Chris Hedges, a former New York Times correspondent in Israel, writes in TruthDig:
I had been invited to talk next April 3 at the University of Pennsylvania at a peace conference sponsored by the International Affairs Association, but last week after Truthdig published my column “ISIS—the New Israel” the lecture agency that set up the event received this email from Zachary Michael Belnavis, who is part of the student group:Of course, he is not being asked not to speak because of his supposed desire to see Israel withdraw to the 1967 "borders." he is being asked not to speak because he is a liar who disgustingly compares Israel to throat-slitting jihadists of ISIS.We’re sorry to inform you that we don’t think that Chris Hedges would be a suitable fit for our upcoming peace conference. We’re saying this in light of a recent article he’s written in which he compares the organization ISIS to Israel (here’s the article in question). In light of this comparison we don’t believe he would be suitable to a co-existence speaker based on this stance he’s taken.
Being banned from speaking about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, especially at universities, is familiar to anyone who attempts to challenge the narrative of the Israel lobby. This is not the first time one of my speaking offers has been revoked and it will not be the last. However, the charge of Belnavis and the International Affairs Association that I do not believe in coexistence between the Palestinians and Israel is false. I oppose violence by either party. I have condemned Hamas rocket attacks as war crimes. And I support Israel’s right to exist within the pre-1967 borders. The charge that I oppose coexistence cannot be substantiated by anything I have said or written. And those of us who call on Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders are, after all, only demanding what is required by international law and numerous U.N. resolutions.
But truth, along with an open and fair debate, is the last thing the Israel lobby and its lackeys seek. The goal is to silence students, faculty members and outside speakers who do not read from the approved script.
And the "truth" which he so sanctimoniously pretends to support is exactly the opposite of what Chris Hedges is about.
Here is what he wrote that caused his being disinvited:
ISIS, ironically, is perhaps the only example of successful nation-building in the contemporary Middle East, despite the billions of dollars we have squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its quest for an ethnically pure Sunni state mirrors the quest for a Jewish state eventually carved out of Palestine in 1948. Its tactics are much like those of the Jewish guerrillas who used violence, terrorism, foreign fighters, clandestine arms shipments and foreign money, along with horrific ethnic cleansing and the massacre of hundreds of Arab civilians, to create Israel....It holds up the ancient Caliphate—which united Muslims throughout the Middle East in the seventh century and whose time is considered the golden age of Islam—as an ideal, much as Jews held up the biblical kingdoms chronicled in the Hebrew Bible.....Terror, as was true for the Jewish fighters in Palestine in the late 1940s, is an effective tool to intimidate opponents and accelerate ethnic cleansing.Hedges' version of Israeli history is, to put it bluntly, idiotic and slanderous. Even the most extreme Jewish groups in the 1940s were not fueled by religious ideology, and the mainstream Zionists condemned them constantly. The people who rebuilt Israel in 1948 were by and large secular and most were socialist - just like Chris Hedges says he is.
Using historical revisionism in order to demonize Jewish Zionists and make the Arab terrorists of the 1940s into saints is not exactly what one thinks of when one is pursuing real peace.
In true leftist fashion, however, Hedges is describing his being disinvited to a conference as being akin to being blackballed, and he is even saying - get this - that college campuses have become mere "echo chambers" for those evil Zionists that he claims he wants to see Arabs co-exist with:
Our universities, like our corporate-controlled airwaves, are little more than echo chambers for the elites and the powerful. The bigger and more prestigious the university the more it seems determined to get its students and faculty to chant in unison to please its Zionist donors.Wow! Who knew that there was no criticism of Israel on campus?
Hedges amazingly claims that the University of Pennsylvania is singlemindedly pro-Israel, noting that Hillel has invited people like Daniel Pipes and Nonie Darwish to speak, and that Alan Dershowitz has spoken there. Of course, this "journalist" ignores the many counterexamples that prove his thesis wrong - like hosting a BDS conference where one of its own professors explained to other academics how to shoe-horn anti-Israel propaganda into any liberal arts course. Also, notoriously anti-Israel professor Ian Lustick teaches at Penn.
I spent seven years in the Middle East as a foreign correspondent, five of them as the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I speak Arabic. I was frequently in Gaza and lived for two years in Jerusalem. What frightens the Israel lobby is not my critique, but my expertise. ... What the Israel lobby fears most are facts.Hedges claims that he is only speaking facts. I just proved that he is a liar. His history of 1948 is so false and so outrageous that anything he says about Israel must be regarded to be equally slanted, if not equally false. His description of the University of Pennsylvania as somehow a hotbed of Zionism where dissent is not tolerated is equally false.
And he piles on the lies:
Israeli leaders, and their supporters in the United States, speak now with naked, unvarnished hatred and racism that are alienating all but the most demented religious fanatics and protofascist Zionists, those who seek to build a nation based on a uniformity of bloodline and religious faith. The old Israel, the one that strove, however imperfectly, to be liberal and democratic, is gone. The new Israel increasingly mirrors the religious extremism of fundamentalist Muslims....I am unaware of Im Tirtzu advocating violence against Arabs, and that is truly slanderous.Any attacks against Arabs have been vilified across the Israeli political spectrum. I haven't seen any "naked, unvarnished hatred and racism" being spoken by Israeli leaders. This is a litany of anti-Israel and borderline antisemitic lies.
Even Israeli Jews no longer have democratic rights. There is mounting state repression against human rights advocates, journalists and dissidents. Racist language against Arabs has poisoned public discourse—crowds chant “Death to Arabs” at Israeli soccer matches. Right-wing thugs belonging to groups such as Im Tirtzu beat up dissidents, Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and impoverished African immigrants who live in the slums around Tel Aviv. Israeli Jews who denounce the racist cant and condemn the indiscriminate violence the state routinely employs against Palestinians are labeled terrorists or collaborators with terrorists. The settlers, as the newspaper Haaretz pointed out, are the real government of Israel.
Which means that the IAA has acted quite appropriately to disinvite a proven liar.
I see no evidence of any pressure on the IAA from any Jewish or Zionist organizations. I don't see any Jewish names on their executive board. From what I could tell, they read his inflammatory and false piece and realized that he is not interested in peace, but in demonizing one side.
But in today's world, choosing who is allowed to speak at a conference is akin to censorship (only when it is the socialist-Left who is supposedly being "censored.")