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Dear President Rodin:
I was very gratified to learn that the Cummings Foundation has withdrawn its support for the AAUP's conference on academic freedom, once it learned of the Holocaust denial pamphlet included in the conference materials and the disproportionate number of Anti-Israel boycott supporters invited to participate in that conference. As the February 16 Response letter from Schlomo Avineri and other distinguished signers makes quite clear, the conference looked weighted to turn into "a political diatribe against Israel's right to exist," rather than informed and methodic discussion of the criteria by which the questions of academic freedom and academic boycotts ought to be evaluated, and the implications for specific cases.
There is a story that Huey Long was once asked by a reporter whether he thought we would ever see fascism in this country. He is said to have replied, "Sure, but they'll call it anti-fascism."
So, similarly, another conference like the one at Durban in 2001, devoted to the venting of bigotry, but calling that anti-bigotry, is the last thing this weary world needs. We are all weary of hatred. I am pleased that the Rockefeller Foundation is not lending itself to such an exercise.
Abigail L. Rosenthal
Professor of Philosophy Emerita
Brooklyn College of The City University of New York
Author: A Good Look at Evil and Conversions: A Philosophic Memoir
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