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Visitors: 110001862 on Dec. 22, 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)

29.01.15

Hebrew University
 
[HUJ] Transitional Justice: A New Way to Vent Old 1948 Grievances
 
The preoccupation of radical-leftists in the academy with the 1948 War has gone through many stages. 
To recall, the New Historians like Ilan Pappe has “found” that Israel committed ethnic cleansing with hints of genocide. Starting with a modest and rather noncontroversial account of 1948 in his first book, Pappe added progressively more dramatic accounts in his subsequent books aimed at creating an Israeli-Nazi equivalency. Based on such accounts, sociologists and social psychologists dwelt on the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe. 
Transitional justice is the newest reincarnation of this preoccupation with 1948. According to the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), a New York based group, it was created to “address legacies of massive human rights violations and build civic trust in state institutions as protectors of human rights. In the aftermath of mass atrocity and repression, we assist institutions and civil society groups—the people who are driving and shaping change in their societies—in considering measures to provide truth, accountability, and redress for past abuses.” 
Much as this definition seeks to create the impression of a policy neutral humanitarian organization, a perusal of its activities reveals its bias. There is a call to hold the United States accountable for torture committed in the war or terror, specifically the waterboarding of four al-Qaeda operatives responsible for 9/11, but no mention of Iran where massive and ongoing human rights abuses have commanded front page in Western media for decades, or Syria where a brutal dictatorship killed and oppressed its own citizens or ISIS. Indeed, Islamist violence against other Muslims or Westerners is nowhere to be found among the reports. A perfunctory survey of the list of donors reveals the reason for such “politically correct” approach; by and large the ICTJ is financed by progressive organizations such as Open Society of George Soros, the Ford Foundation and progressive governments, notably, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations. In 2011 it helped promoting the Russel Tribunal on Palestine and equally not surprising, Richard Goldstone is the chair of its Advisory Board. 
Transitional Justice is hand-made for academic activists in Israel. As stated on its website, ICTJ's role is to "run workshops and trainings to brief Israeli, Palestinian and international institutions—such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Human Rights Clinic of al-Quds University." 
Indeed, the Transitional Justice Project at the Minerva Center, Hebrew University has followed the International Crimes Tribunals Act (ICTA) model. Dr. Ron Dudai, a Minerva fellow, has teamed up with Zochrot, a group of academics and lay activists dedicated to the Palestinian right to return, to offer a course on the subject. Dudai’s course titled “Transitional Justice to Civil Society,” is described in the Zochrot annual report as "focused on a range of topics including prosecution mechanisms, truth commissions, reparations programs, vetting mechanisms, and reconciliation initiatives. It also explored the intersection between efforts to achieve justice and accountability, and negotiations to ensure sustainable peace by a grassroots level initiatives like Zochrot." Thirty people participated, representing "Amnesty, New Profile, Baladna, Machsom Watch, Sadaka Reut, and the Public Committee against torture in Israel." 
Dudai has the perfect job as he seamlessly transitions (no pun intended) between being an activist at Zochrot and a faculty member. The question is why does the Hebrew University needs to offer “how do classes” for radical-leftist activists? A public university should not advocate for a political solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict even if bears the fancy title of Transitional Justice.

 

