Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Open letter to the president of Kent State University

Background: Some students at Kent State University pressured the administration to remove a photo of and quotation by Golda Meir. Their stated reason was that it was a daily reminder of racism on campus.

In a sane world, one would infer that it reminded them of racism on campus because seeing the photo of Golda Meir reminded them of the hatred permeating the genocidal campaign being waged against Israel by Arabs and Muslims, particularly by the Palestinian Arabs, and those coddled students were uncomfortable by being reminded about all the racism in the world. This not being a sane world, their motivation was to spread their own hatred and racism.

Kent State's president Beverly Warren initially said the university would take those hateful demands into consideration, but after a negative reaction from some who do not share the anti-Semitic agenda of the diabolically named "Students for Justice in Palestine," Muslim Students Association and other hateful groups, has apparently come to her senses.

A good article about the sordid affair, "Following Major Backlash, Kent State Says It Won’t Cave to Anti-Israel Groups Demanding Removal of Golda Meir Display," can be found in the algemeiner (

The situation led Massachusetts resident Marty Greenstein to send the following letter to Kent State's president:

Dear Ms. Warren,

Kent State University will always be remembered by my generation as the place where four students died at a war protest and others were injured, some seriously.  This incident was a factor when, in my senior year in college, the school year was cut short when, in its aftermath, numerous universities realized that neither students nor faculty could concentrate on formal schoolwork.  Like others, I had to deal with the dilemmas of the morality and rightfulness of the Vietnam War, the limits of protest when the subject was truly one of life and death, and the morality of even bringing guns onto campus, particularly by the National Guard who were mostly young people themselves; people not prepared to encounter students with whom they shared nationality and common concerns.  Most importantly, the parallel between our troops, bombers, and gunships in Vietnam and our troops with guns on a college campus was painfully obvious.

Kent State symbolized at that time the ineffectiveness of a University to identify right and wrong, properly instruct, and most importantly be a satisfying forum for clashing ideas.

Kent State is so much better today than it was back then.   At my Ohio high school in those days, only the most marginal of the college bound went to Kent State.  Today, it is magnificently better.  Any failure of Kent State to properly nurture its students will no longer be excusable given its current stature and the elapsed half century.

Today, Kent State has a similar dilemma with a solution equally elusive to its administration, faculty, and students.  Golda Meir was an American school teacher who so much wanted to live with her Jewish people that she emigrated to what was then known as Palestine simply to live on a farm.  The Jews in Palestine were endangered by a nationalistic Arab world.  Just like today where there are essentially no Christians or Jews in Arab lands (with the exception of Coptic Christians in Egypt who are highly discriminated against), in the late 1940s the Arabs resented the presence of anyone else.  This is why, when the United Nations agreed to provide a small amount of the British protectorate known as Palestine to host a Jewish state, all neighboring and, even some non-neighboring, Arab states invaded with the goal not just of preventing that state from occurring, but to kill all the Jews who were there.  The efforts of Golda Meir helped prevent a complete massacre.  Every woman (and man) can learn from her courage and motivation to exceed expectation.

Golda Meir ultimately became Prime Minister of Israel, one of the first modern day female government leaders.  Unfortunately, during her time as Prime Minister, Egypt once again tried to destroy Israel simply because it existed.  Golda was forever blamed for hesitating from preparing and even going to war when the intelligence was very strong that Egypt was planning a surprise attack, which they did on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

Today, Golda is remembered for her famous quote, “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Unfortunately that hate has not gone away, and, most unfortunately for the Palestinian Arabs, that hate has been unmerciful in its cruelty.  Specifically, not only did the Palestinian Arabs pursue murderous attacks despite no threat to their own lives, but the same hate blinds them from opportunities to have peace and even to prosper.  Arabs who live in Israel are among the most prosperous in the Arab world and are in no danger.  But the Arabs who live in, for instance Gaza, are mostly in immense poverty and under threat from a cruel government that knows nothing but to prepare for yet more attacks against Israel.  Notice, that is not attacks from Israel, but attacks on Israel.

