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Israel Academia Monitor

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Anti-Israel Activities of Israeli Academics

 

 

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

 

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

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

The 2nd IAM event "BDS Campaign Against Israel" 2014 and Audio


A unique opportunity to purchase the IAM book on Academic Freedom

     
           
                

Click to view whole articles:
General Articles
 
22.06.17
Academic Earthquake, Part 2
 
The IAM post "Academic Earthquake, Part 1" concerning the ethics code proposed by Prof. Asa Kasher to Minister Naftali Bennett has attracted some criticism. The following is a comment by Professor Fania Oz-Salzberger of the University of Haifa, questioning our statement regarding some academics, that are "known to be too radical." She wrote, "Several names are given, which leaves an unfortunate aftertaste of witch hunting. I disagree with these colleagues on many issues, but wholly respect their right to air their views." She ended with, "'Too radical' is a pathetically self-revealing label." But Oz-Salzberger may not be aware that they all called for boycott. 
As before, an attack on us and the need for an ethics code is couched in the language of academic freedom and free speech. 
Just for the record, we were not the only one to raise this issue. In 2012 Professor Ziva Sharmir, the former head of the School of Jewish Studies and head of the Katz Institute for the Study of Literature at TAU, who upon her retirement wrote in 2012 in Kivunim Hadashim. Shamir, a former member in promotion committees came across teaching evaluation forms by students complaining about “missionary” professors conveying political messages. She noted that such behavior "contribute to hypocrisy in the classroom; on the one hand they speak about academic freedom but on the other, their teaching does not encourage pluralism and a free exchange of ideas." Shamir wrote harshly about a "climate of academic rigidity", and "pseudo-research", "where the conclusions are reached ahead of time and empirical surveys are tailored to fit the foregone conclusions." Shamir added that in many fields, "research has been abandoned in favor of the fashionable “discourse.” In many departments it is impossible to express an opinion because the “knights of free speech” will boycott all those who dare to say things outside the parameters of political correctness". Such radical ideas are sometimes "products of self-interested hypocrisy driven by well-paid service to anti-Israeli elements." The problem lies, Shamir noted, when the majority of academics in those departments were silent due to fear. 
Shamir offered solutions, including an ethics committee: 
There is a need to depoliticize academic instruction, noting that the new trends in critical scholarship give the instructor more political leeway. 
Departments should evaluate themselves in addition to being evaluated by an outside body that would determine if they fulfill the original mandate of the CHE. 
Faculty members should stop using their university office as a branch of their political party, while using the postal, telephone and Internet services of the university, and, sometimes, even the services of research assistants. Academic appointments and university budgets are geared toward helping faculty to research and teach, and no other purposes. 
Faculty members should not be allowed to preach their political views in the classroom. Their personal opinions are not more important than the man in the street; the university did not hire him or her because of political opinions. Faculty members, whose fealty to political activism is first and foremost, should take a leave of absence, or consider a switch to politics. 
A committee of relevant experts should be created to evaluate the difference between legitimate research and political propaganda, even in disciplines where the difference may be difficult to discern. Such a committee would be able to determine whether a faculty member whom students have labeled a “political harasser” crossed the line between offering his or her opinions to engaging in political preaching. 
Academic fields that touch upon the political should be approached from a theoretical perspective that encourages pluralistic thinking. Students are not captives of instructors and political harassment, like sexual harassment, should not be allowed. It is legitimate to ask students to express political opinion, but to ask them to participate in demonstrations or sign petitions is political harassment. Students should be able to assume that their refusal to do so would not affect their grades. 
Academic freedom (libertas scholastica) - an argument used by politically-inclined faculty in response to charges of politicization in the universities - is liberty to research and publish without intervention of authorities or outside interests; it is not a carte blanche to turn a classroom into a political platform. Those who wrap themselves in the mantle of academic freedom misrepresent the true meaning of academic freedom - a cornerstone of Western culture that has encouraged freedom of thinking. 
An ethics committee to examine the issue of proportionality and not just the quality of arguments and their scientific soundness in research. 
Despite the vehement opposition, some academics admit that there is a problem. Legal scholar Iddo Porat who opposes the Kasher version of the ethics code, has noted that many of those who attack the code, "suffer from the same syndrome that caused the need for such a code to begin with - a complete denial that there is a problem. There is a problem, and universities can only blame themselves for not making any attempt to deal with it internally, and avoiding any responsibility for it. The Academy is a public asset, financed by the public, and it is inappropriate and unfair that it would serve as a platform for gaining political influence or transmitting a message from one side of the political map. It also makes sense that the defeated party, the right wing, will not want to stand idly by when it happens. When there are internal professional standards such phenomena are tempered by internal pressures, but if internal standards of academic professionalism are eroded, and there are interests of the public that are harmed, it is impossible to complain about attempts to regulate it from above. There is a great risk of regulation. But if you want to avoid it, you have to start with a much more serious process of internal regulation, and before that, of internal debate." 
Porat's comment about the Israeli universities being financed by the tax payer is welcome. For many years now we have empathized this point. We brought detailed statics which indicate that the standards of Israeli universities has deteriorated not just in comparison with Western institutions but also with the newer Asian institutions of higher learning. Social sciences have deteriorated in particular because of the preponderance of critical, neo-Marxist scholarship. 
Substance aside, the tone of he debate is worrisome because it goes well beyond accepted academic standards of speech. Idan Segev of the Hebrew University wrote in opposition to the code labeling the Minister "Bennett and his aggressive and regressive friends". A petition circulated by Eilon Vaadia called the Kasher ethics code a "disgrace" and claimed it was born in sin. 
Bennett, however, responded that the Kasher code serves as a basis for discussion until a solution is reached. Name calling is not a substitute for a debate. 
Academic Earthquake, Part 3 will look back on mixing academics and politics.
General Articles
 
15.06.17
Academic Earthquake: Part 1
 
IAM reported in early Dec 2016 that Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Education and chair of the Council of Higher Education (CHE) had appointed Prof. Asa Kasher to write an ethics code of conduct for the academy. The Code was prepared and the next step is for the CHE to either adopt it as is, amend or abolish. The new Code has also reached the public, in particular Israeli academics, which vehemently rejected it. 
Global media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Daily Mail, have all published the following brief, "Israel's university leaders have lashed out at the nationalist education minister's plan to impose a code of ethics they say is aimed at limiting their academic freedom. The umbrella organization of Israel's university heads says they "vehemently object" to Education Minister Naftali Bennett's guidelines calling on professors to refrain from expressing political opinions in class or openly supporting an academic boycott of Israel. Bennett says Sunday he tasked Asa Kasher, an ethics and philosophy professor at Tel Aviv University, to draw up guidelines to protect students from lecturers who impose their "political worldview" on them. Bennett and other hardliners accuse Israel's academia of having a disproportionate liberal bias. The university heads said such a code ran counter to the concept of academic freedom and doubted it would be enacted." Worth noting the jargon used opposing Bennett, labeling him "nationalist education minister" and "Bennett and other hardliners"; The radical left is softly labeled as "disproportionate liberal bias". 
In Israel, among tons of criticism, Aeyal Gross, professor of Law in TAU declared his opposition in a column in Haaretz and Sandy Kedar of the Law faculty in Haifa University was quoted in Times Higher Education, expressing his disproval. The Committee of University Heads (VERA); The Middle East & Islamic Studies Association of Israel (MEISAI); the Israeli Democracy Institute; the Israeli Anthropological Association; among others attacked the Code. The Students Union announced a demonstration to protest the docu'ment. 
Both the foreign media and the Israeli protesters misrepresent the Kasher code. It is well known that many in the liberal arts have been leaning left. Some are known to be too radical. Neve Gordon, Anat Matar, Rachel Giora, Kobi Snitz and others have often used their academic positions to promote their politics. In 2002 over three hundred academics called their students to refuse military service in the Palestinian territories. IAM which was established in 2004 has been reporting on numerous cases, available in our archives. Of course, there should have been no need for an ethics code had the university heads were dealing with their radical academics dating back for twenty years, but preferred to do nothing under the excuse of "academic freedom". In the Israeli system, university leaders rely on the backing of staff to be reelected, an arrangement which virtually ensures ennui. 
Ran Chermesh, a retired professor from BGU, touched on the issue of the activists in a post on Forum Academia. "The main problem with the Kasher doc'ument is not in its details, but in the process of its creation. We mustn't allow the political echelon to erode academic freedom. It is a slippery slope, starts minimal but ends severely. Therefore, there is no point in entering into a text analysis. The details are not important. What is needed now is for the academic institutions unanimously to reject this attack. When the flood stops, there will be time for self-examination and no doubt there is room for it." In other words, the university authorities need to examine their role in going easy on academic activists. 
The debate got heated when Bar-Ilan University announced a conference on BDS which featured Asa Kasher as a speaker. Michael Gluzman of the TAU Hebrew Literature department responded, "To meet Asa Kasher? Why give him this honor? He serves a right-wing government with anti-democratic tendencies. The Committee of University Heads has already announced that Kasher's docu'ment contradicts academic freedom and has rejected it completely. Perhaps instead of holding discussions about the BDS, Bar Ilan University will devote a seminar to the threats to the democratic regime in Israel. 
Many opponents of the Kasher Code argue that the American university code as drafted by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has not dealt with expressing political opinions in class, and thus the Israeli code should not do so as well. Such statements grossly misrepresent the American reality with regard to public universities. In the US the governors of the states appoint the governing board of the universities and, in turn, they pick the presidents and other higher administrative officials. The system makes it easy for presidents to admonish or fire faculty members who use their classrooms as an extension of their political agenda. The courts have also intervened in cases in which the political and the academic clashed. 
Also, opponents to the Kasher Code argue that muzzling academic freedom lowers academic excellence. This bogus argument is easily proved. Over more than two decades now, the Israeli universities have been sliding in competitive rankings, not only in the West but also in Asia. The liberal science in particular gets low comparative grades, not least because, as several Evaluation Committees of the CHE noted, they are staffed with neo-Marxist, critical scholars whose research is not part of the Thomson ISI rankings. For example, the five-year period Evaluation Committee Report 2011, of the BGU Department of Politics and Government, found that only a couple of articles of all faculty members combined were published in leading political science journals. The report noted a strong emphasis on “community activism” which raised the question if students received rigorous foundation in the discipline. The answer was that the committee saw major weaknesses with regard to the Department. Likewise, the 2011 Report of Sociology and Anthropology at BGU noted a concern of the Committee, of the modest training that students in the MA program received in quantitative methods and statistics and pointed out that even if students were interested only in qualitative methods there was a core of knowledge common to the profession to include a sufficient familiarity with quantitative techniques to read articles in the main journals. The report named the three areas of specialization: critical social studies, sociology of organizations, and anthropology and concluded there appeared to be a concentration of the faculty in areas of critical studies. The report suggested the "study of organizations from a rigorously evidenced-based perspective." 
With few exceptions Israeli universities are public, but opponents of the Kasher Code pretend that they should have the same latitude as private universities. The Israeli academy has never accepted the core principle of public universities in the US and other Western countries, namely, that public universities are funded by the tax payer and are accountable to the elected representatives of the tax payers. 
Academic Earthquake: Part 2 will discuss specific examples of political activism by Israeli academics.
General Articles
 
