Thursday, October 05, 2006

Censorship in NY; ADL + New York Times = silence

The government of Poland, moving to avoid getting embroiled in anti-Israel politics, last night abruptly canceled a scheduled speech by a professor at New York University who has become hostile to the Jewish state, just hours before the event was to have taken place at Poland's consulate here in New York.

The decision to cancel the speech, which was billed as being about "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," is a signal of the quickening entente between free Poland and Israel, a relationship that is all the more remarkable for the fact that among the founders of Israel were Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in Poland. A Polish diplomat told The New York Sun that the speech, by the NYU professor Tony Judt, would have been inappropriate for the Polish consulate.

The speech was to have been at the consulate, but it was actually sponsored by an outside group called Network 20/20, which describes itself as an apolitical educational organization. The group's president and founder, Patricia Huntington, yesterday blamed one Jewish organization, the Anti-Defamation League, for the cancellation of the speech. "Apparently the Anti-Defamation League tracks Tony Judt's talks on the Internet and tries to get the talks canceled," Ms. Huntington said. "This is censorship, which is of concern to Americans who believe in free speech." She accused the Anti-Defamation League of having "forced," "threatened," and exerted "pressure" on the Polish consulate to cancel the talk.

The director of the ADL - a Jewish pressure group, Abraham Foxman said, "We had nothing to do with the cancellation." Foxman said he was surprised to learn of the cancellation. "That was their decision," he said. "We didn't ask for it."

The Polish decision was hailed by another leading Jewish defense organization. "Bravo to them for doing the right thing," said the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris.

Mr. Judt said he was "sad at what this means for the country." He said he had planned to speak for about 30 minutes, and then to answer questions, about the paper on the influence of the "Israel Lobby" that was authored by professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. That paper described what it alleged to be a vast Israel lobby that included the editors of the New York Times, "neoconservative gentiles," the Brookings Institution, and students at Columbia. The ""Lobby," the paper said, had the "ability to manipulate the American political system," "a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress," and was actively "manipulating the media."


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