I wonder what would have happened back in the 1960′s if fat cat donors to U.S. universities demanded that school administrators ban anti-Vietnam war action on campus or else lose donations. Judging by the way some universities are caving to donors on the Israel-Palestine issue, it is just possible that the donors would have succeeded in crushing antiwar activity, cutting the legs out from the movement that ultimately forced the end of the Vietnam war. Fortunately the donors of the 60′s didn’t care as much about Vietnam as many of them do now about Israel so they did not threaten to tear up their donations. Today it is something else Donors across the country, organized by AIPAC and other components of the Netanyahu lobby, are threatening to cut university funding and administrators are caving.

This is the same tactic that the lobby has used against the media for years, with special emphasis on National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System which rely on donor contributions to stay on the air. Both now make sure that their coverage of Israel does not offend the donors while their commercial counterparts edit their coverage to avoid offending fat cat advertisers and stockholders, for whom any and all criticism of Israel is taboo.

The latest battlefield in the war to shut down Israel critics is Northeastern University. This is from the Boston Globe: Northeastern University has suspended a student group that advocates for Palestinian human rights, and is weighing disciplinary action against two students, after members of the group conducted a controversial leafleting campaign.

Students for Justice in Palestine was suspended March 7, nearly two weeks after it slid 600 “mock eviction” notices under dorm room doors to draw attention to forced evictions of Palestinians by the Israeli government. The group says the college’s actions infringe on students’ free speech rights. Amazing, isn’t it. The university is suspending a student group and threatening to toss out its activists for issuing faux eviction notices to replicate the eviction of Palestinians by Israel. Needless to say Northeastern and virtually every other major college and university saw infinitely more aggressive actions against our own government’s policies in Vietnam. Student activists didn’t just leaflet (leaflet!!!); they shut universities down.

But, hey, no one was as zealous about guarding the academy from opposition to America’s war as these donors are about opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. That is because Israel zealots don’t much care about anything that happens in the United States so long as it doesn’t impact Israel.

It is not as if I don’t understand why these donors are so upset. With attachment to Israel virtually disappearing among the so-called millennial generation (young people who came of age around 2000) and falling even further year by year, the fat cats must believe that young Jews need to be protected from knowing just how loathsome the settlement enterprise is.

But they shouldn’t bother. Most Jewish kids are as indifferent to the settlements as they are to Israel itself. Yes, they can be bribed with free trips to Israel (or AIPAC conventions, or anywhere for that matter) but Israel is their parents’ cause, if it is that.

The amazing thing is that these donors and other right wing Jewish activists actually believe that identifying Israel with crushing free speech on campus advances Israel’s cause. I know Jewish kids, I had a few, and I once was one, and if there is one thing young Jews hate it is attempts to suppress free speech and thought. That is planted a lot deeper in our genetic makeup than Israel is.

Check out this directory by Jewish Voice For Peace about the various efforts to suppress free speech about Israel across the country.JVP is the leading organization fighting these attacks.


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