To the editors:
Almost everything Alan Bloom has written about the spiritual and intellectual degeneracy of the current generation of college teachers was confirmed by Patricia Stoll's account of the efforts of supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization ("PLO") to disrupt Israeli Independence Day celebrations at UIC ["Demonstration," May 6]. As a student who personally witnessed these events, I call your readers' attention to the following:
1. Ms. Stoll reports the slogans which appeared on the students' placards. She gives the impression that the PLO demonstrators are more humane than the pro-Israelis. Somehow, she omitted mention of the sign held by the frontmost of the PLO demonstrators, which I myself witnessed and photographed. It called for the liquidation of Israel and its replacement by "an Islamic state." If Ms. Stoll would like to replace democratic Israel with an Islamic state, she is welcome to do so, and presumably she would enjoy the purdah, chadour and stoning (in the literal sense) to death of adulteresses which are prescribed by Islamic law. One trusts that the readers of your journal will forgive Israelis if they prefer not to live under such a regime.
2. Ms. Stoll translates the Hebrew words "Eretz Israel," used by a pro-Israeli speaker, as including not only Israel but "large chunks of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia." This is a totally false translation as well as misspelling (shame on the English teacher!), which is all the more breathtaking because Ms. Stoll obviously does not speak a word of Hebrew. "Eretz Yisrael" is a wholly nonpolitical term which Hebrew speakers have used for two thousand years to refer to the land of Israel. Even Pete Seeger, hardly a Zionist fanatic, used a form of this phrase when he sang "Artzah Aleinu." Ms. Stoll has thus employed a translation which is either deliberately false or totally ignorant; either alternative proves her unfitness to be called a teacher.
3. In what is perhaps the most egregious self-revealed example of her unfitness, Ms. Stoll childishly boasts of a recommendation she wrote for a student seeking admission to the Hebrew University. Ms. Stoll wrote in the recommendation that her student "cares about justice and fairness and human rights, qualities that are in short supply today in Israel." Ms. Stoll acknowledges that Hebrew University accepted her student. Without asking whether Ms. Stoll's conclusions about the quality of life in Israel are based on personal observation or gleanings from the 10:00 o'clock news, what kind of professor deliberately insults a foreign country in which her student is seeking a scholarship? Would Ms. Stoll do the same if her student was seeking a scholarship in some country that Ms. Stoll admires, most likely the Soviet Union, Syria, Iran or Nicaragua? Ms. Stoll seems oblivious to the import of the Hebrew University's accepting her student notwithstanding Ms. Stoll's puerile superfluities.
4. Ms. Stoll reports an alleged assault by a professor on Palestinian students who seized the stage during the Hillel-sponsored celebration. She deliberately ignores what happened outside the celebration. Fourteen of the pro-Arab demonstrators were arrested for attacking police or fellow students. There is no doubt that, had the police not encircled the PLO demonstrators whom Ms. Stoll joined, they would have attacked the Israeli Independence Day celebration, as they had done in prior years.
5. Finally, your readers should understand why most Jewish students preferred to remain outdoors confronting the PLO demonstrators rather than attending the indoor celebration. The choice of Peter Yarrow, a faded flower of the drug-ridden sixties, as the principal speaker offended many of us who strongly feel the need to defend Israel against PLO politicide and terrorism. We did not care to listen to a myopic dove who is more comfortable living in the 1960s than in present-day reality.
The real threat to Israel was symbolized by the violence of the PLO demonstrators gathered outside the hall. Even Ms. Stoll could not find one Palestinian demonstrator who is ready to live in peace alongside (not astride) Israel. We clearly felt it was our place to confront these acolytes of PLO terrorism rather than be hectored by Mr. Yarrow. You see, some of us have learned our lessons in defending democracy rather well, notwithstanding that we had to suffer the likes of teachers like Ms. Stoll.
Patricia Stoll replies:
My spelling, and definition, of the term "Eretz Israel" come from several sources, including the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, and I stand by them. (You can attack my politics, but never my spelling!)