07.06.17
UK: University College Union Dissociates from the Working Definition of Antisemitism
 
Last week, the European Parliament voted in favor of endorsing the Working Definition of Antisemitism (WDA) of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), drawing praises from Jewish groups. The resolution calls on EU member states, institutions and agencies to adopt and apply the WDA, which in December 2016 was adopted by the British Government. 
The WDA defines antisemitsm as follows: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The WDA also lists several examples of antisemitic cases. To prevent accusations of shutting up criticism of Israel the definition includes, "However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic." 
Yet, the British University and College Union (UCU), which represents over 110,000 academics across the UK, voted to dissociate itself from the WDA. The vote was taken during the UCU's congress which met on Monday 29 May 2017. 
This should come as no surprise, the UCU has been considered a hotbed for anti-Israel attitudes at least since 2005. Under its previous name, Association of University Teachers (AUT), it voted to boycott University of Haifa and Bar-Ilan University because of alleged violations of human rights and academic freedoms. Eventually this decision was overturned. 
Some blame this bias on Sally Hunt, the general secretary since 2002. In 2012 the group Academic Friends of Israel had warned that the "union's stance on Israel under Ms Hunt had left supporters of Israel 'between a rock and a hard place'. UCU has adopted 16 anti-Israel resolutions under her leadership", according to the group. 
The UCU congress explained its dissociation from WDA, that the definition "conflates anti-semitism with criticism of the state of Israel and has been used to intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the policies of the Israeli government but that are not anti-semitic." It also rejected "government-inspired attempts to ban Palestine solidarity events, naming Israel Apartheid Week." 
The UCU congress also boasted that the UCU has an "exemplary anti-racist work," in particular its "Holocaust Memorial Day materials". A quick search in the UCU website, reveals what the Holocaust Memorial Day means to the organization. It states that the "UCU commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) observed annually on 27 January. It does so in memory of the millions who were murdered in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda in order to challenge hatred and persecution in the UK today." 
It should be pointed out that the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), and the new Jewish-led Free Speech on Israel, two radical anti-Israel groups, have taken credit for the decision, writing that their "model resolution has been adopted by UCU Congress." The groups include long-standing pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activists Jonathan Rosenhead, Mike Cushman, Sue Blackwell, and Tom Hickey. 
It is now left to the British government to enforce the WDA on the UCU.
General Articles
 
01.06.17
Political Activism at the Israeli Anthropological and Sociological Associations
 
During the 2009 Gaza operation, while thousands of Global Jihadists were active in southern Gaza Strip and Gaza was full of "tunnels intended for abducting troops, weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, and booby-trapped buildings in civilian centers... and weapons prepared for future attacks, such as motorbikes intended for kidnapping," some five hundred Israelis posted a petition online urging the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Israel. The signatories also urged EU member states to adopt "immediate restrictive measures and sanctions, as well as cessation of all upgrade dialogue with Israel." 
Some of the petitioners were academics. Regev Nathansohn, who teaches Anthropology at the University of Haifa, was one of them. Nathansohn was the winner of the best MA thesis in 2007 by the Israeli Sociological Association supervised by Yehouda Shenhav and Dan Rabinowitz, a former president of the Anthropological Association. The thesis was named "Shooting Occupation: Sociology of Visual Representation." 
Nathansohn participated in the activities of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR) in 2009. IHJR, was established in 2004 in order to launch a series of research initiatives to study history. For instance, "The ‘Historical Memory on Haifa 1948’ project encompasses a series of joint research initiatives whereby Israeli and Palestinian scholars focused on actual events of the period surrounding 1948 and how they affected the lives of Jews and Palestinians in Haifa." In spite of its lofty aim, the actual project was essentially an exercise of rewriting history. A chapter which Nathansohn co-authored attests to this statement: "Joseph’s reply showed familiarity with the various Zionist paramilitary groups of that time: You know, history repeats itself. During that war it was the same as what we have today among the Palestinians. There is the Fatah, there is Hammas, and there is the Jihad Islami. Same as it was back then with the Jewish forces: the Palmach and the Haganah – their handling of things was softer, but there was the Etzel and the Lechi of Menahem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir and all this gang. They only knew how to kill. Whoever they caught they killed on the spot." Even a casual observer would have noted that there is no place to compare the Jewish organizations to Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. 
In spite of such lapses, Yehouda Shenhav, Nathansohn's MA supervisor, wrote enthusiastically of this project: "In this remarkable project, Jews and Palestinians, write together the history and memory of the city of Haifa. Rather than presenting incommensurable national narratives, they offer a fresh and inspiring alternative: each article is co-authored by Arabs and Jews, thus turning the art of research and writing into a bi-national practice. Addressing 1948 as a benchmark, is crucial particularly today in facilitating not only a new reading of the political story, but also offering political possibilities. Haifa Before & After 1948 is an inspirational book that deserves to be read by everyone who is interested in the history and memory of bi-national societies." Nathansohn is part of the younger generation of sociologists and anthropologists who continue the tradition of radical activists like Shenhav. 
Likewise, Matan Kaminer, a conscientious objector, and an activist , is the newly elected coordinator of the migration and demography community at the Israeli Sociological Association. Kaminer's dissertation is "an ethnographic exploration of the conjunction between settler colonialism and global migration" in Israel. Kaminer "has been active in the Israeli conscientious objectors’ movement, in national and municipal politics and in migrant solidarity work in Israel for the past fifteen years." In 2010 he has taught a semester in Anthropology at TAU, but much of his life he has been a political activist. Kaminer describes Israel as a hollow democracy, "The demoralization of the intellectuals may have grave consequences for the Israeli regime; though financial and military aid for Israel still enjoys public support across the United States and Europe, much of this support depends on the continued credibility of the “only democracy” trope. Thus, what increasingly looks like a shutdown of Israel’s ethnic democracy cannot be understood as a premeditated move to serve the regime’s interests. The current dynamic is probably better understood as an acceleration of a trend inherent in Zionism, as well as in other repressive social formations: the need to identify threatening enemies in order to ensure internal cohesion." 
The 2017 annual conference of the Israeli Anthropological Association which took place last week was featured on the website of MAKI, the Israeli Communist Party. The report introduced the academic-activist Yeela Raanan of Sapir College. MAKI's report noted that "Among the participants are activists of the left-wing lecturers' group at the universities and colleges 'Academia for Equality'." The conference marked solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. In particular the conference addressed Gilad Erdan, Minister of Public Security and urged him to meet the demands of the striking prisoners. Two days after MAKI published the article the Israeli Anthropological Association has posted their statement online. 
There is no better proof of the mixing of politics and academics. Professional associations of this kind should not impose political agenda on the public who sponsor Israeli universities.
Other Institutions
 
26.05.17
Academy in Conflict of Interests: Van Leer Jerusalem as a Case in Point
 
In January 2013 IAM reported on a research group hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute resurrecting Marxism. The group looked at the world through Marxist prism even when their conclusions detached from reality. In particular, Marxists ignore radical Islam, as Marx viewed religion as a form of false consciousness. At a time of sea-change in the Middle East that needs research and explanations, Van Leer and the Dutch Foundation behind it sponsor the lambasting of Israel never to mention the Islamist agenda in the region. 
The staff of Van Leer belongs to the political left. In February 2016 IAM reported on a Van Leer senior fellow who called for the boycott of products from the settlements and contacted various countries to encourage them to do the same. Also, Shai Lavi, the new director, a professor in the faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University, the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, has been a supporter of army refusal, opposed the government Prawer plan for settling the Bedouins, and petitioned in support of Breaking the Silence demanding it "deserves great respect and appreciation for its courageous struggle for the public, for human rights - for every human being - and for allowing a chance for peace." Recently Newsweek, reported on a research conducted by Shira Havkin of Van Leer, on how Israel has gone through privatization and privatized security in the West Bank. The article neglected to mention that Havkin is an activist with the group Machsom Watch since the 1990s. 
This coming June, Van leer will host a conference looking at "the concept of progress as particularly relevant for examining Islamic modernist movements (Nahda) who thought to “join” a universal paradigm of progress, compared to other modes of political Islam who at times question the whole idea of progress and at other times place emphasis on alternative visions of progress." It will also look at how "the Zionist project was imbued from the start with colonial language, which deployed a discourse of progress." The papers to be submitted could include thinkers like Hegel, Franz Fanon and Muhammad Abdu. Not surprising, one follower of such thinkers intended to lead devout Muslims to "spirituality of liberation" promising to "attempt to decolonize our hearts and minds," and hoping also to include text by "the Muslim International which has been grossly under-studied" in order to discuss "the role Western epistemology has played in colonizing the heart, mind and spirit." 
Similarly, this type of discourse was previewed recently in May in the conference "The Occupation at 50: Pasts, Presents, Futures" by Sussex University, organised by Amir Paz-Fuchs, a co-academic director of the privatization project at Van Leer. The invitation to the conference reads, 
"2017 marks 50 years for the longest standing military occupation in the world. During that time, the political, demographic, legal, economic and social dimensions of the occupation have changed dramatically – in Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, in the region, and beyond. The two-state solution has moved from being perceived as a threat to Israel’s existence, to the only possible solution, to one that is now slowly fading into the realms of an unrealistic prospect. The West Bank and Gaza, once viewed as indivisible, have taken different trajectories. Resistance has taken the form of violent uprising, civic protests and international collaboration. The legal system has been portrayed by some as the final frontier for the protection of Palestinian rights, but is seen by others as one of the main facilitators of the occupation. The terms of economic engagement have changed dramatically, from the incorporation of Palestinian labour and markets into the Israeli economy, to selective disengagement during times of upheaval, to complete removal of non-citizen Palestinians from the Israeli labour market, and to calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. And the international community has moved from bewilderment, to active engagement, to frustration and, perhaps, to apathy." 
This conference intended "to take stock and shed light on these issues, by reflecting on the pasts, presents and futures of the occupation; on its implications not just for Palestinians but also for Israelis, and worldwide; on the multiple connections between Israel’s occupation and developments elsewhere in the world; and on the distinctiveness of the occupation in global and historical context." Yoni Mendel, also of the Van Leer is the chair of the panel "1948, 1967 and the Occupation". This panel discusses how, "Israel’s independence in 1948 was simultaneously the Palestinian Nakba" potentially making Israeli Arabs "stand in the way of a permanent two-state solution." Such a statement suggests to promote a one-state solution. Speakers include George Bisharat's "Law and the Continuing Nakba," for example. A perusal of the list of speakers indicates that this is not a scholarly discussion but rather a political one. 
There is an explanation to why this is happening, Van Leer was established in Jerusalem in 1957 by the Van Leer family. "The Institute was designed to serve as a center of intellectual excellence and advanced learning - serving science, ethics and society." The problem lies when Van Leer claims that "Alongside its commitment to academic excellence, the Institute and its resident community of scholars seek to play an active role in civic life in Israeli democracy and its immediate hinterland. To that end the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute has set up Centers for the promotion and innovation in the field of Tolerance Education, the Center for the Study of Arab Society and the Mediterranean Forum. The Institute's projects and personnel are placed in nearly 200 secondary schools throughout Israel, where they implement innovative educational projects. Because of its intellectual prominence and political independence, the Institute func'tions as a sort of "national town-hall" where Israel's ethical and political agendas are often shaped. The main auditorium which, with Polly Van Leer's insight, was built for this purpose, draws Israel's intellectual and cultural elites for public deliberation and political discourse." 
The mixing of academics and activism by Van Leer is just one more example of how anti-Israel activists have derived their legitimacy.
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
 
