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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.



About Us
Audio Recording of the 3rd IAM Conference "Who Sponsors Israel's Delegitimization on Campus?"
Manfred Gerstenfeld interviews Ofira Seliktar 
“The issue of who finances the so-called ‘academic scholarship’ that delegitimizes the State of Israel, and of who supports the various campus activities against it, is extremely complex and multifaceted. The partial initiatives to study this subject are far from adequate. 
“Yet we know certain facts concerning this topic. Various foundations, mainly with Arab and Muslim donors, play a leading role in funding Middle East and Israel scholarship throughout the world. Many donations are dispersed through foundations set up by royal families



Ben-Gurion University
Ariel Handel - More of the Same at BGU Department of Politics and Government
Dr. Ariel Handel, a post-doctorate fellow of the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) at Ben Gurion University Department of Politics and Government. Handel is one of a group of radical scholars whose research activity is an extension of their political activism. 
In July 24, 2014 Handel signed an Open Letter by 50 Israeli Army Reservists explaining why they refuse to fight in Gaza. The fifty reservists expressed opposition to the Israeli military apparatus, the war in Gaza and the conscription law. This is hardly surprising since Handel is one of the original army reservists who published the Combatant's Letter in January 2002, aka "Courage to Refuse", he is listed as number 554. 
Handel has the right to sign petitions and engage in other political activity. But like his radical colleagues, Handel has used his academic position to push a political agenda. For instance, In 2008 he participated in a conference organized by Elia Zureik States of Exception, Surveillance and Population Management:The Case of Israel/Palestine". Zureik, a professor at Queens University, Ontario, Canada, is a leader in the Palestinian right of return movement. Zureik published the proceeds of the conference in the book Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine. 
In his chapter "Exclusionary Surveillance and Spatial Uncertainty in the Occupied Palestinian Territories" Handel wrote that "Nearly every Palestinian that leaves his house in order to reach work, school, shopping, medical treatment, or to visit relatives, must bypass a checkpoint and therefore becomes a violator of the movement regulations set by Israel. Criminalization reaches its highest levels in the Seam Zone and in East Jerusalem, where people require a permit even to live in their own homes. Thus the person is always guilty, without the possibility of justification or correction (since there is no rule and exception, right and wrong). The person is guilty just because he lives, moves, and acts; no correction is possible, and therefore no correcting-inclusive surveillance practices are needed." 
Handel ended the chapter with "This is a surveillance-free prison. Guards do not look into cells or supervise – all they do is keep prisoners locked in and alive; they have no other duties. There is neither “correction” nor “rehabilitation” – just locking and removing. The state does not embrace the prisoner in anyway – it merely expels him for a specified period. In a similar way – though for an unspecified period – Israel controls the Palestinians in the OPT. They are kept alive and blocked in their archipelago of isolated cells. What do Palestinians do in their cells? Israel no longer even seems to care." 
Handel was to participate in the conference "Sensing War" at Friends House, London on the 12th­ of June 2014 to present his paper "Soundscapes and Touchscapes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Affective Spaces of Uncertainty and Violence". 
In the summer of 2015 Handel will be participating in a conference “Power and Space in the Drone Age” in Neuchâtel University, Switzerland, where he will argue that the "condition of Israeli occupation creates is one of deliberate and chronic uncertainty penetrating all levels of life among the occupied population...[that] rests on the asymmetry in what might be termed (following Jacques Ranciere) the distribution of the sensible; namely on who is the one who can see, hear and touch the other, and under what conditions...These relations create distinct soundscapes and touchscapes that, although un-mappable, have an extensive impact on the lives and on the spatial organization and daily activities of the occupied." 
Handel's case raises two issues. The first pertains to the judgment of the ISF in sponsoring Handel. As IAM reported, Israeli social sciences lag behind the West; ISF should spend its resources to upgrade the standards rather than sink them further by promoting the likes of Handel. 
The second involves the decision-making in the Department of Politics and Government. As widely known, the Department was censured by the International Evaluation Committee for having a serious critical, neo-Marxist bias. Hosting Handel as a fellow helps to deepen this bias.



