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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:
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
10.10.17
Controversy of the book Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production
 
A new Palestinian initiative to delegitimize Israel comes in a form of an academic-cultural book: Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production, edited by Kareem Estefan, Carin Kuoni, and Laura Raicovich, due to be published in October 20, 2017. It is based on a 2014 a series of lectures held at the New School of Social Research New York, where Kuoni who is a director/curator. In May 2017 the authors and editors promoted the book in New York paid by the New School Vera List Center for Art and Politics. 
The book discusses boycotts by and large but is essentially an attempt to legitimate BDS against Israel. Coming from the New School of Social Research in New York is no surprise. The house of the Frankfurt school of thought, the founding fathers of the critical theory concept which enables adherents to refrain from providing bona fide evidence to their claims, something that Palestinians and their supporters happily embrace. 
The latest BDS brouhaha was in August when the third book editor, Laura Raicovich, director of Queens Museum, turned down a request by Israeli officials to rent the hall where the General Assembly voted for partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states on Nov. 29, 1947. While Israel’s mission to the United Nations reserved the space in June for the November 70th anniversary, Raicovich contacted Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the UN, in August after it became known to the public, to inform him that the reservation is cancelled due to pressure by the "Palestinian friends of the museum". After some pressure, the Museum agreed to reinstate the reservation. 
The book's targeted audience is creative leaders and cultural practitioners. It examines boycotts such as the historical precedent of South Africa, the current cultural boycott of Israel, freedom of speech vs self-censorship and activism, and the use of boycotts for civil rights, most notably today in its adoption by the BDS movement. The book also explores the land wars in 19th century Ireland, when Irish farmers defied actions by Captain Charles Boycott and English landlords. In the 20th century boycott played central roles in the liberation of India, South Africa and the U.S. civil rights movement, such as the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, a turning point for the movement against black and white segregation. 
But the book's main goal is to put the boycott campaign against Israel on the same ontological plane as these successful historical boycotts. As can be seen, most of the contributors are Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists. The book includes essays by Nasser Abourahme, Ariella Azoulay, Tania Bruguera, Noura Erakat, Kareem Estefan, Mariam Ghani with Haig Aivazian, Nathan Gray and Ahmet Öğüt, Chelsea Haines, Sean Jacobs, Yazan Khalili, Carin Kuoni and Laura Raicovich, Svetlana Mintcheva, Naeem Mohaiemen, Hlonipha Mokoena, John Peffer, Joshua Simon, Ann Laura Stoler, Radhika Subramaniam, Eyal Weizman and Kareem Estefan, and Frank B. 
There are two Israeli academic contributors, Ariella Azoulay (Brown University) and Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths, University of London), both staunch supporters of BDS who made names to themselves by attacking Israel. In January IAM reported that Azoulay, formally of the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University has contributed a chapter, reproduced below. Her chapter is full of venom against Israel. A short example is, "Acknowledging the Nakba is a prerequisite to join the BDS movement, but it cannot be enough for Israeli Jews. The destruction of pre-1948 Palestine should concern them not only as a problem of or a catastrophe for the Palestinians, but also as a crime against humanity for which they bear responsibility. Hence, in recognizing Palestinian rights, they should also supplement them with a right of their own—the right not to be perpetrators, the right to refuse to inhabit the position allocated to them by the Israeli regime. In the context of this regime, under which Jewish responsibility for the destruction of Palestine and the perpetuation of the catastrophe is still widely denied by many Jews, the universal value of the right not to be a perpetrator can be acknowledged today mainly by Palestinians and within the BDS movement." 
Weizman's reading of Israel is quit similar. Yagil Henkin of the Institute for National Security Studies at TAU, who reviewed Weitzman's book notes: "Reading Hollow Land, one is left with the impression that Israel can do nothing at all of which Weizman would approve. Quite simply, the Jewish state contaminates everything with which it comes in contact. Frequently this stance leads him into flagrant contradictions, such as when he condemns Israel both for dismantling evacuated settlements and for considering the possibility of not doing so; both for making life difficult for Palestinian residents of the territories and for preventing a humanitarian crisis there (in order to consolidate its control, of course). He attacks the IDF’s decision to use precision-guided munitions with special warheads (which cause fewer civilian casualties) because, he argues, it renders targeted killings (of terrorists, that is) more “tolerable,” and he denounces Israeli architecture in Jerusalem because it aspires to a false “Orientalist” authenticity. To Weizman, even the shingled roofs used in settlement housing are just a means of demonstrating distinction from Arab homes, although almost every community in Israel has them. His use of data is also decidedly selective." 
Indefatigable Palestinians and their supporters try to delegitimize Israel on every occasion. Among them is a substantial contingent of radical Israeli academics. Indeed, as IAM has frequently pointed out, their job security seems to depend on how much they can trash Israel. It is a sad commentary on the universities which employ them.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
03.10.17
Drop in Anti-Israel BDS Campaigns on US Campuses: Are the Winds Changing?
 
Israel on Campus Coalition, a group dedicated to Israel-related events on US campuses, published a report on 2016-2017. The report counted a total of 4,327 activities - 1,172 anti-Israel activities and 3,155 pro-Israel ones. The figures represent an almost 20% decline from the 1,437 and 3,886 respectively in 2015-2016. More specifically, with regards to BDS, there was a 40 percent decrease in activities, in 2016-17 there were 20 BDS campaigns while in 2015-16 there were 33. 
This is not surprising since Pro-Palestinian groups have claimed that measures to legislate law prohibiting BDS are restricting their freedom of speech. Palestinian BDS groups assert that Palestinian advocacy is now being targeted. They note facing new threats from anti-BDS organizations. 
It should be noted that there has been a recent uptick in anti-BDS activity. The OutlawBDS, a New York based anti-BDS group that was established to “provide support for New York State Senate Bill S2492” is a case in point. The group published a ‘blacklist’ of BDS supporters in New York and upon passage of anti-BDS law, an entire list of individuals compiled by the group “will be immediately delivered to state authorities, to ensure nothing is hidden from those who wish a better hope for this country.” The group emailed BDS activists to warn them that "According to new legislation in New York State, individuals and organizations that engage in or promote BDS activities with US allies will no longer receive public funding or support. Moreover, the state and its agencies will no longer engage in business or hire these organizations and individuals as they have been deemed problematic and anti-American. You have been marked. You have been identified. You have a limited window of opportunity to cease and desist or face the consequences of your actions in legal proceedings. In case you have ceased your past wrong-doing, please contact us at admin@outlawbds.com for your profile to be removed from the Blacklist." 
Palestinian BDS activists responded that “The goal is to scare these activists before the beginning of their professional careers so they can drop activism for Palestine... if you would like to find a job, you should quit the Palestinian cause—or we will make it impossible for you.” 
Sunaina Maira, professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California Davis, and member of the US campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, has spoken about this blacklisting: “As faculty advisor to Students for Justice in Palestine and member of Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis, and an academic boycott organizer involved in national campaigns, I've noticed the chilling effect that Zionist blacklists and smear campaigns have had on activists involved in the Palestinian justice movement, especially on campuses where administrators routinely discipline students who dare to demand equality and justice for the Palestinian people... The tactics that alt-right activists and white nationalist groups are using to attack faculty and undermine academic freedom have long been used by Zionists across the US to create what Steven Salaita called the 'Palestine exception' to free speech." 
Echoing this tone, the American center Palestine Legal, an independent organization for the civil rights and liberties of people supporting Palestinian freedom, has published an analysis of the legal status of BDS in New York. It says in March 2017, "with almost no notice, no public hearing, no opportunity for public input, the New York State Senate passed three anti-protest bills targeting Palestine advocacy. S.2492 would create a state-sponsored blacklist of individuals, organizations, and companies that support boycotts for Palestinian rights, and would unconstitutionally deny them state benefits." Palestine Legal also mentioned that "On June 5, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 157 (EO 157) Directing State Agencies And Authorities To Divest Public Funds Supporting BDS Campaign Against Israel." 
Arguing that BDS is not considered free speech, Marc Greendorfer, an experienced attorney in legal advocacy and scholarship, postulates that BDS support is not protected by the First Amendment because while commercial boycotts have a history in the United States, "Boycotts that conflicts with established government policy are not protected.” Because BDS violates the rights of Jewish and Israeli American that are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. In addition, existing federal law prohibits support for foreign-sourced boycotts of Israel. He stressed that both Congress and the Supreme Court have followed the principle that when a boycott interferes with commerce or disrupts important policy goals of the government, the right to boycott is vulnerable to government infringement, particularly if the boycott is not in furtherance of the protection of a substantive right held by United States citizens." Greendorfer clarifies that the American "Supreme Court found that boycotts that are political protests intended to punish foreign nations for their offshore conduct may be limited by the government." He concluded that "It is paradoxical that BDS supporters attempt to cloak their unlawful activities with First Amendment protections.... First, opposition to boycotts of Israel has been longstanding U.S. government policy... Far from being civil rights activists, BDS is nothing more than a thinly-veiled hate group." 
In a recent paper "Boycotting the Boycotters: Turnabout Is Fair Play Under the Commerce Clause and the Unconstitutional Conditions Doctrine," Greendorfer reviewed "the constitutionality of state laws that prohibit the state from investing in, or contracting with, parties engaged in certain boycott activity." He found that "as the boycotts subject to state regulation are often connected to the so-called 'BDS movement' that has been active in promoting commercial and academic boycotts of Israel, the paper focuses on the background of BDS and how the nature of BDS impacts the analysis of Commerce Clause and Unconstitutional Conditions Doctrine applicability." 
Prof. Maira, the BDS supporter, has, of course a different opinion as expressed in her forthcoming book Boycott!: The Academy and Justice for Palestine, to be released on January 31, 2018. According to the blurb, "The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) has expanded rapidly though controversially in the US in the last five years. The academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions is a key component of that movement. What is this boycott? Why does it make sense? And why is this an American Studies issue? These key questions and others are answered in this essential short book. Boycott! situates the academic boycott in the broader history of boycotts in the US as well as Palestine and shows how it has evolved into a transnational social movement that has spurred profound intellectual and political shifts. It explores the movement’s implications for antiracist, feminist, queer, and academic labor organizing and examines the boycott in the context of debates about Palestine, Zionism, race, rights-based politics, academic freedom, decolonization and neoliberal capitalism." 
By the time the book is published, Maira and her fellow BDS activists might discover an entirely different BDS scene that will keep evolving in the US and beyond.
General Articles
 
