I was disturbed on Monday to read a vicious and unwarranted attack on my colleague, Amy Kaplan, in an ad on the Op-Ed page of the Times. This is the (unpublished) letter written in response to the ad.
To the Editor [The New York Times]:
We are professors who teach in universities across this country. We are appalled at the advertisement by the David Horowitz Freedom Center (Op-Ed page, April 24, 2012 [see below]) which compares the international movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) to the Holocaust and ancient blood libels. It also asks that professors who support it be “publicly shamed and condemned.” It grossly distorts the statements of such professors, which are publicly available online and can be verified.
The Horowitz Center’s advertisement seeks to shut down informed debate. Free speech and thought was a crucial right at stake in 1930s Germany and it remains so today. The discussion that took place at the University of Pennsylvania did not use any objectionable language, and included many Jewish participants, including rabbis. Your readers can hear for themselves what was said at www.PennBDS.org. It is Horowitz who uses the language of hatred and bigotry. Even those of us who do not support BDS are alarmed at your carrying an advertisement that misinforms and names individuals who do not have the money that Horowitz has to defend themselves through his chosen medium. We hope you will publish this letter to make this point.