About Us
Research Reveals Methods to Boycott Israeli Academy
A conference at Tel Aviv University detailed the factors that fund the delegitimization of Israel on universities around the world 
Zvika Klein, NRG | 05/08/2015 8:32 
"Who Sponsors Israel's Delegitimization on Campus?" - This is the title of a study presented today (Friday) in the IAM convention 2015, Tel Aviv University. The conference deals with the discovery and analysis of financial resources behind anti-Israeli initiatives on Western campuses, and this is the first study of its kind in the world, which lists a variety of factors which are funding the delegitimization of Israel in the academy



About Us
"Academic Accountability: Who Finances Israel's Delegitimization on Campus"
The following is the summary of the Roundtable held at Tel Aviv University on May 8, 2015 
Professor Ofira Seliktar (Gratz College) provided an overview of the complex process through which academic delegitimization occurs on Western campuses. She emphasized that the BDS movement is nourished by a large academic literature that has come to view the Zionist movement as a colonial creation in the Middle East that dispossessed the native Palestinian population. Subsequently, Israel has been described as an apartheid state deserving of the type of boycott and sanctions that forced South Africa to end its apartheid regime. 
The funding for the scholarship that delegitimizes Israel comes from sources that support Middle East centers at major universities, think tanks, and even Islamic studies programs. 
Among the major donors in this category are: 
Qatar: The Qatar Foundation set up by the Ibn Khalifa Al Thani ruling family. 
Saudi Arabia: The Prince Waleed Al Talal Foundation stands out in the size of its donations in the United States, notably Middle East Centers in elite universities such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown and Berkeley, among others. Critics have pointed out that Prince Waleed Al Talal Foundation made generous grants to the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University directed by John Esposito, whom many consider to be an apologist for Islam and a prominent critic of Israel; The Sultan bin Abdul Aziz ibn Saud Foundation donated large sums of money to the Middle East Center at Berkeley and other universities; Sultan of Oman Foundation- endowed chair at Harvard University Center for Middle East Studies; Khalid Bin Abdullah, Bin Abdul Rahman al Saud Foundation, endowed chair at Harvard University Middle East Center; Sheik Mohammed bin Issa bin Jaber Foundation; 
Iran: Alavi Foundation - grants to more than 30 universities in North America to promote the Shiite version of Islam and Iranian foreign policy. The Alavi Foundation is run by the Mustazafeen Foundation, the largest parastatal conglomerate in Iran created by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. 
Funding for faculty activism comes from dues to associations, such as American Studies Association or Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Students who support BDS drives receive funding from a variety of sources such as Muslim Students Association that has branches on many campuses and funds allocated by student governance dedicated for inviting speakers and special events. 
Dr. Clemens Heni, the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA) spoke about anti-Israel faculty in Germany. He noted that the proliferation of Islamic studies programs and Middle East programs in Germany has created a cadre of academics that use their scholarship to produce negative narratives about Israel, not infrequently bordering on the anti-Semitic. Heni emphasized that some of these narratives find their way into publications, including respectable journals and presses. 
Dr. Dana Barnett, King's College London and Israel Academia Monitor, offered a case study of five Israeli academics that have profited from opportunities created by foreign donations to Middle East scholarship and activism, such as Neve Gordon, Adi Ophir, Moshe Zuckermann, Yehouda Shenhav, and Shlomo Sand. 
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, former Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, gave a review of the history of academic BDS. He noted that those fighting the academic boycott have mixed results; while some actions were successful, others went unopposed. 
Dr. Gerstenfeld contended that it is beyond individual academics such as himself to challenge BDS on campus. He blamed the Israeli academic community for failing to respond in an organized manner. Most of his criticism, however, was directed toward the government. Gerstenfeld stated that the government needed to create a special unit to follow the funding and operations of the anti-Israeli activities on campus.



About Us
Abstracts - "Academic Accountability: Who Finances Israel’s Delegitimization on Campus?" Friday, 9am at TAU
Financing BDS and beyond: Arab and Iranian Money 
Ofira Seliktar, Prof. (Em.) Gratz College; Chair Intelligence & Strategy Section, ASMEA 
The talk will focus on two levels of financing. The first and more important pertains to decades-long effort to influence the substance of research on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ARAMCO, pioneered this effort by creating academically-oriented foundations that funded a variety of Middle East programs and publications in the United States. The Saudi royal family, as well as the ruling families of the Gulf States, had followed suit. Presently, Qatar is the leading player in this field. Among others, it has signed cooperative ventures with some of the elite academic programs in the United States. 
Iran, through its office in the Foreign Ministry and MOIS (the intelligence ministry) a later arrival in the field of academic sponsorship, has aimed at shaping the field of Islam studies and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because of the American embargo on relations with Iran, the Iranians have focused on Western Europe, notably Germany. 
The second level of financing has focused on BDS and allied infrastructure, including BDS drives, Israel Apartheid Week, etc. The financial nexus here is very complex, as contributions are funneled through a vast network, including Islamist NGOs, pro-Arab and pro-Iranian lobby groups. 
The organization and legal structure of academic foundations in the United States has helped in injecting Arab and Iranian money. For instance, the Tide Foundation, acts like a "clearing house" for contributions, but has no obligation to disclosing the source. 
Successive Israeli governments and civil groups have never engaged in a focused effort to analyse these networks. To the extent that when funding is discussed, it pertains to New Israel Fund, which is a very small player in the field. 

