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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

     
            Special Announcement: Prof. Steven Plaut, co-founder and former member of IAM has passed away on the 18th of January. BDE
                

Click to view whole articles:
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
 
Responding to "Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics"
 
We received several comments to our post "Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics". 
Adi Moreno wrote that "from reading your words I get a very uncomfortable feeling of persecution and silencing. Do you maintain that any academic who supports the movement of BDS is an enemy of Israel and anti-Semite? And if in publishing the names of Israeli and Jewish speakers who expressed support for this position are you trying to narrow down their moves? Can supporting the boycott as a call to non-violent resistance be an intellectual position which is legitimate, even if not acceptable by you?" 
One reader responded to Moreno that the International BDS movement does not recognize the Jewish people's right to their own state and therefore is illegitimate. As for those BDS supporters working in the Israeli academia, they are hypocrites because they draw salaries from government institutions they wish to boycott. No organization can employ someone who work blatantly against it. Boycott activity by a university researcher is equivalent to that of a salesperson in a retail store who convinces customers not to buy from his store. 
Another response came from Dr. Tamir Libel who seemed to question IAM's credibility: "I am interested to express my protest in regard to the outrageous allegations against the Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung. I do hope that the directors of this important German foundation will take appropriate legal means to settle the issue." 
It is not clear why Dr. Libel is so worked up about our description of the RLS. The Foundation is named after the Polish Communist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg and, since its inception has supported radical socialist activities. By its own admission, the Stifftung takes great pride in promoting progressive causes in Israel and beyond. The personnel chosen to run the regional offices reflect this trend.  Dr. Katja Hermann, the head of the RLS in Ramallah, has a long record of promoting activities which are hostile to Israel. She, like many other Western pro-Palestinian activists, has hoped that a third intifada can dislodge Israel from the territories. 
Moreover, the conference resolution endorsing academic boycott of Israel which was supported by 400 participants at the 7th International Conference of Critical Geography held in Ramallah at the end of July 2015 was supported by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Clicking the link leads to the conference supporters, a list of logos following the statement "We are grateful for the support and/or generous donations from" and Rosa Luxemburg is one of them. Of course, the RLS can support its favored causes. But it takes a special kind of intellectual arrogance to describe our fact-based post as "outrageous allegations." 
We repeat, Israeli academics who delegitimize Israel live in a particularly insidious bubble, protected by tenure and the most expansive set of academic freedoms in the Western world. And the tax payer is left with the bill.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
12.01.17
Delegitimization of Israel, BDS initiatives and the recruit of Israeli academics
 
