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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

On Oct. 25, The Tufts Daily published my letter to the editor in which I asserted that an op-ed by the “Revolutionary Marxist Students,” submitted in response to the recent Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, violated Tufts’ standards on free expression and constituted prohibited hate speech and incitement. My letter has now prompted a response from Gary P. Leupp, a professor emeritus in Tufts’ history department. 

The fact that Professor Leupp, like many academics, took offense at the notion that free expression has limitations, is of no surprise. His willingness to misstate facts to bolster his position, however, requires a response.

To start, Professor Leupp employs the common tactic of attempting to pigeonhole his ideological opponent. As a means of discrediting my conclusions, he describes me, with thinly-veiled disdain, as a “corporate attorney, who represents Fortune 500 employers.” I, of course, immediately recognized this quote from my professional biography, but also noticed that Professor Leupp left out the next two words: I represent clients ranging from companies “to individuals.” 

Professor Leupp’s implicit narrative — that my viewpoint is one held only by far-right worshipers of big companies — unravels in the face of the reality that I am, in fact, an attorney who has represented countless individuals in civil rights cases and was, in fact, the president of an organization dedicated to that purpose (information that he could have easily gleaned from the same bio he selectively quoted).

More troubling, however, are the misstatements of historical fact upon which Professor Leupp bases his views of Israel. The notion that the Jewish people are colonial settlers in their native homeland is contrary to historical texts, archaeology and genetic studies. The statement that Israel’s reestablishment in 1948 caused the displacement of “one people” (in fact, hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Arab and Muslim nations at that time) is plainly false.  The slanderous assertion that Israel is an apartheid state is entirely belied by the presence of Arabs in the Knesset, the judiciary, law enforcement, the military and all facets of Israel’s economy. And the contention that the murder, rape, mutilation and kidnapping of hundreds of civilians can be described as mere resistance to occupation (Gaza has not been occupied since 2005) is not only factually incorrect, it is morally depraved.

Professor Leupp is correct about one thing. Tufts’ administration is and will continue to be, under pressure from its students and alumni to act. If a misguided and unbounded concept of “free expression” continues to be cited as an explanation for the failure to impose consequences on those who celebrate and incite violence against the one Jewish state on Earth and its supporters, Tufts will abdicate its role as an institution of “Pax et Lux.”

David H. Spalter