German Foundations, Academic Discourse and the Delegitimization of Israel 
Dr. Clemens Heni is a political scientist and the director of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA), founded in 2011 
In his talk Clemens Heni will focus on the relationship of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies in Germany and anti-Zionism as well as on Islamism or Arab nationalism. Based on his book, “Schadenfreude. Islamic Studies and Antisemitism in Germany after 9/11 (in German, 2011),” he will analyze how leading Islamist figures such as Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, or Yusuf al-Qaradawi, today’s leading Sunni Islamist, are portrayed by today’s mainstream in Islamic Studies. Many of these scholars are working at universities, which are most often state sponsored in Germany. Some authors, though, also work for NGOs in Israel or in territories of the PA, and reject or distort the analysis of the close collaboration of Nazi Germany and Arab as well as Muslim leaders during the Second World War, for example. 

Funding Israeli Scholars to Produce Paradigmatic Literature: A Case Study 
Dana Barnett, PhD. King’s College London; Israel Academia Monitor 
To preempt charges of anti-Semitism pro-Palestinian activists have favored Israeli scholars. A number of Israeli scholars have been rewarded for producing paradigmatic literature, either by obtaining sabbatical appointments in respectable universities or being invited to conferences, workshops and panel discussions. Some have had their work published in presses supported by pro-Palestinian sources. 

Developments of the Academic Boycott of Israel since 2002 
Manfred Gerstenfeld, Former Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs 
The academic boycott of Israel is one aspect of the general boycott call against Israel which was initiated at the NGO Forum at the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. 
The first attempt at an academic boycott of Israel took place in the UK in 2002. Since then, the academic BDS campaign has gradually expanded to include a number of countries. This has become possible in part due to the negligence of both the Israeli academia and the Israeli government. The academic boycotters of Israel thus incur very little risk in promulgating their hate activities.



General Articles
Using the Campus as a Tool for anti-Israel Activism
In his “The Academic War on Israel,” Denis MacEoin, an Irish scholar, notes that Western campuses have offered a highly effective way to delegitimize Israel. Indeed, it would seem that the academy is just about the only place that BDS and other activism has made significant inroad. As MacEoin explains, there are many reasons for this state of affairs. A dramatic increase in faculty in Islamic and Middle East studies where activism and scholarship is the norm for many. Using their position, these scholars provide a biased view of Israel and the Middle East. Entire new fields such as transitional justice and critical legal scholarship have been invented for seemingly one purpose only - to criticize Israel. MacEoin rightly states that the activist professors have abandoned the academic rules of a balanced perspective on controversial subjects. In his words, “a generation of students is growing up learning to tolerate – and consider normal -- bias, falsehood and the runaway politicization of teachers and student thugs permitting only one-sided arguments.” 
While MacEoin’s observations are welcome, he and other observers provide little information on the financial underpinnings of the anti-Israeli climate. It is a truism that a real war is a costly enterprise, but even a war waged on campus is not cheap. To appreciate of how this war is waged, there is a need to analyze its financial underpinnings. 
For this, IAM is hosting the roundtable "Academic Accountability: Who Finances Israel’s Delegitimization on Campus?" on Friday, May 8, 2015 in Tel Aviv University, Dan David Building Hall 3 at 9am and the public is invited.



