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Sunday, January 13, 2019


by Maureen Rubin

500 academics and counting have signed the JVP Academic Advisory Council letter in support of Angela Davis. Jewish Voice for Peace calls on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to rescind their cancellation of the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award intended for Professor Angela Davis. The cancelling of this award by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is unjust, insulting and ill-conceived, especially because it is likely premised on Professor Davis' long-standing support for Palestinian human rights. The decision seems to stem from a misinformed view that to advocate for Palestinian human rights is somehow offensive to the Jewish community. —Jewish Voice for Peace

“Hell no. We won’t go!” “Hey! Hey! LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
Angry slogans soar while we march in our bell bottom jeans and tie-dyed tee shirts.

We can barely breathe. We cover our innocent collegiate mouths with wet washcloths to ward off the tear gas.  But washcloths couldn’t stop the bullets at Kent State.

College students are marching again. Dressed in yoga pants and ripped jeans they now yell “Fight the power. Turn the tide.  End Israeli apartheid” Same anger. New slogans.

They are BDS.  They demand Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions for Israel. They are Palestinians. They hate all things Israel.

They use tough tactics. They ban Israeli speakers from their campuses. They seek to forbid college funds from supporting the Jewish state. They pass resolutions.

They win at Barnard. George Washington.  University of Minnesota. Pitzger College. And now the US House of Representatives.  A new freshman Member of Congress admitted she backs BDS.

They demand freedom, justice and equality, just as we did.  But is it the same?

But my job is to teach aspiring journalists to cherish the First Amendment. “Democracy demands free speech,” I say. I quote Tallentyre. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

As I hammer the necessity of free speech into my student’s sponge-like brains, I always think of my causes.  The good ones.  The right ones. Viet Nam.  ERA.  #MeToo.

Free speech lives on college campuses.  They are safest of all places. Safe to debate. To argue.  To protest. To march.  To learn.

David Duke came to my campus.  I told my students to go see him. I quoted Justice Brandeis. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  Let them spew their hate on my campus.  Openness exposes idiocy.

But now, there is a cause that is not mine. There is a cause that makes me sick. I am a Jew and I do not want angry Palestinians working for their change in my backyard.

But don’t these protesters have the same rights as we did?  How can I teach my students to cherish the First Amendment rights of hateful BDS?

I can’t.  I am a hypocrite.

Maureen Rubin is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge. In her 30 years on campus, she served in a variety of administrative positions, published widely and received numerous teaching and public service awards.  Prior to joining the university, she was Director of Public Information for President Carter’s Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs in the White House, and held similar positions for a U.S. Congresswoman and several non-profits. She has a JD from Catholic University School of Law In Washington, D.C., an MA in Public Relations from University of Southern California and a BS in Journalism from Boston University.