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Ben-Gurion University


During the spring 2010 semester, I took a problematic course as part
of the MAPMES program.  The MAPMES program is a masters program for
Middle Eastern studies which is taught in English at Ben-Gurion
University.   Almost all of the students in the program don’t have
Israeli citizenship and the few that have Israeli citizenship spent a
considerable portion of their lives living outside of Israel.   The
class was entitled “Selected Topics in the Geography of the Middle
East,” which was jointly taught by Dr. Oren Yiftachel and Dr. Nir
Cohen.   I was deeply disturbed by the anti-Israel sentiment expressed
in the class and after suffering through hearing a constant barrage of
anti-Israel propaganda, I decided that I wanted to expose Dr.
Yiftachel and Dr. Cohen for what they were, anti-Israel activists
attempting to impose their ideology on international students from
Canada, Germany, and the United States.   I only chose to go to Israel
Academia Monitor with my experience after I sat through four awful
lectures where only one opinion was viewed as legitimate by the
professors and all alternative opinions were marginalized.  While I
was given the opportunity to express my objections in the class, it
still nevertheless bothered me to be told constantly that my views
were wrong by professors who were supposed to be impartial just
because my political opinions were not in accordance with their ideology.
Unfortunately, since I did not want to hurt my grade, I was forced to
do my first two exposes on one of the worst readings that we read and
on a lecture by Dr. Cohen anonymously.   However, when Dr. Yiftachel
figured out that the person writing the exposes for Israel Academia
Monitor was me, I was intimidated into silence.   However, now since I
have finished the course and received my grade, I have the freedom to
expose my experiences studying under these two anti-Israel ideologue
without fearing repercussions.

Before I go into the details of what was stated in the class, I think
that it is very important to expose the biases that existed in the
syllabus.    For first week of classes, Dr. Yiftachel held a lecture
entitled “The Making of Israel/Palestine.”   While I was not able to
attend this class because I had just gotten back from the BGU Spain
trip that was organized by the Middle Eastern Studies department for
students that were interested in learning about Muslim history in
Spain and thus was very exhausted, the reading for the class was still
nevertheless chapter three of Dr. Yiftachel’s book “Ethnocracy: Land
and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine.”   In this book, Dr.
Yiftachel argues that Israel is an ethnocracy and not a democracy, so
we have a clue about what kind of lecture this was.   Then, the next
class was entitled “Settler Societies, Post-Colonialism,” which
featured Dr. Cohen.  I already discussed this lecture in quite some
detail for my second expose, where I mentioned that not a single
reading for this class was from the pro-Israel perspective.    Week
three featured a lecture entitled “Ethno-nationalism, ethnocracy, and
homelands,” which featured Dr. Yiftachel and which only had one
pro-Israel reading out of four possible readings.   Regardless, the
professor dismissed this one pro-Israel article in the class as an
example of why such pro-Israel people are wrong in declaring that
Israel is not a colonial state.   For week four, the lecture was
entitled “mobility, migration, transnationalism, and Diaspora.”
Fortunately, the readings for this week were just about general
theories, but that did not stop Dr. Yiftachel from using those
theories to demonize Israel and Jewish nationalism in particular.
Week five’s lecture was entitled “Zionism/Israeliness.”    However,
Dr. Cohen, instead of assigning readings that would teach these
international students about Zionist philosophy and Israeli identity,
chose to assign chapter one of Peled and Shafir’s book “Being
Israeli,” which argued that Israeli society is based on an interaction
between democracy, ethnic nationalism and colonialism; that the
Zionist movement is a “Euro-centric colonial project that excluded
Palestinian Arabs and women from its benefits;” and that the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is based not on a rivalry between two
legitimate nationalist communities fighting over the same land, but a
struggle between Zionist colonialists against “indigenous
Palestinians.”   During that same week, Dr. Cohen also assigned a
piece by Baruch Kimmerling, which although it was not problematic
enough to comment on, it was still no counterweight to Peled and
Shafir.   Dr. Cohen’s teaching during week five was more in accordance
with the ideology of Peled and Shafir’s article than in accordance
with the ideology of Baruch Kimmerling’s article.