A number of BDS attempts took place recently that need to be addressed. The good news is that the MLA vote on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions was rejected. The bad news is that the Palestinians recruit some Israelis and Jews to lead the calls for boycott. 
This time Ariella Azoulay, Daniel Boyarin and Judith Butler were on hand to lend their support. The MLA Commons which links members for scholarly collaboration posted a statement by Azoulay: "The Palestinian-led BDS movement thus aims to mobilize the international community to respond to a triple call from within that advocates: full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, an end to the military occupation of the Palestinian territories, and the right of Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 to return to their homes." 
Other Israeli academics endorsed the boycott but anonymously due to the 2011 boycott law. 
Also disturbing is that the cancelled conference questioning Israel's right to exist which Oren Ben-Dor and Ilan Pappe planned at the University of Southampton, has moved to the University College Cork in Ireland, to be held on March 31-April 2, 2017. A statement by the organizing committee which includes five academics from University College Cork, declared: “Recent developments in some countries – particularly in the US and the UK – have evidenced an chilling repression of academic freedom when it comes to critique of Israeli state policy. The history of this conference reflects these developments. Originally it was planned to hold the conference at the University of Southampton, but growing pressure on academic freedom in the UK forced a decision to move the conference to Ireland.” It seems that only two out of the 45 speakers are supportive of Israel. 
The conspiracy theorists are working overtime a blog of Rehmat World promotes hatred against Jews. Rehmat stated about the Cork conference "Jewish whining aside – Ireland’s ties with the Zionist entity remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs such as B’tselem, Gisha and al-Haq – and Palestine solidarity activists." 
Interestingly enough, in 2013 the Irish University Times published an op-ed stating that Ireland is the most anti-Israel country in Europe, that Ireland has a “bizarre obsession” with Israel, that the Palestinian plight is a ‘fashionable’ cause for Irish leftists who are hypocritical and inconsistent because they ignore the more urgent crises elsewhere and that the focus on Israel is the latest manifestation of Irish anti-Semitism. In a response, an Irish pro-Palestinian activist wrote that "Ireland’s ties with Israel remain resolutely unchanged despite the best efforts of various Irish human rights NGOs and Palestine solidarity activists." The conference questioning Israel's right to exist certainly proves him wrong. 
Some of the BDS attempts never got public attention, but they deserve a look because they represent a robust network. Some 400 participants at the International Conference of Critical Geography held in Ramallah in 2015 supported a resolution endorsing Academic boycott of Israel. The conference website states that "during the final session, conference participants voted overwhelmingly for a strong resolution drafted by the ICCG 2015 Organizing Team to sign onto the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott and the broader Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The ICGG Steering Committee also unanimously supported the resolution." Both the Antipode Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation have sponsored this boycott initiative. 
But there are other spheres of sponsorship by Antipode and Rosa Luxemburg targeting Israel. For example, Antipode International Workshop Awards which "intended to support radical geographers holding events," was given to Roi Wagner and Ariel Handel of Tel Aviv University and Mada al-Carmel in Haifa for a “Summer School of Critical Palestine/Israel Studies,” granting them the sum of $10,000. No doubt that this critical studies would be critical of Israel but not of the Palestinians. 
This is not the first time that Antipode sponsors anti-Israel events intending to taint Israel in negative colors and question its legitimacy. For example, by establishing a new field of research: On 8 June 2012, the "Radical Geography Community" of Antipode Foundation posted an editorial titled "Intervention – Past is present: Settler colonialism in Palestine" by several Palestinian activists including Antipode International Advisory Board member Omar Jabary Salamanca and Antipode Staff Reporter Kareem Rabie. The Settler Colonialism initiative began by them with the 2011 conference by SOAS Palestine Society, which "gathers together a series of contributions on settler colonialism and Palestine, and attempts to bring the question of settler colonialism back into Palestine Studies...It is our hope that this issue will catalyse creative, collaborative work that puts the settler colonial framework firmly on the agenda of Palestine studies." 
The Rosa Luxemburg Palestine office not only supports the Palestinian calls for boycott but also promotes a Third Intifada, as stated by the head of the regional office of Palestine: "The 'intifada of youth' is developed within of Palestinian society as a legitimate form of resistance against the occupation regime". Their website is hostile towards Israel with images of the separation barrier, soldiers and checkpoints as the center of Palestinian lives. The Israel office of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation offers young Israeli students and scholars to apply for grants. Invitations are being delivered to the social Science community through the Israeli social science network. 
The battle over the boycott of Israel is in force and Palestinians recruit Israeli academics in their efforts to delegitimize Israel.
General Articles
 
