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Visitors: 102554168 on Sept. 29, 2014

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.

(Extract)

27.11.14

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.


24.11.14

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.


20.11.14

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.


17.11.14

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.


13.11.14

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.


10.11.14

Tel Aviv University
 
[TAU, German History] Moshe Zuckermann's new book "Israel's fate: How Zionism operates its downfall" in German
 
Moshe Zuckermann, a professor of German history at Tel Aviv University, has spent a good part of his time writing about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a subject that is inline with his political agenda rather than his academic vocation. His main "market" is the Marxist circles in Germany, where he often lectures and writes articles and op-eds about the alleged sins of Zionism and its "evil" progeny, the State of Israel. 
In his new book in German Israel's fate: How Zionism operates its downfall, a rehashing of his previous writings, Zuckermann predicts again (and again) the downfall of Zionism. 
There is something sad, almost pathetic, about Zuckermann's singular obsession with his gloom and doom theory of Zionism. Like other dogmatic Marxists, he refuses to acknowledge that the only thing that has collapsed so far is Communism. One can only imagine what Zuckermann and his Marxist peers must feel now, as Germany celebrated the twenty fifth anniversary of the unification of Berlin and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. No amount of quoting from his favorite neo-Marxist scholars can reverse this fact. But then again, Zuckermann has never let facts stand in his way. 
As for predictions, IAM can make one here. With his future secured by a generous pension, the recently retired Zuckermann will devote all his energies to bashing Israel while using his academic credentials.


06.11.14

Tel Aviv University
 
[TAU History] Gadi Algazi in the service of comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa
 
Gadi Algazi, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University, specializes in medieval history. But as other radical faculty, he spends much of his time on political activism. As a matter of fact, Algazi made his name when he became the first draft “refusenik” in 1979 for which he served time in prison. 
Besides serving on the bureau of the HADASH Party, Algazi is one of the founders of Ta'ayush (living together), a group that describes itself on its website as "a grassroots movement of Arabs and Jews working to break down the walls of racism and segregation by constructing a true Arab-Jewish partnership", as well as of Tarabut-Hithabrut, which is a "joint Arab-Jewish social movement seeking to address the most burning issue – the division in Israeli oppositional politics between struggles against the occupation and struggles against inequality and for social justice within Israel itself." 
Using his academic credentials, Algazi embarked on the Jewish National Fund (JNF) with his comrades. 
In a film screening that took place last week in Annemasse, France, Algazi was brought to present the alleged misuses of the JNF and to discuss "the importance of resistance to Israel". 
The film is a new project that conceptualizes the alleged similarities between apartheid South Africa and Israel's treatment of Palestinians. The story is about a Jewish woman from South Africa who travels to Israel to visit the South Africa Forest of JNF in the Galilee. The woman discovers that the forest is located on parts of the former Arab village that was destroyed during the War of Independence. 
Like his activist peers, Algazi has worked hard to create a younger generation of scholar-activists. One of his former students, Natalie Rothman, wrote in the introduction to her book: "I thank Gadi Algazi, my MA advisor and friend, whose unwavering commitment to scholarship and activism, to the study of the past and the transformation of the future, continue to inspire me." 
IAM repeatedly noted that TAU and other universities had opened their doors to political activists because of an extremely liberal interpretation of academic freedom as per the Law of Higher Education 1958: "The university shall conduct its affairs the way it sees fit." In spite of past attempts, the law was never changed, creating an academic anomaly; the tax payer footing the bill for scholar activists who use their tenured positions to produce “academic” work that is used to push for academic BDS against Israel


3.11.14

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
Beyond BDS: The ASA annual conference hosting anti-Israeli sentiments
 
