When the ASA’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions took effect, I was a student at one of the universities affected, Israel’s Hebrew University. It was difficult, for a while, to reconcile my support of the anti-occupation movement with the fact that I was unable to think of anything I had heard on campus that could be considered justification for an international boycott. A few days later, I read the article by Wesleyan President Michael Roth condemning the boycott, along with a flurry of articles supporting, attacking, and dissecting the boycott. What I wasn’t seeing from many of the articles was also missing from President Roth’s piece- a substantive discussion of the real issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that are behind the boycott. I wrote this piece a little while after that in hopes that I could bring both of my educational experiences to bear on this, what I feel is one of the most pressing issues on the international stage.

President Roth and I both agree that the strategy of the boycott is fundamentally flawed. There is but one guaranteed end result of the boycott: that there will be fewer Israeli academic voices – voices that are often anti-occupation – speaking out against the practices of the Israeli government on the international stage. I understand the theory behind the BDS movement, and I share their goal of ending the occupation, but if they believe, as I think they do, in a sustainable, peaceful, bilateral solution, the strategy cannot be to limit open debate.

Peaceful solutions are always the result of breaking down barriers to discourse, not erecting new ones. That being said, this boycott is just a tactic; a tactic that, it could be argued, has had a backlash far outweighing any political pressure it has placed on the Israeli government. What is important to focus on is that the real issue at hand is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem- an injustice that is both morally and politically wrong. President Roth- you are, as you say in your article, a student of history, and you understand that conflicts have moments wherein they are ripe for resolution. To condemn the boycott of Israeli academic institutions while failing to endorse current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which may be the last hope for a two state resolution in our lifetime, is a missed opportunity and an abdication of the responsibility to present an alternative.

President Roth, I want to thank you for your op-ed, and I want to challenge you to support the ongoing negotiation process. I speak not only for myself; I speak also as but also as a president of J Street U at Wesleyan and on behalf of the hundreds of Wesleyan students who have affirmed that they support a US leadership for a two state solution. Campus leaders, including class council presidents, leadership of the College Democrats, the Jewish community, and others, have signed a letter affirming that they stand with J Street U, and ultimately with Secretary of State Kerry in his negotiation efforts. Students forecast the future of politics, and right now students nationwide support the negotiation process and the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We want our leaders, both campus and political, to do so as well. With that in mind, I am asking you, as a public face of Wesleyan University, to publicly endorse the negotiation process. The moment is here for action, for supporting those who are working to end injustice and make lives safer, and for finding a resolution to a conflict that has harmed too many on both sides of the Green Line.

Caspar-Johnson is a member of the class of 2015.

  • Anonymous

    Speaking for myself I do not believe the two-state solution
    is a solution. Most anywhere one studies Muslims we see deadly conflict with
    their neighbors and it is instigated by the Muslims. And this includes Muslims
    killing Muslims where the killing of Muslims by Muslims is as predictable as is
    the rising sun.

    Be it in Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Mali, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Southern Thailand, NW China, Southern Russia, train depots in London, discos in Bali, Embassies in Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere, grade schools in Beslan, the list goes on and on and never ends.

    The idea that a two-state solution would work is like telling me I could fly to the moon of my own doing. Muslims have never been interested in peace with Israel and never will be. Their goal is to re-create the Ummah. This goal is stated in their Quran and is amply supported by all the material found in their Hadiths and Sunna.

    It – the two-state solution – is one of those idiotic plans put together by people who know nothing other than intellectual pursuits that have as much chance of working in the real world as the Arab Spring had of fostering democracy in the Muslim world.

    • Isaiah


      Jews and Muslims co-existed peacefully for centuries in that very region prior to the creation of the state of Israel. Moreover, Jewish culture and philosophy flourished during the Golden Age of Islam. Please re-calibrate your sense of History.

      The world’s Muslim believers and the Jewish people have significant aspects common to their traditions — notwithstanding the persistence of conflict in the Middle East. Jews and Arabs both trace their lineage to the monotheistic prophet Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic). Jews affirm their descent from Isaac, the son of Abraham and his wife Sarah, and Arabs from Ishmael (Ismail), the child of Abraham’s Egyptian slave Hagar.