26.01.15

Tel Aviv University
 
TAU Moshe Zuckermann invited to bash Israel in Zurich
 
Pro-Palestinian groups in Europe put a high premier on Israeli academics who can bash Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism. Moshe Zuckermann, a professor of German history at TAU, is a case in point. Using his knowledge of German and his “pedigree” as a son of Holocaust survivors, he has served in the role of Israel-basher-in-chief in German, Austrian and Swiss media. His "winning formula" of coupling ferocious criticism of Israel with whitewashing all things Palestinian has not changed for decades. 
Zuckermann is well-known for his far-fetched theories about the alleged deformation of the Israeli psyche and his frequent comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany. He made the original diagnosis of the Israeli psyche in his infamous book Shoah in the Sealed Room - a reference to the experience of Israeli citizens who were forced into sealed rooms during Saddam Hussein's Scud missile attack in 1991. In his view, reference to Saddam Hussein as Hitler indicated the Holocaust-driven “congenital deformation” of the Israelipsyche. Zuckermann was so bent on proving deformation theory that he failed to notice that others, including the US President George H.W. Bush, used the same comparison. 
In due time, Zuckermann broadened his diagnostic portfolio. In his view, criticism of Islamist terrorism following the 9/11 attack was a clear case of Islamophobia. 
With the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, not to mention the spectacular atrocities committed by ISIS in its self-proclaimed caliphate, the Israeli-Nazi equivalent fell into disrepute. 
Never to be daunted by reality, Zuckermann added apartheid to his repertoire. He says Israel "passes on to an apartheid state and that is more or less the trend at the moment." Though the apartheid territory has been well-trodden, since Oren Yiftachel and his Ben Gurion University colleague Neve Gordon first found Israel to be an apartheid state in the early years of the twenty first century, Zuckermann has all the zeal of a new convert. 
He was recently invited to Zurich, Switzerland, and in February 4, 2015 will promote his book Israel's Fate: How Zionism Operates its Demise. The main market is pro-Palestinian members of groups such as Jewish Voice for Justice and Democracy in Israel/Palestine; Swiss Circle of Givat Haviva; Cafe Palestine Zurich; Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) Zurich, which all sponsor the event.
As one German observer put it, Zuckermann's thesis is clear, "With this rejection of any constructive understanding policy, Zionist Israel has "maneuvered a historical impasse" in one from which it could find out probably only by surrendering its Zionist concept (or key parts of it)." 
Israelis like Zuckermann provide the intellectual justification for BDS activists on campus and beyond. He has the right, of course, to speak and write on the subject. But he has adroitly used his position as a tenured professor at Tel Aviv University to push his polemics dressed up as bona fide scholarly research, a tactic that he should be blamed for. Tel Aviv University that has tenured and promoted him on this basis should share the blame.

 

 

22.01.15

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
Gray Boycott and Its Problematique: How to Prove a Motive?
 
The current BDS drive has spurred a large body of writing ranging from books to blogs. Most of the discourse involves the various BDS resolutions and ways in which pro-Israeli advocates should respond to it. 
Much less attention has been paid to the so-called gray boycott (also known as silent boycott), namely personal initiatives of scholars who take it upon themselves to boycott their Israeli counterparts, either by rejecting submission to journals and presses, declining invitations to participate in conferences held in Israel, or refusing to invite said scholars to panels organized by professional associations in the West. 
Still, gray boycott has concerned Israeli academic authorities. In January 2014, in an interview for Maariv, Professor Rivka Carmi noted that "large part of these boycotts are not formal. They work behind the scenes and reflect, in part, on non-acceptance of post-doctoral positions in Israel, rejection of co-authored articles and awards.There is no formal boycott but a growing understanding among academic staff in Israel, that there is a kind of silent boycott". 
Professors Asher Cohen and Aharon Shai, the rectors of Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University respectively, wrote to the faculty stating "there is evidence of hidden boycott, which is more difficult to locate, but can be dangerous. Recently, with the increase in activities calling for boycott of Israel (BDS), it is feared that there is a growing phenomenon of academic boycott." Both asked faculty to report on instances of "discrimination that can result in rejection of articles on ground of improper considerations; cancellation of invitation to attend or speak at conferences; refusal to attend conferences held in Israel, or sponsored by Israeli institutions on ground that it is an Israeli event, and so on." 
Such worries are not misplaced. Boycotting Israeli academics, notably in the social sciences, is not new. In one incident, Gideon Kressel, a professor at Ben Gurion University, was asked to leave an anthropological conference in 1984 after a group French based Arab academics opposed his presence. As the letter below shows, Ernest Gellner, arguably, one of the leading social scientists of the twentieth century, wrote to protest the exclusion: “My own feeling is that arbitrary exclusion of a bona fide scholar simply on the ground of his citizenship set a precedent which one cannot and ought not condone.“ 
As well known, things got much worse since 1984, making Gellner’s sentiment sound quaint. Over the years, IAM documented numerous cases of private boycott initiatives by a variety of scholars in a variety of fields, a vast majority to them in the social sciences.
The new variety of boycott is not just widespread but more challenging. A perusal of the BDS discourse indicates that, along with the open resolutions and petitions, scholars are being “empowered” to launch their own covert initiatives. Given the wide discretion built into academic freedom, such covert actions may be hard to fight.


