Free Speech in New York

We have previously mentioned Tony Judt. His books Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944-1956 and The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century are really good, and he has written the best history of Europe since 1945.

Now he has been prevented from giving a speech at the Polish Consulate in New York. The New York Sun reports,

Poland Abruptly Cancels a Speech By Local Critic of the Jewish State

The government of Poland, moving to avoid getting embroiled in anti-Israel politics, last night abruptly canceled a scheduled speech by a professor at New York University who has become hostile to the Jewish state, just hours before the event was to have taken place at Poland’s consulate here in New York…

Mr. Judt, who is director of the Remarque Institute at NYU and a professor of European studies and of history, blamed the Anti-Defamation League and Mr. Foxman for the cancellation. “The pressure was brought by the ADL,” Mr. Judt said. “They had no choice. Foxman had been leaning on the consulate all afternoon…

Mr. Judt said he was happy to have an unexpected free evening, but “sad at what this means for the country.” He said he had planned to speak for about 30 minutes, and then to answer questions, about the paper on the influence of the “Israel Lobby” that was authored by professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. That paper described what it alleged to be a vast Israel lobby that included the editors of the New York Times, “neoconservative gentiles,” the Brookings Institution, and students at Columbia. The “”Lobby,” the paper said, had the “ability to manipulate the American political system,” “a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress,” and was actively “manipulating the media.”

Mr. Judt said he is a Jew who lived in Israel in the 1960s and volunteered for “a number of weeks” as a member of the Israel Defense Force auxiliary after the 1967 war. In a 2003 Los Angeles Times article adapted from a longer and much-discussed article in the New York Review of Books, he called Israel a dysfunctional anachronism and suggested that “a single, integrated, binational state of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians” might be preferable.

Philip Weiss comments,

The Israel Lobby Influences, Er, Speaks Reason to, the Polish Consulate

Today’s New York Sun prints a vicious attack on Tony Judt as a professor who has “become hostile to the Jewish state” in an article about the Polish consulate in N.Y. abruptly cancelling a Judt speech last night under pressure from the Anti-Defamation League. Penned by Ira Stoll (who I believe is credited with the prescient statement in 2003 that demonstrators opposed to the upcoming war in Iraq should be investigated for treason).

Interesting that anyone who is critical of Israel’s regrettable policies toward its neighbors, and its overreliance on the U.S. in maintaining that posture, is said to be “hostile to the Jewish state.”

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One thought on “Free Speech in New York

  1. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so scary: a Jewish academic worried that the Jewish lobby is stifling honest debate is banned from speaking by… the Jewish lobby.

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