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 Established in 2004





Israel Academia Monitor


Anti-Israel Activities of Israeli Academics

and other Academic-Related Issues





Reprints of anti-Israel articles do not represent the position

of IAM, and they are being reproduced as a public service


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:
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
SOAS Academic Board Manipulated by Pro-Palestinian Activists
A Hebrew University program teaching Hebrew to students from SOAS London University was terminated due to pressure from pro-Palestinian groups. Behind the termination is Dr. Yair Wallach, the chair of the Jewish Studies at SOAS, and Dr. Tamar Drukker, a Hebrew lector who both succumbed to Palestinian pressure.
Wallach was trying to conceal his role in the termination, but the protocols of the Academic Board meetings reveal he provided the Board with false and politically motivated information.
In a recent exchange of Tweets with Pinsker Center, a pro-Israel student group in the UK, Wallach accused the Pinsker Centre of circulating unfounded rumors. A day before, Pinsker Center Tweeted that "It has been reported that @SOAS has bowed down to student pressure, and terminated its relationship with @HebrewU. Why should pressure from a minority fringe of activists deprive other students of the opportunity to enrich themselves at a world class institution in Israel?" Wallach responded that he was "disappointed" to see such "unfounded rumors," claiming that "SOAS's Year Abroad agreement with the Hebrew University ended as planned. SOAS signed a new agreement with Haifa University. Decision made on academic reasons. That's it." He added that the "Programs in both universities are excellent. We chose what seemed to us more suitable."
Obviously, Wallach was unaware that the Palestinian group "Apartheid Off Campus" was claiming victory for this termination.
Unfortunately, Wallach was not telling the truth. In both January and March 2019, the Academic Board of SOAS convened to discuss the 'Hebrew Year Abroad.' Wallach prepared the reports for the two Board meetings, along with Dr. Tamar Drukker, his colleague from Jewish studies. The report is supportive of the Year Abroad program, "The premise of the Year Abroad is to allow students to study the language in an immersive environment, where they encounter it not only in language classes. This is the pedagogical value and logic of the Year Abroad."
However, Wallach and Drukker informed the Board that "The main objection raised in the case of the Hebrew University is that the campus is on occupied territory." Because "the campus's periphery extends into occupied territory (part of the dormitory as well as the sports center). The main campus is not on occupied land (neither the Rothberg institute nor any other Hebrew University teaching facility). EU policy, according to the EU embassy in Israel, is to consider Mt. Scopus Campus as within the 1967 lines, that is, within "Israel proper," and not to see the campus as located on occupied territory."
Surprisingly, while Wallach and Drukker announced that Hebrew University is not situated on "occupied land," they still proposed "two alternative options," for teaching Hebrew - at the Palestinian Territories universities of Bir Zeit and al-Quds.
The report by Wallach and Drukker stated that "In Bir Zeit, which is in the Palestinian occupied territories, Hebrew is taught as a foreign language. Otherwise, teaching is conducted in Arabic or English." This was not sufficient because students would have limited exposure to Hebrew. "In that sense, there is no point in sending them on a year abroad in the first place." The second option was the Al-Quds university. "Teaching in al-Quds is conducted in Arabic, and again, Hebrew would be taught as a foreign language, which defeats the purpose of the year abroad. However, given al-Quds's location in Jerusalem, at least students would have exposure to Hebrew. Depending on the quality of the program, and how it is tailored and organized, we would have considered such an option, had it existed." But, according to the report, "there is no Hebrew program advertised in al-Quds. There is no mention of any Hebrew tuition in al-Quds's website. We have emailed al-Quds to express our interest and to ask if they offer Hebrew, but have not received reply." The report concluded that "Unfortunately, these are not viable options."
Wallach and Drukker provided the Academic Board with a misleading proposal as if it was possible to teach Hebrew at Palestinian universities, that are in fact, no-go areas for Israelis. To recall, Amira Hass, the Haaretz pro-Palestinian journalist was asked to leave a conference at Bir-Zeit University, and so was Professor Ilan Pappe, because they were Israelis.
