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Student Groups' Disinviting Israeli Ex-Soldier from Panel:

There's been a good deal of buzz about this recently, and the incident seemed to me both (1) worth condemning, and (2) worth clarifying.

Here are what seem to be the facts (from the Philadelphia Bulletin):

Asaf Romirowsky, a fellow at the Middle East Forum and an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) veteran ... was invited to speak at a university forum sponsored by the College Republicans and College Democrats on the topic of anti-Americanism in the Middle East. Others scheduled to appear on the panel included Clinton-era National Security Council official Stuart Kaufman, University of Delaware political science professor Muqtedar Khan and a graduate student.

But upon learning that the university had invited Mr. Romirowsky, who is also manager of Israel and Middle East affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, to appear at the forum, Mr. Khan wrote a letter to one of the panel's organizers, identified only as "Laura," expressing displeasure at having to appear publicly with a former IDF soldier.

[E-mail text, from a National Review Online Corner post:

—— Original message ——
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2007 20:02:29 -0400
From: "Muqtedar Khan"
Subject: Re: Understanding Anti-Americanism Panel
To: [Names redacted]

Laura, I have to speak at the Pentagon tomorrow. My workshop is from 12-4. I hope to catch the 5 pm Acela from DC and will be back in town by 7 pm. I will come directly, but may be late. I am also not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank. Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank. I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him. It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment.

Panel organizers subsequently told the IDF veteran, a citizen of both the United States and Israel, that he ought not attend the panel but that he would find himself welcome speaking to university students at a later date. Mr. Romirowsky said he would rather not do so....

Mr. Romirowsky, currently working toward his Ph.D. in Mediterranean Studies at Kings College in London, has called attention to the ties Mr. Khan has forged over the years to groups allegedly affiliated with Islamic terrorists. [Details omitted. -EV]

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Khan said he was only expressing his discomfort and that he would not have suggested anyone be excluded. He said that when he arrived at the event, he assumed Romirowsky would be there. He added that people who received his e-mail had missed the humorous tone, in which he said he was trying to be "cute" with references to "occupying the same space" intended as an ironic reference to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

A few thoughts:

1. From what I know, it seems to me a mistake to say, as The Bulletin and Michael Rubin said at the start of their items, that "the University of Delaware" disinvited Romirowsky. As best I can tell, the student groups decided to put on the event, they decided whom to invite (though I imagine they might have gotten some advice from faculty members), and they decided how to react to the Khan e-mail. I'm unaware of any decision that the University of Delaware or its departments or leaders made here; perhaps the University administrators should have counseled the students not to withdraw the invitation (not required them, which would itself have interfered with the students' right to select their speakers, but counseled them), but it's not clear that the administrators were even given an opportunity to do so.

2. The decision to disinvite strikes me as wrong. First, it's rude; it pretty clearly conveys a message to the disinvited person that he's less important than the person who doesn't want to share the stage with him, and while that's often said implicitly simply by the decision about whom to invite in the first place, good manners generally precludes doing this expressly, once the invitation has been given. Second, it shows a willingness to give in to someone's desire to exclude a wide range of important contrary speakers (more on this shortly).

3. At the same time, remember that these are college students in mainstream college organizations, who are trying to put on a successful event but are facing the prospect of losing one speaker. They're likely not very experienced in such matters, and easily spooked, especially by professors at their own institution. It's thus pretty easy for them to get buffaloed into doing whatever it takes to keep the more illustrious speaker, even when such an action is wrong for the reasons I mentioned above. They were put in a difficult position by Prof. Khan's message, and while they reacted the wrong way to it, I wouldn't condemn them as harshly as I would an academic department that did the same.

4. The main fault here, I think, is Prof. Khan's, but the matter is a bit complex. It's not inherently wrong for a person (including an academic) to refuse to share the stage with some other person, even when the refusal is based on the other person's speech. Sometimes this happens, and properly so, when one person thinks another has been intolerably rude, or academically dishonest. Sometimes it happens when one person thinks another has views that are just beyond the pale.

But if one draws the pale in a way that excludes a vast range of people who have important things to say about one's field, that suggests an unwillingness to engage in serious debate about the field. And if one draws the pale based on the excluded people's supposed moral failings, then outsiders will have to judge if your moral sense is right, and can rightly condemn you for academic narrow-mindedness if your moral sense is mistaken.

It seems to me that Khan's message strongly suggested — despite his later characterization of it — that he would not willingly share the stage with any former Israeli soldier, which basically means pretty much any Israeli (since pretty much all Israelis had to participate in the military). That's a huge chunk of the people who have important things to say about the very topic in which he specializes. The position strongly suggested by his message thus undermines the possibility of serious and helpful debate on the subject. And his moral judgment, which seems to be that mere past membership in the Israeli army makes someone unworthy of debating, strikes me as quite repugnant, for all the familiar reasons. True, others may disagree with me for all their familiar reasons; but I think they are mistaken, and mistaken in a way that undermines serious academic debate.

Relatedly, Khan should have realized — and perhaps did realize — that there was a good chance that his message would be read as more or less a demand that students disinvite Romirowsky. I think it would have been unduly narrow-minded, in a way that's especially unsuitable for an academic, for Khan to say, "I'm sorry to hear Mr. Romirowsky was invited; given this, you of course have to keep Mr. Romirowsky on the panel, but I have to withdraw." But it's worse when one sends a message to students that complains about the "unfairness" of the invitation to Romirowsky, that strongly suggests one will be uncomfortable sharing the panel with him, and that, in my view, implicitly suggests that the author will quit the panel if the other invitation continues to stand.