28.09.17
Anti-Semitism on the Rise: German Government Adopts the Working Definition of Antisemitism
 
The rising number of anti-Semitic incidents has forced decision-makers to seek solutions to the phenomenon. To recall, in 2005 the European Union Monitoring Center (EUMC) has proposed a “Working Definition of anti-Semitism” which confirms that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. It was later adopted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights which replaced the EUMC. The Working Definition categorizes that certain expressions such as comparing Israel to Nazi Germany - known as the “nazification of Israel” - are considered modern or neo-anti-Semitism. 
Unsurprisingly, opponents to Israel found the Working Definition controversial and tried to undermine it by claiming it limited the freedom of speech. For a while they were successful, IAM reported in December 2013 on the "Removal of the "Working Definition of Anti-Semitism" by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights." But the Working Definition received a new lease of life when the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), chaired by Romania's special representative Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, adopted the Working Definition of Antisemitism in May 2016. Soon after the European Parliament adopted the Working Definition, Romania, as well as the US house of representatives. 
Then in December 2016 the UK Government announced its plan to adopt the Working Definition and two months later, the University of Central Lancashire cancelled an event part of "Israel Apartheid Week" activity on its campus. The spokesperson for the university said it contravened the definition of antisemitism adopted by the government and was “unlawful”. 
Recently, the German government announced it adopts the international definition of anti-Semitism. Figures on anti-Semitisms in Germany indicate that the decision is very timely. The German authorities recorded 1,468 anti-Semitic offenses in 2016, a 7.5 percent increase. Per the request of the government, a 311 page preliminary report published in April 2017 provides a breakdown of the incidents. Muslims are the most prevalent group among those accused of anti-Semitic offense. Researchers note that the Middle East conflict has spurred a high level for anti-Semitism among the Muslims. The findings are only partial, however, because only 18 imams volunteered to participate. The experts behind the study acknowledged that far more research is needed to determine the extent of anti-Semitic attitudes, including the impact of Muslim immigration to Germany. 
The report concluded that anti-Semitism exists on both the extreme right and to a lesser extent on the extreme left as well as among Muslim communities. It pointed out that right-wing anti-Semites committed the greatest number of actual anti-Semitic crimes. And the experts were at pains to emphasize that anti-Semitism among people of Arab or Turkish backgrounds had less to do with their religion than with their socialization. Juliane Wetzel, researcher and the the Expert Group co-coordinator said that "A pilot study commissioned by the expert group about the attitudes of imams in Germany was unable to identify any radical anti-Semitism." After reviewing a substantial number of studies on the topic, the Expert Group said that while the traditional forms of anti-Semitism had somewhat declined, it was modern anti-Semitism, for example, criticism of Israel being extended to Jews in general, remained alarmingly popular. Politicians agreed that criticism of Israel is often used to justify anti-Semitism and that "Forty percent of the German population agrees with statements that attack Jewish people by way of remarks that are hostile to Israel." The Expert Group promised to release more findings on the growing modern anti-Semitism. 
According to Deidre Berger, the director of The AJC Berlin Ramer Institute for German-Jewish relations, "The lack of a unified definition has led to anti-Semitic incidents being all too often ignored in recent years... The fact, for example, that the courts considered an arson attack on a synagogue in Wuppertal as non-anti-Semitic illustrates the necessity of a definition." 
Absent a definition it would be harder for law enforcement to combat anti-Semitism. The importance of the Working Definition can not be overestimated.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
19.09.17
South Africa as Battleground for BDS: Palestinian Groups Intensify Pressure for Academic Boycott
 
While suffering legal and political defeats in the United States and Europe, the BDS initiative has flourished in South Africa. Palestinian groups are strong and well organized there and use their leverage to promote BDS. At the University of Cape Town (UCT) the Palestine Solidarity Forum has organized a series of seminars to debate the issue of boycotting the Israeli academic institutions. 
A local paper The Daily Vox, run by Khadija Patel and Azad Essa, published an editorial "UCT, Decolonisation And The Academic Boycott Of Israel. Patel and Essa, who also work for the Al-Jazeera English edition, claimed that "Israeli universities are especially critical targets for boycotts because of their func'tion of ideologically, politically, economically and militarily propping up the Israeli colonial project... international opposition against colonialism is critical to building the progressive solidarity and ideological clarity necessary to reshape the world". Interestingly, the "new journalism" that this paper claims to promote sought donations from George Soros' Open Society Foundations. 
As always, the BDS advocates recruit Israeli supporters to legitimize their work. Ronnie Barkan, a staunch BDS activist, is a trusted stand-by. In an interview promoting BDS Barkan mentioned Israeli academics: “When [historian] Ilan Pappé and [professor of linguistics] Tanya Reinhardt were targeted for calling for the academic boycott, we decided that it makes sense to speak out as a group.” His aim was to show there is support for BDS in the Israeli academic community. 
However, there are drawbacks to an institutional BDS according to a American law professor David Bernstein of George Mason University. Bernstein has warned UCT that “They are trying to isolate Israel, but they may find that the University of Cape Town is internationally isolated instead... There would be a substantial number of professors like myself who would have nothing to do with UCT should they adopt an academic boycott of Israel.” He explained that the UCT currently has partnership agreements with many American universities in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Arizona. These three states are among the 22 US states to have passed anti-BDS bills in 2016 which prohibit state governments and agents from doing business with entities that boycott Israel. In other words, should UCT adopt a BDS resolution, it would impair its academic contacts in the United States. 
The Palestinian groups have hitched their wagon to the popular movement for the decolonisation of South Africa. In a symbolic act, UCT removed the statue of Cecil John Rhodes on 09 April, 2015, following weeks of protests and deliberations. Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa who served as a Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in the 1890s. Since he was an ardent believer in British imperialism, having his statue at UCT removed is "a metaphorical call for the transformation of the university's curriculum, culture and faculty, which many blacks feel are alienating and still reflect a Eurocentric heritage". UCT Vice Chancellor Dr. Max Price said the statue has been moved to a safe storage location as the university awaits a decision from the Western Cape government for the statue's future. 
Noting the climate of change, Professor Mahmood Mamdani, a former lecturer in Columbia University who returned to the University of Cape Town after a 16-year absence, who lectured recently in UCT and argued that the university has a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to change direction – from a colonising outpost to a decolonisation project." Mamdani agreed to return to the University of Cape Town “because Rhodes fell”. In his lecture Mamdani said that the institutional form of the modern African university was not African and there was ‘no connection’ between the institutions of learning we know of and celebrate in pre-colonial Africa, whether it’s in Cairo or in Timbuktu. “The universities of contemporary Africa are based on the European model. The European model of a discipline-based gated community with a distinction between clearly defined groups, administrators, academics, and fee-paying students”. By speaking about university fees he aligned himself with the new movement "Fees Must Fall" which is calling to reduce university fees. 
Its worth noting that Mamdani also supports the BDS movement. In 2010 he was among more than 100 academics across South Africa, from over 13 universities, who pledged their support to a University of Johannesburg initiative for ending collaboration with Ben-Gurion University. 
South Africa is a particularly fertile ground for Palestinian BDS groups because of its history of apartheid. Indeed, radical Israeli scholars have used the apartheid analogy for some two decades now. The South Africans followed suit. The book Apartheid Israel: The Politics of an Analogy, published in 2015, brought eighteen prominent South African scholars to reflect on the analogy between apartheid South Africa and contemporary Israel "with an eye to strengthening and broadening today’s movement for justice in Palestine." Ahmed Kathrada, a veteran anti-apartheid activist and former political prisoner reviewed the book. "A South African who is not white does not need more than one day's stay in Palestine to be thrown back to pre-1994 and realize that apartheid is very much alive under Israel as a colonial power... The essays in Apartheid Israel: The Politics of an Analogy powerfully remind those of us who brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa that we must join with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in their fight to bring down the apartheid regime in Israel.” 
But there are other voices to the debate who take a more pragmatic tone. As political scientist Itumeleng Makgetla of Yale University wrote recently, "Given South Africa’s recent experience with the 2016 drought, and future preparation for potential phenomena given the changing climate, it is important to note that Israel is leading in water technology." 
In December 2017 the ANC, South Africa's ruling party, would decide whether to downgrade the Embassy in Israel to a liaison office. South Africa would soon have to decide whether to take the ideological position or the practical one. Same with the universities in South Africa that would need to make this choice too. In a world threatened by climate change and Islamist terrorism, a rigid adherence to an equally rigid cause does not pay.
Anti-Israel Conferences
 
14.09.17
"Freedom of Speech and Higher Education: The Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel" in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
 
IAM reported in April on Ronit Lentin, a retired professor of sociology at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) who is one of the organizers of the conference "Freedom of Speech and Higher Education: the Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel" that took place in 11-12 September 2017. She is the chairperson of "Academics for Palestine," a group which has been set up to promote the academic boycott of Israel. The call for papers stated that "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." Lentin published a letter in support of the academic boycott of Israel in the Irish Times in January. 
Steven Salaita, profiled by the IAM's posts was one of the featured speakers at the conference. After an introduction by Lentin, he spoke about the circumstances under which he lost his offer of a position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The university argued that his tweets were egregiously anti-Semitic, but Salaita chose to present a different narrative. In his speech posted on YouTube he claimed that many people have lost their jobs for being anti-Zionists. He added that when it comes to Palestine, there is no freedom of speech, because of threats and that "Zionists tell bullshit lies about this world;" (33:15) that "Israel commits ethnic cleansing" (36:27). Salaita actually apologized in his lecture for being so angry in the summer of 2014 and tweeting the tweets against Israel (39:18). 
Contrary to the conference assertions about promoting freedom of speech, it was Ze’ev Boker, the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, who was prevented from speaking at the TCD earlier this year by the group Students for Justice in Palestine. TCD provost Patrick Prendergast condemned this incident and said it represented “the antithesis of what Trinity stands for”. Equally important, a number of proposals for alternative views for the conference where turned down although the University issued a statement that "There will be speakers who have opinions both for and against the academic boycott of Israel in attendance and speaking during the event.” Lentin and her cohorts use such events as a propaganda platform against Israel. 
The conference attracted little public attention not least because in the international environment is full of real and grave problems. Huge natural disasters, threats of atomic weapons from North Korea, the violence of ISIS, the still active civil war in Syria, the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, to name just a few. 
But to the radical academics, the suffering of millions and millions of people means little because of their singular obsession with Israel. This type of academy cannot regain its moral authority without addressing its moral blindness.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
07.09.17
Anarchist Kobi Snitz of Weizmann Institute Supports the BDS Community
 