19.01.15

Ben-Gurion University
 
[BGU] Dr. Newman’s Diagnosis: “Boycott Paranoia”
 
Professor David Newman, the longtime dean of social sciences at Ben Gurion University, writes a column for the Jerusalem Post in its Borderline Views slot. Judging by the content of his latest article “Boycott Paranoia,” Newman views are not just borderline, but over the line and in a big way. 
As the article below indicates Newman’s main argument is that the BDS is essentially a marginal and a manageable phenomenon, that it is a product of Israeli paranoia and has been exaggerated by the Israeli government and its propaganda machine. 
By the way, this is not Newman’s first diagnosis of Israel’s alleged mental conditions. In 2001, he criticized the then Minister of Education saying that “all their camp…are deeply rooted in the mentality of siege. By clinging to the image of the besieged Jew, threatened and isolated they believe that this is the only way to preserve the Jewish personality.” 
Apparently free of the “paranoia” that afflicts rank and file Israelis and unencumbered by their “mentality of siege,” Newman does not see any BDS-related dangers to Israel’s academic standing. “At the end of the day, Israel continues to enjoy broad global admiration for its universities and its scientific community.” 
Newman uses the case of The Lancet to make his point. To recall, its editor, Richard Horton, was lambasted for allowing an inflammatory letter on the Gaza Operation to be published. In Newman’s take: “An excellent recent example has been the way in which the editor of The Lancet, one of the medical profession’s most respected scientific journals, reversed his position, which had been strongly critical of Israel and sympathetic toward boycott, following a visit to Israeli medical institutes and teaching schools to encounter a vastly different reality to that he had been told about prior to his writing a critical editorial of the Israeli medical profession.” 
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Had Newman bothered to read the new report by NGO Monitor, he would have learned that Horton did not live up to his promise and his journal is still showing a deep pro-Palestinian bias. Yitzhak Santis, NGO Monitor’s chief programs officer was quoted as saying that the “non-response by the Lancet (and its parent company Elsevier) fails to address any of the outstanding issues, particularly the need to completely repudiate the infamous Gaza open letter, retract it from the Lancet’s website, and apologize for its publication.” 
Had Newman bothered to read the IAM report on the Qatar-Elsevier connection, he would have understood why Horton cannot and would not change. 
After “proving” that Israel enjoys “broad global admiration” in the academy, Newman attacks anti-BDS activists. He calls them a “traveling anti-boycott circus” that, in his view, includes Cary Nelson who visited Israel as a guest of the Institute for National Strategic Studies to discuss his new book on the topic. Newman finds the events around Nelson’s visit Orwellian: “The main event was held at the National Institute for Security Studies (the INSS) while all of Israel’s universities were pressed into holding public lectures on the topic as part of an Orwellian newspeak. In some cases, the universities expressly forbade any debate with other speakers from taking place, and it is little wonder that most of the events were attended by no more than a handful of participants.“ Newman does not spell out who was behind “pressing” all of Israel’s universities into holding the debates, leaving the readers with a mystery. 
Newman is unaware that some panelists at the INSS event are critical of Israeli policies, including Galia Golan.
Newman then proceeds to demolish the notion that BDS is largely anti-Semitic. He rightly points out that Ronnie Fraser, who sued the British UCU on the ground that its boycott decision was anti-Semitic, lost resoundingly in court. The only problem is that Newman sets up a “straw man” to attack. Most scholars and lay observers acknowledge that some BDS initiatives are anti-Semitic, while others are not. 
Newman would be well-advised to read the chapter by Kenneth Marcus, an eminent authority on the subject, in Nelson's book. 
Surprisingly, Newman reserves the most vitriol for Israel Academia Monitor, the presumed ring master of the “travelling anti-BDS circus:” “It is not surprising that support for the traveling anti-boycott circus was expressed by the Israel Academic Monitor (IAM), an extremist right-wing website which spends most of its time defaming any Israel academic who holds centrist and left-wing views. IAM has probably done more to damage the international name and reputation of Israel as a place of academic freedom and open dialogue than any other right- or left-wing organization in Israel or beyond.“ 
Newman grossly misrepresents IAM's activity. As a rule, IAM does not discuss scholars who hold a centrist or left-wing view. It has monitored a small number of radical academics who have cheated tax payers by using their tenured positions to engage in political activism. How can IAM be accused of defamation when it quotes the said academics declaring their intention to expose the alleged apartheid system in Israel? Even a perfunctory perusal of the website would prove that. 
But Newman is not interested in facts, but rather in settling a personal score with IAM. IAM has exposed his role in hiring radical scholars like Neve Gordon and, in the past, defending their right to advocate for BDS. It was Newman’s recruitment decisions as the chair of the Department of Politics and Government at BGU that prompted the International Committee of Evaluation to describe it as sub-standard. IAM has also helped publicize Newman’s secret email urging the international academic community to protest against the council of Higher Education. This so-called “nuclear option” resulted in an unprecedented flood of petitions from dozens of professional associations and individual scholars to the Council of Higher Education threatening to boycott Israeli academic institutions. 
Newman’s diagnosis of paranoia begs a few questions. How is it that the Presidents of Israeli universities created in 2014 a special committee to fight BDS? How is it that Professor Zvi Ziegler, the chair of the Committee, spent thirty minutes discussing the history of BDS and the ways to fight it, as part of the panel hosting Nelson at the INSS? How is it that Ziegler’s committee contracted with Hillel International to defeat BDS resolutions on the campuses? Ironically, Eric Fingerhut, the president of Hillel referred to the BDS as a “circus of hate.” 
If Newman is correct in his diagnosis, then all these individuals, not to mention the Israeli universities they represent, including Rivka Carmi, are paranoid. Right?


