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Why Cornel West was a bad choice for a UCLA event

To the editor: The article "Some Jewish activists don't want Cornel West at UCLA conference" misses the essence of the debate over Cornel West speaking at a UCLA conference honoring Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

The article says that Jewish activists "want West uninvited to the May 3-4 meeting because of what they describe as his offensive criticism of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians."

No one in this debate asked that West be uninvited, nor was "criticism of Israel's policies" mentioned in this discussion or in my open letter to him.

The objections focused strictly on the wisdom of inviting West to keynote Herschel's memorial conference, in view of his becoming a chief promoter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions ideology, a hate-based movement that is openly anti-coexistence, denies Jewish right to self-determination and advocates racist discrimination and genocidal designs. West has never repudiated the racist proclamations of its leaders.

Inviting West to keynote a UCLA conference sends the message that racist ideas can extort legitimacy, respectability and even honor from unsuspecting universities. It raises serious questions about the process by which academic centers at UCLA squander their credibility and betray community trust.

Judea Pearl, Los Angeles

The writer is chancellor's professor of computer science at UCLA.

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