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Israel Academia Monitor Follows

Anti-Israel Activities of Israeli Academics

Reprints of anti-Israel articles do not represent the position

of IAM, and they are being reproduced as a public service


IAM supports the universal tradition of academic freedom that is an indispensable characteristic of higher education in Israel. At the same time, it is concerned by the activities of a small group of academics--sometimes described as revisionist historians or post-Zionists, among other labels--who go beyond the “free search for truth and its free exposition” (to quote the American Association of University Professors) that is the hallmark of academic freedom. Exploiting the prestige (and security) of their positions, such individuals often propound unsubstantiated and, frequently, demonstrably false arguments that defame Israel and call into question its right to existence.


We are happy to announce the publication of the study Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective; it compares academic freedom in Israel with that enjoyed by faculty in three academic leaders- Germany, Great Britain and the United States. This first of a kind research, is systematic, detailed and meticulously referenced.
The study indicates that, contrary to the view of radical scholars and their liberal supporters, the Israeli academy has enjoyed far greater freedom than its counterparts in the comparative cases. Indeed, in all three countries a combination of case law, ethic codes and strong oversight by boards of directors and politicians who appointed them have prevented radical faculty in public universities from abusing and subverting academic privileges to push an activist political agenda.
Not countervailed by academic duties and a need to account to the public and its elected representatives, the expansive sense of academic freedom has hurt Israel’s academic standing in the world. Liberal arts and social science, in particular, have been trending well below global averages, jeopardizing Israel’s overall competitive quest.
We hope that the study will spur a long-overdue debate on how to restore much- needed balance between academic freedom and the broader interests of the society and the state.



Tel Aviv University
Hoisted With Their Own Petard: Radical Activists Forced to Move a Conference from TAU Campus
A conference in memory of Dr. Eyad el-Sarraj, the psychiatrist and human right activist from Gaza, “Non-violent Resistance in Psychotherapy and Society" was scheduled for December 22, 2014 at the Bar Shira Auditorium in Tel Aviv University. 
At the last moment, the Palestinian activists demanded that it would be moved off campus since, according to the BDS movement, the university is complicit in Israeli occupation. The organizers complied and the conference was relocated to another venue. 
Still, it must have come as a great shock to the Israeli academics like Rachel Giora, Anat Matar (TAU) and Kobi Snitz (Weizmann Institute), the co-organizers since 2008 of BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within. As IAM reported, Giora, Matar, Snitz, and other Israeli activists worked with Omar Barghouti who founded The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI) in 2004. 
Like many other pro-Palestinian activists, Giora, Matar, Snitz and their colleagues assumed that “good Israelis” like themselves would not be targeted. However, as the case of Amira Hass, the extravagantly pro-Palestinian Haaretz journalist, learned, her bona fides did not prevent her from being ejected from a conference held at Birzeit University for being an Israeli Jew. 
In the worldview that the BDS represents, there are no “good” or “bad” Israelis. All Israeli Jews are complicit in the occupation and would be collectively judged.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
INSS - Dec. 22, 2014: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm
This comprehensive and well organized volume edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on BDS. The twenty five essays range from an analysis of the philosophical underpinning of the BDS movement to case studies. Section one makes the argument that BDS violates the principles of academic freedom, a concept about which Nelson, a former President of the American Association of University Professors, is well qualified to speak. Kenneth L. Marcus, the President and General Counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and a foremost legal authority on issues of academic freedom and anti-Semitism, raises the question of whether BDS is a form of anti-Semitism. Samuel M. Edelman and Carol F.S. Edelman emphasize that the BDS drive on campus is a success even if fails. In other words, even if a BDS resolution fails, the debate “educates” students about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since BDS drives generally take place on many prestigious campuses, it is the future graduates of these elite universities who are the target of such “education.” For those who count the number of successful resolutions as a measure of the BDS strength, the Edelman chapter is a cautionary tale of the limits of a numerical analysis. Nelson and other contributors are also rightfully worried about the less measurable but very potent impact which pro-BDS faculty may have on students. The applied section includes a portfolio of anti-BDS tactics. 
