[Marxism] Brown student responds to NYT op-ed about anti-Semitism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Oct 2 11:15:49 MDT 2016

Those bathroom stalls all seem to be filled with swastikas.

On 10/2/16 1:11 PM, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:
> @Benjamin Gladstone, I take the same Brown University courses as you. I
> currently sit across from you in a Middle East Studies seminar. So I'm
> confused by today's New York Times op-ed, where you write of
> experiencing anti-Semitism after listening to our professor "glorify"
> Egyptian leader Nasser and Hezbollah. (When/where did that happen?!)
> Brown is also 1/4th Jewish and anecdotally, in my 4 years, I've never
> seen a 'swastika carved into the bathroom stalls" or heard another
> student "accuse me of killing Jesus." (But in your op-ed, you've had a
> different experience.)
> Ben, your exaggerations and allegations of anti-Semitism at Brown harm
> our professors' ability to teach. Your rhetoric invites outside
> political groups to pressure, fire and censor non-tenured academics
> critical of your Israel politics (a la the Canary Mission). Your op-ed
> portends a threat to academic freedom at Brown.

Open Letter to Bard College President on "Anti-Semitism" on campus

(Posted to www.marxmail.org on Oct. 8, 2002)

Dear Leon Botstein,

I hope everything is going okay with you and your master plan for 
turning Bard College into a first-rate American institution. No doubt 
the new Performing Institute designed by megastar Frank Gehry will 
catapult Bard into the stratosphere even though to me it looks like a 
melting gingerbread house designed by somebody who ate one too many 
peyote buttons. But--hey--what do I know. For me, some of the most 
emblematic buildings at Bard during my stint (1961-1965) were the 
barracks that had been constructed after WWII for returning veterans. 
They might have looked like dormitories for migrant farm laborers, but 
they did contain some extraordinary students. Other times--other places.

But the reason I write you now is to express my disappointment that you 
would jump on the "Anti-Zionism = Anti-Semitism" bandwagon. Surely, you 
must understand that this was the purpose of the full-page ad in the NY 
Times, even though it was framed in terms of protecting Jewish students 
from another Kristallnacht. Here at Columbia University, where I have 
worked for the past 10 years, you can find a vibrant anti-Zionist 
movement that is spearheaded by Jews in fact. Now maybe they are in some 
sort of dark conspiracy to punish their co-religionists but mostly they 
seem intent on raising fellow students' awareness of what Gush Shalom 
leader Uri Avnery calls "a cruel, brutal and colonizing state."

When you turn to the Chronicles of Higher Education (Oct. 4) article on 
"anti-Semitism" on campus, the evidence is pretty thin. Your fellow 
signatory Arthur Levine, president of Teachers College of Columbia 
University, said that he noticed a graffiti on a men's-room wall that 
said, "Let's kill the Jews." He said he looked in several stalls and 
found other graffiti, both anti-Jewish and anti-Islamic.

Now my offices are in Teachers College and I have had occasion to visit 
many of their facilities on account of my chronic irritable bowel 
syndrome. But I have never seen such graffiti myself. Is it possible 
that President Levine is manufacturing evidence like the Gulf of Tonkin 
incident? I wouldn't rule this out myself.

(I would hasten to add that the only threatening graffiti I spotted was 
"Death to Short People", which is on the first floor of Thorndike, in 
the rightmost stall in the bathroom near the photocopying room. I often 
go there to do my business and read a little CLR James while I'm at it. 
Now I have never felt threatened by this graffiti, even though I barely 
reach 5'6".)

On the other hand, there are lots of real attacks taking place against 
professors and students who are protesting Israeli brutality. I am 
acquainted with Mohammad Alam, an economics professor at Northeastern, 
whose "dossier" has turned up in a website run by Daniel Pipes. Along 
with institutions such as my employer Columbia University, these voices 
are being singled out as virtually in league with suicide bombers.

I think you probably understand why this point of view is being policed 
right now. The Zionist establishment is deathly afraid that a divestment 
movement might take root among Jewish progressives on campus. My 
suggestion to all the esteemed college presidents who signed the ad is 
to use their good influence to stop Israel from acting like apartheid 
South Africa. That is surely the best way that such a movement can be 

Respectfully yours,

Louis Proyect, class of 1965

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