05.01.17
Two Reports Concerning Future Science in Israel
 
Two reports were published recently, focusing on the future success of Israeli sciences. One was conducted by Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research, which finds that the number of published papers in academic journals has grown in the last decade but not at the rate of other countries. In other words, Israel’s relative ranking has declined. Neaman researchers found that in mathematics, psychology and brain science, Israel is ranked between 15 and 20 among the 37 countries. Energy, environment and engineering also do poorly compared to other countries. 
Still, the Neaman report found that Israel was doing well in the Information Technology sector. Some fields such as computer science were given high priority in terms of state investments and it bore fruits since Israel is ranked 4. 
The second report was conducted by the Israeli Academy of Sciences which found that the number of scientific papers published per capita has declined since the 1980s from number 1 to 30 today. 
Some scholars argue that publishing voluminous articles and books does not lead to better scholarship and that this measurement should be abolished. The main concern, however, of this report was the decline of investments in labs. The government chief scientist Alexander Bligh stated he would seek improvements in this area. 
The Israel Academy of Science report included a chapter on social sciences, a topic of major concern to IAM. A sub-committee evaluating social science and Humanities was elected from within the Israel Academy of Science; it included Prof. Yohanan Friedmann as chair; Prof. Yoram Bilu; Prof. Avner Holtzman; Prof. Yosef Kaplan; and Prof. Israel Finkelstein as an advisor. 
Their report notes that the field is in decline globally and states that "This collective enterprise [social science] is recently in a state of continuous crisis and is worsening and this, of course, is not only in Israel. A proof for it, is the steady decline in the number of social science students, the so dangerously close to a single-digit percentage of all students in Israeli universities. As a direct result of this, a depreciation of the share of social science in the University's overall stake, and this is having an effect on the attitude of University administrations to these faculties, as it is translated in the allocation of jobs and money. Departments were merged, programs were closed, positions and grooming of young staff are reduced, and some fields of knowledge are facing real 'extinction'. This is a self-inflicting vicious cycle: as the caliber of courses and curricula being lowered, it diminishes their attractiveness for prospective students, which should have produced future researchers, and so on." 
Interestingly, however, the social science report also paid attention to the global post-modern trends. It states that, 
"The 'Linguistic Turn' and the 'Cultural Turn', which were bought to the American and European Academy in the last quarter of the 20th century, challenged prevailing convictions in various fields in the social sciences and was spearheaded by subjects relating to history. The Deconsructive trend has questioned the validity of meta-narratives which ruled western historiography since the beginning of modern historiography. Instead of searching for 'historical truth' post-modern historians put in the center of discussion the examination of competing narratives that reflect different ideological positions, or social and cultural values, that compete them. Post-modern trends, sparked passionate debates in many universities in the Western world and also reached the intellectual sphere in Israel. National meta-narrative, which played a formative role in Israeli society since the beginning of Zionism, was heavily criticized from various angles and had significant repercussions on the historiographical debate. Unfortunately, social science faculties did not play a leading role in these discussions or guided them. Growing challenges of post-modernism, in its various aspects, were not utilized for intellectual reinvigorate in the appropriate departments of social sciences and was hardly reflected in the curriculum of Israeli universities. This reality has created the impression that the Academy lacks proper intellectual leadership and does not fulfill a leading role in debates in the social sciences or culture. This situation has negative ramifications on the status and image of the social sciences in Israeli society and their appeal to the public, especially among the younger generation." 
In other words, the sub-committee embraces post-modern trends and advises Israeli social science faculty to follow suit. 
This advise seems strange considering the growing criticism of post-modern trends in American and British universities. In fact, following the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, this criticism took center stage. 
A number of liberal intellectuals pointed out that the liberal arts which embraced far- fetched left-wing trends and elevated "political correctness" to a defining academic truth, turned colleges into isolated islands where students are "coddled" from reality. As a New York Times article explained, in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century the term elites connoted class. But at the twenty first century, the public considers intellectuals and academics to be an elite totally detached from social reality. In this sense, the populism of Brexit and Trumpism is a reaction to left-wing elitism. 
More to the point, social sciences in the West have been looking for ways to make their offerings more applicable to students needs. Subjects like networking, cyber analysis, and sociology of complex organizations, are very much in demand in the twenty first century market place. Israeli social sciences should broaden their expertise to make themselves more attractive.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
29.12.16
Israel Boycott Vote at the Modern Language Association (MLA) on January 7, 2017
 