Week six was entitled “Religiosity and Ethnicity” and taught by Dr.
Yiftachel.   It was an ok lecture and was not anti-Israel in
comparison to the other lectures.   It was one of the few lectures
where both the readings and the lecture were ok.   Week seven’s
lecture was entitled “Orientalism and the Jewish other: the Case of
the Mizrahim.”   This lecture was taught by Dr. Cohen and the readings
featured Ella Shohat and Sami Shalom Chetrit, who are both anti-Israel
Mizrahi scholars that advocate that Mizrahim are really Arabs, have
been mistreated by Israel in a similar manner that the Palestinians
have been mistreated, and should seek to return to their Arab roots
instead of assimilating into Israeli society.    Dr. Cohen’s lecture
was in accordance with this worldview.   While the Mizrahim do have
legitimate issues regarding discrimination in Israel, most Mizrahim
would object to being classified as Arabs, being compared to
Palestinians, and reject attempts to have them become again a part of
the Arab world in lieu of them being a part of Israeli society.    For
week eight, the lecture was entitled “Palestinians in Israel” and was
taught by Dr. Yiftachel.    All of the readings for this lecture
emphasized issues of discrimination against Israeli Arabs, without
showing whether or not Israel was any worse than any other democratic
country in the world regarding her treatment of minorities.   While
Dr. Yiftachel spent half of the lecture continuing to discuss the
Mizrahim, the other half of the lecture was spent discussing the
Israeli Arabs.   Although Dr. Yiftachel recognized, unlike the
readings, that Arabs have been included in the government and that
there has even been an Arab sports minister, he still emphasized the
negative over the positive.   Week nine was spent discussing “New
diasporic/migrant groups: Soviet and Ethiopian Jews.”   This lecture
was taught by Dr. Cohen.   While this lecture emphasized that
Ethiopian Jews have suffered from racism in Israel without putting any
thing in perspective by comparing the Ethiopian Jewish experiences of
racism with that of blacks in the US, for example, it was definitely
not one of the more offensive lectures.   Nothing false was stated in
this lecture, at the very least.   Week ten was dedicated to “New
Diasporic/Migrant Groups: Israelis Abroad, Labor Migrants” and was
also taught by Dr. Cohen.   In this lecture, discrimination against
labor migrants was emphasized and Dr. Cohen compared Israel to Saudi
Arabia in her treatment of labor migrants.

Week eleven was devoted to “Land and Democracy in a divided society”
and was taught by Dr. Yiftachel.    For readings, one author argued
that Arabs are a normal minority in a mainstream Jewish democratic
state; another author argued that Arabs are living in an enclave and that
Israel is not a true democracy, and a third author argued that Arabs
are in-between the two and that Israel is an ethnic democracy.   Dr.
Yiftachel argued for the most part that Israeli Arabs are between the
two.  Nevertheless, he thinks that Israel is an ethnocracy, not an
ethnic democracy.   Week twelve was devoted to discussing the
Bedouins.   While one reading gave the pro-Israel perspective, the two
other readings certainly did not.    Regardless, Dr. Yiftachel
dismissed the pro-Israel reading as an example of why it was wrong,
kind of like he did with the sole pro-Israel reading from week three.
 He expressed a lot of anti-Israel sentiment during this lecture.
And the last lecture, on “Future Scenarios,” was also taught by Dr.
Yiftachel.   As could be expected, Dr. Yiftachel ended the class by
repeating and over-viewing a lot of the themes that he expressed
through out the course, which ensured that students would take from
the class a series of anti-Israel ideas, such as that Israel is guilty
of colonialism.

Starting out with week three, Dr. Yiftachel denied that the Jews were
expelled by the Romans, in order to establish his claim that “Israel
was abandoned by the Jewish Diaspora,” implying that Jews did not have
a right to reclaim what they willingly abandoned.   All I have to
state in response to this claim is that if he has ever been to
Istanbul, he did not bother to notice the old Roman tablet that stands
in front of the Hagia Sophia that states specifically in Latin that
the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem.   But aside from that, Eric
Cline wrote in "Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern
Israel," "Dio Cassius says that fifty important outposts and 985
famous villages were burned to the ground during the Roman suppression
of the Second Jewish Revolt.   Moreover, five hundred and eighty
thousand Judean men were slain in the various raids and battles, and
the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past
finding out.   Dio Cassius also says that the Romans sold so man
Judeans prisoners as slaves that the price of slaves in the
Mediterranean area dropped drastically in the years following the
suppression of the revolt: so may Judeans were carried off that almost
the whole of Judea was made desolate.  […]  The emperor expelled all
remaining Jews from Jerusalem and forbade them to ever live there
again.   Jerusalem was now renamed Aelia Capitolina and Judea renamed
Syria Palestina.   And so the Diaspora of the Jews began" (132-134).
Dio Cassius was a Roman historian who was alive during the period of
time that the Jews were expelled from Ancient Israel.   If he claimed
that the Romans made Judea desolate through murder, plunder,
enslavement, and expulsion; then I think that we can believe him more
than Dr. Yiftachel.

