An ominous silencing

Finally, real debate about the often insidious power of the Zionist lobby is occurring in the mainstream:

Collectively they have published more than a hundred books and countless articles. Four are tenured professors at elite American universities. Internet searches reveal them to be widely cited experts on international affairs and American foreign policy.

In short, it’s difficult to imagine a collection of academics more secure in their posts or more prominent.

But there they were — Noam Chomsky, John Mearsheimer, Tony Judt and fellow travelers — at a conference last week hosted by the University of Chicago warning that pressure from American Jewish groups is having a chilling effect on unpopular scholarship and free-wheeling debate on university campuses.

“Universities are the one place in the United States where Israel tends to get treated like a normal country,” said Mearsheimer, the University of Chicago professor and co-author of “The Israel Lobby,” which asserts that the pro-Israel community stifles debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East.

“Some find this situation intolerable,” he told a nearly packed 1,500-seat auditorium, “which causes them to work hard to stifle criticism of Israel and to instead promote a positive image of Israel on campuses”…

Norman Finkelstein said there is never an excuse for incivility in the classroom; professors should seek to teach, not argue for a position. But outside the university they have the same rights as anyone else, including the right to outraged expression.

“My own experience has been that young people in particular, they yearn for persons in authority to speak the unvarnished truth and give expression to the moral indignation warranted by the occasion,” Finkelstein said. “There are moments that require breaking out of constraints of polite discourse to sound the alarm that innocent people are being butchered while we speak due to the actions of our government.”

Still, Finkelstein called the whole argument over civility a “red herring,” considering “indubitable war criminals” like Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld have been offered posts at prestigious universities.

What do the Israel lobby really care about? Complete obedience.

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