Ruben Gur | BDS is 'hateful', 'discriminatory'


Guest Column | A professor responds to a guest column by Penn BDS organizers




I read with amazement the Guest Column by Penn BDS Conference organizers, “BDS Explained”

I could barely believe my eyes. It is bad enough that Penn has allowed itself to be associated with this hateful genocidal organization, but for you to give room for their “explanation” and then dignify this outpouring of misinformation and anti-Semitism to the level of guest column without any kind of balancing opinion? Is this fair and balanced journalism? Is this the Daily Pennsylvanian I was reading daily since I came here in 1974?

The “explanation” itself presents a fuzzy “anti-Israel” cloak that barely conceals the Hamas and Hizballah daggers. It will deceive only those who, knowing nothing of the history, cannot tell lies from truth, or who, so blinded by animus against Israel and Jews, are willing to be deceived.

The agenda of this group is totally negative and aimed at the only Jewish state on the planet, scheming to inflict damage on it as an alleged violator of human rights. No mention of most of the Arab world, or any of the many countries where human rights are trampled on daily.

If the organizers truly cared about Human Rights, perhaps they should consider targeting the primary perpetrators of abuse, and not the only country in the Middle East that is free and democratic by numerous metrics. Israeli Arabs enjoy better civil rights than Arabs in most Arab countries, while by contrast Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens in many Arab countries to this day. If this group really wanted to improve the lot of Palestinians, they should target Lebanon, Syria, and the Hamas gang currently ruling Gaza.

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.

The students organizing this event and their sponsors will tarnish Penn for generations to come. Penn’s moral backbone has allowed it thus far to balance the sanctity of free speech against the need to prohibit hateful speech. That backbone will break that day. From then on Penn has made an exception: Unproductive, hateful speech is allowed – as long as it singles out Jews and Israel.

Shame on you DP. Shame on you Penn. Shame on you.

Ruben Gur is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Radiology & Neurology. He is also the director, Brain Behavior Laboratory and the Center for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry.

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