The book has two weaknesses. First, it does not analyze the pivotal role of several Israeli scholars who have created a body of work that equates the Israel-Palestine conflict with the apartheid regime in South Africa. As IAM repeatedly demonstrated, the writings of Ben Gurion University professors Oren Yiftachel and Neve Gordon, as well as other Israeli academics, are part of the “academic cannon” that is used to legitimize BDS. 
Second, and arguably more importantly, the volume is based on the premise that the BDS discourse on campuses follows the Humboldtian notion that liberal arts are akin to a free market of ideas. As Nelson puts it, “we offer this book as a resource to bring reason, history, and sound information to campuses confronting this BDS agenda.” In reality, nothing could be further from this ideal in much of Middle East studies. It is well known that the discipline has been systemically influenced by Arab and Iranian money which has been used to provide a skewed view of Israel. As for the BDS initiative, it has benefited from equally well funded and coordinated efforts. IAM’s Academic Forensics series has provided rigorous empirical evidence to support this claim. Needless to say, BDS activists have used an array of deceitful and backhanded tactics to minimize any sort of free give and take discourse on the issue. 
In spite of the two weaknesses, IAM is very pleased to learn that the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv will host Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm (see their invitation below), for we have long argued that the academic delegitimization of Israel poses a threat to Israel’s security.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
American Anthropological Association and the BDS Movement: The Activist Vision of Social Science
For those who still wonder why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become the defining issue in Western social sciences, the recent meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) provides some answers. 
As the article below makes clear, the pro-BDS panels dominated the debate and were well attended; the lone anti-BDS panel was by and large ignored. The younger generation of anthropologists have been socialized into the so-called critical social sciences. Like many of their peers, say, in sociology, gender studies or political science, anthropologists see themselves as agents of social change first and scholars second. 
Indeed, shortly after publishing his paradigm-changing book, Orientalism, Edward Said appealed to anthropologists to change the “narrative” of the Middle East studies. Some thirty years later, the push to change the “narrative” has succeeded beyond all expectations. 
Monica Heller, the president of the AAA and a professor at Toronto University confirmed that many anthropologists now work on the Middle East. She went on to state that “even for those who don't, she continued, many of the themes that are important to anthropologists in general -- themes like nationalism, colonialism, imperialism, trauma and memory -- are resonant in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” In other words, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict serves the template for the core issues that preoccupy contemporary anthropological research. 
Needless to say, the founding fathers of anthropology - Franz Boas, Bronislaw Malinowski, Margret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Mary Douglas, among others - would have been saddened to learn their field has devolved into a series of neo-Marxist clichés. 
It is bad enough that this stultifying academic orthodoxy has propelled the BDS movement. Much worse is the fact that the neo-Marxist, critical approach has robbed the field of anthropology of its intellectual vitality.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
The BDS Movement is Scoring Success on Prestigious University Campuses in the United States
One year after the student council at UCLA narrowly defeated a BDS resolution, a similar resolution was passed with the determined help of the campus branch of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a well-funded and well-disciplined organization. The small group of opponents, including J Street and other Jewish factions on campus, decided to boycott the vote, a symbolic gesture given the strength of the SJP forces. 
Some five hundred miles north of UCLA, Stanford University has become the next target of the BDS campaign. The local branch of the SJP, Stanford SJP, put together an impressive coalition: MEChA de Stanford, Stanford NAACP, the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Awareness Network, the Asian American Students' Association, and Students for Alternatives to Militarism, the Student and Labor Alliance, the Arab Student Association at Stanford, the Filipino American Student Union and the Stanford Asian American Activism Committee. As the organizers put it, “this coalition will likely grow and is already gaining the support of faculty and staff.” 
Stanford is considered a tough battleground for the BDS activists, but they take a long-term view: even if a resolution is not passed soon, the campaign is expected to “educate students about the reality of Israeli occupation.” It is the education func'tion rather than the actual BDS vote that should worry the Israeli authorities. UCLA, Stanford, Georgetown, not to mention the Ivy Leagues, are targeted by the SJP because they educate the future American elites. 
