Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is taking aim at a new opponent in the Massachusetts Senate race besides his Democratic challenger, former White House financial reformer adviser and ex-Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren: Harvard University itself, and an academic conference being held this weekend on the “One-State” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The “One-State” idea is the proposition that the two-state solution should no longer be pursued, favoring instead a single state encompassing all of Israel-proper plus the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in which all individuals have the same citizenship and legal status — thus undoing the establishment of Israel as a legally Jewish state. By contrast, the two-state solution involves the creation of a state based on Palestinian identity, and preserving Israel as a state based on Jewish identity, and is favored by all established policymakers as the realistic and just goal.
Brown’s campaign released a statement Friday, joining the throng of pro-Israel groups that have called for Harvard to cancel the conference: “Academic elites need to understand that their ideas have real world consequences well beyond the comforts of the ivory tower, and the last thing Israel needs is Harvard legitimizing a terribly misguided idea.”
The full statement:
Brown Calls On Harvard University To Cancel Conference Promoting “One-State Solution” In Israel
BOSTON - Today, U.S. Senator Scott Brown called on Harvard University to cancel its upcoming “One State Conference.”
“I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms Harvard’s sponsorship of a conference exploring a ‘one-state solution’ to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This is dangerous thinking that gives comfort to Israel’s enemies who view the ‘one-state solution’ as a euphemism for eliminating Israel as a Jewish state. Harvard may have a right to do this, but that doesn’t make it right to do it. The University should cancel this conference.
“I support a two-state solution that recognizes Israel’s right to exist in peace. Israel today is faced with the horrifying possibility that neighbors in Iran who speak of genocide are developing a nuclear bomb to carry it out. Academic elites need to understand that their ideas have real world consequences well beyond the comforts of the ivory tower, and the last thing Israel needs is Harvard legitimizing a terribly misguided idea.”
When asked for comment, Warren campaign press secretary Alethea Harney told TPM: “Elizabeth was unaware of this conference, but she is a strong supporter of the steadfast relationship between Israel and the United States, and she firmly believes in a two-state solution.”
When asked about the Brown campaign’s statement, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government declined to comment.
As the Boston Globe reports, the conference’s main organizer is a 27-year old first-year student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Ahmed Moor, who was born in the Gaza Strip.
“The only thing that matters, in my view, is that everybody in every part of the world has their basic rights upheld, the kind of rights that we enjoy in America,” Moor has told the paper, in response to objections from pro-Israel groups.
Among the speakers at the conference are: Harvard Professor Stephen M. Walt, co-author of the 2007 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy; Israeli expatriate Professor Ilan Pappé, who now teaches at the University of Exeter in England, and is best known for his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and anti-Zionist activism; former faculty members of Palestinian colleges, Nadim Rouhana and Susan Akram; and many other notable names on this topic.
Following protests by Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood released a statement that simultaneously stood by the conference’s academic freedom, while also lodging some criticism of it. Key quote:
Academic freedom is a central value of Harvard University and the Harvard Kennedy School. We work hard to impart the values of open expression to our students. The goal of academic freedom is to provide the free and open exchange of ideas, and the hope and expectation is that a wide range of diverse viewpoints will be represented and explored. It rests on a belief that the power of open and often strongly competing speech is the best antidote to tyranny. We also encourage students to exercise these freedoms fully and responsibly.
I am deeply disappointed to see that the list of speakers for this student conference is so one-sided. While not all speakers support the so called “one-state solution,” I would certainly have expected to see a much broader debate on a topic that is so contentious. Without the balance of divergent views that characterize the most enriching discussions, the credibility and intellectual value of any event is open to question. All our students have a right to take any positions they choose. And we do not control who students invite to their conferences. But it is in intensive give and take that insights can best emerge, particularly around highly controversial issues.
The ADL then responded, by renewing their criticism:
“This conference, which endorses the insulting notion of a ‘one state solution,’ is a serious break from the Kennedy School tradition of academic integrity and educational excellence,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The dangerous implications of a conference promoting the elimination of the Jewish state are far-reaching and of great concern. We believe Dean Ellwood’s statement reflects Harvard University’s effort to protect the cherished right of academic freedom and act responsibly by publicly rejecting odious ideas. However, we strongly disagree with the Dean’s suggestion that a ‘balance of divergent views’ could ever legitimize the consideration of a one state solution which, by its very nature, will result in the end of the Jewish character of Israel.”