Before the BDS law was passed by the Knesset in 2011 a number of Israeli academics have been involved in BDS activities. After the law, they stopped promoting BDS but did not renounce it. 
Some have mounted legal challenges to the aspects of the BDS legislation and its bureaucratic management. For instance, recently Israeli academic BDS supporters have filed a request via Freedom of Information Act demanding the government reveals the methodology used in deciding to block entry to Israel of BDS activists. Rachel Giora, a linguist at Tel Aviv University and Kobi Snitz of the Weizmann Institute Department of Neurobiology are among four signatories of the information request which Adv. Eitay Mack filed to the Israeli Ministry of Interior and the Population and Immigration Authority. 
The signatories compare the prevention of entry to BDS supporters to "the military juntas in Latin America and dictatorships in Africa which received security aid from Israel. " They also compare the denial of entry to "the case of U.S. citizen Charles Horman, who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered immediately after Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973." Mack alleged that Horman was killed based on "being a radical left activist, transferred to the junta by U.S. intelligence agents." 
The group has asked to receive from the Israeli government the "criteria and procedures that determined which person or organization was added to the blacklist; any protocols or decisions as to how a person or organization was added to the blacklist; any background information gathered on a person or an organization in advance of a decision to add them to the blacklist; details of persons and organizations on the blacklist; messages, appeals and correspondence with foreign entities (airlines, states, foreign security forces, etc.) regarding the blacklist, and persons and organizations on it". 
Previously, the group of petitioners has asked the government to reveal its covert activities against the BDS movement. The group filed requests to both the Foreign Ministry and the Strategic Affairs Ministry, it asked the "government to reveal its financial support to foreign organizations, individuals, journalists or bloggers assisting Israel in its battle against what it calls “delegitimization.”" 
The delegitimization of Israel by Israeli academics is not new, and the university authorities have not reacted because they fear an international backlash. Censuring activists who implicitly support boycott could tarnish a university's reputation in the eyes of the international academic community. As IAM documented, the international academic community threatened Israel with boycott after the Council of Higher Education published a scathing report on the Ben Gurion University's Dept. of Politics and Government. The CHE was forced to retreat its demands behind a flimsy face-saving solution, sending a clear message that activist faculty should be left alone. 
This message has emboldened activists like the self-proclaimed anarchist Kobi Snitz, who has used his position as a faculty member of the Weizmann Institution to engage in anarchist activism. 
In 2010 IAM reported that Snitz has served a 20-day jail sentence for hiding in a house slated for demolition in the village of Harbata in 2004, along with other activists from Anarchists Against the Wall. Snitz was convicted and fined NIS 2,000, "He decided not to pay the fine because he believes he did not do anything, so he went to jail," as reported by a fellow anarchist. 
Snitz who is serving as a webmaster for a Washington D.C. tenants rights group (TENAC) has found an American platform to publicize his grievance. TENAC has published a press release stating that Snitz has apparently been “shot at, fined, jailed, and constantly harassed” for his peace activism. TENAC was "outraged" at these actions. "We strongly support his efforts to secure peace there. We also support the outstanding work of the North American Rabbis for Peace in Israel, who are engaged in the same hard, dangerous work.” One leader of TENAC said that there’s a direct correlation between affordable housing in the District and bulldozed houses in Gaza. “We have a loud voice here on tenant rights and the like... Tenants rights begs the whole rights question. This is a civil rights question in Israel.” The TENAC international outreach encompasses Arab and Israeli issues. There are 350,000 tenants that TENAC represents, about two-thirds of the population are people of Middle Eastern background, Arabs, Jews and others. "We are constantly made aware of the terrible hardships suffered by these populations. We have demonstrated against the murderous, genocidal rule of Bashar al Assad, who has virtually slaughtered his own nation, and we have also strongly supported the peace movement in Israel." What is troubling here is that TENAC likens Israel to other dictatorships in the region and uses Snitz as a symbol. Since the TENAC website says "TENAC is very indebted to Kobi Snitz, our website creator" and web administrator, it goes without saying that those of Middle Eastern origin could potentially be influenced by Snitz. 
Snitz is the director also of Calyx Institute which aims to create an internet service provider that "keeps customer traffic private, away from prying governmental eyes." Calyx Institute provides services helping to avoid the National Security Agency monitoring. "Wouldn't it be nice if we were free to surf the web free from fear of having our traffic monitored and emails scraped by the NSA?" 
It is not surprising that Snitz's sees the Israeli state as a problem as he described, "the joint struggle faces only one main problem: the Israeli state." To emphasis this point he said in an interview that, "the activists who protest with Palestinians are quickly transformed by it and join a core of anti-Zionists living in Israel." More to the point, he was recently interviewed praising BDS. "Kobi Snitz, an Israeli member of the Boycott from Within campaign, says that: BDS tactics are the only example I can think of where the Palestinian movement has a built-in advantage and the Israelis have no effective way to suppress it." 
IAM has repeatedly documented Snitz's extensive involvement in multiple anarchist activities in Israel and abroad. Being an anarchist is a full time job which probably requires overtime as well. Snitz can do all this and more because he receives a salary from the Weizmann Institute. His modest academic record for which he is paid indicates that the Weizmann Institute and the Israeli tax payers receive very little in return.
Tel Aviv University
 
31.08.17
Brown University M.E. Center Seeks Post-Zionist Academics: Gadi Algazi TAU Medievalist Researches Israel's First Decade
 
Beshara Doumani, the Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University, has expanded it to include a Center for Palestinians Studies, which was inaugurated in 2014. Like many such outlets, its sole mission seems to be a radical critique of Israel to present it as a colonial state which subjugates the native population. Needless to say, the colonial paradigm, normally applied to the study of European colonialism in Africa and Asia, does not recognize the historical link between the Jews and the Holy Land. 
But Doumani, well versed in the anti-Israel discourse, understands that recruiting Israeli scholars would make the colonial paradigm more credible while avoiding charges of anti-Semitism. Doumani has been hosting well known critics of Israel as Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir. 
Professor Gadi Algazi, a scholar of late medieval and early modern social and cultural history at Tel Aviv University is another guest at the Center. After receiving tenure, Algazi, a life-long political activist, switched from his appointed subject, to writing political work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a colonial perspective, something that in the exact sciences is unheard of. 
While at Brown, earlier this year Algazi took part of a panel titled "Archives, Diaries, and Colonial Appropriation." His paper, "Profits of Military Rule" promised to analyze colonialism and "profit-generating mechanisms" between 1948–1958. In particular, he focused on the "appropriation and of the social groups who owe their wealth to the military rule imposed on Palestinians in Israel". 
To show how far he had traveled from his original training as a medievalist, the paper is bristled with neo-Marxist, critical jargon such as "class formation under settler colonialism" and other phrases beloved by scholars eager to show their neo-Marxist bona fide. The paper begins with "oral accounts of Bedouin deportation and dispossession, originally encountered in the context of my political work" and ends with the goal of establishing the "legacy of past colonial violence and unequal access to modes of transmission." 
Turning his activism into academics, Algazi finds audiences to his theory. He also spoke at the Colgate University Center for Peace and Conflict on "Making Them Pay: Israel and the Political Economy of Military Rule, 1948-1958" detailing the "intersection of military rule and political economy in Israel." More recently he spoke on the subject of "What do we do against colonialism?" at a conference organized by the platform of Balad party, the group which opposes the idea of Israel as a Jewish state, and favors binational state. 
Algazi was never shy of admitting his activist credentials. In a lengthy interview Algazi spoke about growing up in a activist home and his decision to refuse military service while being a student at Tel Aviv University in 1980. He also mentioned his "dear friend" Leon Sheleff from Tel Aviv University's Law School who defended him in court on charges of refusal. Joining the academy was the next logical step, where, as noted, activist faculty could launch a career in political polemics supported by the tax payers. It is this path that led him to the lush campus of Brown University. 
It would be interesting to know whether Algazi is familiar with the encampment of the Pokanoket Nation, a native American tribe, which has been protesting the theft of its land by Brown. So far, the Ivy League school has offered a vague promise to study the charges. Even if he is familiar, he probably would not elaborate on the subject and neither would his host Doumani who served as a discussant at the "Archives, Diaries, and Colonial Appropriation" panel. After all, it doesn't serve their political agenda. 
This is not academically sound. For the sake of proper academic conduct Tel Aviv University should have reined in its staff's penchant for political activism.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
21.08.17
Anat Matar's Group Calls to Boycott Israeli Cancer Research Congress Organized by TAU Professor
 