15.01.15

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
The Institute for National Security Studies: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel
 
On December 22, 2014 The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) hosted a panel discussing the bookThe Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm. 
In addition to Professors Nelson and Brahm, the panel featured a number of guests. 
As already reported, the edited volume included chapters on issues ranging from BDS and academic freedom, to specific case-studies. 
The panel discussion and the questions from the audience expanded on the issue and raised additional question not covered in the book. 
Professor Cary Nelson (Emeritus, English, University of Illinois) 
Nelson asserted that BDS should matter to Israel because of its ideology and the social network that underpins it. BDS activists are socialized to fight Israel’s supporters on campuses, they are highly motivated to the point that BDS has become their professional identity. 
Nelson noted that BDS supporters have penetrated academic associations, organize rallies that pretend to be academic. They thrive in the social sciences where many academics believe that classrooms should be used to teach about “justice” and “equality” and utilized for political recruitment. 
The anti-Israeli animus is widespread and in some cases paradoxical. For instance, the Jewish Studies programs in NYU, Columbia, Berkeley, California State U, and Toronto University do not offer courses on Israel. Going to educate the next generation of elites. 
Political events influence BDS movement. Omar Barghouti, Judith Butler nothing will satisfy them except dissolution of the Israeli State. 
Gabriel Noah Brahm (English, Northern Michigan University, Philosophy & Religion, HUJ) 
Brahm suggested BDS is anti-Semitic to the core and that “BDS people” have an “Israel fetish.” Jewish BDS supporters like Judith Butler have a simple formula: "Zionism is the problem" – the solution is the Right of Return to the Diaspora where Jews have lived happily and thrived. 
Brahm pointed out that Zionism was also scrutinized from a philosophical perspective as well. For instance, Michael Marder & Gianni Vattimo Deconstructing Zionism: A Critique of Political Metaphysics stated that, unlike other nationalism that managed to adopt to twenty first century, Zionism was tethered to nineteenth century nationalism that focused on the state. 
On a less lofty level, there are academics like Steven Salaita who was rejected by the authorities of the University of Illinois after being offered a position. As Brahm put it, to “the anti-Semitic unconscious Salaita, Israel is an expression of “racism, colonialism, neoliberalism and sexism.“ 
Zvi Ziegler, (Emeritus, Technion and the head of the Forum to Counter Academic Boycotts) 
Ziegler presented a brief history of BDS. He noted that the Defensive Shield Operation triggered by the Natanya Park Hotel massacre in 2002, promoted the “propaganda machine” of anti-Israeli academics and first calls for boycott. Ziegler recalled that, the Israeli academy took sporadic steps to fight the growing BDS sentiments. It was only in 2013, after a number of professional associations in the United States called for academic boycott that the academic authorities decided to set up his committee. The professor listed four argument in fighting academic BDS; principal, fair play, utilitarian, and exposing false arguments (that the Israeli academics are not agents of the government). 
Professor Ilan Troen (Chair, Israel Studies Program at Brandeis University) 