18.05.17
Ilan Pappe in TAU on a Global Tour Defaming Israel
 
Former Israeli academic Ilan Pappe, professor of History at the Exeter University Center for Palestine Studies is currently on a world tour promoting his new book Ten Myths About Israel. Pappe, a long standing promoter of the boycott of Israeli Universities, gave a lecture on "ethnic cleansing of Palestine" at Tel Aviv University on May 8, 2017. He was invited by the Arab student association to commemorate the Nakba. There was no uproar by the boycott community about him speaking in an Israeli university. His tour includes Seattle, Washington DC, Brazil, Buenos Aires, Cornwall, and Wales. 
Pappe is a controversial historian. To recall, IAM reported on an attempt by the NGO CAMERA requesting Exeter University to inquire into Pappe's falsification of a quote by David Ben Gurion, Exeter University refused to act. 
Pappe himself admitted his pro-Palestinian bias in the introduction to his book A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, "My bias is apparent despite the desire of my peers that I stick to facts and the 'truth' when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous. This book is written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers; and sides with the workers not the bosses. He feels for women in distress, and has little admiration for men in command. He cannot remain indifferent towards mistreated children, or refrain from condemning their elders. In short, mine is a subjective approach, often but not always standing for the defeated over the victorious. At most historical junctures of this history, the Palestinians were in the inferior position, and the Zionists and later the Israelis had the upper hand." 
Benny Morris, his former colleague at the New Historians fraternity described Pappe's methodology, "Pappe regarded history through the prism of contemporary politics and consciously wrote history with an eye to serving political ends." Morris added, "Unfortunately, much of what Pappe tries to sell his readers is complete fabrication... This book is awash with errors of a quantity and a quality that are not found in serious historiography. And, in Pappe’s case, it is not just a matter of sloppiness or indolence in checking facts; the problem goes deeper. It can almost be called a deliberate system of error. The multiplicity of mistakes on each page is a product of both Pappe’s historical methodology and his political proclivities." 
Morris also noted "For those enamored with subjectivity and in thrall to historical relativism, a fact is not a fact and accuracy is unattainable. Why grope for the truth? Narrativity is all." To provide evidence to Pappe's sloppiness Morris lists numerous errors. Pappe was wrong on the founding date of the Stern Gang and the Palmach; wrong on the dates of the Palmach fighting against the British; wrong on the date Ben-Gurion was chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive; wrong on the date of establishment of the Arab Higher Committee; wrong the date the Arab Legion withdrew from Palestine along with the British; wrong on the voting results of the UN partition proposal; wrong to think the Jewish forces were better equipped than the Arab armies; wrong on the date of the first truce; wrong on the date of battles; wrong on the date the Grand Mufti fled Palestine; wrong on the date of the founding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; wrong on the date Tel Aviv was founded; wrong on who established the first Zionist settlements in Palestine; wrong to suggest that the Israeli Foreign Office translated to Hebrew the U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 implying it did not have to withdraw from all the territories occupied in the Six Day War; wrong on the number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in 1979 and 1982; wrong on the date of the Black September in Jordan; wrong on the date of the first Israeli settlements in the West Bank; wrong on the date of the anti-Hashemite riots in Jordan; wrong to state that Palestine’s future was determined in the Husayn-McMahon correspondence and the Sykes-Picot Agreement; wrong not to notice the battle Armaggedon or Meggido of September 1918; wrong on the number of casualties in the Arab rioting of 1929. Morris ends his list with "and so on and on and on." 
Morris's review of Pappe's A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, is scathing, "Pappe allowed his politics to hold sway over his history." He noted, "Pappe's errors are not merely a matter of sloppiness born of a contempt for that leaven of dullards, 'the facts.' The book is also awash with errors resulting from the writer’s ideological preferences, his interest in blackening the Zionists and whitening the Palestinians." As an example of such bias Morris noted that Pappe described events of 1920 riots as resulting from clashes "with the most aggressive of the Zionist organizations, Beitar, whose members marched provocatively in the streets of Arab Jerusalem." But Morris scolded him, "Beitar, the youth movement of the right-wing Revisionist Movement, was founded in 1923, so clearly it could not have had a hand in the events of 1920. (Even a postmodernist can see that!)". 
Unperturbed by criticism, Pappe writes books and tours the world accusing Israel of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. To the contrary, like many of his radical peers, he is using the Palestinians to divert attention, in this case from the bloodshed and ethnic cleansing in Syria.
Ben-Gurion University
 
10.05.17
To the attention of the Board of Governors of BGU
 
Ben Gurion University the Epicenter of Israel-as-an-Apartheid-State Analogy 
May 10, 2017 
Finally the winds are changing. A report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (which comprises 18 Arab states) accusing Israel of being an “apartheid state” and racially discriminating against the Palestinian people, was removed from the Commission’s website. The UN spokesman explained that “the report as it stands does not reflect the views of the Secretary-General”. The "apartheid state" crusade has attracted the attention of the US senate which denounced the "singular focus" of the organization on Israel. 
While the UN may adopt a more balanced approach in the future, a look at the genesis of the apartheid analogy is informative. When pro-Palestinian activists had toyed with the idea of linking Israel with South Africa under the apartheid regime, Ben Gurion University (BGU) scholars actually provided the academic legitimacy to the apartheid analogy. 
Oren Yiftachel, a professor in the Geography Department at BGU is arguably the intellectual architect of the academic analogy. In 2002 Yiftachel submitted a paper to Political Geography which described Israel as "a state dedicated to the expansion and control of one ethnic group." He concluded that society like this "cannot be classified as democracies in a substantive sense". Much to his surprise, his paper was returned unopened with an attached explanatory note that Political Geography could not accept a submission from Israel. After a lengthy discussion, the journal accepted the paper on the condition that Yiftachel makes "substantial revisions" to include a comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa. Yiftachel agreed. Since then he is riding on his "apartheid" scholarship to considerable fame in the political geography community. Michael C. Hudson, the former director of the notoriously anti-Israel Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in Georgetown University acknowledged Yiftachel's pivotal role and awarded him a medal in 2012. 
Neve Gordon a professor in the Department of Politics and Government at BGU, is another academic popularizer of the "apartheid" analogy. Gordon, a veteran political activist started his career as the director of the Physicians for Human Rights – Israel which was denounced by the Israeli Medical Association. In 2004, while a visiting scholar at the notoriously anti-Israel Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Berkeley, which provided him with the necessary resources to write, he worked on the book Israel Occupation. In Gordon's reading, there was only a small difference between Israel and apartheid South Africa, “that in the West Bank no legislation was introduced to support this practice, and no official government decision was taken to put such legislation into effect”. Gordon's logic prompted him to urge a boycott of Israel in an article in the LA Times in 2009 where he wrote “The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state.” 
Idan Landau of the Foreign Literature & Linguistics Department at BGU has written in 2007 on the purpose of the boycott. He wrote, “One of the important considerations is whether the boycott does not act as a double-edged sword, in that it creates hostility and alienation among those Israeli academics who also oppose the occupation, and even actively participate in protest against it, yet deny the legitimacy of the academic boycott. Whether or not they are right or wrong, the very fact that activating the boycott creates a wedge between them and potential partners in the struggle outside Israel is already a question of the effectiveness of an academic boycott… After stripping off the layers of insult, victimization, fury and distraction, there is nothing left to the opponents of the boycott to argue with the principle of the moral validity of the academic boycott and sanctions against the state of Israel and the apartheid regime it imposed in the territories.” 
Sarai Aharoni from the BGU Gender Studies Program, co-authored a paper in 2015 supporting a partial boycott of Israel. She wrote: “the BDS movement has also relied heavily on the language of freedom and justice, framing the longstanding Israeli occupation as yet another manifestation of a Zionist colonial regime that has transformed over time into an institutionalized Apartheid system based on national and ethnic discrimination.” For her, however, “boycott is a double-edged sword”, because BDS will effectively discourage international scholars from collaborating with Israeli scholars who oppose the Israeli policies. Such scholars “are gradually isolated and silenced within Israeli academia.” She also confirmed that “Supporters of an academic and cultural boycott point out the complicity of Israeli academic institutions with the occupation apparatus. This is of course true in the economic sense.” 
In the face of such "engaged scholarship" the leadership of BGU has been strangely silent. When the Council of Higher Education tried to force BGU to reign in its activist faculty and warned to close the Department of Politics and Government, the president of the university and the dean of social science called upon the international academic community to mobilize in protest. 
BGU and the other Israeli universities need to be aware of the role played by radical scholars in legitimizing the "Israel-as-an-apartheid-state" analogy that serves as an intellectual justification for BDS. The leaders of the BDS movement welcome these scholars because they deflect accusations of anti-Semitism. In this sense, Yiftachel, Gordon, and others serve as the contemporary reincarnation of Lenin's "useful idiots."
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
03.05.17
Free Speech in American and British Universities: The Israeli Perspective
 
