Censorship at State
Are there any limits to what may or may not be said about the conflict in the Middle East on American college campuses? Judging by the proliferation of anti-Zionist events that sometimes border on outright anti-Semitism, the answer would be appear to be no. But when it comes to the opposite point of view, Penn State University seems to be upholding a different standard.
That's what Penn State senior Josh Stulman of Elkins Park discovered when an exhibit of his artwork scheduled to be shown at a gallery at the campus' School of Visual Arts was canceled. According to the school, Stulman's 10-piece exhibit, titled "Portraits of Terror," was banned because it "did not promote cultural diversity" or "opportunities for democratic dialogue."
The notion that Stulman's exhibit promoted hate is laughable. What it did was question the anti-Israel orthodoxy of contemporary academia. And that, apparently, is something some at Penn State – and elsewhere – were not willing to tolerate. That flyers for his exhibit were defaced by a swastika and that he claims his complaints were dismissed by an adviser who expressed contempt for Israel only adds to the impression that if anyone is being intimidated here, it is Stulman – and any other Jewish students willing to speak out.
Fortunately, a spokesman for the university has now admitted there was a mistake made, and has offered to give Stulman's art a showing. But considering that the school year is already over, this is hardly a satisfying conclusion to the controversy. Given that students are generally at the mercy of their professors, we wonder whether any future student-artists will risk being abused as Stulman was. We are also left asking whether any pro-Palestinian student's art would have been treated in such a manner?
More to the point, this story highlights the level of contempt for pro-Israel views that is endemic in academia. While we cannot solve this problem everywhere, Pennsylvania's taxpayers have a right to ask why its state university seems to be struggling with different standards for academic freedom when it comes to Jewish students. This is an issue the governor and legislature need to fully address.
Guilty as Charged!
For a while, it seemed as if an agent of terror was getting away with it. In December, a jury failed to convict Sami al-Arian, the man who organized fundraising for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group in this country, on federal charges.
When the government threatened to retry him, al-Arian copped a plea in exchange for being allowed to leave the country. But U.S. District Judge James S. Moody refused to let him get off so easy. Al-Arian's plea bargain admission gave the lie to his previous denials, as well as those of his defenders in academia and the media. And when he came up for sentencing, Moody made sure he would serve another 18 months in jail before being deported.
The judge labeled al-Arian a terrorist "leader." Contrary to the assertion that he was distributing charity, Moody told al-Arian his "only connection to widows and orphans was that you create them."
Critics of efforts to root out support for Palestinian terror here portrayed al-Arian as a martyr, despite his open support for suicide bombings. Then they claimed that the puzzling failure of the jury to convict was proof of al-Arian's innocence, as well as that of his confederate, Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian now employed by Brandeis University, of all places.
But al-Arian's admission and the judge's statement of the evidence ought to put to rest doubts about his guilt and that of his fellow conspirators. Brandeis' leadership – and others who have been fooled by this terror front – need to read the judge's stirring statement and draw the proper conclusions about their obligations.
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