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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

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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.
 

First IAM Round table in Tel Aviv and videos from the IAM roundtable, May 3, 2013 

The 2nd IAM event "BDS Campaign Against Israel" and Audio

A unique opportunity to purchase the IAM book on Academic Freedom
     
           
                

Click to view whole articles:
 Extracts

 

 

 

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
28.04.16
[BDS] Hearing by House Foreign Affairs Committee "Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State"
 
On April 19, 2016 two subcommittees of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a joint hearing - the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. Four experts were invited to testify on "Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State," David Makovsky from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise Institute; Jonathan Schanzer from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Tamara Cofman Wittes from the Brookings Institution. 
The witnesses elaborated on the threats faced by Israel with regard to Iran and overall terrorism. Two witnesses mentioned the BDS movement. Makovsky stated that the BDS movement is not pushing for a two states solution, "Omar Barghoutti, founder of BDS, has said he doesn't want Israel to exist at all... the main group pursuing BDS on American campuses, called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), pointedly refuses to accept the idea of two states... we must work to find an approach that creates wide-ranging coalitions on campus, involving Jewish and Muslim groups together. These divisive BDS resolutions rip campus communities apart. Instead, we must strive for practical coexistence. If the BDS movement is not blunted and there is no movement on the ground, along the lines I have suggested, I am concerned that this movement could metastasize beyond college campuses." 
Schanzer, who introduced himself as a former analyst of terrorism finance for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, focused on the corporate and fiscal structures of the BDS's major actors in the U.S. He introduced a research conducted by Foundation for Defense of Democracies, on former employees of organizations targeted by the U.S. government for terrorism finance violations. Schnazer revealed that three organizations, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development; the Islamic Association for Palestine; and KindHearts for Charitable Development, were implicated in financing Hamas between 2001 and 2011: "their former leadership appears to have pivoted to leadership positions within the American BDS campaign." While some members of the organizations were jailed, deported, or faced trials, many of the high and mid level operatives were left untouched and formed a new Chicago-based organization, American Muslims for Palestine, which is a leader of the BDS campaign in the U.S. 
The fact that former employees of organizations that provided support to Hamas now play important roles in a charity based in the U.S., exposes the real agenda of key figures of the Palestinian BDS campaign and makes it an American problem. 
IAM shall report on future congressional efforts to fight BDS.

 

 

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
25.04.16
Legal Battle Against BDS
 
Two new legal initiatives for fighting BDS were announced lately. One is by a group of members of the American Studies Association (ASA), who filed a law-suit against the ASA for illegally boycotting Israel. According to the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law which advised the professors, the “ASA’s stated mission has nothing to do with boycotting a foreign nation" and that ASA adopting BDS "violates the law that governs nonprofit corporations.” 
The move could potentially deter other associations, such as the latest pro-BDS round by members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) which began its online polling of thousands members. The AAA online vote on the boycott of Israel is taking place now and will continue through May 31. 
The second is a warning letter of intent to file a law-suit by the Israeli Shurat Hadin against the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation (RBF). Shurat Hadin warns that RBF, which supports groups that advocate boycotting Israel and could cause the fund to be "considered complicit and as a participant in these groups' illegal activities." According to Shurat Hadin, the RBF contributes hundred of thousands of dollars to groups supporting BDS. Although RBF declares it does not support BDS, recipients of their funds clearly do. 
The result of the legal initiatives could potentially affect other pro- BDS groups. If successful, it would mean a significant step forward for those fighting BDS.

 

 

Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
 
21.04.16
Oren Ben-Dor Granted Permission to Judicially Review Cancellation of Southampton Anti-Israel Conference
 
Last week, Dr. Oren Ben-Dor, an ex-Israeli professor who teaches law at the University of Southampton, U.K. was given a green light by the court to proceed with law-suit against the University of Southampton. As IAM reported, Ben-Dor, a radical leftist, tried to organize twice a conference on whether Israel has a right to exist - a topic that created a substantial backlash. Citing security concerns, the authorities cancelled the conferences. No date of court hearing is set yet. 
It is not clear what type of legal arguments would be used in court, but Ben- Dor has a long history of a writing that verge on anti-Semitism. 
To examine what mounts to anti-Semitic speech, there are three separate bodies that took this issue to test. The 2005 EU Working Definition of Anti-Semitism; the 2010 Fact Sheet of the State Department; and the 2016 University of California Principles Against Intolerance. 
The EU Working Definition of Anti-Semitism states that "Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include: Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor." The Working Definition also declares that anti-Semitism is "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis." 
According to the Fact Sheet of the State Department, anti-Semitism is, "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis"; "Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions"; "Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation"; "Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations"; "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist." 
According to the University of California Principles Against Intolerance, "In particular, opposition to Zionism often is expressed in ways that are not simply statements of disagreement over politics and policy, but also assertions of prejudice and intolerance toward Jewish people and culture...Anti-Semitism, anti-semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California." 
When assessing Ben-Dor's writing with the indices mentioned above, he is an anti-Semite on three counts.
First, he denies Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Ben-Dor has written in 2007 "Why Israel Has No Right to Exist as a Jewish State," where he stated that "The non-recognition of the Jewish state is an egalitarian imperative that looks both at the past and to the future. It is the uncritical recognition of the right of Israel to exist at a Jewish state which is the core hindrance for this egalitarian premise to shape the ethical challenge that Palestine poses. A recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state means the silencing that would breed more and more violence and bloodshed." He then ends his article by a typical neo-Marxist critical utopian goal of a bi-national Jewish Palestinian state, stating "Only a single egalitarian and non sectrarian state over all the whole of historic Palestine will achieve justice and peace." 
Second, his criticism targets Israel alone. 
Third, Ben-Dor wrote in an article in 2008 that "the Holocaust’s significance lies beyond the actions by the Nazis who actually perpetrated the violence and who justified these actions by turning this significance into a militarist object of an idea. The same claim can be made in relation Zionists and their Jewish opponents." By suggesting that Israel can do to its opponents what Nazi Germany did to Jews, Ben-Dor fits to the description of anti-Semitism. Also, Ben-Dor appeared in the conference "One State for Palestine / Israel: A Country for All Its Citizens," which was shown on the TV program Arabic Hour on April 18, 2009 (Ben-Dor speaks at 19:45 mins into program) where he stated "It is the denial that there is something so Jewish in that which has provoked the holocaust and the dealing with which has been so successfully postponed by the holocaust." Ben-Dor cites Jean-Francois Lyotard, the French political activist-turned-philosopher, in stating that Lyotard "called the jews with a small j to distinguish it from actual Jews, as a phenomenon that belongs to human being and thinking. In the same way that terrorism is a phenomena that may be distinguished from actual terrorists. We must not be external and representational, of rights and duties, in thoughts and action. We must connect to what is, but not the is of unjust acts. but the is the deepest primordial self concealing is, the how of the people that perpetrate these acts, who justify rationalize them as no choice as we saw in the Lebanon destruction and the Gaza massacre." Ben-Dor invokes Lyotard who universalized the meaning of Auschwitz, for the need to remember all other victims ranging from political prisoners in Stalin’s labour camps to causalities of Western neo-colonial control under the guise of development, including the Palestinians. 
Ben-Dor should be aware that being a Jew does not automatically grant immunity from being labeled an anti-Semite. One can be both Jewish anti-Semite and Ben-Dor fits this description on many counts. Hopefully, the court would take this into consideration.

 

Tel Aviv University
 
18.04.16
TAU Ariel Handel Replacing Adi Ophir at the Minerva Humanities Center Without Any Notice
 
In November 2015 the Minerva Humanities Center at TAU revealed that Ariel Handel replaced Adi Ophir as the new director of the Lexicon for Political Theory, Ophir supervised Handel's Ph.D along with Tovi Fenster. Replacing Ariella Azoulay in the Photo-lexic project is her Ph.D student Ruthie Ginsburg. 
Handel's CV is quite revealing, he has been in a post-doc positions since 2010, earning grants from Rosa Luxemburg Foundation among others. In 2013 he was a visiting scholar at the department of Geography at the University of Cambridge working with Prof. Ash Amin, member of the board of the Durham Palestine Educational Trust, a British charity "aims to contribute to the social and economic development of the Palestinian Authority . The DPET offers master degree scholarships at Durham University for Palestinian graduates." Handel is also a political activist. For instance, in 2002 he signed the petition Courage to refuse, 
For the summer of 2016, Handel has applied to the Antipode Foundation for their "Scholar-Activist Project Awards" which provides scholarship in the field of "radical geography". Antipode's "Awards are intended to support collaborations... that further radical analyses of geographical issues." Handel's listed his research as "Critical Studies in Israel/Palestine." 
Particularly troublesome is the circumstances of Handel's appointment, which contravened accepted procedures of publishing in the slot and seeking competitive candidates. To appoint Ophir's P.hD student to replace him is quite unethical. Tel Aviv University should be more vigilant about the appointment protocols in Minerva. Handel is a classic neo-Marxist, critical activist, a theory which is well overrepresented in the academy. As a public institution, Tel Aviv University has a responsibility to the public who is funding it. IAM has repeatedly emphasized that the hiring of political activists masquerading as academics is detrimental to the standing of social sciences in Israel that have a particularly poor scores in the key comparative higher education indices.