Troen spoke about the paradigm shift in the academy triggered by Edward Said’s book Orientalism that depicted Israel as a colonial state and Jews as an artificial, inauthentic people created by the European colonialists in order to dispossess the indigenous Palestinian People. He added that the Durban conference, where Zionism was declared to be racists and Israel an apprehend state, provided the organizational impetus for the BDS movement. Troen predicted that BDS can become a big phenomenon in the future. 
Professor Galia Golan (School of Government, Diplomacy & Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya) 
Golan focused on the critical question of whether BDS should be considered is anti-Semitic. She suggested that opposition to settlements, house demolitions, and the occupation, constitute a legitimate form of criticism. Golan also noted that from the standpoint of international law and BDS is a legitimate activity on two counts – it is nonviolent and is covered by the United Nations practices of providing a platform for a multitude of nongovernment organizations and movements. 
This said, Golan offered a few reservations. First, the BDS rhetoric is highly problematic- it challenges Israel’s right to exist, it is anti- Semitic, and it is anti-political. Second, BDS is counterproductive in the sense that sanctions have a poor success rate. Sanctions worked against South Africa and Iran, but did not work in other cases. Third, BDS helps the Israeli right; the threat of sanctions generates fears in Israeli society and a national solidarity backlash. The rhetoric tends to prove Prime Minister Netanyahu correct when he warns against of Israeli destruction. In this scenario, the leftist BDS and the rightist Likud government feed off each other- a fact that Omar Barghouti acknowledged when he declared that “Netanyahu’s polices are great for the BDS movement.”
Israeli academy is the wrong target for a BDS because it empowers right wing groups on campus. For instance, Im Tirtzu made a name for itself by protesting alleged left-wing radicalism on campus and even prompted the Knesset education committee to request information. 
BDS has no place on campus; it stifles debate and imposes censorship in a place that should be devoted to the exchange of ideas and intellectual freedom. Dictatorships have no place in a university, nobody benefits from shutting off of mikes. 
Golan added that Hillel in the United States would ban her appearance because she is too critical of Israeli policy. 
Select Comments from the Audience 
Mr. Michael Gross- a member of the Board of Governors of Ben Gurion University 
Gross spoke about Israeli academics who are involved in BDS, an issue that the book did not deal with. Gross focused on the leading role of some radical Israeli scholars in using their academic writings to justify BDS. He mentioned that many radicals are based in the Department of Politics and Government at BGU. He pointed out that the Department was censured by an International Evaluation Committee in 2013 on the grounds of heavy presence of left-wing, activist faculty. Gross commented that Professor Galia Golan was the only member of the Committee that issued a dissenting statement in support of the Department. 
Dr. Dalit Baum - formerly from Haifa University, a BDS Activist in the United States 
Baum explained that Israel Studies in the United States are highly politicized and no critique of Israel is allowed. Groups like Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) are all about policing the discourse and silencing the critique, in her opinion. Baum stated that the decades-old occupation of Palestinians lands drives BDS and creates problems for Israel. She noted that students need to hear the truth about the occupation and asked why there was no one on the panel to discuss the BDS resolutions.