The report states that the proposal to teach Hebrew in Palestinian universities was made by Sai Englert. Dr. Simon (Sai) Englert is a BDS activist and an anti-Zionist Jew who currently teaches at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is a socialist-activist who completed his Ph.D. at SOAS in 2018. He researches the changing relationship between the labor movement and the state in Israel under neoliberalism. Englert was recorded on a 5 minutes video discussing how anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism and how the dispute with the Palestinians is all Israel's fault. In 2017 Englert was quoted by the BBC as a Jewish Ph.D. student at SOAS and a member of the university's Palestine Society, who said: "The idea that somehow supporting BDS, supporting boycott etc is a blanket boycott on individuals I think is very dangerous. It's not. "It's about saying 'we don't want institutional links, economic links, political links with institutions, governments, companies that are complicit in attacks on rights'."
This is not surprising, Wallach is a long-standing political activist, he should not have taught Israel Studies at SOAS. For example, he has little appreciation for Israeli Ambassadors. When Israeli ambassador Mark Regev was invited to speak at SOAS, Wallach responded, "I was not in favor of the invitation... Ambassador Regev is not a scholar or a public intellectual. He is a PR speaker representing the viewpoint of his government... but the intellectual value of an address by an official state spokesperson is questionable. This is why I saw little merit in the event. I declined to chair the talk, and advised the organizers to reconsider it."
Clearly, the SOAS Academic Board has been led by the nose by these pro-Palestinian activists. This is not the first time that Palestinians recruit Israelis and Jews in their war against Israel. British Universities should not allow radical-political activists to manipulate their decision-making.
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
King's College London's Anti-Israel Group "Action Palestine" Recruits Israelis to Besmirch Israel
The Group "Action Palestine" at King's College London (KCLAP) has only one mission, to attack Israel. The group has been recruiting Israeli academics to present Israel in a negative light. A recent online event was held by KCLAP, titled "Black Jewish Lives Matter."
The event was reported by Georgia Leatherdale-Gilholy, an associate with the CAMERA on Campus UK, a pro-Israel organization that follows campus campaigns to delegitimize Israel, titled "An academic attempt to frame Israel as a devious colonial enterprise." The keynote speaker was Efrat Yerday, a doctoral candidate and lecturer at Tel Aviv University. She is a leading activist for Ethiopians in Israel who holds an M.A. in Politics and Government from Ben Gurion University. In her talk, Yerday was quoted as saying, “Ethiopians are sick of being depicted as people who should be grateful to their white ‘saviours’ for … barely qualifying as Jews.” Last year, Yerday has published an article with the publisher Berghahn Journals, Visual Anthropology in the Middle East, guest edited by Profs. Esther Hertzog and Yael Katzir. Yerday's article, "To Be Black and Beautiful in Israel," reviews works by female artists of Ethiopian origin. She argues that "these artists are presenting their attitudes towards the ‘white gaze.’ Though constantly subjected to it by the Israeli hegemony." Yerday draws on postcolonial theory, among others. As a former student of BGU Politics and Government, the use of post-modernist jargon to debunk Israel is not surprising.
The host was Nimrod Evron, an Israeli member of KCLAP, and a master’s student of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College. He, according to Leatherdale-Gilholy's report, "was out to dismiss the reality of Israeli society so as to frame it as a devious colonial enterprise." Evron also teaches middle school pupils at the London Acorn School for alternative schooling. Evron is a radical activist who gave a talk in 2015, before a Quaker audience. He was described as a "Jewish Israeli activist and Educator who's activism includes involvement in New Profile’s Refusal Support Network and Alternative Summer Camp for Youth." He explained his opposition to the Israeli State’s policies of "occupation and oppression." He discussed "Direct action with Palestinians, worker immigration rights, the current situation on the Israeli left, Israel and the international community, international activist engagement with the Israeli public."
Evron was also recruited by KCLAP to teach a workshop "Occupation 101," teaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the basics. This course aims to give a "comprehensive basic understanding of the conflict and occupation, both for people new to the conflict and people that already find themselves involved but feel they just need a better understanding." Evron is presented as an activist in the anti-militarization and refusers movement, in various direct actions with Palestinians and various social justice campaigns, combining politics with critical education. In this course, he is accompanied by different Palestinian guest speakers.
According to KCLAP publication, this course is hosted by Babel's Blessing, a grassroots language school.
The course prospectus includes a warning: "This is not a neutral course (there is no such thing). It does not aim to be “balanced” or “equal” to “both sides”. The violence between Israelis and Palestinians is far from being symmetric. There is a military occupation and a systematic disenfranchisement of Palestinian’s basic rights upheld by the state of Israel and the vast majority of Jewish-Israeli society. There is a dire need to resist this. However, the discourse promoted in this course aims to show that the clarity of having strong moral and political positions is not dimmed, but strengthened, by being supported by nuance and complexity."