In the past few months, the issue of free speech on liberal campuses in the United States became front page news after a serious of violent protests against conservative speakers. 
Violent protesters in Middlebury College chased out Charles Murray and sent another professor to hospital with serious injuries. Heather Mac Donald, a conservative commentator, was forced to cut her speech short by students at Claremont McKenna College, Mac Donald described the protest by liberal students as "exercise of brute totalitarian force." A violent crowd attacked the venue where Gavin McInnes tried to speak at New York University. According to a police report, four vans with riot police were required to put down the disturbance. Ann Coulter, one of the most prominent conservatives, had to cancel her plans to speak at Berkeley University after a violent protest had erupted. The irony that Berkeley University, the cradle of the free speech movement, would erupt in violence against non-liberal speakers puzzled many. One editor quoted Abraham Lincoln's 1838 statement, "something of ill-omen...the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country." 
There are, of course, many reasons that universities today cannot tolerate free speech. Over the last few decades, liberal arts became the citadel of radical teachings which enshrined minority grievances and victimization. Universities were forced to create “safe spaces” to protect students from speech that was deemed detrimental to their mental well-being. Conservative narratives have been considered harmful, hence banned from the campus. 
Conservative speakers are not the first victims of liberals on campus. Student of Justice in Palestine (SJP) and their network of allies had pioneered the violent shout-downs of Israeli speakers on campus. In 2009 protesters disrupted a lecture by Ehud Olmert former Israeli Prime Minister hosted by the University of Chicago. In 2010 Michael Oren, the then Israeli ambassador to the U.S. was shouted down repeatedly at UC Irvine by 11 Muslim Student Union members. In 2015 Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a talk by Professor Moshe Halbertal at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Earlier in 2017, activists disrupted a lecture by Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Columbia University in New York. 
In Britain, in 2008 former President Shimon Peres was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters in Oxford University. In 2011 Edinburgh University security officers had to be brought in after 50 protesters have shut down a lecture hosted by the University's Jewish society, by Ishmael Khaldi, the Israeli foreign minister's special advisor, he was interrupted by students chanting support for Palestinian refugees. In 2012 activists from SJP at Edinburgh University disrupted a lecture by Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador to the UK. In 2016, police had to accompany Jewish students from a lecture hall after they were trapped by anti-Israel protesters while attending the talk by Hen Mazzig, an Israeli speaker, at University College London. 
The ostensible reason for not letting the Israelis speak was to protect the students for a narrative which may hurt them. In most cases, university authorities, which had created the “safe spaces,” declined to guarantee the safety of the speakers, turning the campus into “no-go zone” for Israeli spokespersons. Except for some Jewish organizations, neither the faculty nor the public had protested this suppression of free speech. 
Ironically, the SJP borrowed this method from the violent fascist and Nazi student groups which had disrupted the lectures of Jewish professors before WWII in Germany and other countries in Europe. These tactics were so effective that most Jewish professors were forced to leave even before Hitler came to power in 1933, especially as university authorities would not guarantee their safety. Needless to say, very few non-Jewish professors and the public at large did protest the hounding of the Jewish faculty. 
This is not to say that campuses in the United States and Great Britain would turn into a Nazi type dictatorship where only “approved narratives” are tolerated. But as the backlash against the shoddy treatment of conservative speakers continues, it is imperative to remember the proverbial Jewish canary in the coal mine.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
27.04.17
The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Israel: Troubled Relations
 
In the last several years the London University School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Israel have had a very troubled relations. 
On the 27th of April Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador to England will speak at a conference there. He was invited by the Jewish and UN societies. When the invitation was announced it was met with a barrage of resistance from pro-Palestinian student groups who "have promised to go ahead with an Apartheid off Campus event" on the day of Regev’s visit. In particular they opposed the invitation because "SOAS community" has passed a BDS referendum in 2015. 
However, officially SOAS administration spoke out against the referendum. In a statement released to the media on 3 March 2015, SOAS announced that it had no legal obligation to comply with the BDS poll because of a number of factors; 1) BDS opinion poll was organised and run by the Students’ Union which is "an organisation independent of SOAS, University of London;" 2) the poll has not been endorsed by SOAS; 3) the organizers of the poll did not meet legal standards. "While the poll has been described as a ‘referendum’ by the Students’ Union, no details were provided in advance for what would make it quorate or valid. In addition, less than 30% of the SOAS community responded." The announcement stated clearly, "the School has no legal obligation to act on the result of this vote." 
Some 40 SOAS groups have endorsed the demand to cancel Regev's visit. Middle East, Arab, Islamic, and Iranian societies feature prominently in the list. Among the unlikely supporters are SOAS Israel Society; SOAS Men’s Football Club; SOAS Martial Arts Society; SOAS Herb Society; SOAS Origami society; SOAS Capoeira Society; among others. 
Richard Galber, a mature SOAS student commented last September on the troubled relationship: "After spending two years at SOAS it is apparent that the vehement anti-Israel sentiment is widespread among both students and professional teaching staff. The anti-Israel sentiment often morphs into anti-Jewish antisemitism where the word Jew and Zionist became effortlessly interchangeable." 
Among the numerous incidents, in 2011, a SOAS part time lecturer Mohammed Abdelkarim was caught biting Dean Gold on the face during a tussle, smashing his camera. 
SOAS's lecturer Adrian Hilton explained that "Pretty much all student societies at Soas have no choice but to conform to the Islamo-Marxist orthodoxy. Last year, an Israeli student was ejected from the Israeli Society (which is staunchly ‘anti-Zionist’) for having the temerity to oppose the boycott. There is little or no tolerance for anyone who objects to the demonisation of Israel and the casual visitor could be forgiven for thinking that only one religion is tolerated on campus. There’s a designated ‘multi-faith’ prayer room, but the noticeboard has only Islamic information... The Soas student constitution prohibits societies based on race, yet the entire student body defines itself in terms of concentric circles of ethno–religious rhetoric, each competing for dominance..." When Baroness Amos has held a meeting with Regev, the student reaction on Facebook was nasty "She knows she brings shame to Soas"; "Regev is an abhorrent racist"; "Who the hell meets a vile Zionist terrorist who defends the mass murder of children?" 
When it comes to Israeli critics of their country, SOAS can be very welcoming. On the 1st of June, SOAS will be hosting a book launch with Aeyal Gross (Tel-Aviv University and SOAS). The publicity release of the book The Writing on the Wall: Rethinking the International Law of Occupation, states the following: "As Israel's control of the Occupied Palestinian Territory nears its fiftieth anniversary, The Writing on the Wall offers a critical perspective on the international law of occupation. Advocating a normative and func'tional approach to occupation, it analyzes the application of humanitarian and human rights law, pointing to the risk of using the law of occupation in its current version to legitimize new variations of conquest and colonialism." Another speaker on this panel is Hagar Kotef, an expert on Checkpoint Watch. 
 While the SOAS administration stressed its commitment to a free exchange of ideas, "SOAS is committed to maintaining a neutral platform and ensuring that all members of our diverse community are free to express their opinions in a mutually respectful and collegial environment. This can only be conducted effectively in an atmosphere of open enquiry, mutual tolerance and intellectual freedom." The roster of speakers indicates the opposite. No effort to diversify the offerings was made. 
It seems clear the SOAS administration is reluctant to confront the illegal BDS poll or to insist on a variety of point of view, making its commitment for a neutral platform sound hollow.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
20.04.17
Former Israeli Ronit Lentin Behind Conference on the Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel at Trinity College Dublin
 
Ronit Lentin, a retired professor of sociology at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is behind the conference "Freedom of Speech and Higher Education: the Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel" scheduled for 12 September 2017 in TCD. Interestingly, the call for papers is published only on the blog of "Academics for Palestine," a group which has been set up to build the academic boycott of Israel." 
Although the call for papers states: "The conference does not propose to debate the pros and cons of the academic boycott of Israel but rather to make links and draw lessons about the role of the public university in fostering academic freedom, and the freedom to express critical, even if controversial views." This façade of neutrality, however, is misleading. Lentin is the chairperson of "Academics for Palestine" and published a letter in support of the academic boycott of Israel in the Irish Times earlier this year. 
The topics of the conference are: Academics as political actors and advocates; Challenges to academic freedom and the freedom to dissent; The practice of academic boycott and academic freedom; The effects of ‘lawfare’ and disciplinary measures on support for the academic boycott of Israel; Comparisons with previous academic boycotts, such as the boycott of Apartheid South Africa. 
The keynote speakers include Steven Salaita who will speak on “Freedom to boycott: BDS and the modern University.” As well known, Salaita was denied an appointment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his egregious Facebook posts and tweets against Israel. 
Lentin herself has drawn fire in Ireland because of her controversial mixing of academics and activism. In the summer of 2004 she published an article "From racial state to racist state" on the Irish referendum amending the citizenship law that would deny Irish citizenship to people born in Ireland unless one of their parents was an Irish citizen. Lentin opposed the referendum and urged an inclusion type of citizenship. She proposed a debate on "how the Irish nation can become other than white (Christian and settled)," and suggested "privileging the voices of the racialised and subverting state immigration." She ended with an appeal "to do all we can to defeat the citizenship referendum." 
Since then Irish nationalists react with anger to her. In 2014, a group of nationalists painted graffiti in protest of an art exhibition criticizing European folklore at TCD, because it is "the base of operations for Israeli born Jewess Ronit Lentin, Ireland’s leading architect of spreading multiculturalism and mass immigration." They also called TCD a "Jewniversity" because it is the "base of Israeli born Jewess Ronit Lentin, who is agitating for the destruction of Irish ethnicity." Another blog, run by the Celtic Party, suggested that "the nice Jewish Lady" is guilty of felony, as her call for “subverting state immigration” is understood as breaking the law under "Offences Against the State Act, 1939". 
But Lentin has her work cut out for her. Last week the Trinity College Dublin Student Union voted down a motion that called for a “college wide boycott of the state of Israel”. The vote comes after Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were fined for protesting a talk with the Israeli ambassador to Ireland. SJP tried to argue that it was a peaceful protest, but TCD administration argued that it represented an attempt to shut down the event. 
By boasting that the TCD "was an early and important supporter of the academic boycott of Apartheid South Africa" Lentin and her conference co-organizers seem to hope that the boycott of Israel would not leave the TCD agenda. 
IAM will report on further developments.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
13.04.17
U.S Court Advances Lawsuit Against the American Studies Association
 