The higher education authorities, however, do not factor the long term damage into their assessment of the BDS. For instance, in a recent conference “Managing Academic Internationalisation in Times of Crisis", Council of Higher Education vice chair, Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron, described the BDS situation as not too bad. This is indeed the situation in the hard sciences that Messer-Yaron is probably most familiar with. Yet political elites, as well known, are mostly recruited from liberal arts, and therein lies the problem for Israel.


Ben-Gurion University
[BGU] Oren Yiftachel: Still Working Hard on Creating the Israel-South Africa Equivalency
Oren Yiftachel, a Geography professor at Ben Gurion University, must feel good these days. Years after joining BGU he fulfilled his goal of using academic research for political gains. Already in 1997 he described his political mission in a forum for Critical Geographers stating, "your list, as well as the Vancouver conference and several recent journals are helping us in 'diffusing' critical material which may have some long-term effect on students and faculty". In his book Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel and Palestine, published in 2004, he identified himself as a neo-Gramscian, a term used by neo-Marxist, critical scholars to denote their intent of mixing scholarship and politics in the service of social change, a vision of the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci. 
Yiftachel admitted as much when he wrote on his homepage that since 1993 he "has tried to combine teaching and activism for social and political justice. Co-founded and was an active member in a range of organizations working to assist Arab-Jewish peace, anti-colonialism and social equality in Israel/Palestine". 
Yiftachel was the first Jewish-Israeli academic to define Israel as an apartheid state. Though Judge Sarah Dovrat denounced Yiftachel's expertise as shoddy, he forged on, becoming the most quoted “authority” on apartheid. 
Not coincidentally, the “apartheid scholarship” has been used by the BDS movement on campuses. Yiftachel may think it is his great scholarship that made him the “most quoted” but it is most likely, his political agenda that drives his success. 
Yiftachel has now gone one step further. He is now involved in a new project by Zochrot, a radical group seeking the right to return of Palestinian refugees from 1948 into Israel. As the invitation indicates, Zochrot and Yiftachel chose to call it Truth Commission on the Responsibility of Israeli Society for the Events 1948-1960 in the South. 
As well known, a Truth Commission was created by the South African government after the collapse of apartheid. Though the event does not mention the term apartheid, the equivalency has been bolstered.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
Collatoral Damage: The BDS Movement and American Jews on Campus
The Knesset Committee for Aliyah, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs met recently to discuss the growing anti-Israeli sentiments on American campuses. Given the severity of the problem, as reported on numerous occasions by IAM, the Committee’s decision to hold the hearing is indeed laudable. The surprise, however, that some members of the Committee chose to blame the Hillel International that runs more than 500 campus branches for letting “post-Zionist” speakers to infiltrate Hillel functions. According to the maker of a documentary on the subject who participated in the debate, “many kids who grow up in pro-Israel homes end up joining anti-Israel movements as a result of their influence.” 
To accuse Hillel or radicalizing Jewish student is simplistic, misguided or disingenuous. Even a superficial reading of American Jewish attitudes toward Israel reflects the growing division over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The recent Pew Survey demonstrates that the younger generation of Jews are much detached and alienated from Israel than the older cohorts. They are also more critical of what they consider a harsh occupation policy. 
The organizational manifestations of this shift are very clear. Groups like J-Street and even Jewish Voices for Peace have become more of a mainstream phenomenon. Indeed, when Eric Fingerhut, the president of Hillel International sent a directive barring appearances of BDS advocates in Hillel, the backlash was immediate and fierce. Jewish students accused Fingerhut of a McCarty-like suppression of free speech. Jewish students at Swarthmore launched the so-called Free Hillel movement that has spread to Harvard, among other campuses. By becoming the litmus test of “Jewish behavior,” the BDS movement, has split the Jewish community.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
The Real Meaning of the MESA Resolution Supporting BDS
For a while, the backlash against the American Studies Association (ASA) vote in 2013 to support academic BDS created the impression that other professional organizations will not follow suit. The huge Modern Language Association narrowly rejected a BDS resolutions in January 2014, a decision that some supporters of Israel described as a victory for their cause and a possible turning of the tide. 
Meanwhile, all eyes were on Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the umbrella group of most of the professors who teach courses on Middle East in the United States. MESA, the home of the late Edward Said and his many followers, has a long history of anti-Israeli opinions. The list of the past presidents of the Association reads like a “who is who” among anti-Israeli activists. Because of its prominence, the MESA paradigm – a mixture of neo-Marxist, anti-colonial, and anti-Israeli themes – has dominated scholarship and classroom instruction on the Middle East and Islam. 