In June, KCLAP sent a letter to Prof. Edward Byrne, the KCL Principal, regarding partnerships with Technion. KCLAP stated, "We do not stand for any normalization of oppression. We do not want KCL to play any role in oppression worldwide. KCL must therefore listen to Archbishop Tutu and cut it’s partnership with the Technion immediately."
In May, KCLAP promoted another initiative, "Apartheid Off Campus," a new front for the Palestinian youth movement in the UK. It urges students "to get involved and find out how complicit your university is in Israeli Apartheid." They argue that "Despite previous successful divestment efforts, King's College London still insists to invest over 2.2 million pounds in companies complicity with the illegal Israeli occupation although they have an ethical investment policy which includes ESG issues like human rights. They clearly need to start acknowledging the rights of Palestinians as Human Rights too!"
As mentioned above, Israelis from Ethiopian descent are being recruited by Palestinians to present Israel in a negative light. This, against the backdrop of Ethiopians Jews, waiting for Israel to fly them in from Ethiopia. Some are relatives of those who are already living in Israel.
King's College London, like many other universities in the West, should note that Palestinians are hacking their students' organizations for their war against Israel.
Tel Aviv University
From TAU Prof. Avner Ben-Amos to MK Dr. Ofer Cassif in the Knesset
IAM reported in June that two scholars have each published an analysis of school textbooks, Israeli and Palestinian. One is by Dr. Arnon Groiss, whose study examined the content of the Palestinian Authority’s schoolbooks and teachers’ guides as far as the conflict with Israel is concerned. This study provided examples of de-legitimization of Israel’s existence and the right of Jews in the Land of Israel, a denial of the existence of Jewish holy places in the Land of Israel, and a demonization of Israel and the Jews.
The other is by Prof. Avner Ben-Amos, who explored how Israeli textbooks and exams address the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians. In his research, he finds that the occupation is rarely a topic in schools. He names this phenomenon, an “interpretive denial... the Jewish control and the Palestinians’ inferior status appear as a natural, self-evident situation that one doesn’t have to think about.”
However, Ben-Amos is a life-long political activist which casts doubts on his scholarship. In 2011 IAM reported, that Ben-Amos was quoted in Haaretz concerning a program in schools enhancing young peoples' awareness of Israel's history. Ben-Amos argued the program "tries to anchor young peoples' identity in a cult of the dead, emphasizing bereavement and the victim." Ben Amos claimed that "getting stuck in the past leads to self-perception as an eternal victim... We forget that since 1967, IDF soldiers are no longer victims but rather partners in turning another people into victims," he said. In 2001, he signed a petition by "Palestinian and Israeli intellectuals and activists, view with grave concern the unbearable and inhuman situation imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. Such a situation has been brought about by the repression, blockades, and daily humiliation exercised by the military occupation and by the daily harassment that Jewish settlers inflict on the Palestinian Population."
Not surprisingly, Ben-Amos's study attracted the attention of Knesset member Dr. Ofer Cassif from the Joint List, a former Hebrew University academic and a long time political activist. IAM reported in February 2019 that Cassif was one of the most radical academics in Israel; he was an army service refuser and was jailed during the First Intifada. He took advantage of the lax higher education system to preach his anti-Israel politics while serving as a member of the political bureau of the Israeli Communist Party. Cassif's courses in Political Science at the Hebrew University and the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College had mirrored his politics: "Capital and Government"; "Capital, Government and Social Justice"; "Cinema and Politics"; "Fascism - Past and Present." Cassif's 2006 Ph.D. thesis, "On Nationalism and Democracy: A Marxist Examination," at the London School of Economics and Political Science, "shows that both democracy (as we commonly understand it today) and nationalism are strongly embedded in modern conditions (primarily capitalism)." His solution: Democracy "must be a socialist one in which the means of identity production are collectively owned."
