The Conflict over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate

The Conflict over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate


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The Conflict over the Conflict chronicles one of the most divisive and toxic issues on today's college and university campuses: Israel/Palestine.

Some pro-Palestinian students call supporters of Israel's right to exist racist, and disrupt their events. Some pro-Israel students label pro-Palestinian students terrorists, and the Jews among them traitors. Lawsuits are filed. Legislation is proposed. Faculty members are blacklisted and receive death threats. Academic freedom is compromised and the entire academic enterprise is threatened. How did we get here and what can be done?

In this passionate book, Kenneth S. Stern examines attempts from each side to censor the other at a time when some say students, rather than being challenged to wrestle with difficult issues and ideas, are being quarantined from them. He uniquely frames the examination: our ability to think rationally is inhibited when our identity is fiercely connected to an issue of perceived social justice or injustice, and our proclivity to see in-groups and out-groups — us versus them — is obvious. According to Stern, the campus is the best place to mine this conflict and our intense views about it to help future generations do what they are supposed to do: think. The Conflict over the Conflict shows how this is possible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781487507367
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division
Publication date: 05/13/2020
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 1,095,264
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kenneth S. Stern is the director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate and an attorney and award-winning author. For twenty-five years he was the American Jewish Committee's expert on antisemitism, and he was also the lead drafter of the “Working Definition of Antisemitism.” He has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States and testified before Congress, and he is a frequent guest on television and radio. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Forward.

Nadine Strossen is a professor at New York Law School, past President of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a leading expert on constitutional law and civil liberties. Her acclaimed 2018 book, HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship was selected by Washington University as its 2019 “Common Read.”

Table of Contents


1. Thinking about Thinking
2. Zionism and 1948
3. Free Speech and Academic Freedom
4. Durban and Its Aftermath
5. The Academic Boycott of Israel
6. Stopping and Chilling Speech: Heckler's Veto, Legal Threats
7. The Antisemitism Awareness Act
8. Blueprint for Rational Campus Discussions on Israel and Palestine

What People are Saying About This

Harold Hellenbrand

"Why do events on the Palestine/Israel conflict fall apart, often before they begin? After all, even UFC brawls have rules. Stern explains the low blows delivered by the high minded that can knock out academic freedom, unless checked. As provost, you are the referee."

Ilana Redstone

"Universities have the power and the moral obligation to facilitate and model uncomfortable but important conversations. In The Conflict over the Conflict, Stern brings us closer to that goal by treating a sensitive topic with the nuance it deserves and by encouraging us to think carefully about the right and wrong ways to disagree with one another."

Jonathan D. Sarna

"People on both sides of the Israel/Palestine campus debate will disagree with parts of this book, but everyone interested in the concepts of academic freedom and free speech should read it. A probing, provocative, and informative guide to clear thinking about divisive issues in our time."

Steven J. Zipperstein

"Fluent and well-informed, this is an unusual blend of memoir and political analysis. Never does Stern boast of his accomplishments, and never does he deny the complexity of Israeli and Palestinian affairs. This is a candid, fascinating, and thoughtful portrait of Jewish communal, free-speech, and university-based controversies certain to continue for the foreseeable future."

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg

"Kenneth S. Stern's book illuminates dark places and reveals aspects of our universities that we would prefer to ignore. It helps us to reflect on challenges of hate in the academy in the twenty-first century, as well as the uses and abuses of free speech and academic freedom on campus. This is a book for all who wonder how we have gone wrong and how we might regain our footing and direction."

Paul Scham

"Political dynamite!"

Susannah Heschel

"This book is a must-read: Kenneth S. Stern fearlessly analyzes the political and emotional turmoil over the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, perhaps the most complex and inflammatory problem of our time, with extraordinary care, concern, and insight. He is an intellectual hero."

Joseph J. Levin

"The ways in which Kenneth S. Stern uses his background experience to amplify his analysis takes this book to an entirely different level. I can only hope that professors and administrators will read it, cover-to-cover. They should then make it required reading for every student on campus."

Raja Khouri

"Stern covers a lot of ground with respect to the 'conflict over the conflict,' and he does so with a nuanced, learned approach, and with honesty and sincerity."

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