But as if this claim that the Jews abandoned Israel was not bad
enough, Dr. Yiftachel went on to assert that “no one really scholarly
challenged the colonial thesis on Israel,” which denied validity to
Ran Aaronsohn and a series of other pro-Israel scholars who challenge
him on this point.   Dr. Yiftachel claimed that Israel was guilty of
the “colonialism of refugees.”   By equating Zionism with colonialism,
Dr. Yiftachel dismissed the scholar Ronald Hurvath, who asserted that
colonialism "has been seen as a form of exploitation, with emphasis on
economic variables" and "as a culture-change process."   Horvath
believes that this conception of domination is closely related to
power.   As Aaronsohn proved, economic exploitation did not play a
role in the Zionist movement.   Regarding a culture-changing process,
the Jewish settlers never tried to impose their culture on the Arabs,
like the French imposed their culture on the peoples in North Africa,
so one really cannot claim that there was a culture-changing process.

After equating Zionism with colonialism, Dr. Yiftachel compared Israel
to South Africa by stating “even the South Africans created a myth for
wanting to take over the land.”  While the Afrikaners might have
created a myth that they are indigenous for taking over South Africa,
Jewish roots in the land of Israel are definitely not a myth, but a
fact.   There is so much archeological evidence to prove this point.
 If the ancient Judean state was a myth, then how come archeologists
like Eric Cline spoke of coins that were found that prove that the
dynasty of King David really existed?   How come archeologists found
the remains of a home in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City that was
destroyed by the Romans during the first Jewish Revolt against the
Roman Empire, complete with ancient Jewish coins and other proofs of
the Romans suppressing the Jews?   Yiftachel needs to read Eric
Cline's book if he has any doubt about the scientific proof of the
existence of Ancient Israel and how the Jews were forced out of their
ancestral homeland.

