NYU academic rock star Tony Judt could have kept quiet when the Polish Consulate decided to cancel his talk on US foreign policy and the Israel Lobby. Instead, Judt wrote to his email list which included numerous academic and publishing machers, and the story ended up splashed all over the papers.
Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League denied it was his last minute call that prompted the sudden cancellation, but The Washington Post reports that the Consul General begged to differ:
“The phone calls were very elegant but may be interpreted as exercising a delicate pressure,” Kasprzyk said. “That’s obvious — we are adults and our IQs are high enough to understand that.”
Over 100 of Judt’s colleagues, including strong supporters of Israel like The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier, side with the Consul. In this open letter to Foxman in the NY Review of Books, they write:
Though we, the undersigned, have many disagreements about political matters, foreign and domestic, we are united in believing that a climate of intimidation is inconsistent with fundamental principles of debate in a democracy. The Polish Consulate is not obliged to promote free speech. But the rules of the game in America oblige citizens to encourage rather than stifle public debate. We who have signed this letter are dismayed that the ADL did not choose to play a more constructive role in promoting liberty.
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