An academic sending such a message should, I think, realize that students may well panic and improperly withdraw the invitation. If that was Khan's intention, that's especially bad; but even if it wasn't his intention, any academic who deals with student groups should have recognized that this would be the likely result of such a message.

NatSecLawGuy:
Well said Professor! As a student, I appreciate your candid comments about their ability to handle the situation. Having run controversial events before myself, I find it is easy to be duped at the last minute into a decision you later realize was unwise.
In regards to taking the stage with one you disagree, I slightly differ of when it is appropriate to not take the stage. I tend to think that refusing to share the stage on the grounds that the speaker is going beyond the pale is not legitimate. Taking the stage with one you think is "radical" or "off the charts" gives you an opportunity to show why that is so. But if you don't attend the dance . . . However, if you perceive that the speaker will be rude or academically dishonest it makes the venue inherently unfair; thus causing you to lose your ability to prove their argument unwise or unfounded. Therefore in that situation I agree it becomes appropriate to not entertain the invitation to appear with them.
10.31.2007 2:47pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
In the attempt to be polite, we are no longer direct. Khan could legitimately complain about a last-minute change to the composition of the panel, because he might need to prepare for possible questions. And he might well be "uncomfortable" to have an IDF member there, as a Jew might if a member of Hezbollah were suddenly placed on the panel. But the students should not have assumed Khan wouldn't have shown up; they should have at least apologized for the last minute change and asked what they could do to accommodate him.
10.31.2007 2:48pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
Here's a counterfactual:

What if Asaf Romirowsky had "expressed discomfort" at having Muqtedar Khan on the Panel, on the grounds that Khan appears to be an "Islamofascist", and Romirowsky didn't want to share a panel with such a person? Would *Muqtedar Khan* have been removed, or been "asked" to remove himself? And what would have happned to Romirowsky?

The answers are obvious, and they points out the hypocrisy at work here. It is a hypocrisy all too common in academia nowadays.
10.31.2007 2:48pm
Mike& (mail):
So, if academic panels were held during WWII, it would be wrong to not allow an SS soldier to appear, because he would have "important things to say about the very topic in which he specializes"?

Now, before anyone brings out Godwin's Law, it's important to understand that, as the speaker noted: "Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank." IDF soldiers are viewed as war criminals by many. And, "even though pretty much all Israelis had to participate in the military," there is no Nuremberg defense. Thus, it's of no consequence that many people might have been a part of an unjust occupation.

Now, I am not saying that is my view. What I am suggesting is that we not allow our (biased) view to prevent us from understanding the speaker's view. It's perfectly legitimate for someone to view IDF as an occupying force - even if you don't agree with that view.

Thus, I don't see any problem with the speaker's feeling uncomfortable sharing the stage with a war criminal. In fact, if my memory of an old blog post is accurate, Eugene Volokh himself refused to share the stage with some neo-Nazis who invited him to speak at an event.
10.31.2007 2:49pm
Steve P. (mail):
Apropos to the discussion about hyphenating words started by Prof. Bernstein, shouldn't this be "Israeli ex-soldier"? Or something to that effect. It seems, from your characterization, that Mr. Romirowsky still considers himself an Israeli.
10.31.2007 2:49pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
Obviously, this should be;

1. "And what would have *happened* to Romirowsky?" and

2. "they *point* out they hypcrisy at work here."
10.31.2007 2:51pm
ejo:
why should one infer he didn't mean what he said. he seems to have been pretty clear in the email-he didn't want to share space with a jew (or zionist, it gets hard to distinguish). is this another academic freedom issue where, once you get tenure, your actual thoughts as to how certain groups are the spawn of pigs and dogs are meaningless?
10.31.2007 2:52pm
Ben P (mail):
My first reaction was that Khan is being unreasonably squeaming about sharing the stage with someone who had opposite opinions.

But, without agreeing with the decision, I can understand students making this sort of decision. I've helped with a few student run events, (although none as controversial as this) and the organizers are often quite nervous about making sure it comes off, and are too nervous to tell one of their guests to just "deal with it."
10.31.2007 2:53pm
Ben P (mail):
*Squeamish* not squeaming.
10.31.2007 2:54pm
Mike& (mail):
Taking the stage with one you think is "radical" or "off the charts" gives you an opportunity to show why that is so [wrong].


No, it's not about having radical views. I don't think the speaker would have minded if his debating opponent simply had the view that the IDF is not an occupying army. The problem is that the other speaker was an actual soldier. He didn't argue in favor of bad deeds; he did bad deeds.

Say there is a panel discussing whether the age of consent should be lowered. One speaker is from NAMBLA. He has never molested a child. Another speaker is a serial child molester.

Can you see why the first speaker might be OK; where as the second speaker most certainly would not be welcome?

There is a difference between arguing that bad deeds are in fact good, and actually doing bad deeds.

