JSU Invites Dershowitz to Speak at Newton South HS, June 5, In Response to Chomsky

25 May 2007


At the invitation of the Jewish Student Union (JSU), an Orthodox Union-affiliated culture club meeting in Newton South High School in the Greater Boston area, the noted law professor and pro-Israel activist Alan Dershowitz will address both the JSU club and the school’s Social Awareness Club on Tuesday, June 5 at 11:00 a.m. at Newton South, in response to an appearance there April 11 by Noam Chomsky, a virulent critic of both Israel and the United States.

Professor Dershowitz will speak on “The Israel/Palestinian conflict and the impact the Iraq war has had on it.”

Dan Rozenson, a senior and Co-President of Newton South JSU, extended the invitation to Dershowitz. His appearance will also be sponsored by the Social Awareness Club, a recently formed student group at the school, which had originally invited Chomsky to speak on the topic of war in Iraq. According to Dan Hazony, a senior at Boston University who founded the JSU club at Newton South in 2004, “The students were ‘unaware’ of his one-sided views on Israel and the controversy that surrounds him regarding the topic. The school was unaware as well and allowed the students to extend the invitation.”

Following the announcement of the invitation to Chomsky, Hazony reports, “There was much outrage voiced by the Jewish community, as well as by many other pro-Israel organizations.” Because of the clamor aroused by the invitation to Chomsky, his presentation was shifted from a large auditorium, with all classes invited, to a closed-off event, open to a select group of students and faculty. School principal Brian Salzer reported after Chomsky spoke that he had received “over 800 emails and dozens of phone calls during the past week.”

The JSU club’s response to the Chomsky appearance is part of its overall program of raising awareness of Jewish issues in Jewish students who may be unaware of these matters and how they affect their lives.

The Jewish Student Union operates 167 clubs in public high schools throughout the United States and Canada, with ten in New England — six in Massachusetts, three in Connecticut and one in Rhode Island. Most clubs meet weekly, while others meet every other week.

According to Hazony, who is part-time JSU Associate Director, and Rabbi Shmuel Miller, New England Regional Director of NCSY, the OU‘s youth program, who also serves as JSU Regional Director, “The goal of Jewish Student Union programming is to inspire Jewish teens by showing them that Judaism has something to say about everything in their lives. We tackle the difficult topics that teens want to hear, as well as topics that teens did not know Judaism has anything to say to them.”

These topics have included human rights, relationships, keeping kosher, Israel, Jewish leadership, Jewish holidays, the Jewish perspective on non-Jewish holidays, Jews in different professional fields, the Holocaust, and dealing with fanaticism.

New England JSU partners with a variety of other Jewish organizations and has presented guest speakers as diverse as Andre Tippett, a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, who converted to Judaism; and Raanan Gissin, a media advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The invitation to Dershowitz, who will appear pro-bono, is certain to be a highlight of JSU’s activities not only at Newton South, but through New England.

“We are very proud that under the leadership of president Dan Rozenson the JSU club reacted and made it possible for Alan Dershowitz to provide a completely different point of view from Chomsky’s,” declared Rabbi Miller, the JSU Director. “After hearing that the United States and Israel are at the root of all evil, students should hear that the United States and Israel are fighting a war against terror that affects every American, as well as every Israeli. Mr. Dershowitz will certainly make that point clear.”