A few months ago IAM reported on a group of activists, members of the Modern Language Association (MLA), who have been engaged in promoting the boycott of Israel. The MLA vote on the boycott of Israel will take place in January 7, 2017. As IAM noted, the MLA has some 24,000 members and is a hugely important academic association. The group "MLA Members for Justice in Palestine", that was founded in 2014, have tried before. in June 2014, MLA members failed to pass a resolution that condemned Israel, though the proceeding debate was harsh. For example, Elizabeth Jane Ordonez, professor at the University of Texas and a signatory to the MLA Members for Justice in Palestine petition, called opponents "Zionist attack dogs" in a forum debating the issue. 
A graduate student who wrote under a pseudonym for fear of retribution from pro-BDS faculty furnished the report below. The report notes the several procedural steps are involved. 
The voting body comprises the 297 members of the Delegate Assembly of the MLA. Three resolutions have been placed before the Delegate Assembly: one in favor of a boycott of all Israeli universities; the second, opposing academic boycotts in general; the third, condemning the suppression of academic freedom at Palestinian universities by the Palestinians themselves (the Palestinian Authority and Hamas). 
The resolution which is passed at the Delegate Assembly would be forwarded to the general MLA membership for ratification. Only ratified resolutions are binding. In order to be ratified, two conditions must be met. The resolution must receive the majority of votes cast; and the ‘yes’ votes must represent at least 10% of MLA’s membership in order to constitute a quorum. 
MLA Members for Justice in Palestine invited members to attend several sessions promoting the boycott motion: 
53. “Association Presidents’ Perspectives on Boycott” Thursday, 5 January, 1:45-3:00 p.m., Franklin 8, Philadelphia Marriott 
116. Town Hall Meeting for MLA Members Thursday, 5 January, 5:15–7:00 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon E, Philadelphia Marriott 
245. Open Hearing on Resolutions Friday, 6 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., Grand Ballroom Salon D, Philadelphia Marriott 
277.Open Hearing of the MLA Delegate Assembly Friday, 6 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Grand Ballroom Salon D, Philadelphia Marriott 
510. MLA Delegate Assembly Saturday, 7 January, 11:00 a.m., Grand Ballroom Salon GH, Philadelphia Marriott 
MLA Members for Justice in Palestine encourage members to "bring anyone who will join you: we want to create a sense of supportive buzz and swell prior to the Delegate Assembly (DA) meeting. The DA only allows delegates to vote on the resolution, but any member present can speak to the issue, and in other associations the presence of supportive members has proven to be very effective in encouraging a vote in favor of the resolution." 
In an effort to dissuade the MLA from voting on the BDS proposal, lawyers from the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) sent a letter to the president and executive director of the MLA. The LDB letter contended that the BDS motion “seeks unprecedented action from the MLA that is far beyond the capacity and powers set forth in the MLA’s corporate charter” making it “inconsistent with the mission and programs that the MLA reports to the IRS.”
Those opposing the boycott motion should attend pro-boycott meetings to counter the "sense of supportive buzz and swell." 
No doubt the MLA meetings will be stormy. Should the boycott motion succeed, IAM would report on the developments.
Ben-Gurion University
 
22.12.16
BGU Neve Gordon's Double Standards
 
IAM reported last week that the British Government adopted the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism as drafted by the European Monitoring Center in 2005. Not surprisingly, this move has prompted a reaction by opponents, including Professor Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University's department of Politics and Government, who is currently in a two years scholarship at London's SOAS. In a column in the influential London Review of Books, Gordon accuses the British Government of double standards. 
Although Gordon admits that anti-Semitism is on the rise and needs to be challenged, he claims that one category of the Working Definition, out of eleven examples, is dangerous. The Working Definition lists "ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context". Gordon refers to the example of "applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation." Gordon does not agree with "the categorisation of Israel as a democracy (for me as an Israeli Jew it undoubtedly is, but for my Palestinian neighbours in South Hebron it undoubtedly is not)". 
In fact, Gordon himself fits the description of the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism with regard to Israel. Gordon found striking similarities between Israel and South Africa’s apartheid. In his book Israel’s Occupation he found only one "major difference" between the two, that in South Africa the apartheid regime was institutionalized, but "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 tries to demonstrate the fact that countries tend to use double standards when criticizing other countries. For instance, he accuses the British government of Islamophobia "given that the UK condemns Iran more harshly than China for human rights violations." But he is wrong, Iran sponsors terrorism worldwide, a well documented activity which landed the regime a number one on the State Department and EU lists of countries sponsoring terrorism. China, on the other hand, is not a state sponsor of terrorism. 
Gordon furnishes other examples of double standards of the British government. He accuses the British Government of failing to speak out against Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. But he conveniently fails to mention that the Saudi intervention there was triggered by the so-called Houthi rebellion. Operating under the command of Iran's Quds Force, the foreign operation branch of the Revolutionary Guards, the Shite Houhtis occupied the capital city of Sana and deposed the government. Gordon should know that but is probably not ready to write about Iran's persistent use of terror and civil strife to destabilize countries in the Middle East. 
In fact, like many of his radical activist- academic peers, Gordon has practiced double standards all along. Anyone familiar with his writings would find it hard to come across criticism of human rights violations by Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or Bashar Assad, who has been massacring his own citizens. Neither does he have anything to say about the universally condemned brutality of ISIS, whose ideology justified killing, torture, and rape of civilians for the sake of recreating the Caliphate. 
Gordon should know that practicing such blatant double standards undermines whatever academic legitimacy he may still have.
General Articles
 