In September 10-14, 2017 the Israeli Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, headed by Prof. Abdussalam Azem, hosts in Jerusalem the 42nd Congress of the Federation of the European Biochemical Societies (FEBS). FEBS promotes and supports biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, molecular biophysics and related research areas. Founded in 1964, it is one of Europe's largest organizations in the molecular life sciences, with over 36,000 members across more than 35 biochemistry and molecular biology societies. 
This Congress will be held in Binyanei Hauma and is entitled "From molecules to cells and back" covering the entire spectrum of molecular life sciences. Professor Abdussalam Azem, who signed the invitation is a leading Arab researcher from Tel Aviv University, the head of the TAU Laboratory of Molecular Machines. His lab members, the Azem Group, includes Jewish and non-Jewish members. 
Much to everyone's surprise, the French Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine (Association des universitaires pour le respect du droit international en Palestine - AURDIP), headed by secretary Ahmed Abbes, mathematician and director of research in CNRS, Paris, has published a call for the boycott of the FEBS event in Jerusalem. AURDIP was created in cooperation with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel PACBI and with the British organization BRICUP. 
AURDIP has gathered some 90 signatures of international academics. There are several Israelis and former Israelis, including Azem's colleague at TAU. Such as Dr. Anat Matar, Philosophy, Tel Aviv University, Israel; Emmanuel Farjoun, Professor of Mathematics, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Dr Ronit Lentin, Retired Associate Professor of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin ; Chair, Academics for Palestine, Ireland Dr. Hilla Dayan, sociologist, Lecturer at Amsterdam University College, Netherlands; Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Professorial Research Associate, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK; Moshé Machover, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of London, UK; Dror Warschawski, biophysicist, CNRS, France. 
Others are worth noting as they are the most prominent activists of the academic boycott movement: 
Mona Baker, Professor of translation studies, University of Manchester, UK; Mike Cushman, Research Fellow (rtd) London School of Economics, UK; Terri Ginsberg, Assistant Professor of film and director of the film program, The American University in Cairo, Egypt; Tom Hickey, Principal Lecturer in Philosophy and Aesthetics, University of Brighton, UK; Ghada Karmi, Research Fellow, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, UK; David Klein, Professor of Mathematics, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, USA; David Lloyd, Distinguished Professor of English, University of California, Riverside, USA; Sunaina Maira, Professor of Asian American Studies, University of California-Davis, US; Mazin Qumsiyeh, Biology Professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities, Palestine; Steven Rose, Emeritus professor of neuroscience, The Open University, UK; Jonathan Rosenhead, Emeritus Professor of Operational Research, London School of Economics, UK; Dr Derek Summerfield, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College, Univ of London, UK. 
The group urge to cancel participation in the forthcoming congress for the following reasons: 
Israel’s direct attacks on Palestinians’ right to education, including the bombing of schools and universities, and the obstruction of access to educational sites. The restrictions Israel places on the teaching and research of our Palestinian colleagues have severe consequences not only on research and educational opportunities, but also on Palestinians’ health. 
The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is as low as 30% in Gaza, which Israel has besieged for the past ten years, as compared to 86% in Israel. In 2016, only 44% of Gaza patients who requested access to Israeli hospitals were admitted ; more than half of those refused entry were cancer patients. 
Israeli military authorities forbid students from Gaza to attend universities in the West Bank, and vice versa, and the system of Israeli checkpoints that crisscrosses the West Bank makes school attendance a matter of painful hardship for most Palestinian students. In addition, Palestinian scholars and researchers are regularly denied permission to travel abroad to further their education, attend conferences and participate in joint projects. 
Within Israel, Palestinian students face institutionalised discrimination. Israeli military forces have not hesitated to violently target educational and research institutions. In April 2002 the Palestine Academy for Science and Technology in Ramallah suffered extensive destruction during the IDF’s incursion into the West Bank, as did most of West Bank university laboratories. Regular invasions of their campuses have now become a fact of life for Palestinian universities. 
During the 2014 Israeli invasion of Gaza, six public and private schools, eleven kindergartens and three higher education institutions were completely destroyed ; 450 additional educational facilities sustained serious damage. 
The FEBS Congress is sponsored by Israeli academic institutions that are deeply complicit in Israel’s human rights violations. Tel Aviv University and Technion, for instance, have developed weapon systems and military doctrines employed in committing what Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned as war crimes, while the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus is partially built on illegally confiscated Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem. 
Despite the differences, it is inspired by the academic boycott of South Africa, which was called for in 1965 by 496 academics from 34 universities in the United Kingdom. 
Last year, only one third of invited speakers confirmed their attendance to the FEBS conference scheduled to take place in Turkey. The conference was later canceled, after expressing “solidarity with the Turkish scientific community” which is facing the “curtailment of academic freedoms in Turkey.” 
They end their appeal with: "We urge you to heed the call of Palestinian academics who have called for a boycott of Israel until their basic human rights are met, and to cancel your participation in the upcoming FEBS Congress in Jerusalem. Refraining from lending one’s name to a system of injustice is not a charitable act ; it is a basic moral duty." 
The boycott petition recycles some of the specious arguments against Israel. As a matter of fact, many Palestinian patients are being treated in Israeli hospitals and there are also many Palestinian students and lecturers in Israeli universities. Omar Barghouti as an example. The organizer of the congress is an Israeli Arab and a leading scholar in his field. Perhaps the congress is receiving sponsorship from Israeli universities, but so is Dr. Anat Matar, receiving a salary from Tel Aviv University. 
Signatories such as Mona Baker or Steven Rose are hard core "BDS warmongers" whose activities go back to the early 2000s. Having lost the boycott debate in the University College Union, they are grasping at straws. 
As for the call to exercise "moral duty," the radical left has always been very selective, it stems from the paradigmatic posture that the Jews can do no right and the Palestinians can do no wrong. This logic led to some very tortured explanations in the past and has guided the reference to Turkey in the current petition. As well known, President Erdogan had hundreds if not thousand faculty fired and some were thrown in jail, together with scores of journalists and cultural figures. In Israel, Arab academics occupy a range of important positions and can denounce Israeli policies as some of the IAM posts have suggested. 
Creating this type of "moral duty" is just one more example of the moral bankruptcy of the BDS advocates.
Hebrew University
 
17.08.17
The New Israel Fund and the Academe: the Case of Avner De-Shalit
 
The New Israel Fund (NIF) is a multi-million politically engaged, left-leaning foundation designated to transform Israel into a society in which progressive values should trump its Jewish character. As the NIF leadership sees it, democratic and Jewish values in Israel are not compatible. To this end, NIF has donated some $30M annually to progressive and pro-Arab groups. For years large supporter of NIF was the Ford Foundation which launched in 2003 an initial grant of $20 million and in September 2007 another $20 million for extending its partnership in Israel in order to "support civil society, human rights and social justice organizations in Israel." 
Both Ford and NIF are considered controversial and were criticized by some American Jews and Israelis. 
NIF has strong connection to the Israeli academy. The former Hebrew University professor Naomi Chazan served as its president between 2008-2012 and there are many others involved. Professor Avner De Shalit, a political scientist at the Hebrew University and a former dean of the social sciences has been involved with NIF for about two decades, also by serving on NIF's international board. 
His politics is in accordance to NIF's ideology and is quite evident in his writing. In his 2004 "Being Israeli," he writes about Haifa, "one knows that there had been life there before the Jews came. Much of this land was bought for money rather than taken by force, but still . . . Could it be because the price of saving of the Jewish nation – and probably without Zionism preceding the Second World War, most the Jewish nation (at least in Europe) would have vanished in the Nazi gas chambers – was humiliating another nation? Or was it a necessary price? It seems that living with those guilt feelings and hesitations is part of being Israeli. It is morally and emotionally impossible to be indifferent to these feelings. Most Israelis either become obsessed by them or become engaged in a process of denial. So either one tries to prove that, despite what has happened, we Israelis are basically goodhearted, we have been and are ready to divide the land, to negotiate, to compensate, and so on; or one simply denies that a problem exists. ‘There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation’, Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister between 1969 and 1974, used to say. Some right-wing fanatics in Israeli still claim so. Others admit that saying so would appear ridiculous. Of course there is a Palestinian nation; however, they claim, Israel must not allow this nation to have its own state because it would imply a threat to Israel’s sovereignty. Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Affairs Minister at the time of writing this paper, argues so." 
As a scholar, De-Shalit takes great pride in his alleged academic neutrality and impartiality, according to his 2006 article "Teaching political philosophy and academic neutrality. 
He writes: "In 2002, while I was teaching in Israel, I was very worried about the immorality of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. A group of several colleagues and myself initiated a petition. The petition set out our position, as university lecturers, on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It was published in the press and we were interviewed about the moral grounds for our view. The next day, when I entered my MA seminar on ‘Political Philosophy and Practice’, one of the students challenged me: ‘How dare you tell us that political philosophy can change the world if you, Israeli political theorists, have failed to put forward the argument that would stop the occupation?’ Many students joined him, saying that academics in general, but political theorists in particular, were having rather little impact on the state’s policies. As if this was not enough, when I left the classroom I bumped into an ex-student of mine. He was furious: I am so disappointed. You exploited your position as a university professor when you signed this petition as ‘Professor so and so’. You must distinguish between your political opinions and your position as a university professor. This is the opposite of what you have always taught us about the profession of teaching politics. ‘Is that what I taught them?’ I thought to myself while rushing to my room; ‘Can’t be’. I looked at the textbooks they had read in their first year of undergraduate studies. Indeed, they discussed academic objectivity and neutrality. Funny, because I had been feeling during the years following the collapse of the peace process in the Middle East, that political philosophers couldn’t afford the luxury of not referring to the ‘situation’. They were even obliged to put forward their moral arguments and provoke the students to use the tools we had given them, such as concepts, theories, and the like, to reflect more profoundly on these issues. In fact, political philosophers were doing so in any case by the very fact that they were teaching political philosophy in the context of the conflict. So were the books wrong?" 
De-Shalit concludes that "while university lecturers should not adhere to academic neutrality, they should be impartial." 
But a look at some of De-Shalit's actions seem to indicate that, while he talks the talk he does not walk the walk. 
De-Shalit harnesses NIF affiliates as Phd students. Noam Hofstadter was part of the Courage to Refuse Signers' List in 2002. As mentioned above, De-Shalit signed the petition "Open Letter from Faculty Members", who wished to "express our appreciation and support for those of our students and lecturers who refuse to serve as soldiers in the occupied territories" and "our readiness to do our best to help students." 
Hopstadter is being introduced by a NIF think-tank as a "post-doctoral Fellow at Ben Gurion University, where he teaches political science. Previously, he served as Director of Peace Now and as spokesman for B’tselem." Hopstadter's PhD thesis The Expression of Values in the Practice of Not-for-Profit Human and Civil Rights Organizations, explores three NIF grantees The Association for Civil Rights in Israel; Physicians for Human Rights – Israel; and Yesh Din. He writes, "My own activism has taught me lessons that I as of yet have not found in any book... but nevertheless I wish to convey my deepest appreciation to my partners-in-activism, whose determination, creativity, mistakes, experience and companionship have laid the cornerstones for this thesis." 
There is something unethical about it. As a member of the international board of NIF De-Shalit was in conflict of interests and should have not signed on a dissertation which is an academic hagiography of NIF's grantees. 
De-Shalit seemed to fail his own advise on impartiality and objectivity in another issue. In 2001, the Council of Higher Education appointed a two member committee to evaluate the Department of Politics and Government of Ben Gurion University's request to offer a BA program. Professor Zeev Maoz, a leading political scientist and a former head of the Jaffe Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, found that the department did not offer core political science courses and that its faculty were ill equipped to fill the void. He recommended closing the department but the second evaluator, Avner De-Shalit disagreed and, in November 2003, the CHE appointed a new committee under De-Shalit which in 2004 decided that the department offered a "unique program" and approved the department's request. The questionable goings-on in the Department came up again when in 2011, the CHE appointed an International Committee for Evaluation of Political Science and International Relations Programs in Israeli universities. Chaired by Professor Thomas Risse of Berlin’s Free University, the Committee seemed to side with Maoz's 2001 review. The report identified serious problems in the department: weakness of core political science offerings as well as excessive "community activism" and lack of balanced views in the curriculum and the classroom. 
There may be, of course, legitimate explanations as to why De-Shalit's view was at odds with the evaluations of Maoz and the Risse committee. Still, it would be reasonable to question if De-Shalit's service with the NIF had influenced his judgment. 
As his 2006 essay on academic neutrality and impartiality indicates, De-Shalit understands that scholars should not be tainted by suspicions of political partiality. Unfortunately, he does not practice what he preaches.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
09.08.17
Campus Ultimate Missionaries: Steven Salaita as a Case in Point
 