In his book Ivory Towers on Sand, Martin Kramer illustrated how this skewed perspective left the United States ill-prepared in understanding Islamist radicalism and terrorism prior to 9/11. In 2003 Congress held hearing on the teaching of Middle East during its review of Title IV legislation. Indeed, Congress is due to review Title VI again and would most likely take up the issue of MESA again. 
That MESA chose to adopt the BDS resolution is a testimony to the limited power that political pressure and legislative seem to have. On February 2, 2013, Peter Roskam (R-Il) and Dan Lipinski (D-Il) introduced a bill “Protect Academic Freedom Act” (H.R. 4009) in the House of Representatives. Even if the legislation is adopted, a big if, it would certainly face court challenge. 
In the end though, the BDS is secondary to the real significance of MESA. Because of its prominence, virtually all college graduates in liberal arts, including journalists and teachers, are socialized to perceive the complex issues of the region though the MESA paradigm. Books by MESA scholars are used in Foreign Service programs that prepare future Foreign Service officials. Military service academics, the stepping stone for future officers, are also part of the MESA epistemic community. 
The few Israeli observers such as the journalist Ben-Dror Yemini have bitterly complained about the bias of MESA. Though emotionally satisfying, hand wringing is not a plan for action. On this issue and many others, the Israeli authorities, as usual are missing in action


Tel Aviv University
Yehouda Shenhav’s New Adventure: “Proving” the Nazi-Israeli Equivalency
Yehouda Shenhav has parlayed his position in the Department of Sociology at TAU into a successful career in political activism. 
After receiving tenure, Shenhav, who was hired to teach and research the sociology of organizations, he switched to writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His first venture was a book “proving” that the Mizrahim were actually Arab Jews who were robbed of their true identity by the Zionists. Not coincidentally, the book was linked to Shenhav’s role in the Keshet Mizrahit, a minuscule group that advocated forging an alliance between the Mizrahim and the Palestinians based on their joined cultural identity. The plan did not work out and worse, the Mizrhaim went on to establish the hardline Shas party whose attitude toward the Palestinians was anything but friendly. 
Shenhav’s next venture involved the alleged “post-Westphalian” period in international relations. In his view, humanity was about to be freed from the scourge of nations and nationalism forged by the Treaty of Westphaliaof the mid- seventeenth century. Seizing upon this new spirit, Shenhav recommended creating a bi-national state where the Palestinians would be welcome back and would be resettled in new villages to replace the one that were destroyed by Israel. As in the case of the “Arab Jews,” Shenhav ran into reality in the Middle East, which does not bear any resemblance to the enlightened “post-Westphalian spirit.” Indeed, the current drive to create an Islamic caliphate - replete with gruesome, ritualized beheading and slave sex, seems to indicate a regression to a period much darker than anything that the Treaty of Westphalia could fathom. 
Perhaps discouraged by the failure of his utopian schemes, Shenhav moved on to the relatively “reality- proof” venture of creating a Nazi-Israeli equivalency. As pioneered by Adi Ophir, a professor of philosophy at TAU and a veteran political activist who launched the first BDS movement in Israel, the exercise is quite simple. It goes something like this. Start with Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil,” - a notion she derived from observing Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem - proclaim that the Nazi’s industrial-scale murder of the Jews is not unique but part of any “oppressive relations,” and compare the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to that of the Jews during the Holocaust. 
In an article “Beyond Instrumental Rationality: Lord Cromer and Imperial Roots of Eichmann’s Bureaucracy” in the Journal of Genocide Studies, Shenhav uses this formula with a slight twist. He starts with the de rigueur reference to Arendt’s conceptualization of Eichmann as a personification of the “banality of evil.” Arendt held that Eichmann was essentially a “morally aloof,” dispassionate bureaucrat with no particular bad feelings toward the Jews. His real passion, per Arendt, was bureaucratic organization. Shenhav agrees with Arendt on the issue of moral aloofness, but criticizes her for refusing to accept the alleged similarity between the British imperialism and the Nazi racist theory. In Shenhav’s view, the imperialist- colonial philosophy based on racist distinction (as exemplified by Lord Cromer, the British envoy to Egypt) and the Nazi rule are in principle similar. He chides Arendt for rejecting this linkage in her seminal work on the origins of totalitarianism: “I suggest that in this rewriting of the history of totalitarianism [by Arendt] we may find one clue to the discursive denial of the continuity between imperialism and Nazism.” 
