Commentary: Middle East programs often one-sided

There are, at present, a very large number of Middle East themed events or programs on most American universities and college campuses. The vast majority of these, are of the anti-Israel or Israel-bashing types, and even Northeastern has been host to several of these just this past fall. Perhaps the most egregious was held at the law school by its National Lawyers Guild Chapter on Nov. 19. Its theme was Apartheid in Israel, but other themes have been Peace in the Mideast and the recent Lebanon-Israel war. In almost every such program, the theme has invariably been anti-Israel in tone and intent, and very rarely are such programs objective attempts to understand the complex history and reality of the conflict, including the sufferings of both Arabs and Jews. Why is that?

My intent here is to warn students and others that these programs are extremely political and propagandist by nature. They all have a similar agenda – Israel bashing. Even when their title suggests otherwise, such as Three Jerusalem Women in Search of Peace, in reality their intent is almost always Israel-bashing. They are extremely one-sided, opinionated, misleading, inaccurate and biased. Their statements are usually opinions rather than hard facts. Their lectures are meant to propagandize the topic, not to provide absolute facts or figures unless they bolster their agenda. Their statements are out of context.

Thus, how can you, as a student, believe what they are presenting without some type of supporting evidence or documentation? How can you sit there and assume the speakers are speaking the truth, the whole truth- when they have an agenda that will not permit for that? And, just because one of the panelists may be an Israeli Jew, does not guarantee he or she are unbiased or more valid than others. This is a favorite trick of such programs.

A much fairer type of program might be one where both sides of the current Middle East situation are allowed to present. Each side would be given the same amount of time as the other, open discussions would be possible without rancor or shouting (it is hoped), and all types of questions and discussions would be allowed (not just those that suit the agenda, as at other, earlier programs). This is the type of open forum program students are entitled to hear and experience, so they can make up their own minds. Do not let yourselves be propagandized and manipulated, ask to be exposed to all sides of the debate and not just the Israel-bashing viewpoints.

-Ira Krull is a professor of chemistry and chemical


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