Asaf Romirowsky, "associate fellow at the Middle East Forum and manager of Israel & Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia," writes in the Washington Times:
Post-September 11, the most intense debates about "academic freedom" have involved Middle Eastern studies, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The "right" to teach Israel as original sin and the Israel lobby as a Jewish conspiracy controlling America has been challenged, and, unfortunately, has produced even more virulent rhetoric and overt attacks on Jews. Academia has unconsciously exposed Jews and Israelis as the canaries in the coal mine. If universities are indicators of social trends, then anti-Semitism is becoming more acceptable in the guise of anti-Zionism. Only Jews are unworthy of having a sovereign state, thanks to various sins past and present.
Such attitudes are shockingly common on university campuses, and are protected by "academic freedom." Does calling for the destruction of a state and the dispersal of a people qualify the protections designed by Dewey and Lovejoy? Fortunately, most Americans agree neither with the idea that Israel should be abolished nor with the blanket protections that currently constitute "academic freedom." The gap between academia and the public is increasing, in part because on moral issues, like defending democracy against jihadi terror and rigorous free speech, the public realizes that universities are on the wrong side....
Of course arguing that Israel shouldn't exist as a state (a view, I should stress, that I most certainly don't endorse) is within the scope of academic freedom, both the freedom to engage in academic discussion defined narrowly (e.g., in a scholarly publication or in an academic panel) and defined broadly (e.g., in a broader political discussion on campus or off it). Whether Israel should exist as a country -- or whether Palestine, the U.S.S.R., the former Yugoslavia, North Korea, or a unified Iraq should exist as a country -- is an eminently legitimate subject for academic debate.
I agree that the consequences of the elimination of Israel as a country (a war, in my view unjust, aimed at accomplishing this, and at best the need for many Israelis to emigrate) would be very bad. Likewise, the consequences of some proposed wars might be bad; the consequences of mutually assured nuclear destruction might be bad; so would the consequences of abandoning mutually assured nuclear destruction; so would many other things. But that bears on which side of the debate is right, not on whether academics should be free to debate the matter. That we think one position is wrong or even immoral doesn't mean that people shouldn't have the freedom to espouse that position, in the academy or elsewhere. (It may not be proper for academics to teach their personal views as the only moral truth in the classroom, or to shut up contrary views, or to do many other bad things, but that is also true independently of whether their personal views are good or evil.)
Also, what's with this view (which of course I've heard before from others) that critics of Israel -- or even of Israel's existence -- are arguing that "Only Jews are unworthy of having a sovereign state"? There's hardly universal support, on the academic Left or elsewhere, for an independent Quebec, Kurdistan, Basque homeland, Turkish Cyprus, Serbian Kosovo, or whatever else. When an ethnic group is entitled to a sovereign state is a difficult question, on which there's a good deal of disagreement.
It's true that one rarely hears calls for the abolition of a particular ethnic group's state, but surely if the Spanish Basques announced a homeland (as I believe the Turkish Cypriots have) it would be legitimate for the Spaniards to continue arguing that this homeland should be reabsorbed into Spain. Again, I do think that abolishing Israel would be wrong in many ways -- but not because all ethnic groups, including Jews, are worthy of having a sovereign state. And there's certainly no well-established a priori principle that somehow categorically excludes calls for such abolition from academic discourse.