The people in Gaza are not stupid.  However, they are subjected to immense propaganda and control.  Their children are taught to hate.  A person who would even say as we did in the Sixties, “Give peace a chance”, would be treated as a traitor and likely killed.

As a university president, you likely know this.  One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected President was because he says what he thinks rather than sinking into the swamp of political correctness.  His opinion is that Israel is a true friend of the United States, and this stalwart friend owes its existence to great people like Golda Meir.  Sure, Israel has made mistakes.  Some Arabs who lived in what was the Jewish Partition back in 1948 were probably scared into fleeing from their homes by Jews as well as the invading Arab armies.  This is very sad, but the United States has made errors too.  This does not mean that we would not want to honor the memories of people like George Washington (Indian fighter) and Thomas Jefferson (Slave holder).

Knowing Israel to be a vibrant democracy with a government which is a peaceful collaboration of Arabs and Jews, we ask ourselves what other Middle Eastern country is similar?  Actually, what country does more to give rights and prosperity to all its citizens, not just those in power?   But asking ourselves that question is not as important as asking that question, and similar ones, to those who would be in opposition to the principles of someone like Golda Meir.

Be aware, that foreign money is used to foment anti-Israel thought and even violence on campus.  This is an organized effort by Islamic governments and groups to discredit Israel.  Jewish students in California and even the University of Michigan are intimidated by those who call them racist or worse.  Efforts are made by so-called pro-Palestinian groups to ban pro-Israel speakers from campus, or if that fails, to disrupt their lectures.

The truth is that lies, when repeated often enough, will be believed.  Plus academic research has shown that when people believe something deeply and are shown they are wrong, they double down on their original beliefs.   Perhaps this is why teachers have it so tough.  Students walk in with set ideas, and it is difficult to open their minds to anything contrary.  Moreover, academic research shows that a political group’s agenda is adhered to even by people who go along just to get along.  Specifically, the so-called Left has picked up the Palestinian Arabs as a group to sympathize with in the face of Israel, a country that they even call an apartheid state.  Again, whatever merit their claims have pales behind the ethnic cleansing of the Arab nations that they will not discuss.

Adolph Hitler said that if one tells a preposterous lie, the public will believe it.  They reason that the lie cannot be true, but, then again, why would anyone say such a thing if it isn’t?  Hence, a preposterous lie is believable simply because of one’s inability to believe that someone would dare to say it if it were not true.

So, Ms Warren, your university has a deep problem.  A group of students who, for ethnic or religious loyalty and perhaps even financial support, sponsor undue hatred of a country half a world away.  Other students, vulnerable to propaganda and “group think”, to their credit look for a social cause but find one that is destructive to Western values.  Does the university have an obligation to present all its students with its own sense of morality?  Do students who wish to spout hatred have a right to do so and in particular intimidate those who do not hold their views?  Even more important perhaps, does a university have a right to decide what is right and what is wrong?

I live in Massachusetts now.  A few years ago, there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon.  One of the perpetrators was a college student living in a dormitory.  What was the most upsetting thing about it to me was that another student in the dormitory covered for the student bomber.  I personally think this reflects upon the university.  It may be unreasonable to think the university will get all of its students to do the right thing, but there was no evidence of its even trying.  Instead, they in their ivory tower left even matters of life and death in ambiguous  terms.  I guess ethics was not part of the curriculum or, frighteningly, not based on the fundamental values that, hopefully, define who we are.

Things can be better.  I, maybe three years ago, went to a graduation at the University of Amherst, arguably the best liberal arts school in the country.  At the graduation, the President of that college took a stand on sexual violence and harassment, since there had been incidents.   This is to be applauded since it is clear that sexual harassment or violence, and even sexual discrimination, is at total odds with the ideals of our society.  Similarly there is no room for slander of any people, but most outrageously slander of the Israelis who fervently aspire only to peace.

Thank You and Best Wishes,

Marty Greenstein