 

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
14.04.16
Scotland as a Battleground of BDS
 
The Palestinian BDS movement has applied various tactics on campus to stifle free speech. The latest case took place at an Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) debate on a vote to boycott Israel. Imogen Wilson, the vice president for academic affairs at Edinburgh's student association, who opposed the motion, was threatened with removal from the student council session for breaking "safe space" rules by raising her hand. 
The EUSA motion 6(c) on safe space states that "Refraining from hand gestures which denote disagreement or in any other way indicating disagreement with a point or points being made. Disagreements should only be evident through the normal course of debate." 
After voting for and against her removal she was allowed to stay. 
Also troubling, the EUSA motion to support BDS was passed by 249-153 votes. The motion requires "to target products, companies and institutions that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights", to "resist any action that gives political or economic support to violations of international law by the State of Israel and complicit companies" and to "mandate sabbatical officers to work with the Black and Minority Ethnic liberation group, as well as Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine to lobby and campaign for the university to also commit to BDS". In addition, the motion calls also for the academic boycott of Israel. 
BDS initiatives are strong in Great Britain. In November 3, 2015 the media reported that hundreds of UK academics have signed a public letter requesting to boycott Israeli universities. The letter was signed by 343 academics from 72 universities in the U.K. including eight at the University of Edinburgh. The letter was published as a full page advertisement in The Guardian. 
A number of boycott resolutions were passed in Scotland in the last decade. For example, on the 18th of May 2015 Scottish media reported that the University of Strathclyde Student Association joined its counterparts from Edinburgh University and Glasgow Caledonian University student associations in passing a policy to support BDS. 
To counter the latest Edinburgh University boycott resolution, Dr. Denis MacEoin, an alumni, published an Open Letter to the Edinburgh University Students' Association, stating "No one holds meetings to call for reform in Islamic states. Instead, people like yourselves pass resolutions condemning the only country that defends those rights for all its citizens and visitors." But this is not his first time, already in September 2011 MacEoin published a letter to the Edinburgh University Student Association following their "vote to boycott Israel because of its 'apartheid'." 
Courageous as he is, more students, alumni and academics should protest that Israel alone is being targeted.

 

General Articles
 
11.04.16
American Social Scientists: Professors Moved Left Since 1990s
 
Last year, a group of American social scientists concerned with the lack of politically diverse views in the social sciences and humanities, set out to address the issue. They created the blog Heterodox Academy to advocate a more intellectually diverse approach. 
In his article, Samuel Abrams, a political scientist from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y, reveals that since the 1990s a large percentage of professors have moved left. Based on comparable surveys by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA which has collected long term data, he prepared statistics. The graph in the following article illustrates ideological positions of faculty in American colleges and universities between the years 1989 to 2014. 
Abrams concluded that "between 1995 and 2010, members of the academy went from leaning left to being almost entirely on the left. Moderates declined by nearly a quarter and conservatives decreased by nearly a third." 
Since the Israeli liberal arts have been heavily impacted by the American academy, this article suggests that a similar trend could be found in the Israeli academy.

 

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
07.04.16
Canada as a Battleground of BDS
 
On the 22nd of February the Canadian Parliament has passed a motion to condemn “any and all attempts” to promote the BDS movement against Israel both at home and abroad. Since this motion doesn't really have teeth, as a counter effort, a group of activists opened an online petition addressing the Canadian government and provoking "GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY, CONDEMN ME". 
Soon after, Canadian media reported that 45 members of staff in McGill university have signed a declaration endorsing BDS. This is a response to the BDS motion that was defeated in February. 
Another tactic of BDS supporters on campus include silencing pro-Israel voices. For example the student association at University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) has denied access to campus to the group Hasbara Fellowships Canada. Hasbara Fellowships fights anti-Israel trends on university campuses throughout Canada and provides pro-Israel students with the education, training, tools and support to defend and promote Israel on their campuses. The Hasbara Fellowship requested and was denied the opportunity to participate in a campus social justice week event. The group was told it was rejected because the student association had passed a BDS motion and because of the group’s “ties to the state of Israel.” 
However, the UOIT administrators issued a statement that the university opposes BDS and that the student association is a separate and independent organization.
As the Canadian BDS battlefield on campus continues, IAM will report on the developments.

 