Following the publication of Ben-Amos textbooks research, Cassif called for a meeting of the Knesset Committee of Education, where he is a member. The Committee met on July 15, 2020, to discuss the "Concealing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in textbooks." Cassif said in the meeting that "The reason for the discussion I initiated is the study of Prof. Avner Ben-Amos, from Tel Aviv University... What he [Ben-Amos] says is that there is in the textbooks, mainly, in the fields of History, Civics, and Geography, the concealing of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Denial of the occupation, and even of the very existence of the Palestinian people as such. Plus, as a result, a silence of criticism and of voices that do not toe the line with the government and its dictates. As Prof. Ben-Amos says, this is not what he calls - Simplistic Denial. That is, the claims that something does not exist. Rather what he calls - Interpretive Denial. In his research, he writes: 'Denial appears in a subtle way that is difficult to pinpoint. It does not stem from the claim that the occupation does not exist, but from the way it is absent from the discourse, where it should have appeared. Alternatively, from the way it is represented in the discourse.' What he claims, for example, is the disregard, or denial that Israel forcibly controls millions of Palestinians without rights, and against their will - there is disregard and denial of this fact."
Ben-Amos presented the Knesset Education Committee the main points of his research: "18-year-old students go out into life, into citizenship, into the army, to vote. What do they know about the world around them? About this space? About their recent history? One of the things I think they need to know is what happens to this thing called occupation, that is - the control of the territories after they were conquered. I examined what the Ministry of Education is supposed to provide them with, in curricula, textbooks and matriculation exams, and found there is an explanation to what happened in 1967, the Six Day War and the immediate implications." After the war, according to Prof. Ben Amos, there is a conceal and silence of the conflict. In addition, Ben Amos says there is a normalization of the situation and there is no difference between the area East of the Green Line and the area West.
It is not clear whether the Education Committee was aware of the activist background of Ben-Amos who, like many of his radical colleagues, has used the academy to push his political agenda. At the very least, the Committee needed to hear other scholars, more politically objective. This may be more difficult than it sounds, because, as the IAM has pointed out, social sciences and humanities in Israel skew toward neo-Marxist, critical scholarship. Unlike in hard sciences and engineering which privileges merit, the hiring and promotion policies in liberal arts favor leftist scholars with dubious academic records. In one notorious case, a Committee of Evaluation appointed by the Council of Higher Education, recommended closing the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University because of its Marxist-activist leaning.
The Knesset Education Committee would be served better by looking at the imbalances in liberal arts.
General Articles
Academics' Latest Trend: The Right to Call for BDS
A group of Jewish pro-Palestinian academics, among them Israelis, have recently targeted Dr. Felix Klein, the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, since May 2018, urging him to resign.
Already in April, the group sent a letter asking the German Interior Minister to replace Klein. They complained that Klein had described philosopher Achille Mbembe's writings as anti-Semitic. To recall, IAM also found some of Mbembe’s writing to be antisemitic.
In the current assault on Klein, the group accused Klein of stating: “it is precisely the anti-Semitism from the left-liberal milieu that has made life, also for me personally, quite a bit harder in the last few weeks. But even if right-wing narratives currently have a higher potential for violence, we must not underestimate this area.” The group members objected to his assertion that the Liberal Left is accused of anti-Semitism. They found it offensive and wrote him: "You fail to distinguish between legitimate criticism and real anti-Semitism." According to them, it is "the acute danger that Jews in Germany face due to the surge in far-right anti-Semitism," and not the left.
However, a new report by the German Government Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has found that the number of criminal acts motivated by left-wing extremism has jumped up nearly 40 percent between 2018 and 2019. The BfV recorded 6,449 criminal acts motivated by left-wing extremism in 2019, up from 4,622 in 2018. Just over 900 of these crimes were considered violent. Islamic terrorism also remains a significant threat, the report found. The danger to Jews comes from both the left and right.
On the same day the letter was sent to Klein, an anonymous abusive post has targeted Klein, who reported this to the police.
The group found BDS to be a legitimate tool of criticism of Israel and, not surprisingly, attack those who work against BDS. They chastised Klein, "You have been a driving force behind attempts to undermine free speech by categorically defining and disqualifying the BDS Movement, which has a minuscule footprint in Germany, as antisemitic."