Shenhav’s eagerness to “marry” the banality of evil with imperialist–colonial bureaucracy driven by racism becomes clear in the following paragraph: “When Arendt visited Jerusalem in 1961, Israel employed its own model of ‘bureaucracy and race’ to manage its Palestinian citizens. The bureaucracy that was formed, known as a ‘military regime’, was based on imperial elements: constant states of emergency, secrecy and collaboration. The local military rulers have had tremendous power in restricting freedom of movement, granting license for businesses, determining administrative arrests, confiscating lands and other privileges. 
Israel’s laws of exception were originally adopted from the British imperial rule of Palestine that was in effect since 1945.” In other words, the Israelis are no better than the British colonials who were not better than the Nazis.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
Academic Forensics: Corporate Money Behind BDS in the United States
Previous posts in the Academic Forensics series detailed how Arab foundations and governments underwrite scholarship and events casting Israel in a negative light. 
Large American corporations, including oil giants, are also major players in this game. The Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. and its highly respectable, the Middle East Journal, has benefited from generous support of major corporations doing business in the Middle East. Indeed, the annual conference of the Middle East Institute, features a veritable “who is who” in this regard. 
The recently popular Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) has attracted its own share of corporate sponsorship. The article below describes one such initiative at Harvard University held during the “Harvard Arab Week.” Among others, McKinsey & Co, The Boston Consulting Group, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bank Audi, Strategy & and the energy giant Shell are listed. 
Sara Greenberg, a pro-Israel activist reacted by posting the below op-ed “Stop Sponsoring Reckless anti-Israelism.” 
While the panel The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement: Accomplishments, Tactics and Lessons was clearly not well balanced, effort to cancel it were not successful as it is inherently difficult to claim that academic freedom requires a “well balanced” panel. 
There are some lessons from the Harvard event that throw light on the successful formula behind the BDS movement on campuses. First, organizers need be careful about breaching red lines, such as overt expressions of anti-Semitism - barring this, an event would be allowed under the doctrine of academic freedom. Second, as a rule, whenever a panel on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is offered, it attracts a disproportional share of attention. Third, attracting sponsorship from respectable corporation is key. Not only does financial support help to organize countless BDS events, but it gives the organizers an air of legitimacy. 
Though it is not clear whether the corporate sponsors of the Harvard Arab Week knew that it would feature the pro-Palestinian panel, claiming that all these prestigious corporations advocate the destruction of Israel, as Greenberg asserted. 
Viewed as a template of the BDS dynamics, the Harvard event leaves anti-BDS activists in a quandary. Matching the corporate funds, not to mention the Arab donors, is a toll order, but crucial to providing a more balanced perspective.


General Articles
The German research group Europe in the Middle East (EUME) supports radical scholarship against Israel
The German academy has served an important platform for delegitimizing Israel. 
Scholars from Arab countries create ostensible objective Middle East programs and seek funding from German foundations to support their work. 
Europe in the Middle East - The Middle East in Europe (EUME), featured bellow, is a case in point. Georges Khalil is the academic coordinator of the EUME which is described officially as "a joint research program of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. It builds upon the previous work of the Working Group Modernity and Islam". 
EUME seeks to "rethink key concepts and premises that link and divide Europe and the Middle East. The program draws on the international expertise of scholars in and outside of Germany and is embedded in university and extra-university research institutions in Berlin. It supports historical-critical philology, rigorous engagement with the literatures of the Middle East and their histories, the social history of cities and the study of Middle Eastern political and philosophical thought (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular) as central fields of research not only for area or cultural studies, but also for European intellectual history and other academic disciplines. The program explores modernity as a historical space and conceptual frame." 