General Articles
 
04.04.16
BDS is Just a Symptom of a Wider Malaise on Campus
 
IAM has reported on the “coalition of the victims” that help the BDS movement to spread. The following article on Stanford University is a reflection on a trend gone mad. 
The president of Stanford University, one of the elite schools in the U.S, a white man, is about to retire. A coalition of students called Who is Teaching Us (WTU) is demanding that his replacement be a “nonwhite transgendered person.” The same group also demands for the university to hire “at least 10 tenure-track ethnic studies professors,” a requirement that all faculty go through “comprehensive identity and cultural humility training,” racial quotas in the undergraduate and graduate student bodies, and an expansion in the humanities major to “require double the current number of required classes on works by people of color.” 
WTU was upset because “Professor Stephen Hong Sohn, a queer Asian American scholar with a vital mentorship role in the community,” was denied tenure in the Stanford English Department. 
These demands may seem outrageous or bizarre to those who view the university as a locus of academic excellence based on merit regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. Indeed, Peter Woods, president of the National Association of Scholars responded: “I would think any educationally and intellectually serious university would choose its next president on the basis of outstanding scholarship and ability to lead a very largely complex and prestigious university in our time,” He added: “The sorts of demands being put on the search for a candidate of a particular ethnicity, gender preference and sexual identity are manifestly silly and destructive.” 
But it’s the universities themselves that started this trend in the sixties. Faced with protest from minorities and women, they established a large number of ethnic studies, gender studies, and queer studies. They were often considered academic backwaters where promotions were based on quotas attuned to the degree of “victimhood.” Such “bubbles” were reinforced by an ever-growing number of academic journals that catered to these ethnic, gender, and queer sectors. 
Until recently, college administrators patted themselves on the back for solving a vexing problem while allowing them to pursue academic excellence based on merit, most notably hard science and engineering. However, the academic offshoot of Black Lives Matter has upset the status quo. 
Stanford University, reflecting its elite science status, has a long history of picking scientists to serve at the top administrative positions. Indeed, the present elect is Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a distinguished neuroscientist. 
To fulfill the WTU mandate, the university would have to look for a nonwhite transgendered person. The question is how many transgendered persons among top scientists are available? As long as the climate of appeasement toward the "coalition of the victims" prevails on campus, fighting BDS would be hard.
 

 

General Articles
 
31.03.16
University of California Adopts Principles Against Intolerance
 
In an unprecedented move, the Regents of the University of California have adopted the Principles Against Intolerance. The Principles were a response to the 2014-15 academic year which brought an increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus - such as vandalism of Jewish property, anti-Semitic slurs and exclusion and stereotyping of Jews. Although the document points out to discrimination of all kind, the Regents wished to express specifically that "anti-Semitism, anti-semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California". 
The Principles Against Intolerance include the following: Acts of hatred and other intolerant conduct, as well as acts of discrimination that demean our differences, are antithetical to the values of the University and serve to undermine its purpose; University policy prohibits discrimination based on "race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, service in the uniformed services" as well as prohibiting "discrimination arising from historical biases, stereotypes and prejudices jeopardizes the research, teaching and service mission of the University"; and that "Anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination have no place in the University" ; "Harassment, threats, assaults, vandalism, and destruction of property, as defined by University policy, will not be tolerated within the University community. Where investigation establishes that such unlawful conduct was targeted at an individual or individuals based on discrimination prohibited by University policy, University administrators should consider disciplinary actions." 
The Principles have hit the headlines everywhere including the New York Times (below). 
The Principles against Intolerance is the first document specifically tailored to an academic environment. Previous efforts to deal with the issue of neo-anti-Semitism such as the EU Working Definition of Anti-Semitism and its corollary, the U.S Government Fact Sheet adopted by the State Department were more broadly conceived. 
As of this writing it is not clear whether the Principles Against Intolerance would be adopted by other universities, or, conversely, challenged in court for violating the First Amendment. It is not yet known what is the reaction of the American Association of University Professors, the arbiter of all things pertaining to academic freedom. IAM would provide updates on the case.

  

General Articles
 
28.03.16
Israeli Universities Declining in Another Global University Ranking Index
 
For a few years now, Israeli universities have been declining in global ranking. In the latest such ranking offered by the respectable Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) which ranks universities by subjects, last year Israeli universities were ranked 11 times in the top 100 per subject. This year Israeli universities have made it only seven times to the top 100 slots. 
The QS World University Ranking by Subject 2016 is covering 42 different disciplines this year. These rankings highlight the world's top-performing universities in each academic area. Published annually since 2011, the rankings are based on academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact. The report declares that "Nations like Austria, South Africa, Finland, Brazil, China and Sweden can be found in the top 10 of our tables." 
HUJ was ranked three times in the 51-100 category, for agriculture and forestry; history; and anthropology. The Technion was ranked twice in the top 100 for computer science and information systems; and for mathematics. TAU was ranked in the top 100 for archeology. Weizmann Institute was placed in the top 100 for biological sciences. 
The QS ranking service is published in collaboration with Elsevier, the world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. QS is not the only one of the indices that shows the progressive decline of Israeli universities. As IAM reported, other global indices have indicated this worrisome trend as well. 
The Israeli academia has resolutely refused to deal with the issue of decline. The Council of Higher Education has not tackled the issue, the committee of universities heads (VERA) has not dealt with the issue either and many faculty actually reject the idea that their institutions should be subjected to any ranking at all. In this opinion, holding academics accountable for standards interfere with the "hallowed" principle of academic freedom. 
We live in a globalized and competitive economic system where academic excellence, measured by exacting statistical standards, is the rule. The sooner this reality is acknowledged, the better.