In a recent Facebook post, Steven Salaita shared his plans for leaving the academe. "My immediate plan is to write and give talks," he wrote. "Despite applying to positions on four continents, I was unable to find an academic job, so I no longer count myself among the professoriate... A number of colleagues have attempted to recruit me, but their efforts always get shut down by management." To recall, Salaita was offered in 2013 a tenured position in the Department of Native American Studies at Illinois University in Urbana-Champaigne but the University withdrew its offer in response to the string of Twitter messages by Salaita in the summer of 2014. 
He tweeted, "Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just fucking own it already." ; 
"This is not a conflict between Israel and 'Hamas'. It's a struggle by an Indigenous people against a colonial Power." ; 
"Let's cut to the chase: If you're defending Israel right now you're an awful human being." ; 
"Will you condemn Hamas? No. Why not? Because Hamas isn't the one incinerating children, you disingenuous prick." ; 
"Zionist uplift in America: every little Jewish boy and girl can grow up to be the leader of a murderous colonial regime." ; 
"Israel's message to Obama and Kerry: we'll kill as many Palestinians as we want, when we want. p.s.: fuck you, pay me." ; 
"You may be too refined to say it, but I am not: I wish all the fucking West Bank settlers would go missing." ; 
"The IDF Spokesperson receives money to justify, conceal, and glamorize genocidal violence. Goebbels much?" ; 
"Israeli Independence Equals sustenance of the European eugenic logic made famous by Hitler," among others. 
After being turned down by University of Illinois, Salaita was offered a visiting position at the American University in Beirut, but ran into some problems and now he is back in the U.S. 
Salaita is the classic anti-Israel activist. In February 2009 IAM reported on the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) which published a petition inviting academics to join the boycott of Israel. Signatory number 174 was Steven Salaita from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 
Salaita is also fond of Zionist conspiracies, writing, "Zionists have worked overtime to incriminate me, but they’ve never found anything incriminating—not from a lack of diligence, but because there’s nothing to find but plainspoken disdain for settler colonization." Salaita explains his disdain to Israel in his book Israel's Dead Soul (2011). "There is no false advertising in the title: I have no affinity for Israel or Zionism and I wanted to make that clear... my belief that Zionist settler colonization is unsustainable." 
Salaita's anti-Israel stance has evidently began in his upbringing as he stated in his 2003 PhD thesis, "I was raised in Appalachia by Arab immigrants who nurtured my childhood interest in the Middle East, Palestine particularly. My entire life has thus been dedicated to Palestinian politics and activism, and nothing has occupied my thoughts more than Israeli brutality and the way it is described so euphemistically in the United States, if even it is mentioned at all. For the majority of my life. Native America was nothing but an abstract backdrop to the old leftist politics I have since outgrown. I knew, as most Americans do, that the United States was constructed on other peoples’ lands, and that terrible domestic atrocities occurred in America’s past." 
Armed with this missionary vision, Saiaita went to graduate school at the University of Oklahoma. In his doctoral work, Salaita states his goal "to contribute to a culture working hard outside the Academy to eliminate colonialism.... in a way that might satisfy academics as well as any reader interested in issues of justice for Indigenous peoples, especially if they are concerned with formulating resistant strategies or incorporating theoretical models into public debate." As a good missionary that he was, he wrote, "Since entering doctoral school at the University of Oklahoma three years ago with a clear vision of my dissertation topic— a comparative analysis of Native Americans and Palestinians, with attention to how politics influence literary production". 
Although Saiaita managed to secure a position after graduation in Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, his true passion was anti-Israel activity and his egregious social media "production" bordering on the anti-Semitic caught up with him at the University of Illinois. 
Still, as Salaita stated, he is now starting a new career as a freelance writer and speaker. This should not be too difficult as there are many venues in which bashing of Israel is fashionable. For instance, he will speak in the upcoming conference "Freedom of Speech and Higher Education: The Case of the Academic Boycott of Israel" in Trinity College Dublin on 11-12 September 2017, as a keynote speaker. The invitation reads, "Steven Salaita. Author of Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom, Steven was denied a Professorship in University of Illinois due to his views on Israel/Palestine and will speak on “Freedom to boycott: BDS and the modern University”." 
There is little doubt that from now on he would present himself as a martyr for the cause of academic freedom. Salaita's progression from missionary to martyr is probably a fitting epitaph for his career. 
Ben-Gurion University
 
02.08.17
Complaint by Prof. Rivka Carmi to the Knesset Ethics Committee
 
On May 24, 2017 the Knesset Committee of Education, Culture and Sports has held a quick hearing questioning BGU's support in BDS. The hearing was initiated by MK Anat Berko (Likud), MK Amir Ohana (Likud) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and titled "Fears of continued support of Ben Gurion University in BDS". MK Berko explained that ”There is a problem in Ben-Gurion University's Politics and Government Department, where they call Israel a 'shaved-headed state'." MK Smotrich argued that professors sign petitions with the title professors at Ben-Gurion University, unrelated to academic freedom. ”Freedom of expression, yes, but do I have to fund these people? Of course not”. 
Professor Rivka Carmi, President of Ben-Gurion University rejected these accusations as ”false” and ”detached from reality. ” She added that Ben Gurion University ”is at the forefront of the fight against the BDS movement.” Carmi also said that professors who voice support for BDS do so on their own behalf and do not represent the university's views. 
Education Committee Chairman MK Yakov Margi (Shas) said, ”I had no doubt that Ben-Gurion University does not support or encourage BDS activity... There is no doubt that there is agreement on the need to fight the BDS movements, and this is why we called on the Council for Higher Education to examine how to do this through policy, while allowing a variety of opinion to be heard in [university] courses.” 
But shortly after the hearing Professor Carmi has filed a complaint with the Knesset Ethics committee. She wrote that the title of the hearing did the university a great injustice, since the university is "one of the leaders in the struggle against the BDS movement," and certainly does not support BDS activities. 
There are apparently deep seated grievances that Prof. Carmi has against the hearing. She has apparently felt that the hearing served as a cover to publicize the position of Mr. Michael Gross, one of the members of the Board of Governors of the University. Mr. Gross has been critical of the university's handling of lecturers and activities that seemed to support BDS. According to him, the university retaliated by trying to remove him from the Board and returning his donation. In her complaint to the Ethics Committee, Professor Carmi singled out MK Yoel Hasson. Although MK Hasson disclosed during the hearing that he had received financial support from Mr. Gross in the primaries in 2009, he also attacked the university for its attitude to Mr. Gross. MK Hasson demanded that the university not remove Mr. Gross from the Board of Governors. 
In conclusion, Carmi noted that "it is difficult to avoid the feeling that a member of the Board of Governors" ostensibly "bought" a hearing of a committee of the Knesset using a "baseless political pretext and contempt of the university, in order to prevent what he thought was a move to remove him from the Board of Governors." 
After serious considerations the Ethics Committee concluded as following: 
1. Indeed, in the headline proposed by the initiators could cause damage to the university when official bodies of the state hold a hearing at the Knesset with such a title, and it could even damage the Israeli struggle against BDS supporters, with the title of an official hearing in the Knesset as well as Knesset members claiming that an Israeli university itself supports BDS. Indeed the title of the hearing was intended to defame the university and to attribute it, as an institution, support in BDS - something which had no grounds in the findings presented to the Education Committee. 
2. The BDS issue did serve as a platform for discussion of Mr. Gross's case, Mr Gross's case was not even mentioned in the proposal which lead to the hearing. It would have been appropriate to present it to the Knesset presidency in their detailed request prior to the hearing. 
3. The Ethics Committee found that MKs Berko and Smotritch violated Rule 1A(5) of the Rules of Ethics, according to which "Member of Knesset will carry out his duty in the Knesset with responsibility and fairness." Yet the Committee did not find it necessary to impose sanctions on them. Regarding the claim concerning MK Hasson, who did not initiate the hearing and even objected to the claim that the university supports BDS, the Committee concludes that MK Hasson did not violate the ethics rules. 
4. But the Committee also commented to the university administration, that they must also maintain appropriate manners toward Knesset members, they were wrong to have alleged "buying" a hearing, while the three initiators of the hearing have expressed that they did not receive any contribution from Mr. Gross. Also the university's rector, Prof. Zvi Hacohen, inappropriately expressed his opinion toward the Knesset members. 
As expected, the Ethics Committee focused on the narrow question of the ethics of the hearing, including its provocative title. Thus, the conclusions should be viewed within the narrow mandate of the Committee. Unfortunately, the personal conflict between Mr. Gross and Ben Gurion University has actually distracted from the broader issue at stake here. 
The Department of Politics and Government at BGU has a long history of radical political activism which, in many ways, is equally damaging to calls for BDS. In 2012 an International Evaluation Committee created by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) produced a devastating review of the Department and its offerings. The Council actually threatened to shut down the Department, a move that created a firestorm in the academic community at home and abroad. At the time, Professor Carmi and the Dean of Social Sciences David Newman called upon the international community of scholars to protest the censure. Following thousands of petitions and threats of boycott by a large number of professional associations, the CHE caved in. After reaching an agreement based on a face saving formula of alleged changes, the Department was allowed to operate with small changes in the curriculum with the same activist faculty. 
The abysmal failure of the CHE vis-a vis the Department ended virtually all efforts to impose higher standards on social science departments of Israeli universities. As IAM has repeatedly documented, Israeli social sciences, staffed by devotees of neo-Marxist, critical scholarship, offer outmoded courses and lag badly behind international standards. Similarly, an Evaluation Committee of the Sociological Department of the Hebrew University found a paucity of courses in quantitative methods and other cutting-edge subjects. 
With few exceptions, Israeli universities are public institutions supported by the tax payers and accountable to the elected representatives of the public. The tax payers should expect better than an outmoded paradigm of teaching and research that does not train students for the competitive economy of the twenty first century.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
26.07.17
First BDS Conference in Sydney University
 
