To the Editor:
Two clarifications are in order regarding the recent screening by the Radical Student Union of the Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States, and the open letter to President Barbara Snyder by Hannah Pomerantz of Israel’s CWRU published on Sept. 30.
First, this film, which explores the history and impact of Israel’s public relations campaign in the United States, is available to every single member of the CWRU community through the Kelvin Smith Library by simply accessing Kanopy streaming at: https://case.kanopystreaming.com/video/occupation-american-mind-feature-length
Second, Ms. Pomerantz states that it is the “university’s stance” to “oppose academic boycotts.” Her evidence is an unfortunate letter written by President Snyder and Provost William Baeslack on Dec. 26, 2013. The president and provost offered in this letter their own personal thinking and explicitly indicated that “individual scholars at Case Western Reserve may well choose to embrace the boycott, condemn our opposition to it or speak in favor of other solutions.” My assumption is that the administration also meant that students too are free to have their own views on the issue.
Taken together, the two letters—Ms. Pomerantz’s and the one from the CWRU administration—remind me of Columbia University’s Professor Edward Said’s comment in Orientalism (1978) about how deeply demoralizing he found life in the United States where, politically speaking, the Palestinian “does not exist.”
Adeline Barry Davee Distinguished Professor of History
Professor of Law