12.01.15

Ben-Gurion University
 
Israeli Scholars and BDS: Providing the Justification, BGU Neve Gordon as an example
 
As the academic BDS movement has turned into a high profile affair on many campuses, the role of Israeli scholars in providing its legitimacy has been neglected. As IAM indicated over the past few years, scholars likeOren Yiftachel and Neve Gordon (BGU) generated the “academically respectable” scholarship to prove that Israel runs an apartheid regime and thus deserves to be boycotted. 
A number of groups were founded to promote Palestinian interests within Israeli society, one of them is Zochrot,based in Tel Aviv, promotes the right of return of Palestinians into Israel. Zochrot has been supported by a number of academics like Orly Lubin, Uri Hadar, Ilan Pappe, Louise Bethlehem, Ariella Azoulay, Adi Ophir, Uri Ram, Dalit Baum, Yehuda Shenhav, Tovi Fenster, Haim Yacobi, Ron Dudai, Moshe Zuckermann among others. 
Zochrot has been active with the latest efforts to create the South Africa-Israel equivalency. It announced the holding of the first “truth commission” In Beer Sheva to investigate Israel’s alleged war crimes in 1948. Billed as the first ever “truth commission,” the event's purpose is to hear “confessions” from veterans of the war. To those who are not familiar with the term, at the end of the apartheid era in South Africa, a series of “truth commissions” were held to promote reconciliation between blacks and whites. 
Needless to say, Neve Gordon has welcomed the event, stating: 
“Zochrot had been successful in forcing Israelis to recognise the Nakba and a darker side to the 1948 war.” 
Gordon should be happy indeed. The “truth commission” is one more vehicle, where his scholarship – a mixture of cherry-picked facts and outright falsifications – would be promoted. The Israeli taxpayers should be upset as they have supported Gordon’s radical political activism masquerading as scholarship for a better part of two decades now. 
Since the Council of Higher Education failed to close the department, the tax payers will be stuck with the bill.


08.01.15

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
The BDS Movement: An Exercise in the Politics of Delegitmization
 