First time in Australia, Sidney University's Department of Peace and Conflict Studies will host a BDS conference on campus on the 28-29 July 2017. The conference is supported by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network. Speakers include notoriously anti-Israel academics Jake Lynch, Sol Salbe, and Marcelo Svirsky among others. 
The conference includes many non-academic activists. One such group, the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) which announced its BDS activities in 2017 online, added that "2017 will also be the year of close collaborations with our pro-Palestinian friends interstate with a national BDS conference planned for 28-29 July in Sydney." 
Sydney University's vice-chancellor Dr. Michael Spence spoke on the topic of BDS activities on campus last year. He said: “BDS is not university policy... We think that we should have academic relations with universities wherever good academic work is being done... Exceptional academic work is being done in Israel and we have relationships across the board, most recently in nanotechnology and agriculture with universities in Israel, so that’s not an issue... We have strong academic relations with Israel, a great tradition of relationships with the Jewish community, a flourishing program in Hebrew and Jewish studies that remains internationally renowned and is very important to us." 
But he also commented on Jake Lynch, the leading force behind BDS in Sydney University. He said “Academic freedom means that there’s nothing I can do to stop him taking that position... I also can’t censure an academic for holding a view or advocating a view, because that’s what academics do.” 
To recall, Lynch was involved in a number of BDS incidents. In 2012 Lynch blocked a request of Dan Avnon, a Hebrew University professor, to spend a sabbatical at Sidney University. In March 2015, Colonel Richard Kemp, a decorated British Army officer, visited the University of Sydney. A group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators led by Lynch interrupted his talk. 
One of the featured speakers in the BDS conference by the end of this week is Dr. David Faber, a co-convenor of AFOPA’s BDS group who "has spent considerable time over the last year preparing for attempts by Zionists in Israel and Australia to steal part of our ANZAC history. The centenary of the Charge of the Light Horse Brigade will be commemorated on 31 October 2017 and David as a historian and AFOPA as a political organisation will be vigorously countering the Zionist claim that young Australian soldiers died on that battlefield to help set up the apartheid state of Israel." Farber's attempt to rewrite Australian history borders on the anti-Semitic. 
Sydney University should be aware that an academic conference should be balanced in the sense that all sorts of views need be presented. There is a huge difference between a legitimate panel and the type of political activism that Lynch and his cohorts have been associated with. Also, Sidney University should not be taking the easy way out to hide behind the shop-worn excuses of academic freedom to avoid dealing with the abuse of academic legitimacy by Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists on campus.
General Articles
 
19.07.17
University of California Press One-Sided Recommended Reading
 
The University of California Press (UCP) announced a recommended reading to commemorate the anniversary of the Six Day War and promote the understanding of the occupation. The UCP announcement is biased against Israel, ignoring the historical background of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, which include prior Arab assaults against Israel that culminated in the restriction of Palestinian polity. The UCP announcement includes the following statement: "Fifty years ago this week, the Six-Day War transformed the Middle East. Fought from June 5-10 in 1967 by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, the conflict lasted just six days, yet its impact endures today. For Palestinians, this year marks fifty years of military occupation. During the war, Israeli forces captured east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories — the West Bank and Gaza — as well as the Golan Heights and Sinai. In observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, we’ve selected a list of recommended titles for understanding the nature of the occupation, the reasons for its longevity, and its impact on Israeli and Palestinian lives, with the following deeply researched titles." 
These are the recommended books: A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict by Gershon Shafir; Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom by Norman G. Finkelstein; Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror by Gary Fields; Israel’s Occupation by Neve Gordon; One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States edited by Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg; Sustaining Conflict: Apathy and Domination in Israel-Palestine by Katherine Natanel; Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel edited by Mark LeVine and Gershon Shafir. 
Gershon Shafir, Norman Finkelstein, Neve Gordon and Gary Fields are self-proclaimed neo-Marxists, who put much of the blame to the ills of the world on capitalism. Neo-Marxist cohorts cherry-pick evidence to fit their arguments while dismiss evidence which counter their arguments. All of the books present Israel in a negative light while none provide a factual historical account. Most importantly, they all downplay the role of Palestinian aggression. More to the point, most of the authors are also academic activists, some with a history of engaging in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. 
The following is an overview of the recommended books: 
A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict by Gershon Shafir, 2017, The book has three chapters: 1. What is the occupation? 2. Why has the occupation lasted this long? 3. How has the occupation transformed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?. Much of the book is ignoring historical facts which lead to the loss of the Palestinians in a war which the Arabs have started. A good example of the author's twisted logic can be seen in the following statement: "I suggest that it is time to replace the Israeli assertion of being 'the only democracy in the Middle East' with the claim of being the 'most legalistic country in the Middle East'. This is not particularly surprising. After all, the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine) has been the long-term beneficiary of international legal bodies and frameworks. From the League of Nations' incorporation of the Balfour Declaration into the British Mandate for Palestine, through the UN General Assembly's November 1947 resolution to partition Mandatory Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, to the rejection of claims of Israeli aggression in Security Council Resolution 242 (which concluded the 1967 War), it has been a favored party and wishes to remain so in the future." (p. 23) First, the author does not provide evidence for the assertion that Israel is no longer the only democracy in the Middle East. Second, the author's reading of the history of the conflict is questionable. Israel was legally created by the international bodies he correctly named. But the Palestinians and their Arab supporters had rejected all these decisions and started wars which they had the misfortune to lose. At the very least ,Shafir should have informed his readers that in the dominant realist paradigm in International Relations, belligerents who lose a war suffer the consequences. Even if Shafir does not accept this paradigm, it is important that he explains why the Palestinians should be exempt from the rules of international relations. Absent such an explanation, the book is an emotional exercise in favor of the belligerent Palestinians. 
Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom by Norman G. Finkelstein, 2018: Finkelstein became notorious for accusing the Jews of creating a "Holocaust industry" to subjugate the Palestinians, he had lost all academic credibility along with his academic position. Hardly chastened by the experience, his new book presents some of the same selective and, at times, tortured logic. The blurb for the book states: "Gaza is among the most densely populated places in the world. Two-thirds of its inhabitants are refugees, and more than half the population is under eighteen years of age. Since Israel occupied Gaza in 1967, it has systematically de-developed the economy. After Hamas won democratic elections in 2006, Israel intensified its blockade of Gaza, and after Hamas consolidated its control of the territory in 2007, Israel tightened its illegal siege another notch. In the meantime, Israel has launched no less than eight military operations against Gaza—culminating in Operation Cast Lead in 2008–9 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014—that left behind over three million tons of rubble. Recent UN reports predict that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. Israel’s actions of the last decade. He argues that although Israel justified its blockade and violent assaults in the name of self-defense, in fact these actions were cynical exercises of brutal power against an essentially defenseless civilian population. Based on hundreds of human rights reports, the book scrutinizes multifarious violations of international law Israel committed both during its operations and in the course of its decade-long siege of Gaza. It is a monument to Gaza’s martyrs and a scorching accusation against their tormenters." Finkelstein's writing reflects another popular genre of academic apologists for the Palestinians, namely the eternal victim who is not responsible for any action. Not once does he mention that Hamas, a terror organization, has ruled Gaza with an iron fist. Finkelstein who lists all of Israeli violations of international law is quite shy about admitting that the military wing of Hamas, the Izzadin al Qassam Brigades has routinely dispersed its military assets among the civilian population, including schools and hospitals. 
Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror by Gary Fields, 2017: The author put Israel in a colonial setting of land-grabbing, ignoring the legal title to the land by the League of Nations, as the following blurb indicates: "Enclosure marshals bold new and persuasive arguments about the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians. Revealing the Israel-Palestine landscape primarily as one of enclosure, geographer Gary Fields sheds fresh light on Israel's actions. He places those actions in historical context in a broad analysis of power and landscapes across the modern world. Examining the process of land-grabbing in early modern England, colonial North America, and contemporary Palestine, Enclosure shows how patterns of exclusion and privatization have emerged across time and geography. That the same moral, legal, and cartographic arguments were copied by enclosers of land in very different historical environments challenges Israel's current rationale as being uniquely beleaguered. It also helps readers in the United Kingdom and the United States understand the Israel-Palestine conflict in the context of their own, tortured histories". Quite clearly, the author views the entire conflict from the colonial perspective, a fashionable paradigm among radical academic critics of Israel. Fields does not bother to mention that this is not the only paradigm through which the creation of Israel has been explained. Not surprising, the author is an endorser of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. 
Israel’s Occupation by Neve Gordon, 2008: As described by the author, "This first complete history of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip allows us to see beyond the smoke screen of politics in order to make sense of the dramatic changes that have developed on the ground over the past forty years. Looking at a wide range of topics, from control of water and electricity to health care and education as well as surveillance and torture, Neve Gordon's panoramic account reveals a fundamental shift from a politics of life—when, for instance, Israel helped Palestinians plant more than six-hundred thousand trees in Gaza and provided farmers with improved varieties of seeds—to a macabre politics characterized by an increasing number of deaths. Drawing attention to the interactions, excesses, and contradictions created by the forms of control used in the Occupied Territories, Gordon argues that the occupation's very structure, rather than the policy choices of the Israeli government or the actions of various Palestinian political factions, has led to this radical shift." But there is enough evidence to prove that Gordon is highly biased. For example, when he listed the initial efforts to improve the standard of living of the Palestinians after 1967, he wrote, "In the health field practices were introduced to encourage women to give birth at hospitals (a means of decreasing infant mortality rates and monitoring population growth) and to promote vaccinations (in order to decrease the incidence of contagious and noncontagious diseases)". While most people would applaud the progressive and beneficial measures improving the lives of the Palestinians, to Gordon they were instances of control mechanism. Also, Gordon was one of the first to argue that Israel is an apartheid state and in 2009 he called for boycotting Israel on the pages of the Los Angeles Times. 
One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States edited by Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg, 2014: The project was initiated in 2008 and later received support from the Swedish Foreign Ministry and the Swedish Research Council, orchestrated by Sweden's Lund University. The book description states that, "One Land, Two States imagines a new vision for Israel and Palestine in a situation where the peace process has failed to deliver an end of conflict. 'If the land cannot be shared by geographical division, and if a one-state solution remains unacceptable," the book asks, "can the land be shared in some other way?' Leading Palestinian and Israeli experts along with international diplomats and scholars answer this timely question by examining a scenario with two parallel state structures, both covering the whole territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, allowing for shared rather than competing claims of sovereignty. Such a political architecture would radically transform the nature and stakes of the Israel-Palestine conflict, open up for Israelis to remain in the West Bank and maintain their security position, enable Palestinians to settle in all of historic Palestine, and transform Jerusalem into a capital for both of full equality and independence - all without disturbing the demographic balance of each state. Exploring themes of security, resistance, diaspora, globalism, and religion, as well as forms of political and economic power that are not dependent on claims of exclusive territorial sovereignty, this pioneering book offers new ideas for the resolution of conflicts worldwide." Mark LeVine is a known supporter of the one-state solution, and the book which he co-edited essentially discredit the current two-state solution. Of course, academics can support whatever solution they prefer, but it is highly dishonest to construct a book which pushes one proposal only, under the guise of academic scholarship. 
Sustaining Conflict: Apathy and Domination in Israel-Palestine by Katherine Natanel, 2016: The blurb states, "Sustaining Conflict develops a groundbreaking theory of political apathy, using a combination of ethnographic material, narrative, and political, cultural, and feminist theory. It examines how the status quo is maintained in Israel-Palestine, even by the activities of Jewish Israelis who are working against the occupation of Palestinian territories. The book shows how hierarchies and fault lines in Israeli politics lead to fragmentation, and how even oppositional power becomes routine over time. Most importantly, the book exposes how the occupation is sustained through a carefully crafted system that allows sympathetic Israelis to 'knowingly not know,' further disconnecting them from the plight of Palestinians. While focusing on Israel, this is a book that has lessons for how any authoritarian regime is sustained through apathy." This is an adopted version of the author's PhD thesis in SOAS, Gender studies. In a typical convoluted phrasing, she writes, "Yet despite its seeming polarity, normalcy at the (Jewish Israeli) end of the road relies upon and arises through the relations of power which necessitate agricultural subsistence within cityscapes, lock academics at Birzeit University within metaphorical and material prison cells, and fashion understandings of ‘freedom’ through experiences of oppression at the border. Read thus, continuity replaces disparity as occupation, colonisation and domination trace a thread binding Israel with Palestine and Jewish Israelis with Palestinians." But if this is not clear yet, the author aligns herself with the Neo-Marxist, critical scholarship, "including history (Shlaim 2000, 2010; Abu El-Haj 2001; Masalha 2003; Khalidi 2006; Pappe 2006; Pappe and Hilal 2010), sociology (Lentin 2000; Shafir and Peled 2002; Ron 2003), political economy (Gordon 2008; Hever 2010; Abdo 2011) critical geography (Yiftachel 2006; Weizman 2007) and activism (De Jong 2011; Richter-Devroe 2011, 2012; Weizman 2013)". No wonder the book has won the Palestine Book Award in 2016. 
The book Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel, is a compilation of articles, moving from the British Mandate, to "a nation is born a nation is dispersed" to a questionable shared future, The book discusses figures such as Benni Gaon, Jonathan Pollack, Yigal Amir and Hillel Kook among others. It includes two chapters that stand out. The first chapter "Becoming a Hamas Suicide Bomber" by Bader Araj detailing with great sympathy the story of Na'el abu-Hilayel, a suicide bomber, recalled by his father the last meeting with his son "with mixed feelings of pride and sadness... He always cared about the afterlife, not this life... He realized his wish to die as a martyr". Na'el carried on his attack in 2002 when he wore an explosive belt packed with five kilograms of explosives and shrapnel, detonating himself on a crowded bus in Jerusalem. The attack killed eleven Israelis including five children. The author complained of the harsh actions taken by Israel against families of suicide bombers. Another suicide bomber discussed in this chapter is Maher Hubashi who detonated himself on a bus in Haifa in 2001. Both suicide bombers were working and earning an income. The author questioned the motives behind these suicide attacks whether they were religion, revenge and liberation. The chapter ends with praising the good personality of Maher and how he supported his family financially before his death. In the ending acknowledgements the author thanks the families and close friends of the two suicide bombers. The second chapter by Sonia Nimr, "Abdul Rahim Hajj Mohammad and the Arab Revolt" describes the "most respected leader of the Great Revolt" and his guerrilla warfare against the British troops and the Jews. The chapter compares the Arab revolt of 1936-9 to other Palestinian violent aggression and offers an account to the emergence of grassroots armed struggle since the 1920s. The author also acknowledges the importance of civil disobedience, as an important part of the revolt since its earliest days. The author postulates that the rebel leaders were "very strict and declared anyone who dealt with the British to be a collaborator... and the sentence was usually death by shooting... They killed anyone suspected of collaboration even without a trial." The author noted it was a widely known fact that during the revolt the Haj Amin al-Husseini faction and others got rebels "to assassinate their traditional rivals". 
Analyzing the recommended reading leaves the reader with the impression that the UCP is promoting pro-Palestinian views including terrorism. Missing from the reading list is the Israeli perspective. By publishing Israeli authors UCP hoped to present a balanced view but this is not the case. By promoting Israeli neo-Marxist, critical scholars known as post-Zionists, their reading list looks exceptionally imbalanced. But this is the case with the UCP books as a whole, not just the recommended reading. A glance on their website reveals that most books on Israel and Palestine present a pro-Palestinian stance, avoiding any criticism of the Palestinians. This kind of literature resembles the notorious polemical genre "Israel cannot do anything right and the Palestinians can not do anything wrong." 
It is deeply disheartening to see that the UCP books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict take a place of pride in this discredited category.
Hebrew University
 
