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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins: January 9, 2014

U Of H: The University Of Hypocrisy

“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.” So wrote the British historian Bertrand Russell, and if you’ve read the papers this week you may think he was absolutely right. Years of education do not translate into intelligence let alone an enlightened insight into truth.

I write specifically about the American Studies Association (ASA), a nationwide organization of university professors. In an effort to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, its members overwhelmingly voted to boycott Israel’s academic institutions from collaborations with the universities here in the United States. Among local institutions affiliated with the ASA are New York University, Cornell, Columbia, SUNY Buffalo and SUNY Stony Brook. To be fair, the administrations of many of these affiliated universities have slammed the boycott but are just sitting on the sidelines.

What’s so frightening about the entire scenario is the blatant hypocrisy that occurs in our university system seemingly unchecked. The ASA says that their boycott “represents a principle of solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.” So how did this enlightened band of philosophers choose to “enlarge that freedom?” By depriving Israeli students of it, essentially punishing an entire nation of innocent scholars. Now we may not all be professors, but I think it’s easy to see the absurdity here. How dare they even use the words “freedom for all” then proceed to systematically diminish it for an entire country?  

One would assume that scholars, above all, would understand that the key to change is cooperation and bringing opposition together in environments where they discover likeness and shared purpose. The academic forum has always been where that happens, yet the ASA seeks to negate that. Our U.S. Department of State has long known that when you bring young Israelis and Palestinians together here, and have them work side by side, these future leaders eventually return to their homelands with new ideas that dismantle old prejudices. Instead, the ASA’s thoughtless approach flies in the very face of the academic tradition. As the City University’s interim chancellor, William Kelly, so wisely observed, “The free exchange of ideas is at the heart of academic enterprise. Any effort to impede that flow is antithetical to the values that universities hold most dear.”

So how does the ASA justify their ill-considered stance? They say they’re standing up to human rights abuses, naturally. But as New York State Senator Jeff Klein pointed out, “No other nation — even those with far worse records on human rights and academic freedom than what the ASA has accused Israel of — is subject to a similar boycott by the ASA.” They’ve taken no action against China, Russia, or North Korea – not a one. There are countries, as was well-publicized just last year, where women are stoned just for trying to go to school and yet the ASA turned a blind eye. Do human rights abuses get any worse than that? Clearly this is just more hypocrisy from the ASA, but we must ask ourselves why the double standard even exists.   

Unfortunately, the answer is disturbing and yet often left unspoken. There is a growing trend that’s taken hold of liberal academia and the media in the United States and Europe that embraces an anti-Israel stance and is, quite honestly, rooted in centuries-old antisemitism. It now seems okay so long as you’re liberal and have a degree. If this isn’t the case, could anyone please explain why – just in this particular case alone - Israel is being held up for supposed infringement of academic freedom when countries that are far worse offenders get a pass? The answer is clear but you won’t hear any explanation from the ASA.

Suffice to say we should always be wary of people who believe their education puts them beyond reproach.

News

Vastra boutique finds a niche

in hand-embroidered dresses

Who says a bride has to wear white on her wedding day? For South Asian brides, no color is off limits including brilliant reds, blues and golds. For the past 17 years, Vastra in Hicksville has been helping brides from New York and across the country find the perfect dress for their special day.

There’s no lack of Indian sari boutiques in Hicksville but according to Marketing Director Prachi Jain, what sets Vastra apart from the others is its emphasis on one of a kind, hand-embroidered Indian dresses.

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



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