|The AAUP Responds to IAM|
A response arrived from Henry Reichman, the chair of the AAUP Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, professor emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay, and first vice president of the AAUP.
Reichman's main argument is that with respect to free speech, AAUP can both oppose BDS, on the one hand, while accepting the right of BDS activists to promote it, on the other hand, just as the saying goes, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." While this principle was true to the time it was said, however, in our days, speech such as defamation, anti-Semitism, hate speech and Holocaust denial, among other things, are not permitted on or off campus and can not be defended under the category of free speech. So much so, that in some cases offenders even have been sent to prison for espousing such speech.
To make his case, Reichman provided an example to how he personally defended the freedom of speech on his own campus of a person whose politics he disagrees with. However, Reichman has defamed the person's speech as repulsive "blatherings of the moronic bigot." Reichman, in fact, blurs the lines between acceptable and unacceptable speech. Defamation is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in an academic exchange. It would have been suffice had he stated he disagreed with this person on numerous issues, as an academic discussion should be respectful.
Reichman whitewashes Prof. Katherine Frank involvement with BDS, by claiming she was denied entry to Israel on the basis of "reports on blacklisting websites of her political views on BDS." IAM produced enough evidence to show her support of BDS. In 2016 she defended BDS in a panel conversation on "The Case for Academic Boycott" at Barnard College. In 2012 she boycotted Philadelphia's University of the Arts Equality Forum which advances LGBT civil rights, due to the "Israeli government's manipulation of gay rights organizations in the U.S., such as the Equality Forum, to 'pinkwash' its troubled human rights record." She detailed her argument in a video recording which in 2014 Palestinian activists used in a petition to pressure participants to withdraw from the following Equality Forum.
Reichman also defends his choice of relying on Roger Cohen's NYT article detailing Franke's airport incident, by stating "Whatever Cohen's views may be they are totally irrelevant to the AAUP's position or to Committee A’s.“ IAM pointed out that Reichman could have picked other articles to link to the Franke incident, the fact he picked a highly controversial columnist speaks volumes about his own agenda. One does not need to be a student in public relations to realize that Reichman used an old trick in the field, picking someone who does not like Israel so that unwitting readers would get the least balanced view on why Franke was refused entry at Ben Gurion Airport.
Reichman also claims that Franke, "by seeking to visit Israel one could say that she was already violating the very boycott she was accused of advocating." Reichman is right that BDS activists often violate BDS restrictions. Omar Barghouti, for example, the co-founder of the BDS movement was studying in Tel Aviv University while co-founding BDS and has been residing in Israel for years, making use of its benefits.
There is a possible explanation to why Israel is blocking entry to BDS activists that Reichman and Franke should be aware of. It serves as deterrence and is twofold: BDS advocates should know they would be refused entry, and likewise, visitors to Israel should make sure they were not involved in BDS.
Reading Reichman's comment further, his explanation to why the AAUP defends the right of scholars to support BDS comes as an analogy to a defense attorney who defends his client's rights but not always his actions. This example does Reichman ill service because even in the most severe legal cases such as murder, a defense lawyer is hired. It doesn't mean that the right to murder should be protected by the AAUP. As an academic association, the AAUP should not protect the right for inappropriate conduct such as boycotting speakers based on their nationality.
All this puts the AAUP in an awkward position.
-------- Original Message --------
||Re: Confusion of the AAUP Committee on Academic Freedom: Rejecting and Endorsing BDS
||Thu, 28 Jun 2018 14:57:47 -0700
||IAM e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>,