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March 21, 2017 8:55 am

Alan Dershowitz Joined by Prominent Academics in Railing Against ‘Hypocrisy’ of BDS Intellectual Leader Cornel West for Statement on ‘Truth-Seeking, Freedom of Thought’

avatar by Lea Speyer

Harvard Professor Cornel West (left) and Princeton Professor Robert P. George. Photo: Princeton.

The co-signing of a statement calling for “truth-seeking and freedom of thought” by a well-known BDS proponent elicited harsh reactions from academics, who said they otherwise would  have endorsed the document.

The statement, jointly issued last week by conservative Princeton professor Robert P. George and Harvard’s Cornel West, reads in part: “…all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree — especially on college and university campuses.”

World-renowned legal expert and human rights activist Alan Dershowitz called West a “major hypocrite” for “believing in free speech for me and not for thee.”

Dershowitz told The Algemeiner, “I have yet to see him actively involved in protesting groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) when they try to shut down pro-Israel speakers on campuses. He supports radical anti-Israel tactics in an unprincipled way and is the ultimate denier of free speech.”

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Dr. Richard Cravatts, president emeritus of anti-BDS faculty group Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, said that given West’s “strident and hysterical anti-Israelism, the statement he co-authored seems to confirm that he is exhibiting doublethink.”

“It is unlikely that West will disavow his former views of Israel and his support of the BDS movement, because, like many progressives and other Israel-haters on the Left, he feels so morally self-righteous and certain of the purity of the campaign to weaken and destroy Israel that he doesn’t even believe supporters of Israel should have a place at the table to express their own views,” he told The Algemeiner. “His record as a vociferous and toxic critic of Israel and support of a destructive and anti-intellectual boycott corrupts the intellectual integrity of the statement.”

Miriam Elman, an associate professor of political science at Syracuse University and regular contributor to the conservative blog Legal Insurrection, said that West’s co-sponsorship of the statement “provides the perfect opportunity for him to disavow BDS as among the greatest threats to academic freedom, free speech and expression on the US campus today.”

“By failing to disavow BDS at this juncture, does West mean to imply that he supports academic freedom and free speech in general, but that Israel is such an evil, pariah state that he is willing to throw these principles to the wind when it comes to this single country? This is the height of hypocrisy. I would have more respect for West if he were to admit that he believes Israel should be an exception to the general principles of academic freedom and campus free speech, and offer a defense of that position,” she told The Algemeiner. “The statement is a strong defense of academic freedom and campus free speech — reflecting the bedrock principles of academia. I would have been delighted to sign it, but West’s co-authorship of it makes a mockery of the entire initiative, and so I simply can’t bring myself to support it.”

West declined comment for this article due to scheduling issues.

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