OPEN UNIVERSITY SEPTEMBER 7, 2006
by Alan WolfeNancy Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston is "offended" by Harvard's decision to let Mohammad Khatami, Iran's former president, speak there. Dan Drezner, in my opinion, is right to believe that Khatami should not be barred from speaking. For me, though, Kaufman's position raises another issue. I am always disappointed when public figures do not realize the importance of free speech and open debate, especially at universities. (Mitt Romney is making a fool of himself here by not providing security for this event.) But I am doubly disappointed when they are Jewish. A minority in an overwhelmingly Christian countries, Jews ought always to be on the side of unpopular speech. If they can ban Khatami today, they can ban Kaufman tomorrow. And since when is taking offense a reason not to hear a politician from a country with whom we will some day have to engage diplomatically?