Activists oppose UCLA speaker
Several Jewish organizations and pro-Israel figures say they don’t want African American history scholar Cornel West to deliver a keynote address at an upcoming UCLA conference celebrating the life of civil rights activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
They want West uninvited to the May 3-4 meeting because of his criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and his support for universities to divest holdings from companies that do business with the Israeli military. West has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a war criminal for the civilian deaths in the Gaza conflict last year.
UCLA officials say they are sticking with West, who is a professor emeritus at Princeton, teaches at the Union Theological Seminary in New York and cohosts the public radio show “Smiley & West.” To drop him would violate free speech, according to administrators at the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, which is sponsoring the Heschel meeting.
West could not be reached for comment Friday.