A Few Challenges to Harvard Professor J. Lorand Matory:

Prof. Matory wrote an extremely tendentious piece for the Harvard Crimson complaining about alleged suppression of anti-Israel viewpoints.

Here are the challenges:

(1) Professor Matory writes: "Israel has now withdrawn from Gaza, an action that [former Harvard President Larry] Summers slammed Harvard and MIT professors as anti-Semitic for even contemplating." Prof. Matory, exactly when, where, and in with what words did Summers "slam" Harvard and MIT professors for "contemplating" Israeli withdrawal from Gaza? I do recall Summers slamming some professors at these schools for calling for divestment from companies with Israeli holdings (but not from any other countries with much worse human rights records). But calling for divestment from Israel bears only the most tenuous resemblance to "contemplating Israeli withdrawal from Gaza." To try to find a tenuous relationship, can you name even one divestment supporter who changed his or her mind when Israel withdrew from Gaza?

(2) Professor Matory also writes: "If Israel's defenders convince the world that all legitimately Jewish people are Zionists and that Jewish people are uniform in their opinions about Israel and its policies, then the convinced will conclude that condemning Israel or its policies requires them to hate Jewish people." Prof. Matory, if all Jews did have uniform pro-Israel views, do you really mean to suggest that this would justify people who "condemn Israel or its policies" hating Jewish people? And while Jewish people don't by any means have uniform opinions about Israel, doesn't what you wrote suggest that those who "condemn Israel or its policies" are justified in hating the Jewish people who DO support Israel (or its policies)? And doesn't that contradict your thesis that its unfair to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? If being anti-Israel (or its policies?) logically leads to the hatred of Jewish people who are pro-Israel, it hardly seems a stretch to associate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, does it? Or is "hating only Jewish people who support Israel" sufficiently distinct from anti-Semitism in your mind?

(3) Finally, Professor Matory writes: "My aim here is not to preach but to insist upon my right, and others', to a conversation full of respect and free of intimidation, one that presumes no monopolies on suffering, one in which all racism and anti-Semitism-whether against Semitic Jews, Semitic Christians, Semitic Druzes or Semitic Muslims-is equally impermissible." Everyone knows, or (certainly if they are a distinguished Harvard professor writing about anti-Semitism) should know, that anti-Semitism is a phrase with roots in German racist theories of the 19th century that unfavorably compared Jewish "Semites" with German aryans, and that anti-Semitism specifically means prejudice against Jews. Intentionally misusing the phrase in this way is a cheap rhetorical trick designed to make Jews look self-absorbed and heartless by claiming that they have somehow appropriated all "anti-Semitic" prejudice to their own cause, neglecting prejudice faced by Arabs and other "Semites". Are you completely unaware of this dynamic? If not, is this your way of expressing your good will toward Jews (so long as they are not "Zionists")? And with regard to "intimidation," I suppose there is no "intimidation" involved in suggesting that Jews who support Israel logically deserve whatever hatred they get (see number (2)), nor is it at all disrespectful?

Professor Matory says that "what follows is the most important question for the health of the academic and moral community that we share here at Harvard: How can one engage in a critical and nonetheless loving conversation about Zionism with a community as gravely traumatized as the Jewish people?" I don't know the answer, but personally I'm not feeling the love. [How about starting by not completely misrepresenting what Summers said, not suggesting that people critical of Israel logically hate pro-Israel Jews, and not playing silly rhetorical games with the phrase 'anti-Semitism'"?]

UPDATE: This is apparently not the first time Matory has been, ahem, creative, in describing Summers' remarks. And Matory was one of the leaders of the anti-Summers movement, providing further evidence of what a great moment it was in the history of the American academy when Summers was forced out by a majority of the Harvard faculty.