The American Studies Association (ASA) which was founded in 1951, is a scholarly organization devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history. The ASA has almost 5,000 individual members. In December 2013, members of the ASA voted to join the boycott of all Israeli educational institutions. But the ASA has recently announced that it will not bar Israelis from attending its annual conference. This is going to be tested by the University of Haifa official representative expressed plans to attend the ASA annual conference on November 6-9, 2014 at Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles. 
But beyond the BDS call of the ASA, a perusal at the conference program reveals anti-Israel agenda in many of the ASA panel discussions. Only the likes of Neve Gordon were invited to present their papers. There are twenty two panels dealing with issues related to Israel and Palestine, all are one-sided and very favorable to the Palestinian cause without being critical of it. 
A panel "Land for the Taking: Palestinian Landscape in an American Mirror", and “The Arabs of Palestine”: Reports on the Dispossession of Palestinians in US Journalism, 1946-1961",as well as "Settlers’ disorganization of indigenous societies as a means of control: The case of Palestine". 
There is going to be a discussion "Caucus: Academic and Community Activism: PACBI, USACBI and the History of Academic Boycotts: The Turning Tide". Another panel is entitled "Feminist, Queer and Jewish Responses to Zionism". And "Encountering Zionism: From Academia to Queer Activism and BDS" in this panel the papers to be presented, "Why Boycott Israeli Institutions?: The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in Historical Context" , and "Re-reading PInkwashing and Palestinian Queer BDS: Palestinian sexual liberation organizing and decolonization", another paper is "Zionism from the Standpoint of Arab America". 
Another panel is "The Party’s Over: A Panel and Open Discussion on the Aftermath of the ASA's Boycott Resolution", and "Teaching About Palestine: Changing the Pain and Fury of Ignorance to the Pleasures of Knowing" in this panel a panelist will present "“The Intifada Curriculum”: on teaching the Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance". Another panelist will present the paper "What I Did Not Know I Did Not Know: Palestinian Rights and Human Rights" which deals with "The dispossession of Palestinian lands, the removal of Palestinians from their homes as a result of the founding of the state of Israel, and the regulation of Palestinian movement as a consequence of the separation wall and the network of checkpoints and the consequent obstruction of access to employment, education, health care, and other basic resources". 
In a panel entitled "There Is Here: Transnational Archives, Comparative Furies", there will be a debate over what critics of the ASA question "What seems to be the case is the emergence of Ethnic Studies within the American Studies discipline have tilted the organization heavily in favor of people of color, in this case, the Palestinians.” 
In the panel "Law and Violence in Transnational Perspective" a paper presented is "Law as a Battleground: Fighting over the Legality of Targeted Killing", another paper is "Constructing the Prototypical Terrorist in the US". BGU Neve Gordon will present the paper "The Human Right To Kill" which is "a critical examination of the use of "human shields" in Iraq and Israel/Palestine we offer three observations: 1) humanitarian and human rights law are used to render violence legitimate; 2) these two bodies of law can make violence more effective; and finally 3) the framing of killing as “legal” serves to transform violence into a source of national pride for supporters of the state’s military activities." 
The panel "Teaching After Palestine: Speaking about the Occupation and Palestinian Culture in the U.S. Academy", its blurb says "Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank has recently been moving at alarming pace, carving up the West Bank into a network of settler colonial hubs, a development which has led to the destruction of Palestinian homes, guaranteed the impossibility of an autonomous Palestinian economy, and fostered violent encounters between indigenous Palestinian communities and outsiders." 
Overall, it will not be an exaggeration to state that the ASA conference is anti-Israeli per se, when the program is so one-sided it means there is no pretense to hold a critical scholarly debate. Of course, there is nothing wrong with discussing the above topics but with such cherry picking for topics there is an apparent tendency to conceal issues related to the Arab-Israeli dispute or internal problems within the Palestinian society and culture.


30.10.14

Ben-Gurion University
 
Academic Forensics: BGU Neve Gordon Received Arab Oil Money for his Israel's Occupation Book
 
