The Conflict over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate
Published: May 2020© 2020
Imprint: New Jewish Press
Page Count: 296 Pages
Dimensions: 6.40 x 9.25
296 Pages, 6.40 x 9.25 x 1.00 in
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.
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
"In a smart, personal, and engaging book, Kenneth S. Stern, director of Bard College’s Bard Center for the Study of Hate, takes us on a tour of today’s American campus Israel/Palestine debates in the context of a full-throated argument for free speech."Mira Sucharov, Canadian Jewish Record
"The Conflict over the Conflict is a calm, controversial analysis of 'the tendency of people who define themselves as part of a group to depersonalize others.' Stern pulls no punches. His work is thoughtful and provocative."
Holly Doan, Blacklock's Reporter
"The Conflict over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate, by Kenneth S. Stern, may be the most comprehensive assessment of the (at least) 20-year battle on North American campuses between pro-Israel and anti-Israel forces."Pat Johnson, The Jewish Independent
"A useful reminder that faculty would do well to model the respect for and effort to understand conflicting points of view that we often encourage in our students."Ernst Benjamin, Academe
"Ken Stern deftly navigates challenging waters on this deeply contentious topic, one where even a topic as simple as adherence to the truth over lies is debatable."Alec R. Ewig, The Times of Israel
"Anyone interested in the history of the BDS controversy would benefit from reading Stern’s book. There is no better road map to the twists and turns of the debate in recent years, in a book that is in equal parts a history and a memoir."Peter Eisenstadt, Israel Horizons
"College students, parents, anyone concerned about the Israel/Palestine campus debate, and anyone wondering about the IHRA definition of antisemitism owe it to themselves to read The Conflict over the Conflict."Steve Sheffey, The Times of Israel
"Stern’s book provides a roadmap for campuses to safely examine controversies in order to carefully prepare students for a learning moment. Stern argues that to prepare students to challenge and debate on and off campus hate, they need to be carefully exposed to all sorts of ideas, including BDS and related issues such as antisemitism."Robert Aaron Kenedy, Canadian Jewish Studies Vol. 31
"As an American Jewish member of academia actively involved in combating antisemitism, Stern’s perspective—shared by many Jewish faculty members—is valuable in calming the passions to legislate and sanction."Ari Blaff, University of Toronto, Canadian Ethnic Studies
"Stern is an excellent writer and scholar. His book is based on extensive research—the bibliography of works cited is enormous—as well as first-hand professional experience. This is a superb piece of scholarship and liberal commentary."Daniel Gordon, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Society
"Stern’s book provides a roadmap for campuses to safely examine controversies in order to carefully prepare students for a learning moment."Robert Aaron Kenedy, York University, Canadian Jewish Studies
"Political dynamite!"Paul Scham, Editor of the Israel Studies Review and Research Associate Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Maryland
"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."
Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
"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."
Steven J. Zipperstein, Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History, Stanford University
"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."Raja Khouri, Founding President, Canadian Arab Institute
"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."Joseph J. Levin, Jr., Co-Founder, Southern Poverty Law Center
"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."
Jonathan D. Sarna, University Professor and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History; Director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, Brandeis University
"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." Jonathan D. Sarna, University Professor and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History; Director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, Brandeis University
"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." Joseph J. Levin, Jr., Co-Founder, Southern Poverty Law Center
"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." Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, President Emeritus and University Professor, The George Washington University
"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." Harold Hellenbrand, Provost Emeritus, CSU Northridge
"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."Ilana Redstone, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Heterodox