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that four professors can sue the American Studies Association (ASA) over its academic boycott of Israel. The professors’ lawsuit, Bronner v. Duggan, can go ahead after the ASA asked the court to dismiss it. The Court also rejected ASA’s claims that the case infringes on its First Amendment rights. 
The plaintiffs, Simon Bronner, Michael Rockland, Michael Barton, and Charles Kupfer, members of the ASA during its vote to boycott Israel, sued ASA representatives, Lisa Duggan, Curtis Marez, Avery Gordon, Neferti Tadiar, Sunaina Maira, and Chandan Reddy, who were involved with the ASA in different capacities during the relevant time period. The Court proceeds with three out of four claims, for waste, for breach of contract and the violation of the D.C. Nonprofit Corporation Act. 
The ASA is an academic association with approximately 5,000 members from more than 90 American universities and colleges. 
To recall, the ASA’s national council voted unanimously on Dec. 4, 2013 in favor of a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The ASA explained that Israel is responsible for curtailing academic freedom of Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza. 
ASA has a long history of anti-Israel activism which intensified during Israeli actions in Gaza. In Jan 2009, an open letter in the Lebanese paper the Daily Star, directed to President Barack Obama, featured the signatures of all the defendants, as well as Anat Matar and Rachel Giora of Tel Aviv University and Kobi Snitz of Weizmann Institute, and requested to "hold Israel accountable for its criminal violence and its illegal acts, until we cease to supply it with the means to pursue a course of domination and expansion, with arms and warplanes, with finance and diplomatic support. In wake of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, your recent expression of "deep concern" is not enough. It is time for constructive disengagement from Israel, financial, diplomatic, military. What worked in the case of South Africa, divestment and pressure, may finally work in the Middle East." 
Still, some were surprised when, in 2013, the boycott resolution was passed. The then ASA president, Curtis Marez, did not dispute that other nations had a worse human rights records than Israel but added that “one has to start somewhere.” In an apparent effort to defend himself from charges of double standards he explained that unlike the Palestinians who requested the boycott of Israel, civil groups in countries which had oppressive regimes did not ask the ASA for a boycott. It probably did not occur to him that civil groups in oppressive regimes would hardly dare to ask an international body to get involved. 
According to John Stephens, ASA's executive director, the organization registered an increase in contributions following the boycott amounting to almost $40,000 in the first year, with a total of $49,000 specifically designated by donors to support the boycott resolution. The ASA claims to have spent $20,000 of these funds on a media strategist and boycott-related expenses during annual meetings. 
Yet, both plaintiffs and defendants are happy with the Judge ruling. Palestine Legal, a group providing legal support and advocacy for Palestinian activists in the U.S, announced the ruling is a significant victory for the defendants because the judge dismissed the plaintiffs claim for ultra vires acts, that is, acting beyond the purpose of the ASA. The Judge wrote: "The boycott resolution was aimed both at encouraging academic freedom for Palestinians and strengthening relations between American institutions and Palestinians... Thus, it was not contrary to the ASA’s express purposes". 
IAM will update the readers when court convenes next.
General Articles
 
06.04.17
Foreign Universities in Hungary Under Threat of Closure: the Israeli Angle
 
The Hungarian government has submitted a bill to parliament intending to regulate foreign universities that are operating in Hungary. The bill was passed by 123 to 38 in favor of the legislation, which would place restrictions on some 28 foreign universities that could be forced out of the country. 
While the bill is general, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban seems to have targeted one institution in particular - the Central European University (CEU). The right wing Orban accused the CEU of “cheating” and violating Hungarian laws by awarding diplomas. CEU was founded by George Soros in 1991 with an endowment of $880 million. The liberal billionaire who has been a persistent critic of the Prime Minister, has exacerbated matters, prompting Orban to declare that “Not even a billionaire can stand above the law, therefore this university must also obey the law”. Orban asserted that Soros and the NGOs connected to him, were “trying to influence Hungarian domestic politics.” 
The tension between Orban and Soros is not new. In October 2015, Orban accused Soros of belonging to a circle of "activists" trying to undermine European nations by supporting refugees heading to the continent from the Middle East and beyond. "His name is perhaps the strongest example of those who support anything that weakens nation states, they support everything that changes the traditional European lifestyle... These activists who support immigrants inadvertently become part of this international human-smuggling network." Orban was referring to the fact that Soros has been giving grants to organizations that provide legal support to asylum seekers. 
In response, Soros stated that his foundation helps “uphold European values” while Orban’s actions “undermine those values... His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle... Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle.” 
Last May, Orban complained of negative American attitudes toward Hungary, Poland and Central Europe, especially since the migrant crisis. He stated that “behind the leaders of the Democratic Party… we should see George Soros”, an advocate for some million Muslims to enter Europe each year, while Hungary is a barrier to this "Soros-inspired American plan". Orban and other Hungarian cabinet members stated that Soros is “ready to take an active stance” against the Orban government which is “seen as one of his most dangerous enemies in Europe”. Adding that Soros was behind US criticism of Hungary and former president Barack Obama’s pro-migration policies. 
The most vocal protests against the legislation have come from the CEU. Michael Ignatieff, the Canadian born rector of CEU, has rallied international support and published an oped in the New York Times. 
As for the Israeli connection, the CEU is known to employ scholars who promote neo-Marxist critical scholarship, who, as a rule, consider Israel as an apartheid state which subjugated Palestinians. Daniel Monterescu from the CEU's Department of Sociology and Anthropology is a case in point. He began his academic career by obtaining a fellowship at the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) in 2000 while completing his dissertation at the University of Chicago. The PARC newsletter noted that for several years Monterescu was the director of the Israeli-Palestinian peace camp in Jerusalem, and his study examines "the paradoxical nature of Palestinian citizens of Israel living in mixed towns". Monterescu continues in this direction. He authored a paper in 2015 "The ghettoization of Israel's 'mixed cities'," where he explored "The banality of the ghetto: The term ‘ghetto’ migrated from Europe’s Jewish communities to Israel’s ethnically mixed towns — both as an idea and an institution for controlling the Palestinians who remained in Israel after 1948," suggesting that Israeli policies put Arab residents in Ghettos. 
Monterscu, like many neo-Marxist, critical scholars, is an activist. A paper co-authored with Noa Shaindlinger in 2013 on the "Israeli Arab spring" stated that "A few radical Palestinian, Mizrahi, and leftist voices, however, saw the Arab revolts as a historical opportunity to “strive for a dialog with the Arab world” by framing local struggles for Palestinian liberation and for housing rights as a joint regional revolt against colonial oppression and capitalist domination. In a statement titled “Ruh Jadida: A New Spirit for 2011,” young Jewish descendants of the Arab and Muslim world living in Israel wrote an open letter to their peers in the Middle East and North Africa, expressing their solidarity with “the major role that the men and women of our generation are playing so courageously in the demonstrations for freedom and change across the Arab world.” Quoting "a signatory to the letter who dubs himself Abumidian and chose to live in a tent during the protest, concluded: “I don't talk about the ‘Arab Spring’ from the outside. I speak about the ‘Arab Spring’ from within, as an integral part of it." 
Monterescu is part of a network of Israelis who help the current refugee movement in Hungary. In an article on the plight of migrants and refugees Monterescu and two colleagues from CEU, were "grateful to the volunteers and activists" and the "numerous Hungarian and foreign journalists who worked hard to document the troubling yet hopeful events in Budapest and along the border." They wished "to acknowledge the hundreds of Hungarians who defied the law by sheltering migrants and refugees in their homes." Showing a picture of the Hungarian border by Yotam Ronen of Activestills, an Israeli collective of photographers engaged "in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for their inalienable rights." To demonstrate activism and academics, Activestills was recently invited by City University New York (CUNY) for a book launch, featuring Vered Maimon, a senior lecturer of Art History at Tel Aviv University and the co-editor of Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel. Monterescu and his colleagues admitted as much, stating, "Monterescu, who joined the events later that summer, documented the involvement of Jewish activists in the movement and related urban dynamics." 
Scholars from CEU have called upon the Israeli academic-activist community to support their protest against the Hungarian government. Information on Academia and the Social Science forums have been posted. Most recently, a petition to support the CEU against the Orban legislature has been circulated. 
IAM will update its readers on the developments in Hungary. 
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
30.03.17
Blurring the Lines between Scholarship and Activism: "The Politics of Boycotts" in the Journal Radical History Review
 