 

 

University of Haifa
 
24.03.16
Haifa U Professor As'ad Ghanem to Test Freedom of Speech
 
As'ad Ghanem, a professor of Political Science at the University of Haifa appeared on the TV program "Meet the Press" with host Rina Matsliach on Channel Two. Ghanem stated that "Hezbollah, concerning Israel, is a national liberation movement which fought Israel's occupation in Lebanon in 1982. In the Israeli context in my opinion it is not a terrorist organization." 
Last Wednesday, a complaint was filed with the police, accusing him of "sympathy, support and solidarity with the Hezbollah terrorist organization" under the Penal Code 1977. 
The Ghanem case is important in the unfolding debate on academic freedom in Israel. The police could close the file because of "no public interest" in the issue or take steps against Ghanem. 
IAM will follow and report on the case as it unfolds.

 

General Articles
 
21.03.16
The Political Bias of Two Academic Forums
 
IAM has written before about the bias of the social science forum. 
The IAM post on Anat Matar's recent endorsement of BDS created a firestorm among Israeli academics. Interestingly, some did not denounce Matar's action but blasted IAM for writing about it. 
Some reactions to the post were vicious. Micah Leshem of Haifa University wrote, "Little snitch - aren't we…." Isaac (Yanni) Nevo of BGU wrote: "The IAM treated us to a McCarthy-like assault yesterday against Anat Matar". Amiram Goldblum of HUJ wrote: "I Naively thought that academics advertise here their thoughts and discuss various issues. "Academia Monitor" has no place in an academic setting and I call the moderator of this forum to discard every post that comes from "Academia Monitor". Snait Gissis of TAU wrote: "[These posts] are a paid service made for organizations whose primary purpose is to tarnish academics political approaches which do not fit the agenda of the extreme right. It is a sort of "Im Tirtzu" with fancy, foreign language, and similar purposes." 
Academics members of the forums of Social Science, Politics, Humanities and Academia enjoy the benefit of receiving on a daily basis the latest information on the many events, grants, academic opportunities, and publications that are available. Academics of all levels take advantages of such valuable information. Forum moderators are doing an important work, they do so free of charge as volunteers. 
But there is a problem. If the Humanities forum is strictly academic, both the Social science and Academia are a political tool in the hands of the moderators. Seldom they post items that they do not endorse and seem to block posts seen by them as "right-wing". 
For example, since the beginning of 2016 IAM sent the following posts which were rejected by the moderators: "Settler Colonialism in Palestine"; "Van Leer Jerusalem Institute is Not an Academic Institution"; "Fighting Brain Drain and Competing Global Education Rankings"; "BDS, Black Lives Matter, Cecil Rhodes and Pastor Niemoller: Reflections on the Colonial Paradigm"; "Two Academic Boycott Initiatives: Brazil and India"; "Ami Ayalon lecture interrupted at King's College London". 
The following posts were accepted and distributed: "BGU Neve Gordon at the Brown University Center Headed by Beshara Doumani, a Saudi Born Palestinian"; "BGU Haim Yacobi at a SOAS Palestine Society Conference: Anti-Israel Fest Sponsored by Qatar"; "Internal Problems of the Council of Higher Education (CHE)"; "TAU Anat Matar to speak at 'Israeli Apartheid Week' in Helsinki, March 11, 2016." 
It is not clear why some were accepted and others were not, but the pattern is clear: the moderators of the two forums are not happy with IAM. Neither are some of the academics who responded to the IAM Matar post. For example, Guy Davidov of the HUJ, one of the "crusaders for free speech", asked the moderator to shun IAMs posts in the future. Davidov's position is characteristic, free speech should be only granted to specific academics, all the rest should be stifled. Contrary to what have been asserted IAM is not politically tainted. 
While the moderator of the smaller forum, Politics, felt the IAM posts deserve larger distribution, because of the campaign of vilification, IAM has failed to get attention of the larger forums on the deterioration of the standing of the Israeli academy as measured by the most respected academic global rankings. The moderators should know that the failures of the Israeli academy is not a right-wing or left-wing issue, but rather one that all academics should be aware of. The academic forums are an ideal vehicle for disseminating this knowledge and should be part of the services they provide. 
The service provided to the academic community is way too important to be left to the mercy of political activists.

 

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
17.03.16
BGU Uri Ram Calls for a Boycott of Ariel University
 
On March 14, Uri Ram, a professor of Sociology at Ben Gurion University and the head of the Israel Sociological Society (ISS) called for a boycott of Ariel University. The ISS stated that "the institute known as Ariel University is not located in the borders of the state of Israel, and so it is not a part of the sociological society's activities, which associates only with Israeli sociologists and institutes." The ISS is expected to vote on the proposal in April. 
Ariel University responded: "Ariel University is surprised and disappointed by the fact that people whose professional emblem is the flag of pluralism are working under models of semi-fascistic behavior, which cannot dwell alongside opinions different from their own. Ariel University has people of different worldviews, Jewish and Arab, religious and secular, left and right, from all of Israel's cities and towns." 
If passed, the ISS would pose a very serious challenge to the Education Minister Naftali Bennett. So far Bennett limited himself to a general response: "A boycott isn't education, it's the opposite of education," he said. "A boycott is not pluralism, it's the opposite of pluralism, and will be handled accordingly. It is absurd, because the fighters for academic freedom are taking the right to discriminate between institutions into their hands. The Israeli taxpayers fund higher education and we have no intention of allowing boycotts." 
Bennett did not explain how he would fight the boycott resolution if passed and did not mention the legal remedy known as the Boycott Law passed by the Knesset in 2011. 
The Education Minister is already in hot water for firing Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron as deputy chair of the Council of Higher Education. The Supreme Course is now reviewing the case and there is no assurance that the ruling would go his way. Taking on Uri Ram and the ISS may prove to be even more arduous.

