaism, Islam and Christianity equally, does not base its laws (except regarding family matters of Jews) on Jewish law, and has three official languages—Hebrew, Arabic and English (with Russian constituting the 4th unofficial language and (Ethiopian) Amharic a 5th, manifesting its extensive ethnic diversity).

Dershowitz concludes:

As this conference goes forward, and as the massive casualties mount in Syria, the resounding silence about the victims of the Assad brutality by those speakers ,who use the G word (genocide) every time Israel acts in defense of its citizens, speaks louder than their hypocritical words. The extremists who will be speaking at this hate fest are so obsessed with Israel's imperfections that they ignore—indeed enable—the most serious human rights violations that are occurring throughout the world. That is the real shame of the double standard that is represented by this hateful conference.

See also Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse's excellent essay on the subject.

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