Dr. Yiftachel then explained that there are four types of colonialism:
military, plantation, mixed, and pure settler.   According to Dr.
Yiftachel, “"Zionism started out as plantation and shifted to pure
settlement."   As Ran Aaronsohn demonstrated quite well, just because
the First Aliyah and some moshavot up until the Arab Revolt hired
Palestinian laborers does not mean that the First Aliyah consisted of
plantation colonialists, since the Palestinian laborers worked for the
Zionists out of their own free will and enslavement accompanied by
exploitation of workers is a key element of plantation colonialism.
 Regarding the settler colonialism accusation, according to Caroline
Elkins book "Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century," settler
societies sought to illuminate the native population and not to
exploit them.   "They wished less to govern indigenous peoples or to
enlist them in their economic ventures than to seize their land and
push them beyond an ever-expanding frontier of settlement" (2).
While Elkins falsely believes that Israel fits into this category, she
is wrong.  According to the American archeologist Eric Cline, who
demonstrated in his book "Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to
Modern Israel,” “few would seriously challenge the belief that most
modern Jews are descended from the ancient Hebrews.  […]  The origin
of the Arab peoples in the region of modern Israel are less certain.
[…]  Claims that modern Palestinians are descended from ancient
Jebusites are made without supporting evidence.   […]  Historians and
archeologists have generally concluded that most, if not all, modern
Palestinians are probably more closely related to the Arabs of Saudi
Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, and other countries than they are to the
ancient Jebusites, Canaanites, or Philistines.  The major movements of
those Arabs into the region occurred after 600 CE, more than 1,600
years after David and the Israelites had vanquished the original
inhabitants of the land".   Given these facts, how come Jews are
considered settler colonialists?  The Jews are nothing more than the
oldest surviving people who are indigenous to Israel that reclaimed
their lost homeland.   This is especially true given that prior to
1948, every inch of land that the Jews bought was purchased through
legal means, not illegal seizures, and the rest was gained legally
through the UN Partition Plan, promises guaranteed in the League of
Nations Palestine Mandate, and wars of self-defense.   But aside from
this fact, Elkins asserted that settler colonialism is defined by
"ongoing negotiation and struggle amongst four key groups: an imperial
metropole where sovereignty formerly resides, a local administration
charged with maintaining order and authority, an indigenous population
significant enough in size and tenacity to make its presence felt, and
an often demanding and well-connected settler community".  Elkins
herself admitted that the early Zionists lacked an "imperial metropole
where sovereignty formerly resides."   I go further than her and argue
that not the Palestinians, but the Jews, are the closest thing to an
indigenous people of the land.   And furthermore, the early Zionist
settlers were not well-connected.  If they were well-connected, then
there would have been no White Papers, British officials working in
Palestine would have been more sympathetic to the Zionist cause and
the Ottomans would not have been so antagonistic towards them.    But
as if the insistence upon teaching the colonial thesis regarding
Israel was not bad enough, Dr. Yiftachel stated that one “can't
understand what is happening without understanding colonial
framework,” thus dismissing every one who disagrees with him as
ignorant of the reality in Israel.
Dr. Yiftachel then proceeded to repeat that “colonialism of
refugees” existed in Israel from 1905 till 1947.   After that, from
1947-1949, there was the war of independence/Nakba.    Dr. Yiftachel
did not address during this particular lecture how the Palestinians
created their own Nakba by rejecting the UN Partition Plan.   Then,
from 1949 through 1967, Dr. Yiftachel claimed that there was internal
colonialism.   While it is true that Israeli Arabs lived under
military rule up until 1966, Horvath believes an example of internal
colonialism is how Sudan treats their Christian minority and Dr.
Yiftachel does not provide any evidence that Israeli Arabs had it that
bad under military rule.   He also does not mention that even when
Israeli Arabs were under military rule, they still had a right to
vote, a right to healthcare, and a series of other benefits that I am
sure that Christians in Sudan could only dream of.   Then, from
1967-1993, Dr. Yiftachel claimed that Israel engaged in external
colonialism.   The fact that Israel won these territories in wars of
self-defense and that Israel offered to give back these territories in
exchange for peace more than once did not stop Dr. Yiftachel from
labeling Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories as a
colonial adventure.   Then, from 1993 onwards, Dr. Yiftachel claimed
that Israel engaged in “oppressive consolidation.”    Dr. Yiftachel
gave zero contexts regarding how terrorism influenced Israel to crack
down on the Palestinian territories.  He concluded the lecture by
insisting that we all learn to understand Israel based on the colonial

During week four, Dr. Yiftachel started out by stating “territory and
identity are merged as one, overlapped and this is one of the main
functions of nationalism.  This is an artificial construct.   In the
process of making your own country, you must work on it and can end up
erasing others.   Nationalism is a dangerous force.”   Dr. Yiftachel
then proceeded to assert that Jews claimed sovereignty over a land
where they were in a minority and “Israel's declaration of
independence does not mention borders, but mentions myths, however
nationalism is all about myths.   The claim that the Jews were
expelled by the Romans is a national myth.”    While nationalism can
be a dangerous force, as the Nazis demonstrated, the fact that
nationalism can also be a force for good and help establish a people’s
national pride was neglected by Dr. Yiftachel.   The fact that Druze
are often Israeli patriots based on their connections to the land,
despite being a minority, should prove to any one that Israeli
nationalism is not intended to erase minority cultures.   I already
proved in depth why the fact that the Jews were expelled by the Romans
is a historic fact, not a national myth.

