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November 23, 2004

Whose "Peace in the Middle East"?

A full-page ad ran in the New York Times today, with essentially this text. It was called "Peace in the Middle East: An Open Letter from American Jews to Our Government." I wouldn't have paid any attention to it if it were not for the presumptuous way in which the ad claimed to speak for "American Jews." (Mrs. Attila and I have discussed publishing an open letter from American Jews; there are two of us, after all, and we can use the plural.)

What's added to the text is a preface stating that "three major things" have occurred since the original publication of the ad -- the adoption of the ad's principles in the Geneva Accord; Sharon's "push[ing] forward with misguided and counterproductive policies"; and the American government's undermining "fragile peace prospects" by supporting Sharon.

The ad asks that checks to help publish elsewhere be sent to "Prof. Bruce Robbins, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University."

By coincidence, I came across Prof. Robbins's name yesterday in this article in Sunday's New York Daily News entitled "Hate 101." The article is subtitled "Climate of hate rocks Columbia University" and discusses several professors who subject students to "harassment, threats and ridicule merely for defending the right of Israel to survive." One of the "firebrands" is Prof. Robbins. Here is the Daily News's summary:

Bruce Robbins, a professor of English and comparative literature. In a speech backing divestment, he said, "The Israeli government has no right to the sufferings of the Holocaust."

Elaborating, Robbins told The News he believes Israel has a right to exist, but he thinks the country has "betrayed the memory of the Holocaust."

This man wants your check to help with peace in the Middle East.