      Comparing the treatment of Jews in the medieval Islamic world and medieval Christian Europe, the Jews were far more integrated in the political and economic life of Islamic society,[7] and usually faced far less violence from Muslims, though there were some instances of persecution in the Islamic world as well from the 11th century.[8] The Islamic world classified Jews (and Christians) as dhimmi and allowed them to practice their religion more freely than they could do in Christian Europe.[9]

      Jewish philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, poets, and rabbinical scholars, composed highly rich cultural and scientific work. Many devoted themselves to the study of the sciences and philosophy, composing the most valuable texts of Jewish Philosophy. Jews took part in the overall prosperity of Muslim Al-Andalus. Jewish economic expansion was unparalleled. In Toledo, Jews were involved in translating Arabic texts to the romance languages, as well as translating Greek and Hebrew texts into Arabic. Jews also contributed to botany,geography, medicine, mathematics, poetry and philosophy.[5]


      • Anonymous

        Jews and
        the Crusades

        by Ibn Warraq

        Part 3

        Part 1 / Part 2


        Since Sir Steven argues
        that Islamic intolerance began after the Crusasdes, here are examples of the
        persecution of Jews in Islamic lands before 1096: the massacre of more
        than 6000 Jews in Fez (Morocco) in 1033; of the hundreds of Jews killed between
        1010 and 1013 near Cordoba, and other parts of Muslim Spain; of the massacre of
        the entire Jewish community of roughly 4000 in Granada during the Muslim riots
        of 1066. Referring to the latter massacre, Robert Wistrich writes: “This was a
        disaster, as serious as that which overtook the Rhineland Jews thirty years
        later during the First Crusade, yet it has rarely received much scholarly
        attention.” Wistrich continues: “In Kairouan [Tunisia] the Jews were persecuted
        and forced to leave in 1016, returning later only to be expelled again.” [1]

        What of the putative
        “culture of conviviencia,” that is, the Golden Age of Tolerance in Spain
        before, it is claimed, it was destroyed by the intolerance of the Almohads.
        Unfortunately, “The Golden Age” also turns out to be a myth, invented,
        ironically, by the Jews themselves. The myth may well have originated as early
        as the twelfth century, when Abraham Ibn Daud in his Sefer ha-Qabbalah
        contrasted an idealised period of tolerance of the salons of Toledo in contrast
        to the contemporary barbarism of the Berber dynasty. But the myth took a firm
        grip on the imagination of the Jews in the nineteenth century thanks to the
        bibliographer Moritz Steinschneider and historian Heinrich Graetz, and perhaps
        the influence of Benjamin Disraeli’s novel Coningsby, published in 1844.
        Here is a passage from the latter novel giving a romantic picture of Muslim
        Spain, “…that fair and unrivaled civilization in which the children of
        Ishmael rewarded the children of Israel with equal rights and privileges with
        themselves. During these halcyon centuries, it is difficult to distinguish the
        followers of Moses from the votary of Mohammed. Both alike built palaces,
        gardens and fountains; filled equally the highest offices of state, competed in
        an extensive and enlightened commerce, rivaled each other in renowned
        universities.” [2] Against a background of a rise in the pseudo-scientific
        racism of the nineteenth century, Jane Gerber has observed that Jewish
        historians looked to Islam “…for support, seeking real or imagined allies and
        models of tolerance in the East. The cult of a powerful, dazzling and brilliant
        Andalusia in the midst of an ignorant and intolerant Europe formed an important
        component in these contemporary intellectual currents.” [3] But Gerber
        concludes her sober assessment of the Golden Age Myth with these reflections,
        “The aristocratic bearing of a select class of courtiers and poets, however,
        should not blind us to the reality that this tightly knit circle of leaders and
        aspirants to power was neither the whole of Spanish Jewish history nor of
        Spanish Jewish society. Their gilded moments of the tenth and eleventh century
        are but a brief chapter in a longer saga. No doubt, Ibn Daud’s polemic provided
        consolation and inspiration to a crisis-ridden twelfth century elite, just as
        the golden age imagery could comfort dejected exiles after 1492. It suited the
        needs of nineteenth century advocates of Jewish emancipation in Europe or the
        twentieth century contestants in the ongoing debate over Palestine….The
        history of the Jews in Muslim lands, especially Muslim Spain, needs to be
        studied on its own terms, without myth or countermyth.” [4]