Dr. Yiftachel then went on to assert that Israel did not accept
Palestine, but Palestine accepted Israel’s right to exist.   I can’t
think of a greater distortion of the truth than this.    In 1948,
Israel accepted the UN Partition Plan, which called for the creation
of both a Jewish and Arab state in Palestine.   The Arabs rejected
this offer from the UN because they rejected Israel’s right to exist.
 Up until 1967, before Israel controlled the Palestinian territories,
the Arabs states insisted that there could be no compromise with
Jewish nationalism and that any new state in the area must be Arab.
All the while, Jordan and Egypt took zero moves to create an
independent Palestinian state on the lands that they captured in 1948
and the world considered both the Jordanian occupation of the West
Bank and the Egyptian occupation of Gaza to be illegal.
Nevertheless, the Palestinians did not make an intifada against
illegal Jordanian and Egyptian rule, only because both countries are
Muslim and Arab.   Right after the 1967 war, Israel declared that she
would be willing to negotiate the return of the West Bank, Gaza, the
Golan Heights, and the Sinai in exchange for peace.   The Arab League
replied with the infamous Khartoum Declaration, where they declared
there would be no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, and
no recognition of Israel.   The Khartoum Declaration would remain
official policy for all Arab leaders until Anwar Sadaat decided to
make peace with Israel in exchange for the Sinai Peninsula during the
Camp David Agreements in 1979.   In 1988, the Palestinians sought to
unilaterally declare a state, without seeking any sort of compromise
with Israel.    While it is true that the Palestinians referenced
documents like the UN Partition Plan and other official UN resolutions
that recognized Israel’s right to exist within the 1967 borders as
part of their statement, it is also true that the official Palestinian
declaration of statehood made no mention of Israel’s right to exist
and most importantly, the Palestinians sought to create their state
without negotiations with Israel.   Thus, it is quite misleading to
state that the Palestinians recognized Israel’s right to exist in
1988, as Dr. Yiftachel implied through out the course.   After the
First Intifada, there were negotiations between Israel and the
Palestinians, where both sides agreed to mutually recognize one
another.   However, while Israel kept her end of her agreements, by
handing over certain cities to PA control, the Palestinians did not
keep their end of the bargain by ending incitement against Israelis,
stopping terrorism, and in the end, reneged on their recognition of
Israel by walking away from the negotiations table without a counter
offer.   It is also important to remember that while the Palestinians
spoke about recognizing Israel in English, in Arabic they were telling
their people that gaining Palestine within the 1967 borders was merely
the first phase for the total liberation of Palestine.   In sum, the
Palestinians were not sincere about their recognition of Israel and
this remains true to date, since Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist
outright and Fatah refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a
Jewish state, while most Israeli politicians, from Avigdor Lieberman
and Bibi Netanyahu on the right to Amir Peretz and Haim Oron on the
left, recognize the right of the Palestinians to form a state in Gaza
and most of the West Bank if only they would be willing to make peace
with us.

After that, Dr. Yiftachel shocked me by stating that "the crucial
factor is that the Palestinians were not allowed to come back and that
the details are only important to historians, not geographers.”
Every academic should care about details, because without details, how
can one master the complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Dr. Yiftachel sited an example of “Israeli ethnocracy.”   According to
Dr. Yiftachel, the construction site of an emergency room of a
hospital in Ashkelon was moved just because some religious people
thought that it was going to be built on top of ancient Jewish graves.
  To him, this was an example of ethnocracy.   How is respecting
archeological treasures and holy sites an example of ethnocracy?

But as if the absurdities could not get any worse, Dr. Yiftachel
claimed that “Israel is like Sudan in ethnocratic structure” and that
“Israel imposes Judaism on her Palestinian citizens.”   The idea that
a liberal democracy like the Israeli state, which grants equal rights
to her Arab citizens and does not wantonly murder Palestinians because
they are of a certain ethnic group, is compared to a country that is
currently committing a genocide and goes out of her way to deny any
sort of basic human rights to the majority of her citizens would be
laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic.   The same goes for the idea of
asserting that Israel, by stating that her country is the national
homeland of the Jewish people, is imposing her religion on the Arabs.
 Unless Israel did what Isabella and Ferdinand did during the Spanish
Inquisition, by telling Jews that they must chose conversion,
expulsion, or death, how can one even claim that Israel is imposing
the Jewish religion on the Arabs?   We never forced them to pray in
synagogues.   We never told them that they have to celebrate Jewish
holidays.    We never barred Halal slaughtering from the country, like
kosher slaughtering is barred in certain countries.   We never barred
them from eating in public on Jewish fast days, while in many Muslim
countries; non-Muslims are barred from eating in public during
Ramadan.   We allow them to sell bread during Passover in their
villages.  We allow them to open their stores on Shabbat if they chose
to do so.   I think that the Jews of Spain in 1492 would have been
grateful if Isabella and Ferdinand treated them how we treat Israeli
Arabs today.   After I questioned Dr. Yiftachel on this point, he
stated, “Israel imposes separation and Judaizaition and ethnic
control, not so much the religion.”   So, in other words, according to
Dr. Yiftachel, just by having separate schools for Jews and Arabs
(which gives Arabs the right to focus on their language, history and
religion instead of the Hebrew language, Jewish history and religion),
by having most Arabs live in separate villages from Jews by their own
free will, and just by having a majority of Jews living in Israel and
thus controlling the country because they constitute a democratic
majority, we are imposing Judaism on the Arabs.   When I questioned
Dr. Yiftachel about his Sudan statement, he stated “Israel is not like
Sudan but still gives minority’s minimal ability to impact what
happens, like Sudan.”   If Dr. Yiftachel can’t see the difference
between living in a liberal democracy that has a parliamentary system
that is designed to give minorities more of a voice and living under
an authoritarian dictatorship that supports genocide, then there is
not much that one can say in response.