Missing from the description is EUME’s effort to present Israel in a highly negative light. Perusing the research topics, the list of fellows and featured lectures makes this clear. For instance, the center boasts the names Gish Amit, Yuval Evri, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin and Yehouda Shenhav – all radical political activists who have used their scholarship to advance a political agenda. 
On the 4th of Jun 2014, the program "explored" the Arab-Jews concept in a conference The Possibilities of Arab-Jewish Thought“ that stated: the “Arab Jew” evoked a growing amount of attention in recent years, both in popular and in academic circles, in Israel and Palestine, and in the Arab World." As IAM previously reported, Yehouda Shenhav (TAU) is the author of the notion that the Mizrahim in Israel are actually Arab Jews whose real Arab identity was suppressed by the Zionists. Shenhav invented the “Arab Jews” to support his grand idea of a bi-national state whose core is expected to be made up by the Palestinians and the Mizrahim - based on their alleged cultural affinity, not to mention their common distaste for the Ashkenazi Jews, the descendants of the “European colonialists.” 
Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin appeared in February 2014 to give a talk: "Netanyahu's Challenge: Can the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish State?" Raz-Krakotzkin of Ben Gurion University's Jewish History Department, has been covered by IAM before, when he led efforts to revive Brit Shalom, a small group of intellectuals in Mandatory Palestine who proposed to create a binational Jewish Palestinian state. Raz-Krakotzkin has made a career of blaming Israel for all the failures to reach peace with the Palestinians. 
Needless to say, by inviting these individuals, EUME achieves two goals; it uses the legitimacy of the Israeli academy to defend itself from charges of anti-Semitism and can present a highly biased view of the Israeli reality. 
IAM has been analyzing the role of German foundations in supporting radical scholarship in Israel. Clearly, their involvement on German campuses needs to be explored as well.


Ben-Gurion University
[BGU] The false scholarship of Oren Yiftachel: Advancing political activism in South Africa
Oren Yiftachel will arrive today in Cape Town, South Africa to participate at the annual conference by The Association of African Planning Schools (AAPS) on African Urban Planning and the Global South: Pedagogy, Research, Practice. As is stated clearly, AAPS is "dedicated to the promotion of planning education that produces effective professionals who are equipped to deal with the key issues of 21st century urbanization in Africa, and who subscribe to principles of socio-spatial justice and environmental sustainability." 
To achieve this goal AAPS invited Oren Yiftachel of BGU, among others. 
Anyone who invites Yiftachel should be advised that his work has already been discredited before, when served as an expert witness in court. Sarah Dovrat, the presiding judge, took the unusual step of chastising Yiftachel for his sloppy preparation, evasion of truth and other underhanded tactics. 
"I felt uncomfortable with Prof. Yiftachel’s cross examination when it transpired that he relied on sources and quoted from them without bothering to read them, instead he quoted from quotes that appeared in a different source. The expert’s squirming on the witness stand on this matter, not only left an uncomfortable feeling, more accurately a sense of embarrassment for the expert, for the predicament in which he found himself. The expert should not only be objective, in offering his opinion, but he should also read the sources to which he refers, or he should immediately state, without prevaricating, that he relied on secondary sources instead of undergoing lengthy and embarrassing questioning, at the end of which he confesses that that is the case." 
For those who are not familiar with his latest work, Yiftachel's scholarship has been presented earlier this year in London, entitled 'Gray Space and the New Urban Regime: Between Liberalism and a Creeping Apartheid': 
"analyse the impact of structural economic, identity and governance tensions on urban regimes and societies in the twenty-first century. It draws attention to the pervasive emergence of 'gray spaces', that is, informal, temporary or illegal developments, transactions and populations. 'Gray-spacing' has become a central feature of urbanism in most parts of the world, as well as a strategy to manage the unwanted/irremovable, as well as the wanted/uncontrollable. Urban planning is central to this process, given its ability to approve, deny, legitimate and criminalise urban development. Gray spacing enables the mobility of marginalised groups into privileged regions, often under the guise of liberalising economies. At the same time, this puts in train a process of 'creeping urban apartheid' under which the region is governed through the principle of 'separation and inequality'. These tensions and trends will be illustrated by highlighting research findings on the planning of cities around Europe, Africa and Asia, with special focus on the 'ethnocratic' cities of Israel/Palestine, such as Beersheba, Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem." 
