September 21, 2002

AND RIGHTLY SO: Ann Salisbury emails this story:

Three Bay Area universities are being monitored for anti-Israel sentiment by a group in Philadelphia that launched a Web site this week.

The site, Campus Watch, plans to keep tabs on campus reaction to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict throughout the United States but has singled out 14 universities for particular scrutiny -- including UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Stanford University.

It is part of a backlash against perceived anti-Semitism on university campuses that gained strength this week when Harvard University President Lawrence Summers denounced as anti-Semitic a campaign that calls on schools to divest from Israel. The campaign started at UC Berkeley before taking root at campuses around the country.

"It's important people know what's going on in the Bay Area, especially at the University of California at Berkeley," said Chris Silver, who co-chairs the student-sponsored Israel Action Committee at UC Berkeley. "There's a lot of anti-Semitism that goes on here separate from the massive amount of anti-Israel sentiment that can be found in every department and in every classroom."

Pro-Palestinian activists say that it's unfair to call opposition to Israel anti-Semitic, but as Meryl Yourish noted, an awful lot of what's going on can't be called anything but anti-Jewish, entirely independent of the Israel issue.

UPDATE: Justin Katz has blogged some comments on Larry Summers' speech. And here's a link to the speech itself. Harvard is lucky to have Larry Summers as its President at this important moment in its history. He may yet save its soul from the corrosive forces of hatred and irrationalism, despite the best efforts of some of its students and faculty.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias thinks my praise of Larry Summers is unfair to Harvard, which just goes to show that you can't even say nice things about people without provoking complaint. Meanwhile Boston blogger Jay Fitzgerald says Summers was right to criticize the divestment crowd, "Here's hoping his courage proves inspiring to all the other academic wimps out there who aren't standing up to the campus clowns. All the comparisons of Israel/Bush to the Nazis and Hitler are sickening. The divestment crowd is up to its neck in this type of talk." Fitzgerald's permalinks aren't working (suprise; it's a blogspot site) but he also has quite a few responses to Summers' critics. Just scroll on. Meanwhile Jacob T. Levy offers some sensible caution regarding Campus Watch.