Sunday, May 10, 2009

About the Retirement of a Jewish Israel-Hater

By Barry Gordon, PRIMER Board Member

About ten years ago I sat in an auditorium at CCSU with seven panelists on the stage. Four Palestinians and three Jews. During the course of the discussion, I was nearly overcome with a panic attack. Each panelist spent ten minutes demonizing and expressing their hate for the State of Israel. Professor Mezvinsky was the leader of the event. I had been to Pro-Palestinian rallies before, but this one was a present and future danger to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Each speaker was, by any standard, extremely biased. They monopolized the full ninety minutes in front of hundreds of students and faculty.

The only supporters of Israel were Ethan Felson, the CCSU Hillel Advisor, and myself. We listened in horror to the demonization of Israel and its supporters. Not only were they seeking the end of Israel as a Jewish State, but they were threatening our insurance policy for Jews living in the diaspora. I was thinking to myself, where is the Jewish community? The ground was burning under all of us. Somehow I got the courage to stand up and started to question Mezvinsky and company. I accused Mezvinsky of "derelict of duty" as a teacher by not presenting both sides of a conflict. His response was, "The meeting is over!" Minds werepoisoned.It was hard to believe, it was anti Israel speaker was the daughter of a Rabbi, another anti Israel speaker was a Holocaust survivor and Mezvinsky was born into an Orthodox family. I didn't know what to do, so I called my colleague from Camera/Primer, Sid Laibson.

We spoke to the Dean of the School, the President, and even made a call to the Attorney General's office. We got nowhere. As far as they were concerned, academic freedom was the shield to spread biased, hateful information.

Finally we spoke to Bob Fishman of JFACT. We began to craft a defense/offense policy. During the past ten years we have covered all Pro Palestinian sessions. We received help from staffat CCSU including Lynn Talit and Ms. Braverman. Israeli scholars began speaking there frequently and finally Shimon Peres was the speaker in front of perhaps a thousand people. Mezvinsky and his Palestinian friends just sat there while Peres received a thunderous ovation.

Mezvinsky has announced his retirement from CCSU, but you haven't heard the end if him yet....he will be writing letters, making speeches, joining think tanks and demonizing Israel and its supporters as long as he can. I hope the next time a situation like this develops, the Jewish community will wake up and do what has to be done.

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