12.07.17
Political Activist at the Hebrew University: Areej Sabbagh-Khoury as a Case in Point
 
IAM often reports on political activists masquerading as academics. A young cohort of academic activists is now making a debut. For instance, Hebrew University has recently announced that Areej Sabbagh- Khoury was hired by the department of Sociology, commencing her position in the academic year of 2018-2019. 
A close look at her CV reveals she mixes academics with political activism: 
"Areej Sabbagh-Khoury is the Inaugural Post-doctoral Research Associate in Palestine and Palestinian Studies at Brown University 2016-2017. She is also an associate researcher at Mada al-Carmel – The Arab Center for Applied Social Research. Her current book project, now under contract with Stanford University Press, examines relations between members of leftist Zionists kibbutzim and Palestinian villagers in Northern Palestine within a settler colonial framework. Sabbagh-Khoury completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. She contributed to several book chapters and articles on citizenship, memory, gender and settler colonialism, among them “Palestinian Predicaments: Jewish Immigration and Refugees Repatriation.” She also co-edited two volumes of The Palestinians in Israel: A Guide to History, Politics, and Society: the first volume was published in 2011 and the second on December 2016 (both volumes were published in English, Hebrew and Arabic). She has received several awards and grants for her research, among them the Fulbright Post-doctoral Scholar Award year 2015-2016; the 2015 Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Columbia University; the Meyers Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Taub Center for Israel Studies at NYU year 2016, the Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Humanities at Tufts year 2017-2018 and the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) - Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Social Sciences 2017-2018." 
Her lecture at the Center of Middle East Studies at the Watson Institute, Brown University in October 2016 showcases her stance "The Zionist Left: Settler Colonial Practices and the Representation of the Palestinian Nakba in Northern Palestine". The invitation to the lecture reads, "inquiring the responsibility of the Zionist settlers and Israeli society on the displacement of refugees and not less important from controlling the Palestinian lands and property and banning the return of Palestinian refugees. Based on a meticulous examination of local Zionist archives of Ha-Shomer Ha-Tza’ir Kibbutzim in Marj Ibn 'Amer, I will track some of the discussions that accompanied the process of expulsion of 1948 and the pillaging of the Palestinian property from neighboring Palestinian villages. Furthermore, I will explore how the politics of remembering by members of Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair kibbutzim reconstructed memories of the colonization practices that preceded 1948 Nakba and their role in the Nakba." 
This the type of scholarship is advanced at the Middle East Center by Professor Beshara Doumani, a Saudi-born Palestinian who has turned the Center into a platform for anti-Israel activism. He has invited the likes of Ariella Azoulay, Ilan Pappe and Neve Gordon to bash Israel. In 2014 Doumani was among the 100 Middle East studies scholars and librarians who petitioned to boycott Israeli institutions. In 2015 Doumani succumbed to BDS pressure and backed down from an Adi Ophir conference at Brown because Ophir is an Israeli scholar with ties to Tel Aviv University. 
Sabbagh-Khoury fits well into the academic-activist milieu; her PhD thesis was co-advised by Yehouda Shenhav (TAU) and Joel Beinin (Stanford), both high profile politically engaged scholars. Sabbagh-Khoury's scholarship examines Israel's settler colonialism and argues it has "discrete characteristics of the colonization processes, predicated on not only relations of domination but the dispossession of the natives and their replacement by a colonizing population." She was hailed by the post-Zionist scholar Gabriel Piterberg who found her PhD dissertation "remarkable" because it illustrated the "centrality of the settler-colonial framework". He has noted that Sabbagh-Khoury "contextualized the Nakba" by focusing on the colonization of land. Piterberg also noted she has used a "critical reconstruction of the formation of settler nations by dissenting" it. 
The Hebrew University Sociology Department, like its peers around the country, has been top heavy with scholars who research the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while lacking faculty capable to teach cutting edge subjects in Sociology at large. A number of evaluation committees of the Council of Higher Education lamented this state of affairs, as IAM repeatedly reported. In particular, the evaluation committee to the Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University found that the department lacks quantitative training. The committee found data of the MA programs on recent graduates comprising of 16 in Anthropology, 27 in Organizational Studies, 13 in Sociology, and 4 in Demography. Making Organizational Studies the most desirable subject of learning. 
The committee expressed concerns that since the founding cohort of sociologists and anthropologists were very prominent and the subsequent generation who are now approaching retirement are still an impressive and productive group, "The problem that the department now faces is one of maintaining its excellence and intellectual vigor at a time of transition to a younger set of scholars." How would recruiting the likes of Sabbagh-Khoury redress the department anomalies? 
The problem is that Israeli social sciences have compared poorly in international indices, but nothing has been done to remedy the situation. It is the university authorities who have an obligation to the Israeli tax payer and the elected officials who foot the bill.
General Articles
 