 

 

General Articles
 
14.03.16
Black anti-Semitism on American Campus: From Leonard Jeffries to Joy Karega
 
The recent revelations about the anti-Semitic posts of Joy Karega, an assistant professor at Oberlin College, created a public storm, even landing the story on the front page of New York Times. But black anti-Semitism among American academics has a long history. 
The phenomenon actually dates to the 1980s, when Louis Farrakhan published The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews that accused Jews of playing a major role in the slave trade. Farrakhan, a notorious anti-Semite, had blamed Jews for all sorts of African-American ills for decades. 
In the early 1990, this black brand of anti-Semitism travelled to campus. In 1991, professor Leondrad Jeffries of City University College repeated Farrakhan’s theory in a speech. On different occasions Jeffries contended that “rich Jews helped financed the slave trade.” He charged that Jews have greatly exaggerated the horrors of the Holocaust, and he once described Jewish academicians who disagreed with his views as “slick and devilish and dirty and dastardly.”
Jeffries already had a reputation for questionable theories. For instance, Jeffries developed the so-called melanin theory. Accordingly, melanin levels affect the psyche of people. High levels of melanin allows blacks, the “sun people” to develop a compassionate and peaceful demeanor, “negotiate the vibrations of the universe and to deal with the ultraviolet rays of the sun". Whites are “ice people,” on the other hand, are violent and cruel. 
In 1993, Tony Martin of Wellesley College included The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews in the reading list for his classes, leading to charges of anti-Semitism against him. 
More recently, Cornel West, the black philosopher from Princeton University wrote: 
“Black anti-semitism is a form of underdog resentment and envy, directed at another underdog who has made it in American society. The remarkable upward mobility of American Jews--rooted chiefly in a history and culture that places a premium on higher education and self-organization--easily lends itself to myths of Jewish unity and homogeneity that have gained currency among other groups, especially among relatively unorganized groups like black Americans. The high visibility of Jews in the upper reaches of the academy, journalism, the entertainment industry, and the professions--though less so percentage-wise in corporate America and national political office--is viewed less as a result of hard work and success fairly won and more as a matter of favoritism and nepotism among Jews.” 
As discussed in a previous IAM post, Joy Karega had posted blatantly anti-Semitic notes on social media. She posted an image showing Jacob Rothschild, of the well-known Jewish banking family, stating, “We own your news, the media, your oil, and your government.” Karega also alleged that Israel was responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. In another post she wrote that Netanyahu visited Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre “just in case the message wasn’t received via Mossad and the ‘attacks’ they orchestrated on Paris.” Karega shared a video from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan suggesting that Zionists and Israeli Jews were behind 9/11 and wrote that he was “truth-telling.” She also stated that “ISIS Is … a CIA and Mossad Operation”. 
There is little appetite in the academy to tackle black anti-Semitism. As the Inside Higher Education article below states, it is easy to hide behind the “academic freedom” defense. Marvin Krislov, the president of Oberlin College, while protesting that personally, as a Jew, he was offended, he was bound by considerations of academic freedom. 
Even the American Association of University Professors found itself spilling hair on the issue. Hans Joerg Tiede, stated the distinction is one of disciplinary expertise and professional competence. “If, for example, a physics professor declared on Twitter that the Sept. 11 attacks were a hoax, AAUP would advocate for the professor’s right to free speech in extramural utterances. But if the physics professor declared that the world is flat, denying all scientific evidence to the contrary, that could call into question his or her professional fitness.” 
He did not opine on whether liberal arts students in Oberlin College and elsewhere deserve to be taught by a professor who espouses crack pot theories extra-cathedra. Judging by past performance, the AAUP is trying hard to avoid this type of judgment. 
But there are other factors involved in the reluctance to condiment Karega. Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus professor of law at Harvard University, argued that if Karega “had expressed comparably bigoted views about blacks, Muslims or gays,” Oberlin would have condemned her views. 
The case of James Tracey, a tenured associate professor at Florida Atlantic University, demonstrates the double standards well. Tracey, who is white and right wing, postulated that the massacre of school children in Newtown, Connecticut, by a deranged gunman was a provocation by the Obama administration to ban guns in the United States. He was fired soon after. 
The academy needs to confront these double standards. Until such time, black anti-Semitism, its pointed fruit would not vanish.