For lecture number eight, Dr. Yiftachel claimed that the “Ashkenazis
colonize the Mizrahim.”   He never provided any supporting evidence
proving that this was indeed the case.   While it is true that
Mizrahim faced discrimination during the early years of Israel’s
statehood, to label such discrimination colonialism demonstrates utter
ignorance on what is colonialism.     During this same lecture, Dr.
Yiftachel repeated the accusation that the “whole Israeli state is
what you call an ethnocracy” because elites evidently use their power
to exclude certain groups, like the Mizrahim.   I guess the fact that
former Israeli President Moshe Katzav and that one of Israel’s current
four Deputy Prime Ministers is Eli Yishai, are Mizrahi means nothing
to Dr. Yiftachel.   But as if this was not bad enough, Dr. Yiftachel
claimed Israeli “hegemony” has “wiped out the substantive Mizrahi
culture” because the Mizrahi Jews today don’t see themselves as Arabs.
  As mentioned previously, most Mizrahi Jews would reject the notion
that their culture has been wiped out by Zionism because most
Mizrahi Jews don’t view themselves as Arabs.    My husband is a
Mizrahi Jew of Moroccan and Iraqi origin, and he got very insulted
every time I told him that Dr. Yiftachel claimed that his identity was
Arab and that it was only due to Zionist persecution that he doesn’t
see himself as Arab.   My husband stated that even when his mother’s
family lived in Morocco and his father’s family lived in Iraq, before
they came to Israel, they did not view themselves as Arabs.

During the second half of lecture eight, when Dr. Yiftachel discussed
the Arabs, Dr. Yiftachel claimed that Immanuel is a colony, that
Israeli settlements are illegal, and that the consensus on the Israeli
right is to evict Israeli Arabs.   He also stated, “on the right, […]
you will find elements of deep racism” in Israeli society, and while
discussing Yisrael Beiteinu’s role in the last election, Dr. Yiftachel
stated, “if apartheid can legitimately run for election on the ticket
of denying citizenship, […] that means the boundary is very shaky in
terms of including all the citizens.”   The fact that the League of
Nations under the Palestine Mandate gave Jews the right to settle in
Gaza and the West Bank, is not mentioned by Dr. Yiftachel.   The fact
that the West Bank and Gaza has never constituted an independent
state, that the Jordanian and Egyptian occupation of these territories
was never recognized by the world, and that international laws against
settlement in occupied territories only apply if a territory was part
of a sovereign nation state is not mentioned.  After all, for
something to be considered occupied, it needs to have been an
independent nation beforehand.    The truth of the matter is that with
the exception of Muhammed Ali’s brief ten year occupation and the
Jordanian and Egyptian partial control of Palestine that was not
recognized by the world, the Arabs have not controlled Palestine since
before the Crusades and even then, Palestine was not an independent
state but part of various Arab empires.   The fact that the Arabs
lived in Palestine is irrelevant.   Ownership is what matters, legally
speaking.   But regardless of this fact, only a fringe group on the
Israeli right talks about expelling Israeli Arabs.   It is definitely
not a consensus in the Israeli right like Dr. Yiftachel claims.   Most
people on the Israeli right today are not racists, to the contrary of
what Dr. Yiftachel claims, and would sign off on a fair peace
agreement with the Palestinians if only the Palestinians were serious
about peace.   Yisrael Beiteinu is not promoting apartheid and
actually supports a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict, like the Likud and most other Israeli political parties do.