The Radical History Review announced that its issue 134 of May 2019 would be devoted to the "politics of boycott," a code for BDS. 
This should come as no surprise. MARHO: The Radical Historians Organization which was established in 1973 and has 1,500 members, is the publisher of the journal. MARHO is affiliated the American Historical Association (AHA). The MARHO statement of purpose is to "examine important new scholarship, and analyses of the uses and abuses of history in the popular media, history museums, and other public forums". 
The journal Radical History Review, is published by Duke University Press. According to the editors, it publishes Marxist and non-Marxist radical scholarship in jargon- free English. "It aims to scrutinize conventional history, stimulate theoretical discussion and political analysis, encourage controversy over current historical questions and suggest new ways of teaching history." 
Natalie Rothman and Andrew Zimmerman are the host editors of "Politics of Boycotts;" Rothman is from University of Toronto, history department, and Zimmerman is a professor of history at the George Washington University. Both are veteran supporters of BDS. Rothman has signed the call "900 US, other Academians call for divestment and pressure against Israeli apartheid" in 2009 and also the PACBI petition in 2011. 
Zimmerman signed the "International Scholars' Statement on Gaza" in 2014. He chaired a session on “Historical Perspectives on Boycott Campaigns: California, South Africa, Palestine” at the American Historical Association (AHA) annual meeting in 2016. According to the description, this AHA session "seeks to contribute historical depth and comparative breadth to recent discussions around the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in support of Palestine by focusing on the history of boycotts. This panel will explore the different genealogies of boycotts as political practice. By contextualizing diverse boycott campaigns -- from the United Farm Workers' Delano Grape Strike in California in the 1960s, through the Academic Boycott of South Africa, to the current Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement initiated by Palestinian civil society organizations -- panelists will consider the unique forms of transnational activism and scholarship such campaigns have engendered in North America and around the world. By situating the current BDS campaign in support of Palestine in relation to past boycott campaigns, we can ask questions about how effective different political boycotts have been, what obstacles they have faced, as well as what forms of solidarity and geopolitical visions they have helped articulate." 
To recall, a proposed resolution in favor of boycott was defeated at the AHA Annual Meeting on January 11, 2016: "Those in favor of the resolution claimed that, since the AHA was committed to protecting academic freedom, it should take a clear stand regarding Israeli restrictions on student and faculty activities in the Occupied Territories." 
In a sense, the forthcoming issue is continuation of the discourse in the AHA dressed up in academic garb. In spite of the self-proclaimed aim of the journal to use plain English, the call for papers is full of neo-Marxist, critical scholarship verbiage. The issue promises to contribute to the "historical depth and comparative breadth" to the discussions around the BDS campaign "in support of Palestine", intending "to create a broad basis for historical and strategic discussion by exploring a variety of spatio-temporal scales of political action opened up by boycott campaigns, from visions of global solidarity to hyper localized social movements, and from the strategic deployment of historical comparisons to claims of singularity." 
While they "recognize that not all boycotts are progressive", they "welcome studies that challenge conventional ideas of what a boycott is." The issue editors seek to put the Palestinian case on the same ontological plane as the "campaign during the Irish Land War, the abolitionist boycott of sugar, the non-cooperation movement in colonial India, the anti-Nazi boycott, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the international cultural and academic boycott of Apartheid South Africa." For this, they "seek studies that would be useful to activists as well as theoretical or comparative reflections on the present and future of boycotts as a form of nonviolent political action." 
Hidden inside all this jargon is one clear message: The BDS should be considered an act against oppression on par with the boycott of the apartheid South Africa, the anti-Nazi boycott, the fight of the abolition against slavery and segregation in the United States and other egregious acts of suppression.
General Articles
 
22.03.17
Appointing the 13th Council for Higher Education
 
On March 14, 2017, after a long haul, the 13th Council for Higher Education was appointed. The new CHE is comprised of 25 members: Naftali Bennett, Minister of Education, Chairman, CHE; Mr. Israel Tik; Prof. Saad Tapuchi; Ms. Adi Mishnayot; Prof. Haviva Fadia; Prof. Dudi Schwartz; Prof. Rivka Gilat; Prof. Hanna Dodiuk Kenig; Moshe Vigdor; Prof. Ousside Khatib; Dr. Samar Hajj Yihye; Dr. Rivka Wadmany Shauman; Dr. Leah Boehm; Prof. Illana Gozes; Prof. Israel Gilad; Dr. Ofir Haivry; Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats; Prof. Aviva Halamish; Prof. Haim Taitelbaum; Prof. Eli Pollak; Prof. Ronnie Friedman; Prof. Ido Perlman; Prof. Aharon Kellerman; Prof. Shifra Sagie; Mr. Ram Shefa. 
To recall, six members of the 12th CHE resigned in protest when Minister Bennett dismissed the vice-chair, a highly respected Professor Haggit Messer-Yaronand appointed Dr. Rivka Wadmany-Shauman, a junior academic. Possible explanation is that Bennett might have been less than happy with the Messer-Yaron committee report, because it urged to reduce the control of the CHE over universities: "To ensure the autonomy of the higher education system, essential for the flourishing of research and teaching to reinforce academic freedom." 
The dismissal created a firestorm among academics and a group of activists-academics postulated that Bennett's move was purely political. The group petitioned the High Court to force Bennett to produce a statement explaining his rational behind electing new members; The activists also wanted to stop decision-making by the CHE, until it had the number of members as required by law. The court hearing scheduled for 27th of February was rescheduled to an unknown date. It is not clear what would be the fate of this petition since a new CHE is now in place. 
One of the missions that the CHE took upon itself is concerning the Law-Schools Clinics. On 28th of June 2016, the CHE adopted the recommendations of an international committee to oversee transparency over the choices of legal cases taken by the clinics; and to limit the funds coming from outside sources. A recent legal case lead by the Tel Aviv University Law Clinic might be affected, the clinic petitioned against a proposed law intending to deduct 20 percent of salaries of asylum seekers and create a special fund to hold the sums until the refugees departure from Israel. Critics have questioned whether the Tel Aviv University clinic should handle such a project. 
The CHE is also deliberating on a code of ethics for the academia by the Kasher committee and the inclusion of Haredim in the institutions of higher education. 
These are important subjects and IAM would update its readers.
Anti-Israel Conferences
 
16.03.17
The Nexus of Scholarship and anti-Israel Activism: The Case of Sussex University UK
 
Last month IAM reported on a petition calling to boycott conferences in the U.S in response to President Trump ban. Among the hundreds of scholars who signed the petition some 150 are from Sussex University in Brighton, UK. One signatory, Jan Selby, professor of International Relations, had organized a workshop which hit the British news. The workshop questioned how to “deal with right-wing attitudes in the classroom”. The University has been accused of undermining free speech, students and staff complained that the institution was revealing its political bias. 
Not surprising, Selby is a disciple of Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist imprisoned by Mussolini who urged the intellectual elites, notably the academics, to launch a "quiet revolution' by reconfiguring societal values to reflect progressive ideas. Gramsci stipulated that academics need to combine scholarship and political activism in one seamless act. Gramsci's disciples took up this mandate by evolving neo-Marxist, critical scholarship, a paradigm which dominates much of contemporary social science. 
Clearly, Selby fits the profile of a neo-Marxist, critical scholar well. In his article "Post-Zionist Perspectives on Contemporary Israel," Selby applied the Gramscian logic to Israel. He stated that in "Gramscian terms," the Labor Settlers Movement was a highly successful 'hegemonic project'." He then went on to note that "there is no necessary reason why the power of the Israeli military could not be acknowledged and analysed within a Gramscian framework." Using his Gramscian toolbox, he concluded "the previously disgraced Ariel Sharon has been rehabilitated as trustworthy guardian of the Israeli national interest" and a new "privatisation programme" implements "repression in the West Bank and Gaza." 
Selby also laments the fact that "in the academy, the best-known of the New Historians, Benny Morris, seems to have become an advocate of ethnic cleansing and has given credence to Ehud Barak's frankly racist view that the Palestinians, being not of Judeo-Christian culture, do not understand the concept of truth. More critical voices, like that of Ilan Pappe, have found themselves ostracised within their universities and even threatened with dismissal. The study of Israeli society may have become more heterogeneous and contested, but a postcolonial liberal Israel seems almost as far away as ever." 
In another article, "The myth of liberal peace-building," Selby blamed Israel for the failure of the Oslo peace process. In Selby's reading of the historic effort to conclude the bloody conflict, it was the "Israeli economic liberalization," which tripped up negotiations and ironically, led Israel to "outsource the occupation" to the Palestinians who are in charge of the most populated parts of he West Bank. 
To bring this type of scholarship into the public arena, Selby is now organizing a conference "The Occupation at 50: Pasts, Presents, Futures" at Sussex University in May. The invitation reads, "2017 marks 50 years for the longest standing military occupation in the world. During that time, the political, demographic, legal, economic and social dimensions of the occupation have changed dramatically, in Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, in the region, and beyond. The two-state solution has moved from being perceived as a threat to Israel’s existence, to the only possible solution, and now to one that is slowly fading into the realms of an unrealistic prospect. The West Bank and Gaza, once viewed as two parts of one political identity, have taken different trajectories. The international arena has moved from bewilderment, to active engagement, to frustration and perhaps, to apathy. Resistance has taken the form of violent uprising, civic protests and international collaboration. The legal system has been portrayed by some as the final frontier for the protection of Palestinian rights, but is seen by others as one of the main facilitators of the occupation. The terms of economic engagement have changed dramatically, from the incorporation of Palestinian labour and markets into the Israeli economy, to selective disengagement during times of upheaval, to complete removal of non-citizen Palestinians from the Israeli labour market, and to calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions." 
This conference features "leading UK and international experts on the occupation", including Israeli neo-Marxist, critical and post-Zionist scholars such as Orna Ben-Naftali, Neve Gordon, Aeyal Gross, Hagar Kotef, Yoni Mendel, Amir Paz-Fuchs, Yoav Peled, Horit Herman Peled, Yael Ronen,and Haim Yacobi. 
Unsurprisingly, no alternative perspective will be represented on the panels. 
Selby has signed a petition in a paid ad in The Guardian which reads "we will not: • accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; • act as referees in any of their processes; • participate in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them. We will, however, continue to work with our Israeli colleagues in their individual capacities. We will maintain this position until the State of Israel complies with international law, and respects universal principles of human rights." He also lectured in a protest of students in support of Gaza, organized by Sussex Occupation. 
Selby is not the only Gramscian at Sussex University, another conference will be taking place devoted to "Echoes of Fascism in Contemporary Culture, Politics and Society." The invitation starts with a quote "Every age has its own fascism" by Primo Levi, the famous author and Holocaust survivor. The conference organizers go on to state: "Within the past year, we have witnessed a number of alarming social and political developments in the UK but also globally." One could have imagined some fascists movements, but no, "The success of the Brexit campaign in the UK, the election of Donald Trump in the USA and his recent imposition of a travel ban". All these have been "dependent on racially charged ideologies, and accompanied by a notable rise in racist, misogynist, and homophobic attacks in the UK and in other Western countries, as the Far Right mobilises and becomes more legitimated." 
Neither Selby nor the "Echoes of Fascism" conference mention the role of Islamist radicalism in creating many of the problems they purport to address. Selby should know that the Oslo process was torpedoed when Hamas and Islamic Jihad, acting on order from Iran, launched a wave of suicide attacks in Israel. The resulting carnage undermined the faith in the Labour government. When Ehud Barak regained power in 1999, he found that Yasser Arafat was too intimidated by the jihadists to go through with the generous deal offered by Israel in Camp David II. Selby is wrong; it was not "economic liberalization," the neo-Marxist boogeyman that sank Oslo, it was Jihad. 
But of course, the neo-Marxist, critical paradigm does not have a category for religious extremism of the kind that ISIS has exhibited. As a result, the second conference cannot mention that much of what is going on in Europe is a reaction to the masses of immigrants that have arrived. Tramped in antiquated and obsolete analysis of reality, the "Echoes of Fascism" conference cannot even acknowledge that the murder of innocents in the street in Europe by jihadists, either homegrown followers of ISIS, or terrorists who arrived as refugees, have been a contributing factor to the popular unease.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
09.03.17
Women’s Day, Feminisms, Womanism and LGBT in the Service of Israeli Apartheid Week Montreal, March 6-15, 2017
 
