I'm starting a campaign and it involves a big and prestigious academic institution.
The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has extended an invitation to its members to travel to the Middle East with its official tour agency to "sustain your enthusiasm for learning and establish new friends among your peers."
The tour that caught my eye is this one: "The Holy Land: Views on Israeli-Palestinian Relations". It will take place between Oct 6-16, 2010 and Professor Everett Mendelsohn is the group mentor and leader.
And this is what they will do:
"Explore the archaeological and cultural heritage of Israel and Palestine, and engage in the political issues that they face. Visit Jerusalem with its unique interplay of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures and Ramallah, the political center of the Palestinian Authority. Then travel through the Jordan Valley to Tiberias, base for visits to ancient Capernaum and Beit She'an, a well preserved Roman and Byzantine city. Conclude in sophisticated and vibrant Tel Aviv. Meetings with distinguished Israeli and Palestinian notables in the political and diplomatic worlds will enhance this unique journey."
If you are a Harvard grad, by the way, I guess the tour price won't set you back too much. It starts from $7,795 per person, for only 10 days.
But there's a problem. Everett Mendelsohn, as Professor Emeritus of the History of Science at Harvard University, claims "he is committed to using his personal contacts to ensure we receive a balanced perspective on the history and current state of Israeli-Palestinian relations."
Mendelsohn, though, is on the FFIPP-USA Advisory Board. FFIPP is:
"an international network of academics and students that support a complete end to the illegal Israeli occupation of lands seized in the 1967 war and removal of all the settlements and the separation wall built on occupied land...It also very much an activist group.
Among its goals is to support the call to sanction faculty and institutions, which clearly support the occupation... FFIPPI expresses its strong support for and encouragement of individuals in the Israeli and Palestinian academy whose actions against the occupation and in support of peace and justice have resulted in personal hardship. Notable cases include Israelis refusing IDF military service in the occupied territories... FFIPPI views the College of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank as a part of the machinery of Israeli occupation and calls upon academics worldwide to refuse to collaborate with it in any way."
Do you think this tour is balanced? Fair? Pluralistic? Democratic? Heck, it isn't even academic. Is that the Harvard tradition?
At the very least, why not meet a revenant Jew residing in the area of his historic national homeland to present his view and narrative. Let the tour participants not be told, but hear the reality. Let them see the truth, learn of the totality of the conflict the local Arab residents have forced upon Israel and the world.
Want to suggest me?
Write them at firstname.lastname@example.org.