In other words, Yiftachel is expanding on the meaning of the gray urban areas created by "wild capitalism" and "socio-economic urbanization." 
But Yiftachel, the political activist, plans to combine his appearance at the geographical conference dealing with African issues, with his trade-mark efforts to cast Israel as an apartheid state. He will lecture at an event organized by "Jewish Voices for a Just Peace" - a South African branch of the American organization that advances a bi-national state, and supports BDS. His lecture is entitled The Political Geography of Israel/Palestine. 
As IAM has demonstrated, following the Durban conference in 2001 that kick-started the BDS movement, there was a need for "academic proof" of Israel's alleged apartheid regime. After realizing that the apartheid concept - with its South African connotation of race-based segregation and brutal endogamy laws is an eye-catcher - Yiftachel has made an academic career by purveying such "scholarship." 
Not incidentally, Yiftachel is part of a group of Israeli academics whose dubious scholarship entered the cannon of the BDS movement. In the murky waters of political scholarship at BGU university, a phenomenon denounced by a number of evaluating committees of the Council of Higher Education, Yiftachel stands out as a beacon of the radical activist faculty conceived by the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci. Indeed, Yiftachel once described himself as a neo-Gramscian. In his book Land and Identity Politics in Israel and Palestine, he notes that his "own approach draws from neo-Gramscian perspective". 
No doubt that Gramsci would have been pleased by the zeal with which Yiftachel adopted his principles. The Israeli taxpayers who pays the salaries of Yiftachel and his colleagues are not just left holding the bag but told that there is nothing they could do because the 1958 Law of Higher Education allows faculty an unprecedented degree of academic freedom. Academic freedom, of course, is highly important to the scholarly endeavor, but, unfortunately, it can be misused by unscrupulous academics, as the case of Yiftachel demonstrates.


Hebrew University
The Flat Earth Theory: HUJ Moshe Zimmermann’s Prognostication on Iran
Moshe Zimmermann, a professor of German history at the Hebrew University has reinvented himself again, this time as an expert on Iran. In an interview to a mainstream Swiss radio station he dismissed concerns about Iran’s alleged quest to acquire nuclear weapon capability. As Zimmermann sees it, the entire campaign against Iran is the doing of Israel that tries to divert attention from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: “The Israeli politic tries to somehow marginalize the problem of Israel-Palestine, and this is done by building up a bigger, new enemy. Iran or the nuclear power Iran.” 
Zimmermann also dismisses what he euphemistically calls, “Iran’s unfriendly behavior” toward Israel, stating that “its not so much about Iran’s policy, but about the purposes of the Israeli policy.” 
To reach these conclusions, Zimmermann has to ignore two inconvenient realities. First, the international community has long suspected Tehran of trying to produce a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said as much in its numerous Safeguard Reports and imposed an unprecedented sanction regimen on Iran. The sanctions that brought the economy to its knees brought the regime to the negotiation table with the P5+1 countries (permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) but the prospect of reaching an agreement by its November 24 deadline is not clear. According to reports, Iran still insists on retaining a large enrichment capacity and refused access to Parchin and sites suspected of holding experiments in producing a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on the Sajjil – 2, a medium range missile capable of striking Israel. Clearly, the international community does not think that Tehran’s nuclear program is an Israeli bogyman designed to divert attention from the conflict. 
Iran’s “unfriendly behavior,” is not limited to the former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as Zimmermann has alleged. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a new guide on how to eliminate Israel that, not incidentally, coincided with the anniversary of Kristallnacht. 
Like any other citizen, Zimmermann has the right to express his belief that Israel should not hold on to the territories. But there is something particularly odious about his tactics that ranged from equating Israeli behavior to that of Nazi Germany, to ignoring concerns about Iran’s alleged proliferation. 
Yet more is expected from a faculty in a respectable academic institution. The Swiss radio station, along with other German media outlets, give Zimmermann a platform because he is employed by the Hebrew University. The special legitimacy accorded to scholars who should be objective bearers of truth is tarnished by Zimmermann’s equivalent of flat earth theory.





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