Whenever you think that smears against the Palestinian solidarity movement cannot get more inflammatory or sickening, something new appears. In the latest shot against the upcoming boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) conference at the University of Pennsylvania next weekend, the movement is being openly compared to Nazism by a University of Pennsylvania professor.
I have written to University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann asking her to speak out against these smears and noting that I wish to quote her response in my conference speech.
Ruben Gur, a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Radiology & Neurology at UPenn, writes in The Daily Pennsylvanian:
The purpose of BDS as presented seems similar to what was apparently stated in their version of “Mein Kampf” (I am referring to Omar Barghouti’s book titled “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”) and base my understanding of it on the article in the Harvard Crimson.
Notably, true to Crimson’s standards the referenced piece by Mr. Don is written in a way that does not slander any of Penn’s esteemed faculty. By contrast, your Guests from BDS are allowed to introduce our esteemed colleague Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz as a “notorious Israel apologist.” And this passed your editorial review under the guise of an “Explanation”?
The aim of the hateful and discriminatory BDS rhetoric is to delegitimize Israel in preparation for the ultimate goal of its destruction. A relevant precedent for such a movement is the groups organized by the Nazis in the 1930’s to boycott, divest and sanction Jews and their businesses. Sadly, now as then, there are Jews among the posse in the assault on their own people. The macabre sight of the likes of Stella Kübler, (arguably Hannah Arendt) and the Capos in the extermination camps is about to be replayed here at Penn.
Gur is apparently a former Israeli soldier and served as an expert witness in the defense of Ramzi bin al Shibh, a Guantanamo detainee whom the US accuses of involvement in the 11 September 2001 attacks.
I understand that The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run newspaper, but even that is no excuse for such poor judgment in publishing such outrageous and sickening smears. Comparing Omar Barghouti to Hitler and Jews and others who support human rights for Palestinians to Jewish collaborators at Nazi extermination camps is sickening.
There is no place for this kind of rhetoric. It is not only deeply defamatory against its targets but I consider it a form of Holocaust denial. Comparing a student conference at UPenn to a Nazi death camp says effectively that Nazi death camps were nothing more harmful than a student conference.
Asking UPenn President Gutmann to speak out
University of Pennslyvania president Amy Gutmann wasn’t shy to express her disapproval of BDS. That’s her right. She also has a responsibility to speak out against this kind of hateful and inciteful rhetoric.
I wrote her the following email this morning:
Dear President Gutmann,
I am scheduled to speak at the BDS conference at your university next weekend. I am aware that you have expressed your opposition to BDS. That of course is your right. However, since you have not refrained from commenting on matters of substance, I would like to ask you now to condemn in the strongest terms the inflammatory rhetoric by a University of Pennsylvania professor, Ruben Gur, comparing leading Palestinian human rights proponents to Hitler, Jewish speakers and students to extermination camp capos, and the movement in general to Nazism.
You can read Professor Gur’s atrocious words in The Daily Pennsylvanian today.
Do you believe that this kind of rhetoric has a place on your campus and are you comfortable with your students, faculty and guests being defamed in this manner?
I look forward to your urgent response to which I would like to make reference in my keynote speech at the conference.