American universities bristle with governing bodies representing the interests of various constituencies in campus life. Student and faculty associations confront the usual parochial and prosaic topics—parking, fees, and office space—but these organizations also offer opportunities to stage dialogue about broader interests, sometimes concerning far-flung parts of the world, including Palestine. Conversations within campus organizations about contemporary political topics of the day can be compelling because they allow us to clarify individual and institutional values and bring disciplinary expertise to pressing social issues. In recent years, the plight of Palestinians has increasingly come to the attention of academic organizations, and some have taken stands, attempting to pass resolutions in opposition to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Stand with Us. and other pro-Israel groups provide followers with tested devices to shut down rational debates on the merits of Palestine resolutions, relying on established forms of discursive manipulation that violate some of the very norms they claim to defend. This essay outlines some of those devices, but it also points toward strategies for generating meaningful debate.

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