05.07.17
Academic Earthquake: Part 4
 
The series of posts by IAM, Academic Earthquake Part 1 and Part 2 on Asa Kahser’s Academic Code of Conduct, were accepted for distribution by the Academia-IL Network, a forum dedicated to academic-related issues. Part 3 however, was rejected by the webmaster who censored it, so far without any explanation. Should an explanation arrive we would notify our readers. 
These posts have elicited a few comments including by emeritus professor Uzzi Ornan from the Technion. Professor Ornan questioned why we use English in our posts instead of Hebrew. He then proceeded to hypothesize that we wrote about the Ethics Code of Kasher in English to bring it to the attention of “foreigners living in other countries, perhaps in order to create a ‘foreign influence’ on what is happening here.” 
To answer Ornan, since its inception in 2004, IAM has published in English because Israeli social science research is conducted by and large in English. 
But if Professor Ornan is truly concerned about “foreign influence,” he should have paid heed to two posts by Prof. Alon Harel on the same subject. On June 9, Harel wrote that "reporting on the Code of Ethics has also reached the most famous legal blog of Brian Leiter." Harel suggested to his readers to "distribute the post of this blog abroad, it is important to arrange translation of the Ethics Code into English in order to recruit people around the world to raise a cry." Harel did not say how Leiter heard of the Ethics Code but Leiter himself disclosed that "legal scholar and philosopher Alon Harel (Hebrew U) wrote to me." In his second post, on June 24, Harel wrote, "Professor Cary Nelson who in the past headed also the American Association of Law Professors asked me to distribute this document which was approved by the Alliance for Academic Freedom." We would suggest that Professor Ornan complain to Harel about his effort to create “foreign influence.” 
Indeed, the academic debate on ethics code does not address the issue of low standards in the social science and the linkage to academic activism. Notably, academic authorities have allowed some social science departments to hire activist scholars, as noted by the International Evaluation Committee of the BGU department of Politics and Government which reported to this effect: 
"In the original report, which covered a five-year period, only a couple of articles of all faculty members combined were published in leading political science journals. During the whole period examined approximately 30 articles were published by faculty members in political science journals covered by Thomson ISI." The report then questioned the quality of teaching, "But the strong emphasis on “community activism” emphasized by the Department raises at least two questions. First, are students receiving a sufficiently rigorous foundation in the discipline of politics and government to equip them with a necessary grounding in the important ideas and understandings common to the subject and the discipline? At the moment, the committee sees major weaknesses with regard to the Department’s core discipline of Political Science which need to be addressed immediately. Second, is there a balance of views in the curriculum and the classroom? Particularly, political science instructors should see to it that their own opinions are expressed as personal views so that students can take a critical perspective and that there is a broad exposure to alternative perspectives in order to widen and deepen their own understanding." 
Poor academic standards would not have been tolerated in sciences and engineering, something that the Technion-based Ornan is probably aware of. Why should they be tolerated in the social sciences?
General Articles
 
29.06.17
Academic Earthquake: Part 3
 
This IAM post, Academic Earthquake: Part 3 intends to present the mixing of academics with politics. The list would be very long if we brought all the evidence available in the last two decades. But it is essential to understand the relations between the political activists-turned-academics. A perusal at the TAU Cohn Institute PhD Dissertations showcases the following: Merav Amir, advisors Adi Ophir and Yehouda Shenav; Ariel Handel, advisors Adi Ophir and Tovi Fenster; Michal Givoni, advisor Adi Ophir; Anat Rimon Or, advisor Adi Ophir; Hagar Kotef, advisors Adi Ophir and Anat Biletzki; Roy Wagner, advisors Adi Ophir and Anat Biletzki; Boaz Hagin, advisors Adi Ophir and Orly Lubin; Dani Filc, advisor Moshe Zuckermann; Ariella Azoulay, advisors Moshe Zuckermann and Gila Blas. This list is a clear indication of how political activist academics promote each other. 
We have gathered a short list of some other key players promoting their political stance in their scholarships, some are familiar and some new names: 
In 2013 IAM reported on Yehouda Shenhav (TAU) who was hired to teach and research the sociology of organizations. Soon after gaining tenure, he neglected his field in order to concentrate on various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then, the self-proclaimed critical sociologist has tailored specific topics to suit his political activism. Upon joining the Mizrahi Rainbow in the 1990s, a group dedicated to bringing together Jews from Arab countries and Palestinians, Shenhav wrote a book and a number of articles on Arab Jews, his name for the Mizrahim, to prove that they, like the Palestinians, were victims of Zionism. In the mid-2000s, Shenhav launched a project to create the intellectual infrastructure for a bi-national state. In another project, in 2012 he headed a research group at Van Leer Institute Jerusalem which aspired to locate the discussion on Zionism explicit within the global matrix of imperialism. The group membership was tailor-made to produce such findings. In addition to stalwarts as Hanna Herzog and Hannan Hever, a number of Shenhav's doctoral students participated, Manar Hassan, Yuval Evri, Areej Sabbagh and Benny Nurieli. In addition to privileging Shenhav's students, it was a signal to potential PhD candidates that radical scholarship pays off. 
IAM discussed Assaf Sharon in 2014, in a post titled "The political career of Assaf Sharon sponsored by Tel Aviv University", which detailed how Sharon, a co-founder of "Breaking the Silence" who sits on its board of directors, has joined the ranks of TAU's Philosophy department, the base of operation of the radical political activists, Anat Matar and Anat Biletzki. By all accounts, Sharon has launched a highly activist career since co-founding the political think tank Molad. In a recent Tweet, he wrote "New study by @moladCRID: West Bank settlements are a burden on Israel's national security." 
Another life-long political activist sponsored by TAU is Gadi Algazi, a former IDF refusenik. He joined the ranks of TAU as an expert on late medieval history but, as other activists, spent much of his career on promoting his political agenda. Algazi is especially active in Germany, where he is scheduled to speak at Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Salon in Berlin today, June 29, on "Common perspectives: what links and separates the left in Germany and Israel." 
Aeyal Gross, a legal scholar at TAU, known to be the intellectual architect of Pinkwashing, a theory which holds that Israel has embraced gay rights in order to mask the sins of occupation. Gross was quoted recently in an Aljazeera article titled "In Israel, racism is the law", to the effect that "Equality cannot be recognised on the constitutional level... since that would challenge the inequality created by the complete identification of the state with only one group." He has recently published a book "The Writing on the Wall: Rethinking the International Law of Occupation." Where he offers insight on the 50th anniversary of the occupation, "the law of occupation in its current version to legitimize new variations of conquest and colonialism". He proposes the "need for reconsidering the law of occupation in light of changing forms of control, such as those evident in Gaza." 
A long-time radical political activist Ofer Cassif, was recently filmed comparing Israeli legislation to those of Nazi Germany in a Politics and Government course of a preparatory college program at the Hebrew University. One of Cassif's students objected to the comparison, but Cassif continued with his analogy, stating that it is comfortable to deny the situation in order not to come to terms with reality, which is very dangerous. He said "those who refuse to see the similarities between what is happening in Israel, specifically in the past two years, and Germany in the 1930s, has a problem and will be responsible for the potential situation of the state." Cassif drew parallel in legislature regarding Arabs and Jews, to the policies of Nazi Germany. He stated that the law "allows Jews to take over Palestinian-owned land for themselves, just like Aryans in 1930 Germany were allowed to kick Jews out of their homes." Hebrew University responded to Channel 2 who reported this story, rather typically: "It is unfortunate that there are individual students who choose to record their professors during class, instead of engaging in debate and open discourse on facts and opinions, and who choose to go to the media when these things do not coincide with their views. Academia is exactly the place to conduct deep and free debates. That's its essence and any other way harms this fabric and endangers the principles of democracy". 
A Hebrew University Law school's new recruit is Ahmad Amara. Amara's scholarship surrounds the legal rights to land by the Bedouin community in the Negev, he calls them Palestinian Bedouin-Arabs and wishes to portray Israel in a colonialist nature. He charges Israel of dispossession of the Bedouins. "The indigenous Bedouin Arab population in the Naqab/Negev desert in Israel has experienced a history of displacement, intense political conflict, and cultural disruption, along with recent rapid modernization, forced urbanization, and migration" Recognizing the Bedouins of the Negev as indigenous people he examines the international human rights framework and how it protects the rights of indigenous peoples to determine which group should be considered rights holders. In a recent article he wished to contest the stereotypes of Bedouins as 'nomads' and 'savages' as in the second half of the nineteenth century. As a lawyer he is representing members of the Dawabsheh family in a lawsuit against the Israeli government for compensation of tens millions of shekels over arson attack in the village of Duma, West Bank in 2015. 
Yael Berda of the Sociology and Anthropology department at the Hebrew University boasts about being "highly engaged in social justice activism and politics in Israel" in her university webpage. Barda, like many academic activists has studied the various facets of the military administration in the West Bank. 
Even this very short survey of scholar-activists is indicative of the confluence of academy and political activism. Quite clearly, these academics abuse academic privileges by using their classroom and research to promote a political agenda. There are two consequences of this deplorable state of affairs which is mostly limited to the social sciences. 
First, students of these professors do not receive the type of balanced education in the classroom as a "marketplace of ideas." Instead, the syllabus and reading materials in many of these classes are solidly neo-Marxist and critical theory oriented. How can students develop a balanced view of the economic system, for instance, if they have never encountered a reading from Adam Smith or neo-liberal economics? 
Second, the incessant preoccupation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict robs sociology and political science of desperately needed subjects such as quantitative methods, system analysis, rational choice theory, and other cutting-edge topics. In an age that social sciences have rushed to study unique twenty first century social phenomena which require these tools, Israeli scholarship and teaching look inevitably archaic. 
For more than a decade now, IAM has been emphasizing the damage done to social sciences in Israel and the cost to the tax payers who are asked to pay the salaries of political activists masquerading as faculty. We have repeatedly pointed out that it is the duty of the university authorities to supervise their social science departments. So far, the authorities which are intimidated by vocal faculty, the fear of bad publicity, and indeed, threats of international boycott (as in the case of the efforts to close down the department of Politics and Government at BGU) have not acted. To the contrary. Given this state of affairs, an Ethics Code is more urgent than ever.
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
Boycott Calls Against Israel
Boycott Calls Against Israel
Boycott Calls Against Israel
General Articles
Boycott Calls Against Israel
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