Boycott Calls Against Israel
BDS, anti-Semitism, and Free Speech on Campus: Some Observations from Down Under
Jake Lynch, an associate professor at Sidney University, is a leading proponent of BDS in Australia. As IAM reported, he was subject of a lawsuit on the grounds that his BDS advocacy consists a form of anti-Semitism. The lawsuit had failed, apparently emboldening Lynch to rev up his political activism. 
The most recent fracas took place during a lecture by Richard Kemp at Sidney University. Kemp, a retired British colonel and a staunch defender of the IDF, was interrupted by Lynch and a group of Palestinian students, causing a scuffle with some Jewish members of the audience. At one point, Lynch was seen waving a five dollar banknote in the face of a retired Jewish professor, whom he accused of kicking in the groin. 
The university cleared Lynch of charges of anti-Semitism, but he can still face expulsion or other disciplinary charges for breaking the faculty code mandating treatment of visitors with “respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity.“ 
Critics have accused the Vice Chancellor, Michael Spence of stifling free speech. As one of them put it, the university acted inappropriately “against people who are exercising their legitimate right of free speech". "How bizarre is it that universities, which have been a hotbed of free speech for centuries, are threatening staff and students with disciplinary action for expressing themselves," 
The story of Lynch is just one more illustration of the difficulties involving the definition of anti-Semitism, BDS and free speech on campus. Quite clearly, there is no silver bullet solution to the problem.



Anti-Israel Conferences
Palestinian Right to Return Travels to Venezuela: Expanding the Academic Reach to South America
On the 15th of April, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hosted a conference on the Palestinian Right of Return. This is hardly surprising since Maduro, like his predecessor Hugo Chavez, have spearheaded pro-Palestinian initiatives in South America for decades. The identity of the organizers of the event is scarcely unexpected either Nicola Hadwa Shahram, the Palestinian football couch and the chair of the Chilean Committee on Solidarity with the Palestinians and Fuad Musa, the head of the Center for Islamic Culture in Santiago are known pro-Palestinian activists. 
What is more intriguing, however, is the scholarly material that the Right of Return groups have used in their presentations. Elia Zureik, a Palestinian sociologist at the Queens University, Ontario, Canada, is arguably the academic architect of the Palestinian right of return. Zureik, a highly prolific scholar-activist served on the Refugee Working Group (RWG) set up under the auspices of the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference. 
Starting in the early 1980s, Zureik tirelessly argued that the right of return should be enshrined in any resolution to the conflict. He and a group of like-minded Palestinian academics including Rashid Khalidi, escalated their pressure on Yasser Arafat during the Camp David II agreement. According to some analysts, the Zureik group had managed to elevate the right of return from a virtual non-issue to a high priority item, making it harder for Arafat to sign the deal. 
Since the collapse of the Oslo process, the Palestinian right of return has been embraced by many in the academic community. Not coincidentally, this development coincided with the critical theory critique of realism and neorealism in International Relation (IR). Realists and neorealists consider power to be at the core of IR and thus regard the plight of the Palestinians as outcome of the 1948 war. In other words, the Palestinians were belligerents who rejected the UN Partition resolution, initiated a conflict, and had the bad luck to lose it. Critical theorists, on the other hand, vehemently reject the notion that power considerations should have a place in IR theory or practice. For them, the Palestinians are the quintessential victims of the power of ‘capitalism, imperialism and colonialism’ that deserve the full restoration of their rights. 
As the Venezuelan conference initiative takes shape, it can count on the Zureik and his academic followers. For instance, the Journal of Palestine Studies has some 215 articles on the right to return, not to mention scores of books and reports. Last but not least, some Jewish academics have signed on petition for the right for returnand in Israel there are some like Shenhav, and others that embraced the Palestinian's right to return to Israel.



Anti-Israel Conferences
Southampton U Conference: Organizers Lose Legal Challenge to Reverse Cancellation on Safety Ground
On the 14th of April 2015, the High Court in London ruled against the organizers of a conference at Southampton University that promised to ‘reevaluate’ Israel’s right to exist. The university cancelled the event on the grounds of public safety. The High Court agreed with the university authorities that safety may become compromised. As the article below mentions, the Judge said "Permission had been withdrawn because the university decided it was not possible to put in place measures to ensure staff and student safety" and that "There is no evidence the decision was taken otherwise than in good faith with a conscientious application of the duty to protect free speech." 
The conference organizers and their supporters have insisted that Southampton University has succumbed to pressure and abrogated their free speech. The situation is ironic to say the least. As IAM noted, pro-Palestinian activists have a long history of violently disputing pro-Israeli events on campus. 
Unlike the United States, Great Britain has no First Amendment and restrictions on free speech can be put in place on account of public safety and other considerations. Radical pro-Palestinian activists have no one but themselves to blame for creating an atmosphere of violence and intimidation that makes a fair and balanced debate all but impossible.











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