Penn group nixes speaker following Israel-Islamic State comparison

Former New York Times Middle East bureau chief Chris Hedges said he was disinvited to speak at a University of Pennsylvania conference following his column comparing Israel to ISIS, also known as the Islamic State.

Hedges, now a columnist for the website, was to speak at an April forum on prospects for peace in the Middle East sponsored by the university’s International Affairs Association.

Zachary Michael Belnavis, a student leader of the association, wrote to the lecture agency that his group didn’t see Hedges as a “suitable fit” for the conference.

“We’re saying this in light of a recent article he’s written in which he compares the organization ISIS to Israel,” Belnavis wrote.

Hedges responded Dec. 21 on Truthdig,  writing, “Being banned from speaking about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, especially at universities, is familiar to anyone who attempts to challenge the narrative of the Israel lobby. This is not the first time one of my speaking offers has been revoked and it will not be the last.”

In a column titled “ISIS — the new Israel,” Hedges had written “ISIS, ironically, is perhaps the only example of successful nation-building in the contemporary Middle East, despite the billions of dollars we have squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its quest for an ethnically pure Sunni state mirrors the quest for a Jewish state eventually carved out of Palestine in 1948. Its tactics are much like those of the Jewish guerrillas who used violence, terrorism, foreign fighters, clandestine arms shipments and foreign money, along with horrific ethnic cleansing and the massacre of hundreds of Arab civilians, to create Israel.”

Hedges said he objects to the charge that he does not believe in coexistence between the Palestinians and Israel. He said he opposes violence on both sides and has condemned Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel as war crimes.  — jta


Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.