In April 2016 IAM reported on Canada as a Battleground of BDS. In particular IAM noted that 45 members of staff in McGill University have signed a declaration endorsing BDS. McGill is certainly a battlefield for pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activism. For example, CKUT, a non-profit, campus-community radio station based at McGill University, has posted a notice of activities of Israeli Apartheid Week in Montreal. 
IAM notes that the promotion for Israeli Apartheid Week Montreal 2017 was already announced in March 2016. There is a long list of local groups endorsing it. 
The organizers of the Montreal even have focuses on women issues and includes "International Women’s Day Demonstration" and "Indigenous Feminisms & Womanism". They recruited Nahla Abdo', an Arab feminist scholar and activist, to discuss "the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land, their right of return and the obstacles that face them as well as the resistance that has been mobilized in Palestine and Internationally to stop the Israeli Government’s Illegal Settlements and to help Palestinians acquire their right of RETURN." 
Another featured activist is Simona Sharoni. To recall, in August 2016 IAM reported that "Simona Sharoni, Former Israeli Scholar Promotes False Allegations Against Israel." In her presentation, sponsored by BDS-Concordia, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-Concordia and others, "Compassionate Resistance and Solidarity: Envisioning Post-Apartheid Palestine" she will examine "the ethics and politics of solidarity initiatives designed to end the Israeli occupation. Special attention will be devoted to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, its successes and challenges." Sharoni is said to be "Informed by an intersectional feminist analysis and her lifelong involvement in pursuing social justice," and will be also discussing "ongoing projects designed to ensure that post-apartheid Palestine is an exemplary democratic society with justice and equality for all." 
The organizers have also focused on the LGBT rights. "From the images of ISIS throwing gay men off towers in Syria to the media rhetoric following the Orlando nightclub shootings in 2016, over the last several years LGBT Arabs have found themselves at the crossfires of global ‘clash of civilizations’ discourses." Saleem Haddad, a queer Arab activist, who "will examine the challenges facing queer Arabs in reclaiming their own narratives," and will also "examine the impact of Israeli government pinkwashing" and will "survey the growing xenophobic discourse about the ‘homophobia’ and ‘misogyny’ of Muslim and refugee communities in Europe and North America." He will discuss what "the global rise of the far-right means for LGBT politics, and how LGBT Arabs have begun to fight back." 
The Montreal event is fairly representative of the coalition which the Palestinians have put together to promote BDS. Unsurprisingly, members of this coalition are highly reluctant to discuss the fate of women, gay and transgender in Muslim countries. In a 1993 article on feminism in the Middle East, Nahla Abdo' questioned Simona Sharoni on the striking absence from her writing of the impact of Muslim fundamentalisms. In response Sharoni "expressed her deep concern about the impact of this phenomenon on women, acknowledging the rise of Muslim and Jewish fundamentalism in the region." Somewhat remarkable, Abdo' added that Sharoni "also relayed to me her sincere reluctance to engage in a discussion on Muslim fundamentalism due to her simultaneous identity as an Israeli Jewish feminist." 
The reluctance of scholars to debate the fate of women and LBGT is a testimony to their intellectual bankruptcy. It does not serve their case and hurts the case of the Palestinians.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
01.03.17
The Battle over BDS in the UK
 
In November 2016 IAM reported of a debate that took place in the Scotland University College Union. In early 2016, the UCU Scotland passed a motion calling to host a seminar on possible boycott of Israeli universities. Consequently, the UCU received legal advice that it would be unlawful for the union to support a boycott. The seminar went ahead with two papers presented; Professor Emeritus Jonathan Rosenhead came out in support of a boycott and Dr Alastair Hunter opposed it. The UCU published these proceedings which can be seen below. 
The Scottish case is symptomatic of the legal battle in the UK. The UK's Secretary of State for Communities has recently unveiled new moves to stop local councils from boycotting Israel. The local councils will now be legally forbidden from boycotting companies and countries unless restrictions have already been put in place by the central government. The UK government’s statement on this decision specifically highlighted Israel as an example of particular note and made it clear that councils will not be able to “discriminate on geographical or other grounds”. Starting in October 2015, the British government introduced regulations making it difficult for councils to use their pension funds to pursue ethical divestment policies, by giving the government the power to veto them. In February 2016 the Cabinet Office issued guidelines intending to discourage procurement boycotts by the exclusion of certain companies from bidding for public contracts. 
The UK government's move is seen by some as potentially stepping up the war on the BDS movement. The London based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, an Arabic news website, noted as much in an article calling the new move "unethical". The article was written by a researcher whose PhD studies focuses on the influence of the Israel lobby in the United Kingdom. The author argued that the new UK government regulations followed "years of grassroots local government activism by Palestinian solidarity activists." 
As already noted, Palestinian solidarity activists muzzle speeches by Israeli speakers. In addition, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK has skyrocketed. 
The dire situation on the campuses has prompted governmental action. Last week, Jo Johnson, the universities minister has written to the chief executives of higher education institutions, reminding them of their responsibility to ensure students do not suffer “discrimination, harassment or victimisation”. He added that, “This will include events such as those that might take place under the banner of ‘Israel Apartheid’ events for instance. Such events need to be properly handled by higher education institutions to ensure that our values, expectations and laws are not violated.” 
IAM welcomes the decision of the British government to curb anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activities on the British campuses and would continue to report.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
23.02.17
'Israeli Apartheid Week' on Our Doorstep
 
The annual 'Israeli Apartheid Week' (IAW) said to be "an annual international series of self-organized events (rallies, protests, lectures, cultural performances, concerts, films and workshops) held in over 250 cities, communities and campuses across the globe," is up and running again. 
To create a buzz, the official Facebook page announced a "Call Out," first on 14 December 2016 then again on 2 February 2017, intending to "mark 100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler colonialism, since the inception of the Balfour Declaration." It would take place all around the world between March - April 2017. 
In the United States, the name was changed to Palestine Awareness Week. As in previous years, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a key player. SJP announced it had more than 80 chapters at American universities as of 2010. While they promise the event to be the biggest ever, in reality, so far, the activism has been somewhat subdued. 
In Britain, a number of campuses including Goldsmiths College, Kings College London and University of Manchester are said to hold events between 27th of February to 3rd of March. Israeli advocates have pushed against these events. Michael McCann, director of Israel-Britain Alliance, was quoted as warning university heads not to use campus facilities to host “false and inflammatory propaganda;” he added that students supporting Israel Apartheid Week on-campus should be regarded as anti-Semites, as per the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism which was adopted by Prime Minister Theresa May. 
In South Africa, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation is sponsoring IAW. Proponents claim that IAW is endorsed by more than 85 organizations, trade unions, embassies, youth movements and other groups including South Africa’s governing party, the country’s largest student group and SA’s largest trade union federation. Eager to link the alleged Israeli apartheid to that of South Africa, the organizers proclaim that the "IAW raises awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies towards the indigenous Palestinians. Israel’s discriminatory policies are now also affecting Africans."
However, at home, some Israeli academics have been describing Israel as an apartheid state. Following Oren Yiftachel, the architect since 2002 of the comparison between Israel and South Africa's apartheid, Menachem Klein, professor of political science at Bar Ilan University has followed suit in 2003. And again in a recent article "Israel is Moving Rapidly Towards Apartheid State," Klein was quoted to this effect, asserting that under a one state scenario "Israeli is now moving very rapidly towards an apartheid state." 
IAM would follow the Israeli Apartheid Week activities and continue to report.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
16.02.17
From the BDS of Israel to Academic Boycott Against the US
 