 

Tel Aviv University
 
10.03.16
TAU Anat Matar to speak at "Israeli Apartheid Week" in Helsinki, March 11, 2016
 
Dr. Anat Matar is a member of faculty at Tel Aviv University philosophy department. IAM has written extensively on her extensive political activism, which apparently prevented her from publishing enough to be promoted above the position of senior lecturer. 
Matar is one of the first Israelis to endorse BDS against Israel and a long proponent of army refusal. She was quoted in a 2011 book as stating, “but the army gets away with murder in this country. And when a kid puts his head on the guillotine, sometimes people wake up and smell their own shit." 
In spite of a law against BDS she has been engaged in recent BDS activities. In a conference on BDS that took place in Nazareth in February, Matar spoke about the role of the academia. "She said that Israeli academia was integral to the oppression of Palestinians, with strong ties between the universities and Israel’s various security industries... she said sympathetic academics should refuse to organise international conferences in Israel." Omar Barghouti the founder of the BDS movement, has "highlighted the successes of the BDS campaign since it was launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005, and the importance of keeping the movement open to all, including Israeli Jews." 
Matar is quite proud of her role as an anti-Israel activist, as can be seen by a note she wrote for a journalist: "As a Jewish Israeli opposed to the state’s policies of occupation and discrimination, I know what it’s like to be smeared with claims I am a ‘traitor’ or ’self-hating Jew’." 
As part of the Israeli Apartheid Week, Matar is scheduled to appear on the 11th of March 2016 in an event in Helsinki, Finland, "The world behind bars: the occupation of the laws and political prisoners," where she will be speaking in an "expert discussion". The organizers explained that the debate "Included an Israeli philosopher and activist Anat Matar." The organizers also stated that "Turkey and Israel/Palestinian political turmoil are in the headlines, and the Western Sahara occupation continues in silence. The dead receive attention in the media, but rarely remembered the political prisoners who are languishing in jails for years. Israel, Morocco and Turkey, all of the EU's allies, using the judiciary to political power, as a tool." 
In a 2012 article in Kivunim Hadashim, Professor Ziva Shamir, the former head of the School of History at TAU, revealed that some faculty have turned their university offices into extensions of their political party bureaus. "An advice to those faculty, a small but vocal minority that call for a boycott of Israeli academia - please move abroad, so you would not have to teach in the institutions of higher education which you so despise. The law allows firing workers who advocates boycotting their own factory, on the grounds that he or she causes damage to the factory. Academics who call for boycott cause tremendous damage not just in financial terms but also in terms of legitimacy." 
Evidently, Matar has not taken this advise to heart. While being a TAU employee she is still travelling and speaking for BDS when it is illegal.

 

 

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
07.03.16
The Call by 40 Professors in Columbia University to Divest from Israel
 