15.12.16
The Minister of Education Appoints Asa Kasher to Head a Committee on Ethics Code for the Academe
 
Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Education, has appointed Professor Asa Kasher to chair a committee slated to provide special ethics code to assure that academics do not use their position for political activism. Bennett wrote, “In my role as chairman of the Council for Higher Education, I have recently received many complaints about an ongoing situation of overlap between academic and political activity.” He picked Kasher because of his work on the IDF code of ethics and for being a member over a decade of the bioethics advisory committee of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. 
Over the past decade IAM has reported on serious violations of academic freedom by radical activist faculty. As Ziva Shamir the author of one report, stated that activists used their classrooms, their offices, their research assistants, and even mailing privileges, to create a "local branch" of whatever political party they belong too. Intimidation and harassment of students who do not share the "party line" of their professors is also prevalent, as IAM reported on the complaint of a student. A scholar described his experience in an academic conference, "It became very clear from the start that the audience of fellow scholars was deeply hostile to the approach that I had been asked to present. A discussant claimed that the research I had carried out with colleagues was not academic and had no point. Then one of the academics said that I was a “collaborator.” Then he muttered that I was a “fascist”. Instead of defending me the hosts of the conference gave a stamp of approval to the accusation through their silence (eventually I received a sort-of apology). That was an turning point for me. The unexpected vitriol... among academics and the way it had become personal was unexpected." 
The Kasher committee generated a lively debate on the Academia Network forum; some of the comments were thoughtful, but others were blatant. Uri Weiss, a lecturer at the Graduate School of Business Administration at Bar-Ilan University, organized a petition condemning Bennett, titled "We don't give a damn on the conclusions of the Bennett-Kasher committee." The petition states, "We, professors and university lecturers, declare in advance that we will completely ignore the Kasher committee's conclusions which was appointed by Bennett determining the 'guidelines for political statements of university lecturers.' The regime has no authority to determine how one should express oneself in the academia." The petition which was publicized by Haaretz generated 500 signatures. 
Daniel Bar-Tal encouraged Kasher to decline Bennett's appointment which he described as, "yet another step in the direction of totalitarian thinking." Bar-Tal wrote, "I appeal to you, on behalf of Democratic values and ethics of the academy, not to accept the role given to you by the education minister Naftali Bennett to write recommendations on ethics code for higher education institutions 'regarding political activities and academics'. The role he casts for you is another sign of the will to build a regime with a totalitarian thought - do not lend a hand !!!! His policy in the Ministry of Education and his political path are mirroring his worldview !!!" 
But the requirement for ethics code is not new. Hagit Messer Yaron, the former deputy chair of the CHE, held in 2009 a conference on ethics code for the academia. The Open University posted the proceedings of the conference online. As can be seen, Kasher took part in it along with other academics. The website lists all the known ethics codes in use, in Europe and the U.S., as well as the one drafted by Ben Gurion University. There was no outcry by left-leaning academics, some of whom participated in the conference. 
Imposing a code of ethnics on Israeli universities is long overdue. As the research "Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective" demonstrates, Israeli faculty enjoy an extremely expansive definition of academic freedoms. This had led activist scholars to abuse their privileges, turn social science research into a backwater full of neo-Marxist, critical scholarship, which is not competitive in the international rankings, and shortchanges students and the tax payers.
Ben-Gurion University
 
