The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council is disappointed that the IUPUI Political Science department is hosting discredited historian Ilan Pappe to speak at IUPUI this evening.

The JCRC unequivocally supports free speech and the free exchange of ideas, even when we disagree with the ideas being exchanged.  We appreciate that college campuses are a place where students should be exposed to a broad range of ideas and differing viewpoints.

However, there is a stark difference between respectful discourse and even extreme criticism – and that of hate speech.  It is our belief that Dr. Pappe falls into the latter category.  Not only does Dr. Pappe falsely accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing, he is an avid supporter of the BDS movement, which is anti-Semitic at its core, calling for a one-state solution, meaning the Jewish State of Israel would cease to exist.  Indeed, he says he dreams of a day “when Zionism will be defeated as the ideology that governs our lives between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea”.[1]

Unfortunately, talks like the one occurring at IUPUI this evening will likely incite hatred of the State of Israel and its supporters, thereby fuelling the flames of extremism and creating an anti-Semitic climate on campus that may become hostile to Jewish students.

The Jewish Community in Indianapolis remains committed to the ideals of respectful discourse and peaceful coexistence.  We actively engage in interfaith and intergroup dialogue on complex and challenging issues of concern.  On the other hand, Dr. Pappe states, “I don’t think there is one moral person in the world that supports what Israel stands for.”[2]  Unfortunately, the decision to host a speaker who espouses such extreme views does not widen the opportunity for civil debate, but instead makes the bridge to coexistence narrow, if not impassable.

In the future, we hope the university will sponsor speakers and events that encourage students to respectfully engage with each other while critically exploring the issues and asking the tough questions.  Unfortunately, tonight’s speaker only serves to isolate students and drive them apart.

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References:

[1] http://electronicintifada.net/content/family-one-thousandth-victim-israels-genocidal-slaughter-gaza/13648

[2] http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3516193,00.html