Ever since 1948, Palestinian academics compared Israel to a colonial state and, later, to apartheid state of South Africa deserving of boycott. The theme was picked up by Uri Davis, a card-carrying member of Matzpen who immigrated to England in the 1970s. 
Yet as hard as the Palestinians tried to make the case for apartheid and BDS it did not stick. The reason was simple: in the complex logic of academic discourse, Palestinian could not persuade the larger community that they were impartial analysts. Davis, the then virtually lone Jew, was considered too much of a political activist to make a credible argument. It probably did not help his credentials when he converted to Islam, married a Palestinian woman and joined the PLO. 
Enter the post-Zionists. On faculty of respectable Israeli universities, they recycled the old Palestinian charges under the guise of New History, New Sociology or New Whatever. 
Ilan Pappe is a case in point. Pappe, a member of the Communist party, has a history of radicalizing his own claims about the alleged Israeli atrocities committed by Israel in 1948. Even a perfunctory look at his books illustrates the trend; from a rather tepid recall of the 1948 war in his doctoral dissertation, Pappe has graduated to ethnic cleansing and, most recently, to “incremental genocide,” quoted in the article below. 
In spite of shoddy and highly politicized scholarship, Pappe is a fixture in the BDS circles, incessantly quoted and summarized. It is hardly accidental that Omar Barghouti starts his review of the BDS achievements in 2014 with a reference to the “prominent Israeli historian Pappe.” 
After more than a decade of such fawning references, Pappe is probably convinced that he is a “prominent” historian. Here is a simple test that Pappe should take; he needs to ask himself whether he would be considered “prominent” and constantly paraded if he were an Arab. The answer is a resounding No! After all, Pappe says the same things that many Palestinian and Arab scholars have said, but no one displays them all the time. The case of Benny Morris, is also pertinent here; as long as Morris was writing books supporting ethnic cleansing, he, too, was a hero to the BDS crowd, reverentially referred to as a “prominent historian.” Once Morris had changed his political ideas and adjusted his texts accordingly, he was dropped like a hot potato by the BDS circles. 
Pappe probably does not have enough humility to take the test. But if he does, he would find out that he is a trophy of the BDS movement.


05.01.15

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
2014 BDS Roundup: Victories, Defeats and the In-betweens
 
The year that just ended was pivotal for the BDS movement and its opponents on many fronts. As Alexander Joffe from the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), below states, BDS opponents take credit for the fact that no additional academic association passed a formal BDS resolution. This is widely attributed to the fact that the American Studies Association (ASA) has suffered a furious backlash to its BDS decision. 
BDS proponents take credit for developing alternative ways to highlight “Israel’s continuous occupation of the Palestinian territory.” One of the more popular ways is to “empower” scholars in a particular discipline to launch their own private versions of BDS, be it through signing petitions or regulating access to academic publications or conference. For obvious reasons, this type of unofficial “gray BDS” is hard to fight without infringing on the freedom of academic editors and others to make decision as to who appears in their journals and or conferences. It is noted that “gray boycotters” have become proficient in camouflaging their decisions with seemingly bona fides arguments. As a matter of fact, Professor Rivka Carmi, president of Ben Gurion University identified “gray boycott” in liberal arts as one of the concern for Israel. 
Students advocating BDS came up with a new technique to boycott Israeli products on campus under the notion of “microaggression.” For those not familiar with the arcane language of political correctness, the concept was first used to redefine what constitutes racism and anti-minority sentiments. Unlike the more overt types of speech and behavior, microaggression is said to be committed when a member of a minority is exposed to a "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.” 
Palestinain activists on campus have broadened the definition to include situation whereby some type of Israeli food or beverage is served in the cafeteria. Accordingly, serving Sabra humus at Wesleyan University should be considered an act of microaggression against Palestinian students, along with SodaStream at Harvard. Even when the ban on the products were reversed by the administrations on the two campuses – fearful of running afoul of US ant boycott laws - the resulting discourse became another “teaching moment” to educate the student body. The fact that the discourse occurred on two prestigious campuses was an added bonus. 
Looking for indications of the future of BDS based on the 2014 experience, one trend stands out; clear cut victories and defeats will be increasingly replaced by the hard to fight “in between.”


1.1.15

Other Institutions
 
[Bar-Ilan University] Hagar Kotef: What Gender Studies Have to do With It?
 
