Howard Waldow writes in response to Ilan Pappé’s speech on campus February 20.
Ilan Pappé is professorial, intelligent and sounds reasonable. Pappé is also an extreme anti-Zionist.
“Pappé…is mortally ignorant of the basic facts…awash with error of a quantity and quality that are not found in serious historiography…It can almost be called a deliberate system of error,” according to historian Benny Morris.
I think Morris is being kind to Pappé. I believe Pappé is a man whose hatred of the state of Israel has obliterated his conscience.
Many of the 300 attendees did not buy into Pappé’s pap. There was a group of us who love Israel and came to ask hard questions — and we did.
Now Pappé, true to form, never directly answered any of our questions. He used misdirection, obfuscated or just plain lied his way to inevitable applause and love from the Pappé supporters. The people who controlled the microphone would not let any of us reply to his falsehoods.
Pappé, for me, is an interchangeable ideological robot who will demonize Israel irregardless of the facts. What is crucial is that the other side, the side that researches deeply and ends up loving Israel was well-represented. StandWithUs’ Roz Rothstein posed questions persuasively, community members raised questions passionately, and most importantly, several students braved the hostile environment and the potential wrath of their anti-Israel professors to pointedly challenge this extremist.
There was a palpable sense of thoughtful and articulate opposition in the house. We were speaking out, even if the game was rigged so we could not win rhetorically. The courageous students who asked questions were a part of CSUN Students for Israel (CSI) and they distributed fliers they created with StandWithUs, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to educating people about the Israeli-Arab conflict. These fliers were filled with profoundly disturbing quotes from Pappé and powerful condemnations of his work by some of the world’s most respected Israeli and Middle East scholars.
There is something unusual happening here that is beginning to counter the all too common academic demonization of Israel. It is the sound of reasonable, commonsensical people who understand propaganda when they hear it and will not tolerate it. Student organizations, such as CSI, provide the essential support for this movement.
CSUN, 1970 BA in Psych
StandWithUs Board Member