        Some scholars, such as the
        great historian Shlomo Dov Goitein (d. 1985), taking into account the
        discoveries of the Cairo Geniza, revised their ideas about the situation of
        Jews in Islamic lands. [5] Another example of a scholar who changed his mind
        was Léon Poliakov, author of the monumental work The History of Antisemitism,
        which appeared in four volumes in French between 1955 and 1978. In Volume Two
        [6], Poliakov paints, on the whole, a very favorable picture of the treatment
        of the Jews under Islam. He finds Muhammad, a man of genius, “simple, humane,
        and wise” [23] and Islam, “a religion of tolerance above all.”[28].
        Astonishingly, Poliakov devotes a meagre two lines to the persecution of the
        Jews. Two lines in which he downplays all the acts of intolerance such as the
        massacre of Banu Qurayza, or the expulsion of the Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadir,
        while the political assassinations or torture of Jewish leaders and writers are
        not mentioned at all! Poliakov goes out of his way to contrast what he believes
        is the essentially benign attitude of the Muslims to the intolerance of the
        Christians who were, according to him, far more “inclined to plunge…into
        bloodbaths” [28]. He really seems to have convinced himself that the
        Jews and Christians lived, on the whole, “peacefully and prosperously in all
        parts of the Islamic Empire until our time” [37]. However, when he was
        in his eighties, he came into contact with the work of Bat Ye’or on the dhimmis,
        or the plight, persecution and periodic massacres of non-Muslims under Islam,
        and changed his mind completely. [7] Just a few weeks before his death in 1997,
        Poliakov agreed to write a preface [8] to the French edition of my book, Why
        I am Not a Muslim, [Pourquoi je ne suis pas musulman].
        Unfortunately, before he had finished his preface, Poliakov tripped on the
        stairs when coming down from his library, banged his head severely, and later
        died in hospital at the age of 87.

        [1] Robert Wistrich. Antisemitism
        — The Longest Hatred. Schocken Books, New York, 1991, p. 196.

        [2] Benjamin Disraeli. Coningsby, Book IV, Ch. X, quoted in Bernard
        Lewis, Islam in History, New York, 1973, p. 317 n.15.

        [3] Jane Gerber. Towards an Understanding of the Term: ‘The Golden Age’ as
        an Historical Reality in ed. Aviva Doron, The Heritage of the Jews of
        Spain, Tel Aviv: Levinsky College of Education Publishing House, 1994,

        [4] Ibid., pp. 21-22.

        [5] Shlomo Dov Goitein, “Evidence on the Muslim Poll Tax from Non-Muslim Sources:
        A Geniza Study,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
        (JESHO) 6 (1963): 278-95, repinted in Andrew Bostom , The Legacy of Islamic
        Antisemitism, Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2008, pp. 481-488.

        [6] Léon Poliakov, The History of Antisemitism. Vol.II From Mohammed
        to the Marranos, Trans. by Natalie Gerardi [Original French Edn., Paris:
        Calmann-Lévy, 1961] Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 19-81.

        [7] Personal communication from Bat Ye’or.

        [8] Personal communication from Léon Poliakov.

      • EatGentilesGetMoney

        BLOOD PASSOVER – The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murder – by Ariel Taoff

        The author is the son of the Chief Rabbi of Rome, and a professor of Jewish Renaissance and Medieval History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, just outside Tel Aviv.

        If it had been published in Israel, in Hebrew, no one would have cared. There are large bodies of literature in Hebrew that Jews do not wish Gentiles to know about.