8.12.16
Chapter 7 in "Women and Jihad" detailing Rachel Avraham's Experience of anti-Israel Bias at Ben-Gurion University
 
IAM has the permission to publish chapter seven in Rachel Avraham's new book Women and Jihad. While pursuing an MA degree at Ben Gurion University and writing a thesis on woman suicide bombers, Rachel felt strong anti-Israel biases which she opposed, only to be harshly criticized and intimidated by BGU staff. She turned to IAM for support. This is her story
General Articles
 
01.12.16
Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Activists [TAU] Gadi algazi, Daniel Bar-Tal, [HUJ] Amir Bitan, [Sapir] Yeela Raanan
 
A number of Israeli academics have been engaged in court cases between Israeli Arabs and the state. 
The recent case pertains to a thirteen-year legal battle over an unrecognized village, Umm-al-Hiran in the Negev, which the court ordered it to be demolished. 
The residents were offered plots of land in Hura, the nearby Bedouin town, as well as financial compensation, but they refused to move. They contend that the government’s desire to move them to the cities Rahat or Hura would change their rural way of life. Having lived in the area for decades, they were never given legal title to the land, making the state the legal owner. Equally important, the Hura local council refuses to let them move to Hura and decided to ban residents from outside into the community. Following a plenary meeting of the Hura local council held a few months ago, the council distributed a letter to residents stating that "the town of Hura will not constitute a default by state agencies for other villages housing solution." 
The decision to demolish the unrecognized village prompted large protests by a number of political activists-cum academics. 
Gadi Algadi, Tel Aviv University professor of Medieval History, wrote on his Facebook page that the "large mobilization of activists and political pressure of the Arab Joint List and lawyers succeeded to postpone the demolition of houses... The village committee invites all of us to arrive early on Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning. It is likely they will block the access roads to the area... Residents invite those who can come to stay overnight in the village and help prevent the demolition of houses. Those among us who can - this is the moment to come." 
Daniel Bar-Tal, a retired Tel Aviv University professor of education, wrote on his Facebook page: "I suppose that many will not like this post - Why ruin such a nice day. And to disturb people. Yet why should we say these things to the Chosen People? So that the People will wake up from ignorance, - to be able to fight antisemitism in clean conscience - so he could look at the mirror- so he can remember how others shamelessly abused us, so that he could look in the eyes of his children in 10 years time to tell of Jewish atrocities, --- this is written by my friend's son -- and I know many things like that happen- occupation of a People against his will results in a resistance of the occupied people to the oppression of the conqueror, all over the world and always will be. It is a universal law --- Isaiah Leibowitz was my teacher in physiological psychology in 1967-8. He opened each class with a short prediction on the people of Israel, that because of the occupation, they will inevitably become brutal, standoffish, cruel and he even used the title Judonazi -- What do you say, was he right in his prophecy ??? The tragedy is that these soldiers are our sons." Bar-Tal referred to the writing of Amir Bitan, (director, department of Information System at the Hebrew University) and apparently his friend's son, who wrote of his harrowing experience when participated in the "non-violent" protest in Umm al-Hiran. 
Yeela Raanan, a lecturer at Sapir College was quoted as saying: “The idea that you can replace one group of citizens with another is intolerable... Right now we have a sprinkling number of Jews, but there should be thousands of Jews.” Raanan was a candidate for the Knesset elections in 2013 on the United Arab List, but did not win a seat. In an interview she sheds light on her political activism in the guise of academics. Her Ph.D. in anthropology of the Middle East from the University of Utah, was tailor- made for her deepening convictions: "I was going in this direction, since the issue of social justice and dealing with marginalized populations was in me for many years. The whole purpose of the dissertation was, when I deal with issues of civil rights I will have PhD before my name and then what I do will have more weight. The purpose of the dissertation was in favor of social justice." Raanan’s involvement with the Bedouins was a logical progression of her self-declared passion for social justice. She noted that only after joining Ben Gurion University faculty she became aware of the Bedouin plight and then became an activist for the Negev Coexistence Forum: “I was shocked, entering an unrecognized village, dealing with the barefoot children who live in poverty, without infrastructure, it brought me to work for them." 
Raanan’s trajectory, like that of Gadi Algazi and other scholars/activists, is typical. They are careful to obtain a well-paid academic position and the legitimacy which goes with it before plunging into activism. Universities in Israel are known for making it possible because virtually all social science departments practice cooptation. In other words, they hire scholars based on their activist potential rather than scholarly merits or the curricular needs of the departments. 
Such practices need to stop to protect the interests of students and the tax payers.
General Articles
 