The Columbia University Center for Palestine Studies is implacably hostile to Israel. Founded in 2010 as part of its Middle East Institute, it has a long list of events (below) with a pronounced anti-Israel focus. Just to name a few examples, in November 2015, the center has held a conference on "The Zionist left: Settler colonial practices and the representation of the Palestinian Nakba in Northern Palestine," where Areej Sabbagh-Khoury argued that "the 1948 Nakba was neither the beginning nor the end of a process of settler-colonial expropriation." 
Also in November 2015, Photographer Tanya Habjouqa presented "Occupied Pleasures" "which looks at the pursuit of happiness in the midst of occupation and blockade in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem." Early in November 2015 Ghada Karmi discussed with Philip Weiss the "Balfour and Palestine: A Legacy of Expulsion," where they stated that the "Balfour Declaration, a document which resulted in the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, with a total and deliberate disregard for the rights and interests of the Arabs who then numbered 92 percent of the population." 
A couple of months earlier, Professor Audra Simpson of the Department of Anthropology at Columbia, gave a talk on Yasser Arafat: "In a 2004 interview Yasser Arafat, in a state of near confinement and exhaustion, reflected upon his incapacity to move without the immediate threat of assassination, about the Palestinian right of return, about American elections, and his achievements. Among these achievements was the fact that "the Palestine case was the biggest problem in the world" and that Israel had "failed to wipe us out"." 
Anti-American expressions can also be found in Columbia University. In November 2015, Nadia Abu el-Haj, professor of Anthropology, has held a seminar "The Ethics of Trauma: Moral Injury, Combat, and U.S. Empire", where she spoke about U.S. wars in the past and present, "I then turn to the post-9/11 wars and examine the ways in which the trauma of (U.S.) soldiers has come to be understood and that "we" as "American civilians" are called upon to recognize and bear responsibility for the psychological suffering of those sent off to war in "our name"." 
Going back to Israel bashing, it would have not been seen as complete without some support of Israeli academics. For example, in September 2015 Eyal Weizman was invited to speak on "Hannibal in Rafah: A Forensic Reconstruction Of One Day In The 2014 Gaza War," the first in a lecture series on 'Islamic' Art: Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures. Also advertised by the Palestine Center, in February 2015, Nurit Peled-Elhanan has held a conversation on "Building Mental Walls: Israeli Textbooks as a Means of Legitimation," where she stated: "Each year, Israel's young men and women are drafted into compulsory military service and are required to carry out Israel's policies in the Palestinian occupied territories. Most Israeli boys and girls never question this durty because they are indoctrinated from a very young age to see it as their natural and necessary national service to protect their homeland against Palestinian "invaders." Their schoolbooks use discursive, linguistic and visual startegies to dehumanize Palestinian citizens and non-citizens alike by presenting them as a "developmental burden," a "frightful demographic problem" and as a contstant "security threat"." 
It is not surprising that Columbia University's group of "Students, alumni, faculty, and staff", in the joined efforts of "Columbia University Apartheid Divest, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine as well as with Jewish Voice for Peace," have circulated a petition that was endorsed by 40 Columbia professors stating that "we take issue with our financial involvements in institutions associated with the State of Israel's military occupation of Palestinian lands, continued violations of Palestinian human rights, systematic destruction of life and property, inhumane segregation and systemic forms of discrimination." 
It is worth noting that the petitioners confirm their hostility toward Israel is not new "In 2002, faculty members across various departments called for an end to our investment in all firms that supplied Israel's military with arms and military hardware. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff agreed to attach their name to a call to remove the State of Israel's social license in its use of asymmetrical and excessive violence against Palestinian civilians." 
The Columbia Center for Palestine Studies is not unique in its intense focus on Israel. As a matter of fact, similar institutes, centers and programs on Western campus have adopted the same philosophy. Meanwhile, any study of domestic problems in the Palestinian society, not to mention the brutal dictatorship established by Hamas in Gaza has gone unanalyzed. 
Turning the Palestine centers into a tool of anti-Israel propaganda shortchanges the needs of the Palestinian society.

 

 

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
 03.03.16
The Salaita Copycat from Oberlin College
 
The Steven Salaita case, on which IAM reported in length is reoccurring, this time at Oberlin College. 
To recall, Salaita, then an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, was on the verge of being hired by the department of American Indian Studies of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 
Over a long period he produced a series of tweets and Facebook posts including the following: 
Steven Salaita @stevesalaita · 2 Aug 2014 
"Hamas" is the biggest red herring in American political discourse since Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction." #Gaza #GazaUnderAttack 
When will the attack on #Gaza end? What is left for #Israel to prove? Who is left for Israel to kill? This is the logic of genocide. 
Members of the Knesset routinely call for the elimination of Palestinians, so #Israel can spare us the bullshit about restraint in #Gaza. 
#Israel is rounding up people and murdering them at point-blank range. The word "genocide" is more germane the more news we hear. #Gaza 
Following Salaita's harsh anti-Israel comments on social media, the university rescinded its offer. Salaita sued the university in court. The parties reached settlement out of court whereby the university agreed to pay Salaita as compensation $600,000 plus $275,000 to cover his legal costs. Salaita was also invited to teach at the prestigious American University in Beirut. The Salaita saga was over by November 2015. 
The new "Salaita case" comes curtesy of Joy Karega, an assistant professor at Oberlin College. Shortly after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, she shared a graphic of an ISIS terrorist pulling off a mask of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The terrorist had a tattoo with a Star of David sign. Karega wrote: “This ain’t even hard. They unleashed Mossad on France and it’s clear why.” She added that Netanyahu went to the free-speech rally that took place in Paris “uninvited and of course he went even when he was asked by Pres. Hollande (France) not to come. Netanyahu wanted to bend Hollande and French governmental officials over one more time in public just in case the message wasn’t received via Massod [sic] and the ‘attacks’ they orchestrated in Paris.” In November Karega wrote that ISIS was not really Islamic, but “a CIA and Mossad operation, and there’s too much information out here for the general public not to know this.” 
In her later posts Karega went further; she accused the Rothschild family and Israel of downing the Malaysian plane that went down over the Ukraine. She also posted a graphic of Jacob Rothschild, a member of the prominent Jewish banking family, with a caption reading: “We own your news. The media. Your oil. And your government.” 
Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov wrote that "Oberlin College respects the rights of its faculty, students, staff and alumni to express their personal views. Acknowledgement of this right does not signal institutional support for, or endorsement of, any specific position. The statements posted on social media by Dr. Joy Karega, assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, are hers alone and do not represent the views of Oberlin College". 
The response of Oberlin College seems weak, raising the question if the Salaita case has influenced its decision. At the time, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) stood by Salaita, stating that the university infringed on his rights of free expression. 
It would be interesting to know if the AAUP can comment on whether Karega has the right to post classic anti-Semitic tropes on her Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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