The Conflict Over The Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate

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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. An Executive Order is signed. 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.

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE CONFLICT OVER THE CONFLICT:

“A blueprint for how to navigate the ‘conflict over the conflict’ on campus.” (Kayla Steinberg, Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle)

“[T]houghtful and provocative. . . . Stern is a gifted communicator. . . ” (Holly Doan, Blacklock’s Reporter)

“[T]his book is a gift. . . . The first chapter, on the nature of hate, is invaluable, and the whole book is really a kind of philosophical view into how to teach the Israel/Palestine conflict . . . [T]his is one of the best books I’ve ever read on how to teach this subject matter.” (Corinne E. Blackmer, Professor of English and Judaic Studies, Southern CT State University)

“The Conflict over the Conflict . . .may be the most comprehensive assessment of the (at least) 20-year battle on North American campuses between pro-Israel and anti-Israel forces. . . [A] rare and uncompromising testament to free expression that should give genuine free speech advocates an uplift, particularly in an era when ideologically driven regulation of expression and ideas, especially on campuses, has left many advocates of core liberal, academic values feeling beleaguered.” (Pat Johnson, Jewish Independent)

“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 book’s purpose . . . in keeping with Stern’s academic work as the founder and director of a center for the study of hate [is] to try to understand and explain why the argument over Israel and Palestine, and other similar debates, are so contentious.” (Ernst Benjamin, former American Association of University Professors General Secretary, in AAUP Blog)

“[Stern’s] approach will be hard to discern in the short-term, and it may not produce pro-Israel partisans to do battle with anti-Israel partisans even in the long-term. What it might do is make our campuses less fertile grounds for propagandizers of all sorts. That may not feel as good as fighting fire with fire. But for forces often outnumbered on campus, it may be smart.” (Jonathan Marks, Minding The Campus)

“Political dynamite!” (Paul Scham, Editor of the Israel Studies Review and Research Associate Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Maryland)

“Stern has all the bonafides and qualifications to make his case.” (Amy Spiro, Jewish Insider)

“I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in how to try to heal these great political rifts.” Alec Ewig, Times of Israel

“Stern argues that honest and free debate over Israel and the policies of its government are being stifled in the name of protecting students from uncomfortable ideas.” Steve Arnold, Canadian Jewish Record

“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)

“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, Heterodox Academy)

“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)

“A smart, personal and engaging book [and] a principled discussion of free speech.” (Mira Sucharov, Canadian Jewish Record)

CLICK HERE FOR BOOK TRAILER

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CLICK HERE FOR PRESENTATION ABOUT THE CONFLICT OVER THE CONFLICT.

CLICK HERE – DEBATE WITH THANE ROSENBAUM: FREE SPEECH – IS THERE A LIMIT?

“Is there any good time to publish a book during a pandemic?” The Forward, June 3. 2020