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Banning of Pro-Israel Speakers at UC Berkeley Student Groups

Discussion in 'Political Debates' started by Left Coast, Oct 1, 2022.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast The Fabulous
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    Firstly, this is a topic that is likely to be highly contentious. So before you read further or start formulating a reply - take a deep breath. Get calm. Get comfy. Get your mind right.

    Mkay, ready?

    Several student groups at UC Berkeley have changed their bylaws to prohibit "Zionist," ie pro-Israel, speakers from their groups. This has led to fairly significant backlash, particularly this article that has been making its rounds:

    Berkeley Develops Jewish-Free Zones

    The article made such a hubbub that Berkeley's law school dean (who is also Jewish and publicly expressed concern about the scope of the change) wrote a response (which the original author included and replied to in the link above).

    There are a few considerations here. One is that this bylaw change is being described as Berkeley implementing "Jewish free zones," which I think is an overstatement. Jewish students are not being excluded from any student group. The restriction is against "Zionist" speakers, defined as “[speakers who] have expressed interest and continue to hold views, host, sponsor or promote events in support of Zionism, the apartheid state of Israel and the occupation of Palestine,”

    Now, this does seem to indicate that even expressing support for the existence of the state of Israel makes one a Zionist, and thereby excluded by this new policy.

    The argument the author above makes is that this effectively excludes the vast majority of Jews from being speakers in these student groups. Zionism is not like an exclusively political ideology because it is intrinsically linked to Jewishness itself. By analogy he asks if UC Berkeley would accept a bylaw by a student group prohibiting Chinese speakers unless they were critical of China? Or black speakers unless they were critical of the black community?

    I'm curious what you think of all this. Share your thoughts. Keep it civil.
     
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  2. Shaul

    Shaul Well-Known Member
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  3. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Veteran Member

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    How is censorship conducive to an institution of learning?
     
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  4. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
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    I'd read that (same source) the other day.
    They try to hard to make it about banning Jews.
    It's perfectly reasonable for student groups to
    ban speakers who advocate Zionism. That's
    not banning Jews. Not all Jews are Zionists.
    Feigning victimhood...very weak.
     
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  5. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Veteran Member
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    I am of two minds about such prohibitions in general. On the one hand, I can see why a student group wouldn't want to associate with individuals whose activities and beliefs they deem problematic or harmful. I don't think Israel's illegal occupation, apartheid policies, and human rights violations are much different in essence from those currently committed by Russia, so almost any response to one seems to me applicable to the other. The equivalence of pro-Israeli Zionists to all Jews also strikes me as similar to the notion that criticism of Islamist extremism is "Islamophobic."

    On the other hand, I believe student groups are among the most effective environments to expose people to various worldviews and perhaps even change their minds. If Zionists are banned from joining, are Islamists also going to be? What about those who support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or Christian fundamentalists? Once that door is opened, it seems to me they should either be consistent or not open it to begin with.

    With the two above sides of the scale in mind, I find myself leaning toward opposing the selective prohibitions and instead encouraging strong challenges to their views through speeches, campaigns, and awareness-raising efforts. However, if a student group banned all individuals advocating similarly harmful views, I would be much less opposed to its decision than if it were selective with its bans.
     
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  6. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
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    Would it be OK for a Jewish student group
    to ban speakers advocating for ISIS?
    We should pay attention to the fact that this
    is about student groups, not the university.
    Such groups have special foci, & shouldn't
    be compelled to provide a venue for speech
    by foes.
     
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  7. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Veteran Member
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    I'm reminded of the age-old Islamist habit of claiming "Islamophobia" when conspicuously destructive dogma faces criticism or pushback.
     
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  8. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Veteran Member
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    Yes, it would be okay. To me, this is less about being "okay" and more about what the optimal course of action is in order to challenge harmful views and address their advocates.
     
  9. Brian2

    Brian2 Well-Known Member

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    I prefer free speech.
     
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  10. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
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    I can't tell student groups in general what's
    best regarding speakers they invite.
     
  11. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Veteran Member
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    Sometimes we can. I recall when Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, an Iraqi ex-Muslim refugee, was also accused of "Islamophobia" by some groups because his views didn't fit a specific narrative even though he himself is an Arab survivor of war and religious extremism.
     
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  12. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
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    You know more about him & a group he
    might address than I do. I don't advise
    when I don't know.
     
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  13. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein I'm not deaf, I'm just a real bad listener
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    They should allow both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups. And pro-peace groups. Let them debate it.
     
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  14. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Is that equally true for all cases of nationalism or are Jews special?
     
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  15. Left Coast

    Left Coast The Fabulous
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    As I read the story, it struck me that the groups could have had exactly the same speakers they were going to have anyway without implementing a "policy" that officially bans certain people. The "ban" strikes me as more of a PR statement that simply invites scrutiny. Foolish of them, IMO.
     
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  16. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Veteran Member

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    I agree. If there is something you disagree with, it's better to discuss and dissect it so that others may learn and understand why it's incorrect. A thorough rebuttal delivers a more effective blow to an erroneous point of view than censoring it does.
     
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  17. Yerda

    Yerda Well-Known Member

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    It depends on what zionism means here. Is saying that Israel is allowed to exist zionism?
     
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  18. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Not addressing the original comment this was in response to. But for me it's not about aims as much as methods.
    So nationalists advocating for constitutional change by legal means...all good. Agree or disagree, discourse seems important.
    Nationalists advocating violence are (in broad terms) past the point where cordial invites to uni campuses make sense.
     
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  19. mangalavara

    mangalavara Your Account
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    God forbid that anybody holds controversial views such as Zionism at a university!

    By the way, in my experience, people who use the term Zionist in a negative manner tend to be the anti-Jewish sort. It is often used as a dog whistle.

    If a student group did such a thing, the student group would very likely be called racist and white supremacist.

    An American university is no place for the presence of conflicting views and debate. Students are there to learn and promote socio-political orthodoxy so that they may be ideal subordinates citizens.

    In all seriousness, I agree with you 100%. If students are not exposed and desensitized to contrary views, how they react to them in the real world is not going to be good.
     
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  20. DharmaCatLamp

    DharmaCatLamp Member

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    I am perfectly fine with this. Though to be fair I would also call Israel an ethnostate at this point so perhaps my view is not the most commonly espoused one. There are antizionist rabbis, there are antzionist Jewish folks. If a student group wants to ban proisrael speakers that is fine. Equating that with banning Jews seems more than a little flimsy.

    Then again this is the same state who kills Palestinians and takes their land then screams at you for being antisemitic if you criticize them for it so....
     
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