The old saying that the Jews are the canaries in the coal mine comes to mind when looking at the academic reaction to President Trump’s executive order banning entry to citizens of seven, predominantly Muslim countries, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia. 
As well known, the American courts, which questioned the legality of the document, refused to uphold the ban.
But this did not satisfy the academics who almost unanimously opposed the ban. For example, L. Rafael Reif, the president of MIT urged the faculty and students to join a protest in Boston to make their rejection of these policies heard. "Yet I would like us to think seriously about the fact that both within the MIT community and the nation at large, there are people of goodwill who see the measures in the Executive Order as a reasonable path to make the country safer. We would all like our nation to be safe. I am convinced that the Executive Order will make us less safe. Yet all of us, across the spectrum of opinion, are Americans. In this heated moment, I urge every one of us to avoid with all our might the forces that are driving America into two camps. If we love America, and if we believe in America, we cannot allow those divisions to grow worse. We need to imagine a shared future together, if we hope to have one. I am certain our community can help work on this great problem, too, by starting right here at home." 
Some are very curious to see the impact on conferences. For example, Justin Weinberg, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina conducted two polls to figure out how the travel ban could affect the two meetings of the American Philosophical Association that fall on the 90 days ban (until April 27th, 2017). 
Some of the philosophical responses to his question are worth noting: 
• "Isn’t the point of a boycott to hurt those responsible for some kind of injustice, thereby causing them to reconsider their unjust ways? If so, I fail to see 1) how this boycott will hurt the Trump administration and 2) how this will lead to any kind of change. Furthermore, it seems that now, more than every, philosophers and academics need to come together, and conferences are a wonderful way to do this. Why stifle one way of banding together just when we need most to band together?" 
• "While that’s the usual understanding of boycotts, I think the purpose here is better understood as showing solidarity. As in, “we the boycotters are distinguished from those barred from attending conferences in the US only because we come from ‘safe’ countries; we refuse to employ that unjust privilege to our advantage.”" 
• "I’m pretty strongly against this boycott because (a) it piles further harm on those who are already being harmed by Trump, which in my view includes all of US academia (b) it most seriously harms those who are amongst the hardest hit by the ban, those who are unable to leave the US; (c) from what I have seen academics are already protesting with all their hearts and don’t need me to point out that this is unacceptable; (d) I think Trump would love anything that weakens academia." 
• "I must not be the only one that thinks this boycott movement is bizarre. Boycotting a *conference* makes no difference to the Trump administration, in fact, with them already putting gag orders and conducting “PR” reviews on scientific output from federal agencies… this movement will be much celebrated!" 
• "If the US government has decided that hundreds of people with legal right to enter are not good for the US, I don’t want to be good either. This is a legitimate and reasonable way of protesting against an act of barbaric discrimination." 
• "Boycotting as a collective “obligation to signal” is on incredibly shaky grounds in the absence of meaningful agreement amongst actors on its semiotic and normative value." 
An Australian media reported "The peak bodies representing universities in America and Canada have also issued statements condemning the ban. The Association of American Universities has called for its reversal, saying that the ban threatens to cause “irreparable damage” to the academic reputation of the US. Over 20,000 US faculty members and 51 Nobel Laureates have signed a petition voicing concern and urging Trump to reconsider the executive order on immigration." 
Others were more dramatic, stating that the "Trump order threatens global research". Australian professor, Ian Jacobs, Vice Chancellor of the University of New South Wales said, “How can it be that the US, which has countless Nobel Prize winners and top universities of the calibre of Harvard, Stanford and Yale, might suddenly bar the world’s best and the brightest from entry - or worse, re-entry - into its classrooms and laboratories? ...The world badly needs collaborative university research between nations... The best universities have always opened their doors to talent from anywhere in the world, and the US has been a massive beneficiary of that spirit, which encompasses not only academic ability with entrepreneurial drive, but also a strong belief that higher education and research are bulwarks against ignorance, intolerance and inequality.” 
Considering that none of the seven countries are exactly known for being an academic powerhouse, it is hard to see how a temporary ban can inflict such a severe damage as Professor Jacobs suggested. 
But this is not the real point here. If the academic damage was an issue, then surely more scholars would have spoken out against the anti- Israel BDS advocacy which has swept the campuses. 
The real point is the hypocrisy of the academics who are only too happy to consider a boycott on “politically appropriate” targets, first Israel and now the United States, as the following petition to boycott American conferences makes clear. Some 5000 scholars from around the globe have already signed a call to a call to boycott American universities conferences. Not surprising, a number of Israeli academics signed it as well, Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University; Kobi Snitz, Weizmann Institute of Science; and those who live abroad, Haim Bresheeth, SOAS, London; Uri Horesh, University of Essex; Ronit Lentin (retired) Trinity College Dublin; Dr. Tamir Libel, Barcelona Institute of International Studies, Spain; 
Academics who aspire to a higher moral ground need to know that hypocrisy and double standard erode their legitimacy. The Jewish canary in the coal mine is not just a warning about grim developments on the horizon; it is also a reminder that the road from here to there is paved with elevating hypocrisy to a defining principle.
General Articles
 
08.02.17
The Academic-Activist Community Misguided Mission
 
The Academic-activist community launched an unprecedented attack on the Education Ministry's decision to appoint a panel to draw an academic ethics code. Two other developments upset the activists as well. The Knesset plans to vote on a 
law banning BDS activists from entering Israel and wants to amend the Boycott Law to include a penalty to Israeli universities whose faculty call for BDS. 
The academic-activists vented their frustration on the Academia Network; some threatened to start a wide university strike, to sign boycott calls, and announced they deride the Kasher-Bennett ethics code. 
Dr. Yaacov Bergman from the Hebrew University tried to influence the debate by recommending the book Save the World on Your Own Time, by Stanley Fish. Fish, the noted American professor, claims the "only goal appropriate to the academy is the transmission and advancement of knowledge. When teachers offer themselves as moralists, political activists, or agents of social change rather than as credentialed experts in a particular subject and the methods used to analyze it, they abdicate their true purpose... yet professors now routinely bring their political views into the classroom and seek to influence the political views of their students. Those who do this will often invoke academic freedom." In Fish's view, "academic freedom, correctly understood, is the freedom to do the academic job, not the freedom to do any job that comes into the professor’s mind." 
Fish reminded his peers that abusing academic freedoms could be costly to the profession, because the social sciences have suffered cuts in tenure track slots and a wide embrace of contract position. While the trend was partially driven by market forces, it was also aimed at curtailing political activism on American campuses. It is well understood that, absent tenure, faculty would be less likely to spend their time pursuing political crusades. That much became clear in Great Britain where Mrs. Thatcher abolished tenure. Once a beehive of radical activism, social sciences became much more focused on teaching. 
IAM has repeatedly noted that the Israeli social sciences are outmoded and antiqued, stuffed by a generation of radical scholars and their students whose idea of "cutting edge discipline" is neo-Marxist, critical scholarship. A broad-range of subjects including quantitative methods, network analysis, cyber text analysis - common in American and British universities - have yet to make an appearance in Israel. Unsurprisingly, Israeli social sciences score very poorly in international evaluations. 
The Education Ministry and the university authorities have a fiduciary responsibility to the tax payers who support higher education. Reigning in academic-activists is the first step toward fulfilling this responsibility.
General Articles
 
01.02.17
Israeli Academy and the Ethics Code: "Right Hand Doesn't Know What Left Hand is Doing"
 
IAM reported in December that the Council of Higher Education (CHE) appointed Prof. Asa Kasher to head a panel charged with drafting an academic code. The CHE invited the "public including academia, organizations and private or public bodies, including - students and lecturers from academia and elsewhere, who wish to take a stand on the issue". The ethics code should regulate the "principles and rules of proper ethical code in all areas of activity within higher education institutions, the interfaces between academic activities and political activities". 
The announcement has caused an uproar among academics. The Committee of University Heads was quoted in Haaretz as stating that "In each university there is a set of regulations relating, inter alia, to proper ethical conduct. A unified ethics code to dictate from the outside will be detrimental to freedom of speech, the regularity of the academia and it's independence." 
Some academics posting on the list-server promised to ignore the recommendations of the Kasher committee. Professor Isaac (Yanni) Nevo of BGU wrote: "I agree that there is no place for direct party propaganda in the classroom, and of course, not in research. But this distinction between party and academy, or between propaganda to teaching, does not exhaust the permeability of academia to politics, and the duty of professors and researchers to express their views in the classroom, in an effort to detect and spread the truth, even if it has political implications. Its easy to find a singular case, which may have been a deviation from proper professional standards, and to use it to defame and incite the majority in populist propaganda. Like other ministers in this government Bennett also 'excels' in it... I'm afraid that under the demand for "Rules of political expression", while drawing attention to some exceptional cases of the kind you described, a major assault on the essential academic principles is being waged, particularly the principle of academic freedom... The way to deal with the threat of intervention on behalf of political actors is self restraint and internal academic discipline. I called for drafting a Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression in universities which is designed for this purpose. Academic principles for governing these freedoms include internal restrictions (as opposed to external restrictions) and we as a community that seeks to better protect its freedoms, should clarify them as a basis for prudent moves that will allow opposition to political interference. I repeat my request to the academic community to adopt these principles." 
While the lively debate has been taking place, the list-server also posted an invitation, signed by Dr. Anat Matar, to an event hosted by "Academy for Equality." The Israeli Communist Party (MAKI) reported of the "Discussion of the 'Academy for Equality' at Tel Aviv University: Portrait of Neo-liberal Higher Education," describing the meeting as an "Organization of lecturers from the left," where the host "Dr. Anat Matar introduced the 'Academy for Equality' to a hall packed with students and lecturers and said: "This is a left-wing organization advocating equality in the deepest sense: employment and working conditions, fighting against the occupation and for peace, a campaign on the nature of higher education". 
Dr. Hilla Dayan, a lecturer of sociology and political science at University College Amsterdam spoke next. MAKI described her as a "leader" of "Academy for Equality", who "delineated the character of the neo-liberal university and reported on the struggle which began two years ago in Amsterdam against it". Dayan explained: "In the traditional liberal state there was a separation between the market, to state and society. In the Neo-liberal era, the market covers all sectors of society, everything has become a commodity, including higher education." And "Everything is market," she emphasized, "but there is no free market. We are at a different stage of capitalist development and the word 'human capital' has become a key concept... Universities exists hundreds of years and produced non-profit knowledge. Now, knowledge is a commodity and is sold for profit." According to her, MAKI continues, "the current direction of development of higher education are twofold: "technocratic model" in its service of capital where they mainly teach business management, high-tech and law; And the "college of elites", in which there is social and economic networking among the wealthy class." 
Matar is a veteran member of the Communist Party and both she and Dayan are staunch supporters of the Palestinian call for academic boycott of Israel. 
Right under the noses of the academic community, members of the communist party are hosting an event at TAU using its facilities, students and lecturers, to promote their political agenda. Moreover, they have used the TAU logo on the invitation for the event. 
Clearly, the conference is a political event which lacks any academic merit. Matar, who didn't earn a professorship, has a long history of using the academy to push her political agenda. Unfortunately, she is not the only one. IAM published in 2012 an essay by Ziva Shamir, the former head of the School of Jewish Studies at Tel Aviv University, who accused activist faculty of turning their classroom into an extension of their political agenda, and of using their offices to create mini branches of their political parties. 
Yanni Nevo has suggested that universities establish protocols to deal with ethical behavior. These and the "self restraint" or "internal academic discipline" are enough in this view to avoid a binding ethics code of the type proposed by the Kasher committee. Over the years IAM has posted numerous stories about academics who do not practice what Nevo preaches. For instance, Neve Gordon, whose call for BDS dates to 2009, is still promoting delegitimization of Israel with nary a protest of the BGU authorities. 
It will be interesting to see if the CHE would "put teeth" to the Kasher academic code to end to the abuse of academic privileges.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
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Boycott Calls Against Israel
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