The group ended their letter with a plea, "We are calling on you to resign," followed by the list of professors, including, but not limited to:
Prof. Gadi Algazi, Tel Aviv University; Dr. Seth Anziska, University College London; Prof. Louise Bethlehem, The Hebrew University; Prof. Daniel Boyarin, University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Raya Cohen, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Alon Confino, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Prof. (emerita) Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. (emeritus) Gideon Freudenthal, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Amos Goldberg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Neve Gordon, Queen Mary University of London; Prof. David Harel, The Weizmann Institute of Science; Prof. (emeritus) Yehuda Judd Ne’eman, Tel Aviv University; Dr. Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Prof. (emeritus) Paul Mendes-Flohr, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Isaac Nevo, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Prof. (emeritus) Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. (emerita) Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Catherine Rottenberg, University of Nottingham; Prof. David Shulman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. (emeritus) Moshe Zuckermann, Tel Aviv University; among others.
Clearly, some of these scholars are leading BDS activists, others are well-known delegitimizers of Israel, and the rest are known radical-political activists.
Palestinian activists have avidly followed the campaign against Klein. The original letter in German was published by the Palästinakomitee Stuttgart alone, and the letter in English was published only by the Electronic Intifada and Institut für Palästinakunde e.V., which raises a question of possible connection.
The German police are yet to discover who is behind the abusive post sent to Klein.
Supporting the right to call for BDS against Israel is illegitimate as BDS. Given that BDS is illegal in Israel, the presence of so many Israeli academics among the signatories is concerning. The Israeli taxpayers pay their salaries.
Hebrew University
Hebrew University Academics Promote Achille Mbembe who Supports BDS, Espouses anti-Semitism and Delegitimizes Israel
IAM reported in May on the philosopher Achille Mbembe who calls for the boycott of Israel, espouses anti-Semitic jibes by minimizing the Holocaust, and accuses Israel of executing Nazi-like atrocities.
Recently, the radical academic group Academia for Equality (A4E) posted an invitation to a symposium on the international academic platform, "PTEL: Political Theory Email List" which provides notices of events and news for and by political theorists. The group organizes a symposium titled "Concerning Palestine/Israel: Thinking with Achille Mbembe." The symposium will take place online on September 15, 2020. A4E invites researchers, artists, and activists who are "informed by the work of Achille Mbembe," to send in abstracts. The organizing committee hails from the Hebrew University: Prof. Louise Bethlehem, former Chair of the Program in Cultural Studies; Revital Madar, Bethlehem's Ph.D. student; Dr. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, of the Sociology Department, whose expertise is Israel's "War by Other Means Against the Palestinians in Israel"; and Dr. Matan Kaminer, a long-time political activist, currently a Buber fellow, whose expertise is Thai migrants in Israel. As the son of activist Noam Kaminer, he co-edited a book with Prof. Joel Beinin on the Israeli radical left.
The symposium seeks to revisit Mbembe's "contributions to our understanding of Palestine/Israel" and wishes to explore how his work could be used to analyze “key occurrences and dynamics, with reference to the Nakba and its aftermath, the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territories, or pertaining to the Israeli regime in general.” For this, the organizers propose analyzing Mbembe's 2019 book “Necropolitics” and other interventions, as applicable within the context of Palestine/Israel.
Mbembe's "Necropolitics” was published first in 2003 as a chapter in a book. It exposes the theory of the walking dead, comparing the "contemporary forms of subjugation of life to the power of death." By forcing some of the bodies to locate between life and death. Mbembe uses examples of slavery, apartheid, the colonization of Palestine and the figure of the suicide bomber, to show the different forms of necropower (statist, racialized, a state of exception, urgency, martyrdom) that reduce people to the precarious conditions of life.
More specifically, according to Mbembe, the "colonial occupation," in Gaza and the West Bank, is “the most accomplished form of necropower." The "colonial violence and occupation are profoundly underwritten by the sacred terror of truth and exclusivity (mass expulsions, resettlement of stateless people in refugee camps, settlement of new colonies). Lying beneath the terror of the sacred is the constant excavation of missing bones; the permanent remembrance of a torn body hewn in a thousand pieces and never self-same; the limits, or better, the impossibility of representing for oneself an original crime, an unspeakable death: the terror of the Holocaust."
Mbembe represents the Palestinian suicide bomber, as "The besieged body becomes a piece of metal whose func'tion is, through sacrifice, to bring eternal life into being. The body duplicates itself and, in death, literally and metaphorically escapes the state of siege and occupation." According to Mbembe, "There is no doubt that in the case of the suicide bomber the sacrifice consists of the spectacular putting to death of the self, of becoming his or her own victim (self-sacrifice). The self-sacrificed proceeds to take power over his or her death and to approach it head-on. This power may be derived from the belief that the destruction of one's own body does not affect the continuity of the being. The idea is that the being exists outside us."
