Be Nice: Ehud Barak is the former president of one of America’s closest allies, and we were certainly lucky to have him speak at Dartmouth since he is surely in great demand as a speaker nowadays. So I was a bit surprised at the hostility some students showed towards him during the question and answer session following his speech. Aly Rahim’s question about expanding settlements in the West Bank was a good one (Barak answered it convincingly), but why did Rahim feel the need to ask it in such a angry tone? Leyla Kamalick’s question was perhaps even more hostile (she basically called Israel’s democratic government a racist sham).

Even Linda Fowler, who introduced Barak, gave more of an apology for hosting an Israeli politician than an introduction of a famous foreign leader. She kept mentioning that Barak was a controversial speaker whose appearance should trigger debate and discussion. She talked in a disapproving tone about the expansion of West Bank settlements during Barak’s administration. She generally gave me the impression that she didn’t like Barak very much.

I’m all for critiques, but Fowler was giving an introduction, not writing an editorial about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also reminded me of Fowler’s introductions of the participants of the slavery reparations debate. She introduced pro-reparations prof Charles Ogletree at length and in glowing terms, while she briefly forgot the name of anti-reparations prof Glenn Loury and made only a cursory mention of his academic achievements. She also characterized the moderate liberal Porter as a conservative, prompting him to correct her during the debate.

Even if students and administrators disagree with Mr. Barak’s views on Israel’s policies, he deserves a certain amount of respect and courtesy for taking the time to make an speech here at Dartmouth. If Dartmouth gets a reputation as a hostile environment for all who deviate from the far-left’s views, then we may lose even the few prominent speakers we are lucky to have each year. Ask tough questions. But don’t attack world leaders. Some of us want them to keep comng here.