The Palestinian Solidarity Movement (PSM) is organizing its fourth annual conference, to be held Oct. 15-17 at Duke. As was the case for the previous conferences at Berkeley, Michigan and Ohio State, a shrill disinformation campaign is under way to undercut and derail the Duke conference. A web petition drive for President Brodhead denounces PSM as anti-Semitic, supporting terrorism and advocating the destruction of Israel. Alarmist letters parroting the same accusations were recently published in The Chronicle and similar ones will no doubt continue to appear. These accusations are not based on truth and aim at invalidating and muffling criticism of Israeli policies toward Palestinians.
Palestinians are often accused of favoring terrorism rather than building democracy. Well, here is a Palestinian-American student organization engaged in the very democratic practice of talking and criticizing, and they are being slammed for it! One of their most vocal critics is the Boston Israel Action Committee that, besides spreading disinformation on PSM, also smears Jewish organizations sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, several of which endorsed the earlier conferences. One wonders whether PSM opponents are essentially terrified by criticism of Israel.
Yes, expect plenty of criticism of the U.S. and Israel at this conference. There may even be criticism of Palestinians. The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian right of return, divestment from Israel as a tool to end the occupation and other issues will be discussed. Will it all be… fair and balanced? My guess is that some will and some won’t. But it will be a counterpoint to the mid-east perspectives of the U.S. and Israeli governments, prevalent in most of this country’s news with little regard for Palestinian views. Come and find out for yourself. Duke, as an institution dedicated to debate and analysis, can only gain from listening to and engaging PSM. If New York can host the Republican Convention, Duke can host the PSM conference.
Assistant Professor of Biology
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