Hagar Kotef (Gender Studies, Bar Ilan University), a veteran activist whose rather modest academic output was essentially in line with her a radical political agenda. As IAM noted, for most of her career she was preoccupiedwith writing about Machsom Watch, a group that monitors border checkpoints. 
After years of holding part-time positions, Kotef landed a tenure-track position at Bar Ilan’s Gender Studies. But her resolve to promote a political platform in the guise of academic work has not changed. Indeed, in an article co-authored with Merav Amir (an activist from Hebrew University, now at Queen's University, Belfast), Kotef analyzes the Anarchists against the Wall. Her explanation for the link between gender studies and Anarchists against the Wall is beyond ingenious. Kotef claims that the Anarchists are “queers”- a term used by gays and lesbians who do not accept traditional gender identities. 
In the Israeli context, the queer community is identified with advanced pro-Palestinian positions. 
IAM reported on Kvisa Shchora (Black Laundry), the original queer group of Aeyal Gross, now professor of law at Tel Aviv University. However, the Anarchists against the Wall have never identified themselves as a queer group and neither did Kobi Snitz, one of their leaders. 
Beyond the question whether the Anarchists against the Wall are queer or not, there is a more serious problem. Kotef is part of a growing phenomenon of liberal arts scholars who use their positions to further a political agenda. The International Committee that evaluated the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University stated these academics tend to publish on marginal issues in non-mainstream outlets. The Committee recommended the Department hire mainstream scholars to avoid being closed down. 
The Bar-Ilan Gender Studies Program should have considered this recommendation before hiring Kotef.


29.12.14

Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
How to Assess the Struggle against BDS: Quantity, Quality, and the Intangibles
 
After years of paying scant attention, in 2014 the American Jewish community fully embraced the fight against BDS. As the article below indicates, a large number of organizations supported by a substantial budget have tried to counter BDS, campus by campus.
Inevitably, questions about assessing the success of the Jewish initiative have been raised. Unfortunately, Outcome Based Assessment, a tool used in assessing educational outcomes, is hardly appropriate for a field as diffused as BDS, a subset of anti-Israeli paradigms on American campuses. The resulting controversy is characteristic of the confusion. 
Mitchell Bard, the executive director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) asserts that, in quantities terms, most of the BDS initiatives have failed. He is quoted in the article as saying that “the BDS campaign has been a complete failure. They have not really succeeded in convincing anybody except a handful of students and some professors that this in any way will contribute to peace or improving the lot of Palestinians”. Samuel Edelman, past executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), now with the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), argues that even a failed BDS initiative provides an opportunity to “educate the students,” an idea that the BDS activists fully embrace. 
The issue of quantity vs. quality is also pertinent in this context. Counting the number of failed initiatives is important, but not all campuses are created equal. SPME and other observers note that Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP), the primary BDS player, seem to have branches in the higher echelons of tertiary education. As a result, the “teaching moments” that BDS drives provide, target students at prestigious universities educating the future elites. Geri Palast, director of the Israel Action Network, predicted that within a decade the view of Israel among the elites will deteriorate even further. 
Also pertinent to the debate is the faculty’s position. Though only a handful of professional associations adopted a formal BDS, it is widely known that many scholars in the liberal arts harbor negative views of Israel. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a professor at Santa Cruz and the founder of Amcha which seeks to investigate and combat antisemitism at institutions of higher education in the United States, has pointed out that pro-BDS faculty have been offering classes that reflect their point of view. She and others even wrote to UC Chancellors to urge them to act against this phenomenon. Rossman-Benjamin insists that BDS is anti-Semitic and, by extension, research and teaching that supports the BDS position, is also anti-Semitic. But labeling all BDS as anti-Semitic created a backlash accusing pro-Israel advocates of stifling academic freedom. Given the parameters of academic freedom in the United States, it is not likely that university authorities will move to regulate classroom curricula. 
Finally, there is the truly intractable problem of scholarship on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2001, Martin Kramer documented the anti-Israel and anti-American biases in American scholarship in his high profile Ivory Towers on Sand. Despite congressional efforts to address the issue through Title VI legislature, more than a decade later, the bias has persisted if not increased. Ultimately, it is the scholarly paradigms that drive the BDS movement. 
Before success or failure of the BDS is proclaimed, the American Jewish community and the Israeli authorities should look at the entire problem.


 

 



 

 

 

 

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