The IAM 4th annual conference on Anti-Semitism and BDS on the 10th of May provided the audience with some unexpected information. For example, Dr. Dana Barnett, the IAM editor, explained the role of the Jewish and Israeli activists within the movement to boycott Israel.
Much to everyone's surprise Barnett revealed that the func'tion of Jewish Israeli professors is to deflect accusations of anti-Semitism. In an interview with JerusalemOnline shortly after the conference, Barnett cited Israeli professor Rachel Giora, a Tel Aviv University linguist and a staunch supporter of BDS who wrote in an article detailing the movement of boycott from within, that “The major role of the Israeli BDS movement has been to support international BDS calls against Israel and legitimize them both as clearly not anti-Semitic."
Barnett also revealed that Israeli professors profit from their roles in the delegitimization of Israel campaigns. BGU professors Neve Gordon and Oren Yiftachel are a case in point. The former received Saudi support for his book Israel's Occupation, as he admitted in the foreword of the book, "I began writing the book in 2004 during a sabbatical at the University of California, Berkeley, where Nezar AlSayyad from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies... welcomed me and provided me the necessary resources to write." Berkeley's Center for Middle East Studies has been a recipient of Saudi largess for years. The latter, who coined the apartheid analogy received a trophy from Michael C. Hudson, a veteran Arab propagandist and the director of the Middle East Institute at the University of Singapore, which is supported by Gulf states funding.
Barnett stated that this pattern is not new and has been used to promote the "New Historians" in the 1980's.
Dr. Dana Barnett: “BDS Movement recruits Jews and Israelis so they won’t be called anti-Semitic”
In an exclusive interview with JerusalemOnline, Dr. Dana Barnett, the head of Israel Academia Monitor, explained how the BDS Movement has risen to prominence and has taken advantage of Jews and Israelis so that they would not be accused of being anti-Semites.
May 19, 2016, 2:15PM
Dr. Dana Barnett, the head of Israel Academia Monitor who completed her PHD at the King’s College London on “Post-Zionism and Israeli universities: the academic political nexus,” told JerusalemOnline that one of the reasons why the BDS Movement has been so successful is because there is a lot of confusion between the left-wing and the right-wing: “If you are young and liberal, you will consider yourself as a leftist because you are open-minded and not homophobic. If you are right wing, you are considered to be Ultra-Orthodox, nationalist, etc. Now the thing is that the problem with such a prism is that it is not really accurate. Many people are neither this nor that, especially if we speak about Israelis, who are somewhere in the middle.”
“Then, sometimes people promote left-wing ideas but they are unaware that they are promoting things that are not supportive of human rights,” she explained. “If you are liberal and support human rights for Palestinians yet you have nothing bad to say about the state of human rights in the Palestinian Authority and internal Palestinian issues, then you are playing into the hands of the Palestinian right-wing nationalism. People confuse between perceptions and this plays into the hands of extremism.”
According to Dr. Barnett, Israel used to be considered a legitimate state in the past but a change in paradigms took place in the 1970’s after Edward Said published his book titled Orientalism: “It was a pivotal point. From then onward, the paradigm was shifted to the neo-Marxist, critical paradigm where research did not need to produce evidence and it was enough to bring opinions to the table. The Neo-Marxist scholarship followed the Antonio Gramsci teaching where the intellectuals were encouraged to use their working place i.e. universities to promote social change.”
“Today, the Neo-Marxist critical scholars do that,” Dr. Barnett noted. “They use the universities to promote social change and political activism. If Israel was seen in the positivist approach (mainstream) as a legitimate state with a market economy and democracy, in the Neo-Marxist, critical approach, Israel is an illegitimate, apartheid state that exploits women, Mizrahim and Palestinians. This is with regards to how the perception of Israel has changed in the social sciences in the last thirty years.”
Dr. Barnett told JerusalemOnline that some BDS activists believe that if Israel is boycotted, the Israeli government will change their policies regarding the Palestinians but they neglect to mention that the BDS Movement also calls for a one-state solution and the right of return for Palestinians, which means the end of the State of Israel: “Also if currently Palestinians stab Israelis while there is some kind of separation, one can only imagine what it would happen if there was a one state. It would be extreme violence. So at the same time, people promote all kind of ideas. If, for example, activists promote non-violent protests but while they do so their fellow members are involved in violence at same time and the ‘non-violent’ say nothing about the violence taking place, and don't come out against it, it means de facto that the non-violent activists accept violence. They cannot call themselves non-violent activists when their colleagues, family members or acquaintances act via violent means. So in other words, there is a dichotomy in the field of activism.”
According to Dr. Barnett, over the last 40 years, the Arab Gulf countries that are rich in natural resources and Iran have invested a lot of money in American and European campuses: “It was well known some 7 years ago that Libya’s ruler Muamar Gaddafi and his son invested heavily in the London School of Economics. This received great exposure but a lot of donations do not receive such media attention, coming from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both have invested millions in Western universities and especially in centers for the study of the Middle East, which brings us back to Said's book Orientalism, when in fact they have a say on who is teaching, who is invited, sabbaticals, chairs, etc. Iran has done the same thing too but don’t forget that the West is more suspicious of Iran than of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are more cautious with Iranian money.”
