What Zoom Does to Campus Conflicts Over Israel and Free Speech - 2 minutes read

Back home in New Jersey, she enrolled in self-defense classes and bought a Taser for security.
In September, N.Y.U. settled Ms. Cojab’s complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, outlining steps to address anti-Semitism on campus, as defined in the president’s executive order. But the school did not concede any wrongdoing, nor mention the section of the executive order citing examples of anti-Israel speech as anti-Semitic.
In the meantime, the conflicts continue, with or without students on campus. Universities are left to muddle in the middle, to balance irreconcilable imperatives.
Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, reaffirmed the school’s commitment to free speech but vowed to disregard the student referendum on divestment. N.Y.U.’s president, Andrew D. Hamilton, expressed “consternation” to Zoom over its cancellation of the webinar with Ms. Khaled, but he also chided the professors who sponsored it.
For now, though, the virtual campus makes it easy not to listen to one another, to refuse to “normalize” an opposing point of view. Instead, both sides dig into their own moral narratives, said Kenneth S. Stern, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and the man who wrote the working definition of anti-Semitism invoked in Mr. Trump’s executive order. Mr. Stern said the definition was meant for data gathering, not regulating campus debate.
“The reality is that both arguments are true, and to understand the issue you have to not just pick one side and battle against the other, you have to say that both people have indigenous claims, and one can make the case, from the Jewish perspective, that of course we’ve always been there, and the Palestinians can say, ‘We’ve been here for a long time and we’re indigenous.’ Both of those things are true.”
The history is “messy,” he said, with “justice on both sides, and injustice on both sides.”
Even without remote learning, students have little incentive to see the other view and strong support for hardening their own side’s.
Mr. Stern said, mildly, “That makes conversations very difficult.”

Source: New York Times

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