And, again, you can argue until you are blue in the face that the IDF is not an occupying army. It doesn't matter. Other very smart people disagree and think that former IDF solders are war criminals. Who is right? No one can say for sure. Thus, the speaker's decision is perfectly legitimate.
10.31.2007 2:55pm
PLR:
Prof. Ethan makes a good point, but I think it is quite plausible that Khan's e-mail was facetious. And if it was partly facetious and partly not, I'm still not inclined to make a big deal about an e-mail that was quite obviously not intended for consumption by anyone other than the addressee.

Unfortunately now we have two groups trying to make a big deal about it. No time to make pruning hooks when you're grinding your axes.
10.31.2007 2:55pm
ejo:
why shouldn't we get to know the real Khan-let's find out about what he thinks of jews. let's find out about some of his affiliations such that his casual disgust at sharing the same breathing space with a jew becomes clear. why not make a big deal out of it-would it be insensitive to those who hate jews?
10.31.2007 3:01pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Khan should have realized -- and perhaps did realize -- that there was a good chance that his message would be read as more or less a demand that students disinvite Romirowsky'

Considering the overwhelming record of Muslims 1. not allowing free discussions in places they control and 2. constantly attempting to shut down free discussions in free countries, 'should' is granting Khan too much slack.

Jokes notoriously don't carry well over cultural boundaries, but even re-reading the e-mail, it is difficult to find anything facetious in it.
10.31.2007 3:06pm
Jaded:
I understand that Prof. Volokh is trying to be fair by giving everyone the benefit of the doubt of good intentions, but the University of Delaware students' actions should be viewed in light of the horrendous "reeducation" program forced upon them by the University.

I think this also ties in with the discussion of the William and Mary system for reporting perceived hostile comments or acts. Initially, Prof. Volokh wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to W&M that the system would be operated in a constitutional, non-discriminatory manner. But many of us no longer believe that universities deserved the benefit of the doubt. Although there are individual instances of fair, rational professors, there is something rotten with the administration of higher education in this country.
10.31.2007 3:11pm
PLR:
Jokes notoriously don't carry well over cultural boundaries, but even re-reading the e-mail, it is difficult to find anything facetious in it.

No it isn't. There is no sensible reason to think Khan has any particular feeling about IDF soldiers as such. But Asaf Romirowsky is no mere soldier (now), he is a think tanker at the Middle East Forum. Obviously Khan knows the people at the Forum and their mission, and he probably isn't very fond of them. So he tosses a little barb in Romirowsky's direction.

Don't let the NRO's clanging of the bell disrupt the analysis of how real people behave.
10.31.2007 3:13pm
WHOI Jacket:
Don't worry, anyone that objects to the IDF member being uninvited will be made to report for the UDel patented-pending re-education training.
10.31.2007 3:16pm
GV_:
I have a hard time understanding how anyone could interpret the professor's e-mail as a request to disinvite the other speaker. Where are people getting that? The closest the professor comes is in saying he would "not feel comfortable" sharing the stage with the soldier. I think you have to read a lot into that to assume the implied message was disinvite the other person.

And how or why "should" Khan realize his statement would be wrongly interpreted? I see an assertion of that fact by Eugene, but nothing to back it up. I wonder what things Eugene has said in the past that he "should" have realized would be misinterpreted?

It seems to me that Khan's message strongly suggested -- despite his later characterization of it -- that he would not willingly share the stage with any former Israeli soldier, which basically means pretty much any Israeli (since pretty much all Israelis had to participate in the military).

Is every Israel soldier stationed at some point in the West Bank? If not, then you're statement is wrong.
10.31.2007 3:17pm
Jaded:
Sorry, bad link to The Fire's article on UD's reeducation program.
10.31.2007 3:24pm
r78:
re the "rudeness" aspect: this isn't a dinner party. Isn't it customary to tell people who will participate on a panel who the other speakers will be. If the hosting organization added someone later without clearing it with those who had already accepted being on the panel, that is bad form.

I don't have a dog in the Israeli/Palestine pissing match, but many on both sides really seem to loathe the others, so it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that someone would object to having to share a stage with someone they hate.
10.31.2007 3:30pm
JoshL (mail):
1) The issue with this email is his aversion to sitting on a panel with an IDF soldier who has served in the West Bank.

In answer to

Is every Israel soldier stationed at some point in the West Bank? If not, then you're statement is wrong.
, pretty much all soldiers in elite combat units will spend some time there (or previously in Gaza). Most combat troops in general will spend some time there.

2) That said,


But Asaf Romirowsky is no mere soldier (now), he is a think tanker at the Middle East Forum.


Indeed. Khan should be far more leery about this than anything else. He also used to be one of the big movers and shakers at Campus Watch, which one would think would be a major issue as well.
10.31.2007 3:31pm
Dave N (mail):
If a group thinks that one speaker will not speak because of another invited speaker, then the group's attitude should be, "We are sorry you won't be here, but that's not our problem."
10.31.2007 3:32pm
Ken Arromdee:
So, if academic panels were held during WWII, it would be wrong to not allow an SS soldier to appear, because he would have "important things to say about the very topic in which he specializes"?

1) Eugene said that "outsiders will have to judge if your moral sense is right, and can rightly condemn you for academic narrow-mindedness if your moral sense is mistaken." I suspect then that his answer would be "being in the Israeli army is not evil and being in the SS is".
2) The reason we wouldn't let the SS soldier into a debate is that we would be assuming that what the SS soldier did is wrong. In fact, we would be excluding the SS soldier's area of specialization from the debate, because it isn't *debatable*. Whether occupying the West Bank is wrong, on the other hand, is a debatable subject.
10.31.2007 3:35pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
There is a difference between arguing that bad deeds are in fact good, and actually doing bad deeds.