She stressed that given this, it is not surprising that Dr. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University wrote his book Israel’s Occupation in 2005 “while he was on sabbatical in Berkeley under Nezar Al Sayyed, who chaired the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Berkeley who gave him his support. As he stated in the foreword of the book, ‘I began writing the book in 2004 during a sabbatical at the University of California, Berkeley, where Nezar Al Sayyad from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies welcomed me and provided me the necessary resources to write.’ Equally not surprising is that Prof. Oren Yiftachel also from BGU received a trophy from Michael C. Hudson, the head of the Middle East Institute at Singapore University, who is staunchly anti-Israel.”
At this point, JerusalemOnline asked Dr. Barnett how these developments are related to anti-Semitism. She replied that since 2005, the EU Monitoring Centre created the working definition for anti-Semitism, where they declared that criticizing Israel alone for human rights violations and not addressing human rights violations in other countries is in fact anti-Semitism: “Therefore, Israeli and Jewish scholars are promoting BDS for people in the West are frightened to be considered anti-Semitic. They recruited Israelis for they won’t be anti-Semitic even if they say anti-Semitic things, such as Shlomo Sand who wrote in the paperback edition of his book: ‘This attempt to justify Zionism through genetics... [to] identifying a genetic marker specific to Jews... It is a bitter irony to see the descendants of Holocaust survivors set out to find a biological Jewish identity: Hitler would certainly have been very pleased! And it is all the more repulsive that this kind of research should be conducted in a state that has waged for years a declared policy of Judaization of the country.’”
As Israeli academic Dr. Rachel Geora stated in her article on BDS from Within: “The major role of the Israeli BDS movement has been to support international BDS calls against Israel and legitimize them both as clearly not anti-Semitic." According to Dr. Barnett, that is why they recruit Jews and Israelis: “Going back to the shift of the paradigm and this is discussed in my PHD thesis in length, in England during the 1980’s, Roger Owen, a professor in Oxford University who wanted to advance the Palestinian narrative, groomed three Israeli scholars. All of them wrote against Israel. He was looking for Israelis to write against Israel so he would not be blamed for anti-Semitism. So he groomed Ilan Pappe, Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim and they all wrote about the Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians.”
“They were looking for Jewish Israelis to do it because if they were to criticize Israel like that and fabricate facts, it would be considered anti-Semitic,” Dr. Barnett proclaimed. “That is why there is a lot of confusion today and a lot of people have something to say about Israel but not Hamas and don’t speak about the lack of human rights in the Palestinian Authority between Arabs and Arabs or other Muslim societies. They only blame Israel and have no criticism about others. That is anti-Semitism.”
According to Dr. Barnett, the Arab countries in addition to sponsoring anti-Israel Israeli and Jewish academics also assisted groups like the Students for Justice in Palestine, who promote the BDS Movement and Israel Apartheid Weeks on campus: “So it is a vicious circle that Saudi Arabia is paying for Arab students and scholars and they bring them over to lots of campuses in the West and then you get a lot of activities and petitions against Israel. It’s all related to one another. The social sciences became grounds for political activism through the neo-Marxist critical scholarship as per the teachings of Antonio Gramsci about turning academia into a place of social change.”
Earlier this week, JerusalemOnline reported that a Nakba Day event took place at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Barnett explained that this event demonstrated that this same phenomenon that is happening abroad also affects universities inside the State of Israel: “I noticed that a lot of Arab students enroll in Israeli universities and even get grants and then they are recruited to focus on anti-Israel campus activism, such as the Nakba Day and Land Day. One example comes to mind, Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the BDS Movement, who lives in Israel, but he is Qatari by birth. He married an Israeli Arab and got a residency permit. He was registered in Tel Aviv University for a couple of years where he did an extension for an MA. He had an MA without thesis and wanted to continue onwards to a PHD. In the end, he did not complete it there. He spent a couple of years at Tel Aviv University studying philosophy and this is when he founded the BDS Movement. It just shows you that the Israeli campuses are deeply involved too.”
According to Dr. Barnett, within the State of Israel, there are about 30 to 40 anti-Israel activists masquerading as academics, although not all of them call for BDS: “When we started monitoring anti-Israeli academics on campuses in 2004, we found petitions against Israel with signatures of around 360 academics, calling students to refuse to serve in the territories during their reserve service or a petition calling for foreign multi-forces to be stationed in Israel, in other words to take Israel’s sovereignty away and a petition stating that Israel is guilty of war crimes, asking for investigations. These three petitions were signed by about 360 scholars. Since then, the number has been reduced but there are about 40 still active promoting political activism in class and on campus and are not true scholars.”
“A true scholar is someone who researches and publishes in his field, who does not cherry pick evidence to meet his political agenda,” Dr. Barnett concluded. “Some of the activists changed their topics after getting tenure and researched other topics to suit their political views. Some of the academics even call for BDS. Instead of them actually leaving campus and following their own rule of boycotting Israel, they stay and keep preaching their political agenda. This is what is happening on campus today and nothing is being done about it unfortunately, although the tax payers are paying their salaries. They abuse the term academic freedom.”