For those who may still wonder how radical anti-Israeli scholarship has flourished in the academy, Neve Gordon's book Israel's Occupation is a case in point. Gordon, a former executive director of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel that was denounced by the Israel medical establishment for fabricating propaganda, has moved to Ben Gurion University and continued this tradition. Using neo-Marxist, critical jargon, Gordon essentially accuses the Israeli government of running a Nazi-like state in the West Bank, where Palestinians are constantly monitored, abused, and worse. 
In the introduction, page xiv, Gordon states that, 
"I began writing the book in 2004 during a sabbatical at the University of California, Berkeley, where Nezar AlSayyad from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Eric Stover from the Human Rights Center welcomed me and provided me the necessary resources to write." 
Eric Stover worked for years as a freelance writer and a consultant to Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch. Not surprisingly, he used the recourse of his Human Right Center to sponsor the type of scholarship that Gordon was producing. 
More important in this context is Nezar AlSayyad of the University of California, Berkeley, the head of the Middle East Center. 
In 2003 AlSayyad's was quoted in an article published by the Saudi Aramco World, a cultural organ of the giant American-Saudi oil corporation, to the effect: "The Middle East is the only area study that is not really geographically based-it refers to the middle of what, and east of what? ... The center's approach in this regard is very transnational: Any intellectual subject that involves either the Arabs or Islam, contemporarily or historically, is a legitimate subject for scholars to take on." 
The Aramco article also gives an insight into the extent of Arab oil money "paving the way to greater interregional understanding" by investing in Middle Eastern centers in American universities in order to exert influence on what the neo-Marxist call the "production of knowledge." The article details the amount of donations given to Berkeley by the Saudis, 
"Among major donations, Berkeley received two large gifts in the late 1990's from Saudi benefactors, one for technology-transfer studies and one for Arab studies. The Al-Falah ("Success") Program was established with a $2 million endowment from the Alireza family to support a better understanding of Muslims and to promote technology transfer to the Muslim world, particularly Saudi Arabia. The Sultan Endowment for Arab Studies, established by a $5 million gift from the Sultan ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz Charity Foundation, is dedicated to broadening understanding of the Arab and Islamic worlds." 
Although sources of funding do not automatically discredit an academic center, but the list of scholars invited to this center indicates anti-Israeli animus. For instance, the Center obtained a grant from the Diller Family to hire Oren Yiftachel, who, as known, provided "academic" backing to the widely used theory that Israel is an apartheid state. The works of Gordon and Yiftachel are widely used by the BDS movement to justify boycott of Israel. 
From the perspective of AlSayyad, a professor of urban studies, this was money well spent. As he himself admitted in an 2013 interview, “Urbanists can never be apolitical”. 
The larger question though is whether Centers for Middle Eastern Studies in America can afford to be political. In his book Ivory Towers on Sand and subsequent publication How Not to Promote Israel Studies, Martin Kramer demonstrated the extent of politicization of Middle East scholarship, a topic that the US Congress had taken up through its Title VI legislation. 
Still, Arab money, newly bolstered by the high profile higher education mission of Qatar, has poured into the United States. So have the invitations to radical anti-Israeli scholars. With rather modest academic accomplishments the likes of Yehouda Shenhav and Hanna Herzog were invited by Princeton University and Harvard University, respectively, to spend their sabbatical leaves there. 
Neve Gordon scored even better when, in 2012-3, he spent a sabbatical leave at the prestigious Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. The School for Social Studies at the IAS listed his topic as “The Political Economy of Governance and Resistance: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as a Case Study.” With the added prestige of the IAS, Gordon utilized his stay in the United States to appear at events that directly or indirectlypromoted BDS. 
Unfortunately, the old adage "money talks" has been enthusiastically applied on the academy.


27.10.14

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
BDS in Australia lead by former U of Haifa academic Marcelo Svirsky
 
It has been very clear by now that anti-Israel activists seek Jews and especially Israelis to legitimize anti-Israeli activities, a step meant to deflect from accusations of anti-Semitism. 
The Boycott Divestment, Sanctions movement as epitomized by Omar Barghouti's Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is a prime example. 
Dr. Marcelo Svirsky, lecturer at the U of Haifa School of Political Science until 2008, now teaching at the University of Wollongong, Australia, wholeheartedly embraced the PACBI agenda. In his latest book of May 2014, After Israel, Svirsky argued that "the Zionist political project cannot be fixed - it is one that negatively affects the lives of its beneficiaries as well as of its victims... Overcoming these modes of being is to after Israel." 
Ariella Azoulay of Tel Aviv University's Minerva Humanities Center wrote a supportive review of the book: "After Israel is a secular book. It refuses to accept Zionism as a religious dogma; this excellent book rather dares to read Zionism as an episode in the history of Palestine, and of the two peoples that live there. This is neither an apocalypse nor a prophecy. It is a daring political and cultural analysis of the processes undermining the current Israeli regime that are at work today." 
Writing aside, Svirsky is busy with his new project, a walk for BDS that culminated with a BDS Petition to the Australian House of Representatives on Monday, 27th of October 2014. Along the walk - from Sidney to Canberra, Svirsky is spreading the BDS message as the article below indicates. 
Unlike in the United States and Europe, Australia had so far little BDS activism. Svirsky is obviously working hard to change that.



 

 

 

 

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