So if a public school teacher is invited to a discussion on education, the teacher should be disinvited since he/she had participated in a coercive indoctrination sytem designed to reduce children to state serfs?

I think home schoolers on the panel could handle the competition. I hope no one is arguing that Arabs are wimps.
10.31.2007 4:02pm
eeyn524:
The e-mail explicitly says

I will come directly, but may be late.

Even if you dismiss Khan's claim that he was joking, it's clear he is planning to attend regardless of his discomfort, and in fact he did attend. For that matter, he doesn't even say he'll be uncomfortable, he's just not sure he won't be. Also, Romirowsky is quoted in The Bulletin trying to make connections between Khan and terrorist groups. So, we're outraged that Khan might be uncomfortable sharing a stage with someone accusing him of terrorist ties, even though he decided come anyway, and did in fact do so. Apparently nothing less than enthusiastic acceptance of the opposing view is good enough.
10.31.2007 4:15pm
Hoosier:
eeyn--"Apparently nothing less than enthusiastic acceptance of the opposing view is good enough."

If we remove "acceptance" and replace it with "engagement," then we change your sentence from sarcastic to accurate, at least as far as my preferences for American academia are concerned.
10.31.2007 4:24pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
This subject involving Khan et al. is interesting and/or amusing, but imho the most important post above is that from Jaded, "outing" a related but different problem: the unbelievably sinister system of forced indoctrination being instituted at the University of Delaware. This university program MUST be unconstitutional under Barnette v. West Virginia, Tinker v. Des Moines, and Doe v. University of Michigan! But... Read it and WEEP!


University of Delaware *Requires* ALL Resident Students to Undergo Ideological Reeducation

October 30, 2007

FIRE Press Release

NEWARK, Del., October 30, 2007—The University of Delaware subjects students in its residence halls to a shocking program of ideological reeducation that is referred to in the university’s own materials as a “treatment” for students’ incorrect attitudes and beliefs. The Orwellian program requires the approximately 7,000 students in Delaware’s residence halls to adopt highly specific university-approved views on issues ranging from politics to race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy, and environmentalism. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling for the total dismantling of the program, which is a flagrant violation of students’ rights to freedom of conscience and freedom from compelled speech.


“The University of Delaware’s residence life education program is a grave intrusion into students’ private beliefs,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “The university has decided that it is not enough to expose its students to the values it considers important; instead, it must coerce its students into accepting those values as their own. At a public university like Delaware, this is both unconscionable and unconstitutional.”


The university’s views are forced on students through a comprehensive manipulation of the residence hall environment, from mandatory training sessions to “sustainability” door decorations. Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training” session at which RAs were taught, among other things, that “[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.”


The university suggests that at one-on-one sessions with students, RAs should ask intrusive personal questions such as “When did you discover your sexual identity?” Students who express discomfort with this type of questioning often meet with disapproval from their RAs, who write reports on these one-on-one sessions and deliver these reports to their superiors. One student identified in a write-up as an RA’s “worst” one-on-one session was a young woman who stated that she was tired of having “diversity shoved down her throat.”


According to the program’s materials, the goal of the residence life education program is for students in the university’s residence halls to achieve certain “competencies” that the university has decreed its students must develop in order to achieve the overall educational goal of “citizenship.” These competencies include: “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society,” “Students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression,” and “Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality.”


At various points in the program, students are also pressured or even required to take actions that outwardly indicate their agreement with the university’s ideology, regardless of their personal beliefs. Such actions include displaying specific door decorations, committing to reduce their ecological footprint by at least 20%, taking action by advocating for an “oppressed” social group, and taking action by advocating for a “sustainable world.”


In the Office of Residence Life’s internal materials, these programs are described using the harrowing language of ideological reeducation. In documents relating to the assessment of student learning, for example, the residence hall lesson plans are referred to as “treatments.”


In a letter sent yesterday to University of Delaware President Patrick Harker, FIRE pointed out the stark contradiction between the residence life education program and the values of a free society. FIRE’s letter to President Harker also underscored the University of Delaware’s legal obligation to abide by the First Amendment. FIRE reminded Harker of the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), a case decided during World War II that remains the law of the land. Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing for the Court, declared, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”


“The fact that the university views its students as patients in need of treatment for some sort of moral sickness betrays a total lack of respect not only for students’ basic rights, but for students themselves,” Lukianoff said. “The University of Delaware has both a legal and a moral obligation to immediately dismantle this program, and FIRE will not rest until it has.”
10.31.2007 4:29pm
eeyn524:
Hoosier - I agree with you, but the IMO worst Khan can be accused of is having a bit of a negative attitude about engaging his opponents. Not unwillingness to engage, since he did actually show up, just not having the best possible attitude.
10.31.2007 4:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
One spine-stiffening exercise is recalling with shame the time you rolled over. The students involved will be better for this.
Presuming any are ashamed.
The other issue here is the alacrity with which any of the folks who want desperately to be seen as, and to think of themselves as, the right sort of people, will cave to even a mildly expressed wish from a group which is extraordinarily successful at combining bluster, bullying, and victimology.
10.31.2007 4:39pm
Brian K (mail):
EV,

While I disagree with your interpretation of Khan's e-mail (i don't agree with khan's assertion about his e-mail either), I completely agree with your interpretation of the student's actions...they shouldn't have rescinded the offer to Romirowsky.

