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UB speakers giving false impressions of Israel

There have been complaints of anti-Semitism on the University at Buffalo campus. UB, hiding behind the guise of academic freedom, is unwittingly allowing professors to prey on college students who lack basic knowledge of the Middle East. They are allowing lecturers, such as Norman Finkelstein, who are admired by neo-Nazis, to speak on campus. This is akin to letting the KKK speak as "qualified" specialists in their field.

Professors such as James Holstun make a variety of claims using neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers as their experts. Because Israel is a Jewish state, they say it's racist. (They don't take issue with over 20 Muslim countries whose laws foster human rights abuses.) When Israel has to defend itself against suicide bombers, they inaccurately suggest that Israel is committing genocide. They suggest that Israel wants to rule over the Palestinians. How could tiny Israel, the size of New Jersey, possibly rule over anyone? The country simply doesn't want to be destroyed.

Professors blame the poor living conditions of the Palestinians on the Israeli government instead of recognizing that the roots of these conditions can be traced to Palestinian leaders, who have stolen enormous amounts of money.

The professors don't mention the 1 million Jewish refugees who fled their homes in Arab countries due to terrorism and persecution and were peacefully assimilated into Israel. Instead, the focus is on Palestinian refugees because Arab countries intentionally created the problem. Arab countries use Palestinians as pawns to destroy Israel. Many Arab countries give generously to support terrorism but give very little money to improve Palestinians' lives.

Unfortunately, distortions work. A recent poll by a Washington-based group called the Israel Project shows that even college students from pro-Israel homes "have grown emotionally connected to the Palestinian cause, to the point of rationalizing Palestinian suicide bombings." That point of view goes hand in hand with speakers and professors who sympathize with suicide bombers.

Perhaps with the recent bombings in London, impressionable young adults might think twice about the sympathetic portrayal of terrorists as being the victims. Hopefully, college students will voice questions. Why should going to a mosque radicalize youths? Why does the Arab media focus on hatred of others? Why don't other impoverished people blow themselves up? Why hasn't the Palestinian Authority used its $1.3 billion in bank accounts here in the United States (as reported by the Boston Globe) to improve the living conditions of its people?

American universities are an appropriate venue for intellectual discourse. But not every idea is worth debating. Should credence be given to individuals who change facts to promote their cause? Let's expose the absurdities. Legend should not become fact.

As Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria wrote, "We in the West have to discredit, delegitimize and dismantle barbaric ideas." Let's not give hatred safe haven on the college campus.

Elinor Weiss, a UB graduate, lives in Clarence.

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