This report came down through Jews sans frontieres, a largely, practically, okay totally antiZionist blog operated by a certain British activist, Mark Elf. Mr. Elf is usually ranting about Israeli injustices, but today he is defending a blind proIsrael student for the sin of free speech. Praise be afforded to Mr. Elf. Who could conceivably deny freedom of speech as expressed in a T-shirt that takes the view, “I Stand With Israel.” Israel’s sins are not worthy of diminishing free speech, because it is through free speech that we are capable of drawing attention to those sins, to criticize and rail against them.

The story is about a student denied service at a university cafeteria because of the nature of her views and beliefs.

U of Maryland food coop worker denies service to student who “Stands with Israel”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:

In late April, a checkout person at the Maryland Food Collective told a student that her “I Stand With Israel T-Shirt” was offensive, and refused to serve her, according to, the University of Maryland newspaper. The student found another worker to help her, but left the store “emotionally distraught,” said Avi Mayer, president of the Pro-Israel Terrapin Alliance.

Mark Elf reported that, “Mayer and Sophomore Rachel Bergstein, who was “absolutely shocked” when she heard about the incident and wrote a letter to the editor of the school newspaper that sparked a campus-wide debate, “lamented that those on both sides of the argument haven’t worked harder to reconcile their differences.”

“I wanted people to ask positive questions [because of the letter], but instead I heard people are going into the co-op and saying, `So I heard you hate Jews,'” Bergstein said.

“I have heard of individuals who were planning on either staging some kind of protest or electing not to purchase there anymore, but I would really urge the community to sort of pause and enable whatever negotiations are underway to play themselves out,” Mayer added.

“Bravo to Mayer and Bergstein,” said Elf, “and to the coop for issuing a public apology to the student who was denied service. The coop says it will shortly issue a statement presumably clarifying that it’s not OK to refuse service to people who wear an “I Stand with Israel” t-shirt, but because they are a consensus organization, my own experience tells me such a statement may take weeks if not years (I love consensus, but nothing cures the bitterness of having had to sit through an 8-hour consensus meeting in my teen years at my largely Jewish Quaker hippie camp, where we had to decide whether or not to expel some kids for using drugs. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have someone in charge make a decision.)”

If we do not have free speech, how can we protest the injustices perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people. Now, most people who know the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the present ongoing efforts of the Israel Occupation Forces working in conjunction with settlers to relieve Palestinians of their homes and land, also know that they would not be able to speak out were it not for democratic free speech. True, free speech allows for lies and half truths to be told and for countries like Israel to engage in broad based propaganda to deceive people of the truth. But without free speech, how can such propaganda be counteracted and shown to be what it is?

Point well made, Mark Elf.

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