It seems to me in the e-mail that khan was expressing his opinion about a change to panel that was made after he agreed to be on it. I don't think "I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him" was code for "either he goes or i go", especially given the "not sure how I feel" part. (although i can easily see how the interpretation is debatable.) I don't quite see the joke in the e-mail and wouldn't even have thought he was joking until i read his explanation. (although again i think this is debatable. the original e-mail appears to be a private message to someone he has had previous contact with...maybe he had reason to believe that they would get the joke? but even then...this type of dry witty joke absolutely needs to be made in person where the other person can hear your voice...khan should have realized that.)

I think the student's proper response to the e-mail would have been "I/We are sorry you feel that way. we'd be happy to seat you two at opposite ends of the table" or something along those lines.
10.31.2007 4:39pm
Brian K (mail):
I missed eeyn524 post before posting mine, but he/she said it better than i did.
10.31.2007 4:44pm
Yankev (mail):

Is every Israel soldier stationed at some point in the West Bank? If not, then you're statement is wrong.


Although, of course, the official position of the elected representatives of the Palestinian administered areas is that every square inch of "Palestine - from the river to the sea" is occupied territory, Tel Aviv no less than Nablus. As is the position of supposedly moderate Mamoud Abbas and his supposedly moderate Fatah faction.
10.31.2007 4:54pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Again with the Buffaloes! Is this a Russian thing?

More seriously, I'm sure Khan has good reason to take offense at the the claim of Romirowsky that Khan has ties to Islamic terrorists. I'm sure Khan has said very plainly that although he objects to the occupation of the West Bank, he strongly supports the existence of Israel and strongly opposes groups such as Hamas and Fatah that have been making war on Israel forever. Or at least he must have said that although he supports these terrorist groups, he has no actual ties to them.
10.31.2007 4:59pm
Smokey:
Since the school gets funding authorized by Congress, every student involved in this decision should be made to write 100 times on the blackboard:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
10.31.2007 5:01pm
Aultimer:
This isn't ideological (sorry, FIRE and the wingnuts). The complicating factor here is that Khan is a prof at UD. He wields some apparent power over the students involved that Romirowsky doesn't. If the jobs were reversed, the students would have disinvited the Arab. If UD's Prof. Hatfield whined about sharing a cab with a student named McCoy, the College Reps and Dems would happily toss the student on the street.
10.31.2007 5:37pm
eeyn524:
LTEC:I'm sure Khan has said very plainly that although he objects to the occupation of the West Bank, he strongly supports the existence of Israel and strongly opposes groups such as Hamas and Fatah that have been making war on Israel forever. Or at least he must have said that although he supports these terrorist groups, he has no actual ties to them.

Khan:


Whoever negotiates on behalf of Palestine will have to guarantee three things: (1) cessation of all violence against Israel even if it means violent suppression of Islamic militancy inside Palestine that could result in a civil war. (2) Establishment of a democratic government free from corruption, nepotism and incompetence, traits exhibited by the current Palestinian Authorityand work towards the welfare of its people. (3) And finally implement fundamental educational reform within Palestine to ensure that the next generation of Palestinians do not hate Israel and nurture a desire to destroy it.

It remains to be seen if the Palestinians can get their act together...

A Hamas takeover of Palestine is a guarantee of a protracted struggle, with violence as the main and perhaps only currency, with no immediate solution.

The only thing working in the favor of a peaceful outcome is the fact that Israel in the last year has practically decimated the leadership and the infrastructure of Hamas.

10.31.2007 6:00pm
jonah gelbach:
I am very puzzled by Eugene's apparent view that Khan should have assumed his message would be misinterpreted. Let's use a favored E.V. technique and change the facts but retain the logical structure:

Laura, I have to stop by the dentist on my way home from work. After that I expect to catch the 5pm train and will be home by 7pm. I will come to the dinner party directly, but may be late. I am also not sure how I feel about having dinner with Iris. I am not sure that I will be comfortable having dinner with her, as we do not get along. It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment, especially since you know we do not get along.

First, no reasonable person would interpret this message as meaning that the sender would not attend the dinner party unless Iris were disinvited. For Pete's sake, the sender confirmed that he was coming to the party, and that was before he mentioned his upset at Iris's presence! (Moreover, in the real world, Khan actually showed up....)

Second, in the last two sentences, the sender is clearly expressing dismay at being informed only at the last minute of Iris's now-planned presence at the dinner party. But nowhere does he ask, or even suggest, that she be disinvited. He's simply conveying his upset at (a) the presence of someone who will make him uncomfortable, and (b) the fact that he was informed only at the last moment. It is hardly natural to read this message as saying that the sender is asking Laura to disinvite Iris.

Having said all that, the sender obviously would have preferred that (a) Laura not invite Iris, and (b) Laura at least inform the sender of Iris's expected presence. One might reasonably argue over whether the sender is rude for complaining to Laura about her dinner party's guest roster. (Whether it actually is rude depends both on Iris's relationship with the sender and on the nature of the dinner party; I can think of cases in which the rudeness falls on the sender as well as cases in which it falls on Laura.) But the sender's preferences aren't the same thing as a preference, much less a suggestion, that Iris be disinvited given that she has already been invited.

