The keynote speaker at the New York State Communications Association (NYSCA) annual convention was anti-Semitic Rutgers University professor Jasbir Puar. Puar has made baseless claims in the past, including the disgusting lie that Israelis are using Palestinian organs for research. Puar has also called for violence against Jews and advocated for armed “defense” against Israelis. She spins falsehoods in an attempt to demonize Israel and the Jewish people.
The NYSCA is well aware of Puar’s offensive and hurtful statements. The American Jewish Committee sent a letter in August informing the NYSCA of her vile track record, yet it still decided to turn a blind eye by allowing her to speak. According to the letter, Puar’s comments “cross the line between legitimate criticism to incendiary demonization of the Jewish state. Simply put, there are no values advanced by giving her a forum to express her hateful and false views.” The NYSCA should be ashamed of its cowardice in its decision. Providing Puar with a platform to spread her hostile views against Israel and Jews will only worsen the current anti-Semitic climate.
Puar’s history of anti-Semitic statements isn’t subtle, she’s very outspoken about her hatred of Israel and the Jews that inhabit it. Puar’s addresses serve as a dog whistle to those who harbor their own anti-Jewish sentiments, spreading hostility and putting Jews in harm’s way.
The NYSCA’s event is not meant to be a platform for politically motivated Israel bashing. The topic is the future of communication. If nothing else, Puar’s reputation for inflammatory comments proves that she is ill-qualified for this type of event and that the merit of her participation is questionable at best. Why is the NYSCA fighting to protect a controversial speaker that will only put a stain on what could be an otherwise fruitful event?
Puar is so blatantly problematic that a petition is circulating calling for the NYSCA to publicly condemn her. The organization’s failure to respond is an unsurprising disappointment as anti-Semitism is once again welcomed with a red carpet. At this point, the NYSCA knew that rescinding Puar’s offer to speak would have been the right thing to do, but refused to act. By not taking this vital step to condemn antisemitism, the NYSCA is proudly aligning with an anti-Jewish bigot.
Organizations promoting blatantly racist speakers such as Puar only perpetuate hateful views that ruin their credibility and eliminate needed supporters. The NYSCA will not emerge with its reputation unscathed in the wake of this conference.
At a time where anti-Semitism is only growing in the United States and around the world, the NYSCA will become complicit in undermining the safety of Jewish college students if they choose not to condemn Puar’s anti-Semitism.
Bassem Eid is a Palestinian human-rights activist, political analyst and journalist.