Former Congressman Defends St. Olaf College Adviser as Anti-Israel Students Demand His Ouster Due to AIPAC Affiliation
A former congressman has called St. Olaf College students’ demand that a school adviser be removed due to his AIPAC affiliation “insane,” The College Fix reported on Thursday.
Vin Weber, a Minnesota representative from 1981-1993, told the paper the campaign against Arne Christenson — a St. Olaf alumnus, Weber’s one-time chief of staff and managing director of policy and politics at AIPAC — was beyond “unfair,” while students have claimed Christenson’s Christianity and Zionism make him unfit to serve on the advisory board of the school’s Institute for Freedom and Community.
“It’s a deeply disturbing, almost deranged approach, on the part of the students displaying huge intolerance and intellectual shallowness,” said Weber (who retired from public office following a House-wide banking scandal in which he was implicated).
According to the report, alterations have been made to the students’ original demands, which explicitly cited Christenson’s “political views and values as a Christian Zionist,” and now refers to his AIPAC job. A concurrent petition has been opened by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which argues that “[Christenson’s] presence poses a serious threat to academic freedom at St. Olaf College.”
Weber said, “People who know Arne Christenson without exception would say he’s one of the very finest people they’ve known in their entire lives.”
College Fix reported that the St. Olaf administration has agreed to “release a public document before the end of the week addressing each” of the concerns regarding Christenson.
A year ago, SJP opened a similar petition attempting to stop Christensen’s appointment to the advisory board altogether, but that effort failed to garner even 400 signatures. In that document, SJP with the concern the “[p]ossibility and probability of Mr. Arne Christenson’s political and Christian Zionist values influencing the institution of St. Olaf College.”
Earlier this month, a case of supposed racism at St. Olaf was exposed as a hoax — but only after classes were shut down for a day due to student protests about the fake incident.