I can't help but wonder whether E.V. is prepared to suggest that all texts should be read in their worst possible (however unlikely-to-be-accurate) light. When E.V. writes not-perfectly-precise text, should I always assume that he means what I would consider to be worst by it? If so, should it be his responsibility to assume I will do so and never ever write anything without 100% precision? [Ed note: obviously I think the answer is no....]

I also can't help but wonder whether E.V. thinks, say, statutes should be read in the way he seems to propose reading this email.

Finally, let me just say that I think Khan was silly to write what he did. I'm all for open debate, and I think the best way to have it is to have multiple sides represented in forums like this one. So even if he does feel uncomfortable around ex-soldiers of the IDF, he should suck it up and take advantage of the opportunity to debate them.
10.31.2007 6:40pm
DG:
Mike: Ok, so far you have compare the IDF to both child molesters and the SS. Nicely done. Oh, and you have equated being an occupying force (which is legitimate) with being war criminals. You have also suggested that everyone who has ever served in the IDF is a war criminal. Done?
10.31.2007 7:02pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Doesn't Israel have near-universal military service? So disinviting anyone who's served in the IDF excludes the majority of Israeli men as guest.
10.31.2007 7:33pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Ethan:

The UD indoctrination stands as one of the worst things I've seen coming out of American academia. First of I'm making a donation to FIRE. Then I will call UD. I am stunned/
10.31.2007 7:36pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Pondering this a little further: maybe it's only Americans who believe that everyone needs to feel comfortable all the time. Being out of one's comfort zone promotes growth, however.
10.31.2007 7:43pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Who has to go through that program at the University of Delaware? All residential students?

That is craziness. I've attended two pretty liberal schools, and that would be totally unacceptable at both of them.
10.31.2007 7:56pm
one of many:
I'm not sure how to react to this. When I read Dr. Khan's original e-mail it didn't dtrike me as an attempt at humour, but also given the circumstances, did not strike me as unreasonable, foolish but not unreasonable. But the whole ironic intent speech thing throws me into confusion, I am not sure how to take that, on it's face it makes Khan less sympathetic.


For the SS Officer (make him a Totemkopf SS officer for emphasis), you would be foolish to refuse to include one if they were availible and you were interested in exploring the nature of the holocaust, but it would not be unreasonable for a holocaust survivor to refuse to be on the same stage as them. I dislike post-modernism and this is not post-modernism, but there are cases where the best standard for determining reasonableness is subjective.

What EV seems to be alluding in the final portion of his post is the old bogeyman-nightlight problem. There is nothing unreasonable about a child who believes in the bogeymman insisting upon having a nightlight, what is unreasonable is the child''s belief in the existance of the bogeyman. The proper solution is to cure the child of an unreasonable fear of the bogeyman, not to deny them the reasonable requirement of a nightlight.
10.31.2007 8:26pm
Yankev (mail):

Doesn't Israel have near-universal military service? So disinviting anyone who's served in the IDF excludes the majority of Israeli men as guest.


Women as well, Sean.
10.31.2007 8:55pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
Dear Zarkov and anonymouseducator--thanks, and I feel better now about posting this long segment of material. I think the more that this appalling program is made public the better, the more protests to the University of Delaware the better. And the more donations to FIRE the better.

The way I read it, the program effects all residential students, that is those in the dorms at U of Delaware. This amounts to some 7,000 undergraduate students, which is a bit less than half the overall total attending U of Delaware.

The program at Delaware is in obvious and blatant violation of the Constitutional principles of freedom of speech and thought established for educational environments in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969), and Doe v. University of Michigan (1989). These famous rulings by the Supreme Court (the first two) or by Federal Circuit Court (the third) are evidently either unknown or irrelevant to the U of Delaware administrators.

But the real problem is that this appalling U of Delaware program didn't emerge suddenly out of nowhere. It's not some strange and crazy fluke. It is part and parcel of a larger process recently going on at universities across the country, where the violation of Constitutional rights in the name of enforcing "multiculturalism" and "diversity" is become more and more extreme. I don't know why it is happening now, as opposed to three years ago, but it is.
Hence last week on this blog we had the stunning revelation about the large-scale program for *anonymous denunciations of students* concerning these diversity issues set up by the President of William and Mary, with action on complaints by a hand-picked board of inquisitors *required* to be initiated within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.

It's a very real issue, and one I would like to see E.V. address in a separate segment devoted just to this.
10.31.2007 9:57pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Hmmm. I don't suppose Ronald Reagan would have refused to sit next to the SS officer, but then he took a relaxed view of Naziism.

Considering Khan's job, if he expects never to have to share a room with ex-IDF officers, he's expecting quite a bit.

However, the alleged quotation of Khan by eeyn muddies things up beyond my comprehension. Khan is demanding -- so we are to believe -- that somehow an entire 'nation' (or whatever Palestinians are) unlearn hating Israelis, yet the man giving the Palestinians this advice is reluctant to share a room with an Israeli?