        – yes, Jews are a corrupting and disruptive element in society;
        – yes, Jews lend money at 40% and seem to do little else;
        – yes, Jews buy and sell justice with huge bribes;
        – yes, Jews pull off all sorts of fraudulent bankruptcies and swindles;
        – yes, Jews resort to poisoning and assassination when thwarted;
        – yes, Jews are obsessed with hatred for Christians and the Christian religion;
        – yes, Jews kidnapped and castrated Christian boys on a large scale and sold them into slavery in Islamic Spain for centuries;
        – yes, Jews used [and still use?] human blood in all sorts of quack remedies, despite the Biblical prohibition, even for minor complaints;
        – yes, Jews [and still use?] Christian human blood in their matzoh balls at Passover;
        – yes, Jews [and still use?] Christian human blood in their wine at Passover;
        – yes, the blood had to be from Christian boys no more than 7 years of age;
        – yes, the blood had [has?] to be certified kosher by a rabbi;
        – yes, there was [is?] a large and profitable trade in fake blood products and animal blood, which was [are?] unsuitable to the purpose;
        – yes, Christians tried to sell the blood of Christian boys to Jews, but were rejected because the Jews feared it was animal blood; but no, no Christian boys were ever killed to obtain the blood. Never, never! Or hardly ever. It all came from “voluntary donors”!

        Dr. Toaff is uniquely qualified to write this book, being thoroughly familiar with the derivative literature in English, French, German and Italian, as well as the original documentary sources in Latin, Medieval Italian, Hebrew and Yiddish. This is not something he worked on in secret. On the contrary, he worked on it openly with his university students and colleagues in Israel for several years; one of his students was even going to publish a paper on the subject. The author is extremely careful about what he says, and his conclusions must be taken seriously.

        — Gian Marco Lucchese and Pietro Gianetti, 2007

      • Anonymous

        Whoa daddy! Someone forgot their blue pills this morning.
        While Islam’s core tenets insist followers work, fight and live their lives so as to expand the Muslim Caliphate you are copying and pasting Neo-Nazi propaganda about a people who control a tiny nation and who number 5 million (adults).
        You would have us believe 5 million Jews (many of whom are living at the poverty level) have more influence than 1.5 billion Muslims.
        Hitler would be proud of you and, no doubt, reading this makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
        Don’t forget your pink pills with your afternoon meal.

      • Isaiah

        The following Eight Families own majority stock in every private central bank in the world- Rothschild, Rockefeller, Kuhn Loeb, Lehman, Goldman Sachs, Warburg, Lazard and Israel Moses Seif .

        Many US Presidents warned of the intrigues of the cabal, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Quincy Adams; and later Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

        “People who will not turn a shovel full of dirt on the project (Muscle Shoals Dam) nor contribute a pound of material, will collect more money from the United States than will the People who supply all the material and do all the work. This is the terrible thing about interest …But here is the point: If the Nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money broker collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%. Whereas the currency, the honest sort provided by the Constitution pays nobody but those who contribute in some useful way. It is absurd to say our Country can issue bonds and cannot issue currency. Both are promises to pay, but one fattens the usurer and the other helps the People. If the currency issued by the People were no good, then the bonds would be no good, either. It is a terrible situation when the Government, to insure the National Wealth, must go in debt and submit to ruinous interest charges at the hands of men who control the fictitious value of gold. Interest is the invention of Satan.” — THOMAS A. EDISON

      • Anonymous

        Yours is what fostered the Holocaust, the Inquisition and the Jihads that motivates Muslim daily.
        Yours is the path to hell and you live there at the corner of Main and Main.

      • EatGentilesGetMoney

        “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.”

        “I can give vent to my inmost feelings only in the form of humble thanks to Providence which called upon me and vouchsafed it to me, once an unknown soldier of the Great War, to rise to be the Leader of my people, so dear to me. Providence showed me the way to free our people from the depths of its misery without bloodshed and to lead it upward once again. Providence granted that I might fulfill my life’s task-to raise my German people out of the depths of defeat and to liberate it from the bonds of the most outrageous dictate of all times… I have regarded myself as called upon by Providence to serve my own people alone and to deliver them from their frightful misery.”

        – Adolf Hitler, Freedom Fighter

  • Andre

    This is liberal deflection. Stop saying you oppose the occupation if you’re not willing to endorse nonviolent resistance to it. If not BDS, then what? There can be no fair dialogue on an unequal playing field – no justice in the court of the conqueror. Years of talks have left oppressed people on both sides of the Green Line in deeper suffering. Lengthening the status quo in this situation is not politically neutral.

    • Mandela