During week eleven, Dr. Yiftachel claimed that while the Israeli Arab
community is the most developed Arab community in the Middle East and
has a reasonable economic and educational level; Israeli Arabs still
nevertheless have “ghetto citizenship” for there is “no common
citizenship between Jews and Arabs.”   The fact that Israeli law, as
well as the Israeli declaration of independence, grants Jews the same
rights as Arabs is not taken into consideration by Dr. Yiftachel when
he made this statement.   I am pretty positive that the Jews who lived
in the ghettos of Poland would have been very appreciative if the
Third Reich granted them the same “ghetto citizenship” that Israel
grants to Israeli Arabs.

For week twelve, Dr. Yiftachel stated that Israel treats her Bedouin
citizens in a very similar manner to how Israel treats Palestinians in
Area C and that their Israeli citizenship is not worth a thing.   The
fact that Bedouin citizens of Israel have the right to vote in Israeli
elections, serve in the Knesset, attend Israeli universities, serve in
the IDF, and a series of other rights that non-citizen Palestinians in
area C lack did not stop him from making this statement.   After that,
Dr. Yiftachel stated, “the racism of Israeli society has been fully
exposed.    Haneen’s participation in the Flotilla was aimed against
the occupation and is more than legitimate.   What is illegitimate is
the fascist attempt to make every opposition to Israel’s colonialism
betrayalism.   Those calling her a traitor attempt to push all Arab
citizens into a ghetto and run the country and the occupied
territories for Jews only.   We shall never stop struggling against
this, never.”    Despite the fact that Arab society is much more
anti-Semitic than Israeli society is anti-Arab, Dr. Yiftachel never
calls Arab society racist.    The fact that not a single Arab country
would tolerate one of their parliament members going on a solidarity
mission to Sderot or on a flotilla to help Gilad Shalit did not stop
Dr. Yiftachel from claiming that what Haneen Zoabi did was legitimate.
  Dr. Yiftachel also displayed utter ignorance of what fascism is by
labeling Israel’s actions against people who seek her destruction to
be fascist.   Fascism is an ideology that seeks a totalitarian state
in order to preserve national identity and views both pluralism and
individualism to be dysfunctional.   Israel has never rejected
pluralism or individualism and is not a totalitarian state.   Wanting
to take actions against people who seek the destruction of Israel by
labeling Israel’s very existence to be colonialism is mere
self-defense and not fascist.   All nations would take actions against
activists that seek their destruction, regardless whether they are
democratic or not.   Just because we want to take action against such
activists does not mean that Arab Israelis don’t have rights, that we
want to push Arabs into ghettos, and that we think that Israel should
be for Jews only.   The fact that Israel has a twenty percent Arab
minority and that we grant these people equal rights negates what Dr.
Yiftachel stated.

Although I obviously did not include every anti-Israel statement made
in the class in order to avoid repetition of ideas, I hope that this
sample of the worst of the worst demonstrates how much Dr. Yiftachel
utilized indoctrination in order to teach international students to be
against Israel.    While such indoctrination did not work on me, there
were unfortunately a number of international students who left the
course more anti-Israel than they were before they took the course.
One Canadian student told me that she came to Israel just to learn
without any sort of preconceived biases and I know for a fact that by
the end of this class, the influence of Dr. Yiftachel combined with
Noah Slor, last year’s social coordinator, had made her into a very
anti-Israel person.    Nevertheless, despite such documented
indoctrination and the fact that Dr. Yiftachel attempted to intimidate
me into silence, Dr. Yiftachel is still teaching international
students as part of the MAPMES program, while more balanced scholars,
like Dr. Benny Morris, are not teaching international students in the
MAPMES program this year.   To make matters even worse, the MAPMES
program has imported more anti-Israel scholars to teach international
students this year.  Thus, current MAPMES students are in grave danger 
of being even more thoroughly indoctrinated this year than the
MAPMES students of last year were.



Rachel Avraham previous postings:

IAM's first in the series on BGU Oren Yiftachel class for overseas students in English entitled "Selected Topics in the Geography of the Middle East"


IAM's 2nd in a series on BGU's Oren Yiftachel is written by a student in this Geography of the Middle East class for oversees students, which is entitled in English as "The Selected Topics in the Geography of the Middle East"






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