This isn't adding up right.
10.31.2007 10:10pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
jonah gelbach wrote:

I am very puzzled by Eugene's apparent view that Khan should have assumed his message would be misinterpreted. Let's use a favored E.V. technique and change the facts but retain the logical structure:

Laura, I have to stop by the dentist on my way home from work. After that I expect to catch the 5pm train and will be home by 7pm. I will come to the dinner party directly, but may be late. I am also not sure how I feel about having dinner with Iris. I am not sure that I will be comfortable having dinner with her, as we do not get along. It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment, especially since you know we do not get along.

First, no reasonable person would interpret this message as meaning that the sender would not attend the dinner party unless Iris were disinvited. [...]


Let's instead try viewing this as a diplomatic communiqué with built-in "plausible deniability" ...

Laura, I have to speak at the Pentagon tomorrow. My workshop is from 12-4. I hope to catch the 5 pm Acela from DC and will be back in town by 7 pm. I will come directly, but may be late. Gosh, I guess there's just no telling when I might show up! Maybe not 'til your little conference is over -- how do you like them apples? And if I don't, you can't pin anything on me. But rest assured, I will see you on campus in the days and months ahead.

I am also not sure how I feel about being on the same panel with an Israeli soldier who was stationed in West Bank. Some people see IDF as an occupying force in the West Bank. Can you guess the identity of one such "someone"?

I am not sure that I will be comfortable occupying the same space with him. Of course, the likelihood of me not showing up and leaving a big, unfillable hole in your panel is inversely proportional to how "comfortable" I expect to be.

It is not fair to spring this surprise on me at the last moment. It's called a démarche, children, and the clock is ticking.


Nuance, people, nuance.
11.1.2007 12:09am
Irina (mail) (www):
The one major mistake the students made before extending invitations to either of the speakers was not to warn them in advance who the other panelist would be. That would have probably cleared up the issue and they would have been making the decisions of inviting people before the embarrassing situation unfolded.

Having said that, I have to agree, uninviting someone comes off as extremely rude and close-minded. The professor also embarrassed himself, not just because of the rudeness, but because he comes off as someone who can't defend his views in front of someone he potentially disagrees with.
11.1.2007 12:25am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
What happened to the idea of vigorous debate?

In past years, I was with a speaker's bureau, on the subject of gun control. They liked it because I got along with the folks on the other side, we could share a rental car, go to dinner with students in one group, etc..

They mentioned that when they had other speakers, esp. on the subject of abortion, they had to arrange for separate rides, separate dinners with separate groups of students, etc., because the opponents could barely stand to be in the same room long enough to debate. But they still arranged the speeches.

I rather liked my opponents on a personal level, but that's really not necessary to a debate.
11.1.2007 12:58am
Michael B (mail):
"Doesn't Israel have near-universal military service? So disinviting anyone who's served in the IDF excludes the majority of Israeli men as guest."
"Women as well, Sean."
That does get to the heart of some critical aspects of it all.

Too, turn the tables on all this and imagine an Israeli sending a similar email to some "Laura," indicating he or she wouldn't feel comfortable on a panel with a Muslim or Arab or Pali sympathizer. Then later suggesting he or she was merely joking.

Yea, that'd fly.

And of course the students would have disinvited the Muslim or Arab, for fear of offending the Israeli.

Yea, that'd happen.

Still, it was a student group, or rather a couple of student groups, not the administration or faculty.

Otoh I'd encourage Mr. Romirowsky to reconsider speaking at a subsequent event, 1) recognizing these were students, not faculty or admin., 2) recognizing it was political and not a personal slight, 3) if given a subsequent chance to speak he would be able to include, in that speech or discussion, the opportunity to redress the incurred slight in a thoughtful and penetrating fashion, in a manner that lends furthjer cogency to the Israel/Arab refugee (Pali) discussion, in a manner that likewise gives him a platform to at least mildly reprove the students in question (in a suitable manner) and finally in a manner that allows him to speak to the general anti-Israel, antiSemitic and to some degree antiJudaic political atmosphere found in too many quarters on too many campuses.

A well tempered, a measured, deliberate and cogently argued response from Mr. Romirowsky, at a future date, is very much what he should consider.
11.1.2007 2:32am
neurodoc:
Professor Volokh: I thought you were going to point out and link to a previous post of yours regarding an opinion piece by the same disinvited Asaf Romirowsky about "academic freedom" and political "activism." You took exception to Romirowsky's views then, but did not engage directly with what he had to say regarding the conduct of some academics in the service of "activism." While not directly on point here, I do think it relevant and his piece any your reaction to it should be re-read in light of this episode.
11.1.2007 8:22am
neurodoc:
I don't have a dog in the Israeli/Palestine pissing match, but many on both sides really seem to loathe the others...
I know nothing of Muqtedar Khan's personal details, but I strongly doubt he is either Israeli or Palestinian himself. (Pakistani?) I expect that his partisanship is related to religion, that is Islam, just as is the partisanship of many Jews for the Israeli side. If it were an American Jewish professor who expressed reluctance, if not outright unwillingness, to appear along with a Palestinian presenting the Palestinian perspective, would reactions to the acceptability/unacceptability of Khan's conduct and the U of Delaware be the same? I doubt it.
11.1.2007 8:48am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
neurodoc.
Nobody doubts it. We just don't have actual examples of it happening and the response being wildly different.
Be nice if we had one.
Then all the get-along, diversity mongers would either have to let out that they're lying like rugs, which would be fun to watch, or grind their molars to powder pretending to be evenhanded. That would be fun to think about.
11.1.2007 9:17am
Al Maviva (mail):
I think that Prof. Khan's utterly reasonable opinion about Israel and Israelis was best summed up by that eminent philosopher, Borat:


In my country there is problem
And that problem is the Jew
They take everybody money
And they never give it back

Throw the jew down the well
So my country can be free
You must grab him by his horns
Then we have a big party
11.1.2007 9:52am
LTEC (mail) (www):
eeyn524 --
Thanks for the quote from Khan. But it puzzles me. Since he knows that this generation of Palestinians hates Israel and wants to destroy it, and since he presumably knows that Palestinians hated Israel and wanted to destroy it and tried to destroy it before 1967, why does he object to the occupation of the West Bank rather than support it?
11.1.2007 11:37am
glangston (mail):
Khan is from Hyderabad, India. He is married to Reshma and has a son Rumi, and a daughter Ruhi. From wiki he makes a comment that Osama ruined all the dreams of Muslims in the US, including his to be the next Henry Kissinger.
11.1.2007 11:37am
David M (mail) (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/01/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
11.1.2007 2:46pm
Henry Schaffer (mail):
"Reeducation"

UDel gives its side of this situation Residence life program encourages free speech and in that is a link to the UDel response to FIRE.

In that response, UDel acknowledges "some missteps with the implementation" of this program but strongly defends the principles of the program.
11.1.2007 4:05pm
CRW:
Would the students, professor and University have acted the same towards the current Pope? He was in the Wermacht which contrary to common belief did take part in a number of war crimes such as the Commissar Order, various massacres such as the one at Dąbrowa where 300 POWs were murdered by the Wehrmacht and shooting hostages as reprisal for German soldiers killed by resistance groups. Although the future Benedict XVI, who was drafted, served in an anti aircraft unit nonetheless he was part of a military responsible for many war crimes.

What about the novelist Gunter Gräss? He served in the Waffen-SS which was condemned as a criminal organiztion at the Nuremberg He was a draftee and there is no evidence that he participated in any atrocities, but he was a soldier in likely the most infamous army ever in the history of warfare, worse than the Mongols or the Assyrians. Would Professor Khan have the same objection to either man?
11.1.2007 4:25pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Ratzinger was drafted at age 16, never fired a shot, and later deserted. It's hard to assign him much culpability for the Wehrmacht's war crimes on a conspiracy or accomplice liability basis because of his youth, his lack of intent to participate, his failure to try to kill anyone, and his abandonment of the Wehrmacht.
11.1.2007 4:41pm
Stuart M. (mail):
Dunno, guys, it looks to me like this emphasis on Israeli ex-soldiers as some sort of moral lepers is a crude way to delegitimize any Israelis and cast them out of any civilized circles. Israel has a draft. If you get drafted, you report or you go to jail. Serving one's country under compulsion and serving where you're sent isn't a basis for moral condemnation. The "ex soldier" excuse for not showing thus amounts to an excuse to shun Israeli Jews. It might not be intended that way, but think it through and you see that's how it operates.

It would be different if the objecting professor had a reason to believe that the ex-soldier had committed war crimes, but that's not the case here. And it's no answer to say that the "occupation" is itself a war crime; that's a political issue, and simply unilaterally defining things you don't like as war crimes just won't wash.
11.1.2007 8:30pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Stuart. Ref yr last sentence.
Sure it will. Depends on the lineup. With the lineup here, it works.
Now, if we were to, say, condemn Ahwosits at Columbia, nope. Not allowed.
11.1.2007 10:33pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
For Henry Shaffer:

Despite what the University of Delaware might say *now* about the indoctrinaton program they instituted at the University, here is what they were doing this *August*. And if the administration itself is acknowledging "some missteps with implementation", while denying anything bad has happened, you can be darned sure that something really bad *has* happened and they are scrambling now to cover it up.

Selections from the training of the ra's for the dorms at U of Delaware, a training section presented by Dr. Shakti Butler on August 14 and 15, 2007. This is from the *official U of D website*:

"Definitions and Descriptions of Racism:

White Supremacy [this is the first subheading]: White supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.

White privilege [third subheading]: is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of (1) Preferential prejudice for and treatment of white people based solely on their skin color and/or ancestral origin from Europe, and (2) Exemption from racial and/or national oppression based on skin color and/or ancestral origin from Africa, Asia, the Americas, or the Arab world.

Racism: Racism is race prejudice plus power. This is the definition provided by the People's Institute.

Internauzed [sic!] Racism: (1) The poison of racism seeping into the psyches of peoples of color, until people of color believe about themselves what whites believe about them--that they are inferior to whites; (2) The behavior of one perosn of color towards another that stems from this psychic poisoning; (3) the acceptance by persons of color of Eurocentric values.

Reverse Racism: a term created and used by whie people to deny their white privilege. Those in denial use the term reverse racism to refer to hostile behavior by people of color toward whites, and to affirmative action policies, which allegedly give "preferential treatment" to people of color over whites. In the U.S. there is no such thing as "reverse racism."

Racist: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality.

A Non-Racist: a non-term. The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism.

etc, etc., etc.
11.1.2007 11:40pm