More than a hundred U.S. history professors have set aside their books and stepped away from their lecterns to unite in righteous fury over an outrage so urgent that all other causes can wait: Palestinian students are being inconvenienced.
I’m not kidding.
At the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, being held Jan. 7-10 in Atlanta, a group of radical historians will present a resolution about the mistreatment of students thousands of miles away — not Chinese students who have been jailed for dissenting from the Communist Party line; not students at Syria’s Aleppo University, which has been bombed by the Assad regime because it has been the center of anti-government criticism; and not even Palestinian students who have been persecuted by the Palestinian Authority for their “critical postings about Palestinian Authority forces on Facebook,” according to Human Rights Watch.
No, these 126 historians are angry because Palestinian students are sometimes delayed “15 minutes or more” at Israeli security checkpoints. These delays are “impeding instruction at Palestinian institutions of higher learning,” the learned professors insist. And so they want the AHA to condemn Israel.
I sent an email last week to all 126 of the sponsors of the anti-Israel resolution.
I told them how disappointed I am that their resolution does not take into account the horrible fate suffered by another group of students in the Middle East—a fate far worse than what has been experienced by the Palestinian students who claim their travels have been impeded.
I am referring to the numerous American students who have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists, including my own daughter, Brandeis University junior Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian attack in April 1995.
Harvard University senior Etan Bard was murdered in a Palestinian attack on TWA flight 841, on Sept. 9, 1974. University of Maryland student Richard Fishman was murdered in a Palestinian bombing of a bus in Jerusalem on June 2, 1978. Jewish Theological Seminary student Matthew Eisenfeld and Sara Duker, who had just graduated from Columbia and was doing research at Hebrew University, were murdered in a Palestinian bus bombing in Jerusalem on Feb. 25, 1996. American citizen Moran Amit, a student at Haifa University, was stabbed to death by Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem on Feb. 8, 2002. American students Marla Bennett, Benjamin Blutstein, Dina Carter and David Gritz, and American university administrator Janis Coulter, were murdered in the Palestinian bombing of the Hebrew University cafeteria in Jerusalem on July 31, 2002. Alan Beer, a Ph.D. candidate at Case Western Reserve University, was murdered in a Palestinian bombing of a Jerusalem bus on June 11, 2003.
I pointed out, in my letter, that some of these attacks were carried out with the sponsorship of the mainstream Palestinian authorities, and in other cases the Palestinian leadership has protected the suspects. Yasir Arafat’s PLO publicly claimed responsibility for the bombing that killed Richard Fishman. Israel asked the Palestinian Authority to extradite two terrorists involved in the bombing that killed Sara Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld; the PA refused to hand them over. And earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority was found guilty by an American court of sponsoring the Hebrew University bombing.
My letter concluded: “If you feel that the inconvenience suffered by Palestinian students merits a resolution by the American Historical Association, then I hope you will agree that the deaths suffered by American students at the hands of Palestinian terrorists — sometimes at the hands of the Palestinian leadership—will likewise a merit a resolution. Anything less would constitute an unconscionable double standard and a callous disregard of the deaths of American students, some of them students at your own universities.”
The responses I have received provide a fascinating snapshot of the mentality of a certain segment of the academic community.
Peter Kirstein, of St. Xavier University, replied that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians “is one of the great crimes of the modern era.” He signed his email, “Salam Alaikum.” Norman Bennett (Boston University) snidely responded with four curt words: “So make a resolution.”
Several of the professors expressed perfunctory condolences on the murder of my daughter, and then proceeded to rant about Israel being the cause of all the trouble. “Shall we look forward to a 500-year horror as the Irish experienced?” asked Prof. Sandi Cooper (College of Staten Island), as if their ill-informed anti-Israel resolution will help end the conflict. And as if adding a mention of the American victims in their resolution would cause hundreds of years of additional conflict.
Not that every responder was so callous. One actually wrote back to say that after reading my e-mail, he is seriously considering withdrawing his name from the resolution. But the other 117 simply did not write back at all. Maybe they are so consumed with hatred for Israel, and so dismissive of anybody who dares to disagree with them, that they cannot even be bothered to respond. That’s sad. And it makes you wonder what they are teaching their students — tomorrow’s leaders — about Israel and the Palestinians.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.