Listen to Academic Freedom Forum

Listen to audio here of Chomsky, Mearsheimer, Finkelstein, Larudee et al at Oct 12 forum in Chicago.
Chronicle of Higher Education reports

A conference last week at the University of Chicago brought the latest volley in the controversy over academic freedom and protest involving the much-publicized denial of tenure to Norman G. Finkelstein at DePaul University. Finkelstein’s writings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what he has termed the “Holocaust industry” have become a lightning rod for debate about American support of Israel.

The Chicago Maroon, an independent student newspaper at the university, reports that Rockefeller Chapel was packed with some 1,500 people to hear such speakers as Noam Chomsky, emeritus MIT professor, Tariq Ali, editor of The New Left Review, John Mearsheimer, the Chicago professor who has stirred controversy with his attack on “the Israel Lobby,” and Tony Judt, the New York University scholar who has come in for his own share of tumult over his criticism of Israel.

Ben Harris at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency writes:

Collectively they have published more than a hundred books and countless articles. Four are tenured professors at elite American universities. Internet searches reveal them to be widely cited experts on international affairs and American foreign policy.

In short, it’s difficult to imagine a collection of academics more secure in their posts or more prominent.

But there they were — Noam Chomsky, John Mearsheimer, Tony Judt and fellow travelers — at a conference last week hosted by the University of Chicago warning that pressure from American Jewish groups is having a chilling effect on unpopular scholarship and free-wheeling debate on university campuses.

“Universities are the one place in the United States where Israel tends to get treated like a normal country,” said Mearsheimer, the University of Chicago professor and co-author of “The Israel Lobby,” which asserts that the pro-Israel community stifles debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East.

“Some find this situation intolerable,” he told a nearly packed 1,500-seat auditorium, “which causes them to work hard to stifle criticism of Israel and to instead promote a positive image of Israel on campuses.”

The conference was sponsored by the student group, the DePaul Academic Freedom Committee, Verso Books, and the American Friends Service Committee and the Jewish Voice for Peace.

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