Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Misdirected Criticisms and Accusations

One of the favorite techniques of Israel-haters is to falsely accuse Israel of that which its enemies are guilty.

This same technique is also often employed against supporters of Israel.

So it was recently when at least two letter writers falsely accused me of lying … while including several demonstrably false assertions in their letters.

It's important to not let lies go unanswered. The following response of mine was published today, March 31, 2009, in The New Britain Herald.

By coincidence, I had met the new editor of The New Britain Herald the night before.

UConn professor responds to his critics

To the editor:

Norton Mezvinsky and Ghassen E. El-Eid have both sharply criticized my observations about the oppressive atmosphere and anti-Israel bias at Central Connecticut State University. Their letters contain clearly false information in conjunction with invalid logic while lowering the level of debate, with Mezvinsky falsely accusing me of "utilizing the 'big lie' technique" and El-Eid falsely accusing me of fabricating "blatant lies."

Mezvinsky disputed my observation that not a single probing question was asked of Mark Perry during his appearance at CCSU, claiming "as reported in The Herald, there was indeed some questioning of and a bit of disagreement with a few points made by Perry."

There was no such reporting in The Herald, as one may verify by simply reading the article written by reporter Scott Whipple.

Similarly, El-Eid disputes my characterization of earlier letters by Mezvinsky and Sadu Nanjundiah as "an attempt at character assassination" of Rabbi Stephen Fuchs.

Nanjundiah referred to Rabbi Fuchs using the terms "his ilk" and "his cohorts." Both the implication and the goal are obvious.

El-Eid mocks me for alleged "profound ignorance," challenging my statement "that Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood."

The Council on Foreign Relations, publisher of "Foreign Affairs," states "Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious and political organization founded in Egypt with branches throughout the Arab world" in its profile of Hamas.

Perhaps the single most revealing instance of Mezvinsky's eagerness to ignore facts when they conflict with his agenda is his disputation of the reality that Israel, a liberal, Western-oriented democracy, is the only state in the Middle East which respects human rights, writing "we must logically conclude what he [Stein] said is purposely false."

Mezvinsky's logic is invalid. He also relies on questionable allegations from sources notorious for their anti-Israel bias, such as UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Authority), which has admitted having Hamas terrorists on his payroll and has allowed its schools to be used to launch rockets against Israeli civilians.

There is a slight degree of accuracy in one assertion made by both Mezvinsky and El-Eid: I listened to Mark Perry and, despite my chagrin, did not challenge any of Perry's absurd claims. As someone who is neither a student nor faculty member at CCSU, I felt I should defer to those directly associated with CCSU; I was also curious to see whether the students and faculty at CCSU were too cowed to buck what Mezvinsky falsely accused me of calling the "poisonous anti-Israel atmosphere" at CCSU and ask any of the obvious questions. As I observed in my earlier letter, they were and they didn't.

As a society, we depend on an educated citizenry with the courage to question the opinions of the so-called "experts." Our national financial crisis is just one example of how serious errors are made when too many people blindly follow and fail to question the "experts."

Our colleges and universities have a singularly important role in encouraging that freedom to question; I hope in the future I will see evidence of Central Connecticut State University embracing that obligation.

Alan H. Stein, Ph.D.
President, PRIMER-Connecticut
Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Connecticut

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