24.11.16
The Oberlin College and anti-Semitism: The Latest Chapter
 
Earlier this year (in March and August) IAM reported on the case of Dr. Joy Karega of Oberlin College. Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, posted anti-Semitic messages on social media. Following widespread protest, Karega was placed on a paid leave; subsequently, the Board of Trustees fired her. The Board announced that it voted to dismiss Karega because she "violated the fundamental responsibilities of Oberlin faculty members – namely, adherence to the "Statement of Professional Ethics" of the American Association of University Professors." The Professional Ethics requires faculty members to "accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending and transmitting knowledge" and to "practice intellectual honesty." The Board claimed that "Contrary to this obligation, Dr. Karega attacked her colleagues when they challenged inconsistencies in her description of the connection between her postings and her scholarship. She disclaimed all responsibility for her misconduct. And she continues to blame Oberlin and its faculty committees for undertaking a shared governance review process." 
A few days later, on November 19, a case of anti-Semitism was reported to the police which some connects to the dismissal of Karega. Benjamin Kuperman, an Oberlin College associate professor and chair of the computer science department, was awoken by noise outside his home about 3:25 a.m. He said he found smashed on the porch his decorative items and a note behind his mezuzah with letters glued that said “Gas, Jews, Die.” 
The two cases may or may not be related, but certainly, as can be seen, anti-Semitism is ripe in Oberlin. But this is not first time. An earlier incident took place in 1996 when Kwame Ture, a former prime minister of the Black Panthers and founder of the pan-Africanist group, the All-African People's Revolutionary Party, visited Oberlin and caused a stir which lead to a large campus dialogue between supporters of Zionism and of proponents of a free Palestine. Ture talked about Zionism and the pan-African movement in an anti-Zionist speech that elicited the university to respond. 
Oberlin College received a lot of negative publicity because of the anti-Semitic incidents. The Karega case, however may be just a beginning of a new chapter in Oberlin's troubles. She has threatened to bring legal action against her former employer. It is safe to assume that Professor Karega would claim that her academic freedoms were violated by the college. It would then be up to the courts to decide about the boundaries between anti-Semitic expressions and faculty freedom of expression. IAM will report on this issue.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
 16.11.16
TAU Shlomo Sand endorses BDS
 
IAM reported last August on a study-tour to Israel/Palestine conducted by Le Monde Diplomatique. Participants were expected to meet, among others, Shlomo Sand, the retired Tel Aviv University professor. Sand, a former member of the radical anti-Zionist group Matzpen utilized his tenured position to publish highly controversial books which denied the existence of the Jewish people and/ or their link to the Holy Land. 
Many of his critics claimed that Sand has been a professional provocateur. Also known as a political activist, he published an article in Haaretz in March 2015, "All Israelis Should Vote for the Arab List". But now he is onto something new. Although calls for BDS are illegal in Israel, Sand simply ignores the law. In a recent interview Sand endorsed BDS. He asserted: "I think the world has to put boycotts and sanctions against Israel." Sand explained that those who boycott Israel do not want to destroy the state but pressure the government "to stop the occupation." He noted that "If Europe decided to boycott Russia because of Crimea, there is not any reason European states and the United States cannot start to put pressure on Israel". Sand also stated that "I think the pressure today is not a danger to the existence of the Israeli state. We don’t really have military enemies today" and that "the only hope to save Israel from itself is pressure from outside." 
Sand has been criticized by many of his academic peers who say about him "when it comes to Israel, Sand is less historian than upper-middlebrow conspiracy theorist." For instance, Lynn Levin, who teaches English Literature at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in response to his interview, "Sand proves himself to be one-sided and propagandistic." Levin refuted Sand's arguments to conclude "I do not think that Shlomo Sand’s thinking is very helpful." Levin wrote, "Sand, along with Israel’s most implacable enemies, favors BDS." She explained that, "BDS is basically an attempt to isolate and stigmatize Israel under the mock position of asserting high moral principles. In a self-serving comment, Sand says that he is not in favor of the BDS academic sanctions because he is an academic himself. He is pro-BDS as long as it does not apply to him." She dismissed his arguments: "His charge is baseless and launched not from facts and data... [and he] says nothing of prejudicial attitudes of Palestinians." 
But Levin and the legions of Sand's critics miss an important point. Sand, as a professional provocateur, adopted the provocation tactics of Matzpen. However, unlike his former colleagues who ended in the proverbial dustbin of history, Sand became a superstar in the radical circles because of his academic credentials. Tel Aviv University, which promoted him despite the fact he published outside his field of expertise, French culture, gave this former postal clerk (during his Matzpen days) an academic legitimacy.
General Articles
 
09.11.16
Campus Antisemitism Alive and Kicking
 
A recent study by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute and the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University "Hotspots of Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment on US Campuses" has revealed an interesting pattern of anti-Semitism on campus. The analysis found that a substantial number of Jewish students reported being exposed to antisemitism and hostility toward Israel on many American campuses. The extent of antisemitism, however, varied considerably from one campus to another. 
The report found that the rise of the BDS movement on campus has contributed to antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment. The report reveals that antisemitic incidents on campus have increased. Among others, the report found that "One of the strongest predictors of perceiving a hostile climate toward Israel and Jews is the presence of an active Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group on campus." 
The scope of the problem is considerable. About one third of Jewish students reported being verbally harassed because they were Jewish. Almost half were told that "Israelis behave like Nazis toward the Palestinians" and one quarter were blamed for the actions of the Israeli government because they are Jewish. The highest levels of perceived antisemitism and hostility toward Israel were found in schools in the California state system and, to a lesser extent, large land-grant universities in the Midwest. 
Quite surprisingly, the report revealed that more than one third of Jewish students feel a bit uncomfortable to express opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of a lack of adequate knowledge of the issue. Of course, giving Jewish students a better education on issues involving the conflict would help. However, on a positive note, the report found that even with the hostility toward Israel, it did not appear to diminish the students emotional attachment to Israel. 
Holding the university authorities responsible for campus intimidation is a good alternative, as a legal case in a British university indicates. The Tower , which covers the Middle East and America’s interests in the region, reported a case involving a disabled student at Sheffield Hallam University when he was wearing a Star of David or a kippah. The student felt "vulnerable" on campus when "people were giving me dirty looks or trying to block my wheelchair." After contacting the university authorities, he was referred to the student union, only to be dismissed outright. Undeterred, he moved on to seek another advice. 
The student approached Lesley Klaff, an expert on antisemitism and a senior lecturer in law at his university. Together with David Lewis, a law colleague, Klaff took the case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), a universities regulator, which took the matter seriously. The OIA cited the European Parliament’s Working Definition of Antisemitism in determining that material circulated by Sheffield Hallam’s Palestine Society "crossed the line" from criticism of Israel into anti-Semitic abuse. The OIA criticized the university for not treating the complaint with appropriate seriousness and noted that it "failed to properly turn its mind to the question of whether [the student] had experienced harassment as a result of certain aspects of PalSoc’s social media activity." The OIA urged the university to pay the student £3,000 in compensation. 
This case shows that if university authorities are faced with fines they would most likely fight expressions of antisemitism on their campuses and that Jewish students should turn to legal remedy if necessary.
   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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