The organizers claim that the symposium was proposed “in the wake of the recent campaigns against the political philosopher Achille Mbembe in Germany and the denunciation of his work as anti-Semitic."
However, as IAM indicated in its post in May, Mbembe is hardly a political scientist but rather an activist using the academic discourse to propagate anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli tropes. Here are some examples:
Mbembe wrote in 2015, that the occupation "is not apartheid, South African style. It is far more lethal." That the Jewish "victimhood, and a supremacist complex" are making the occupation "the biggest moral scandal of our times, one of the most dehumanizing ordeals." Israelis are willing "to go all the way—carnage, destruction, incremental extermination." Every "three years, an all-out, asymmetrical assault against a population entrapped in an open-air prison." As Israel uses "the army, the police, the settlers, the pilots of bombing raids, the zealots, and the cohort of international Pharisees and their mandatory righteousness, starting with the United States of America." He accused Israel of trying to purge the "Palestinians from the land."
In 2016, he wrote that Israel's "desire for apartheid and the phantasy of extermination are not new phenomena." That Israel's "fanatical policy of destruction aimed at transforming the life of Palestinians into a heap of ruins or a pile of garbage destined for cleansing... when required, transform itself into an instrument of strangulation."
Mbembe is also a staunch supporter of BDS:
In 2010, Mbembe was a signatory to a petition urging the University of Johannesburg to sever its relations with Ben-Gurion University.
In Dec. 2015 Mbembe was among scholars from South African universities, who pledged, "we will not: accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; act as referees in any of their processes; participate in conferences funded, organized or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them."
IAM reported in November 2018 an international conference in South Africa, when Mbembe and a colleague first refused to participate because of several Israeli participants and later published a statement announcing that, "We were informed by the organizers that the Israeli speakers who were on the program have rescinded their participation at the conference and for this reason, we are open to participating in the conference.”
It should come as no surprise that Mbembe, like many of radical academic activists relies extensively on Israeli activists to promote his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For instance, he quotes Eyal Weizman, professor of Spatial and Visual Culture and a British Israeli architect, in his discourse of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Weizman himself was denied entry to the US in February, for refusing to disclose information to Homeland Security who found him a security risk. Weizman is a notoriously anti-Israel activist. His Forensic Architecture research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, hasn't found any fault with the Palestinians only with Israel.
A4E bills itself as "a members' organization of academics fighting against the occupation and for the democratization of society in Israel." But as can be seen, the organizers promote Mbembe who supports BDS, produces anti-Israel and anti-Semitic scholarship, in addition to downplaying suicide bombing by glorifying it as a sacrifice. Hebrew University should take notice that several of its scholars embrace Mbembe who was barred by other academic and popular forums.
General Articles
Traces of Global Academic BDS Expand to Support "Black Intifada"
IAM has often reported that the Palestinian global BDS movement has successfully dominated the anti-Israeli academic discourse.
Recently, pro-Palestinian activists have embraced "intersectionality," a reference to the concept that all "minority and oppressed groups" should work together to challenge "global oppressors." One of the most popular forms of intersectionality is the alliance between pro-Palestinians, African Americans, and indigenous groups. To recall, IAM reported in March on how Palestinian groups are building intersectionality alliances with other minority groups, "BDS Alliances are Growing in Different Directions," and in February IAM reported on "The Academic BDS Support Network." IAM noted that the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) announced that Palestinians stand in solidarity with Canada's Wet'suwet'en nation, opposing the TransCanada Coastal Gaslink pipeline which "aims to steal Wet'suwet'en land, use resource extraction to solidify control over Indigenous territories, destroy the environment and violate Indigenous laws." According to the BNC, the BDS movement has a similar struggle against imperialism. At the University of Toronto, Palestinian groups joined the anti-pipeline protestors, and representatives from Israeli Apartheid Week unfurled a large banner in support.
More cases of intersectionality have surfaced recently. The Faculty for Palestine in Canada (F4P), a group formed in Toronto in 2008, previously known as Committee of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, is a case in point. The F4P network includes over 600 faculty of all ranks from over 40 universities and 15 colleges across Canada, all active partners of the global BDS movement.
Last month, F4P expressed solidarity with the Black liberation movements and allied mobilizations of other "oppressed people." It demanded justice "in the face of racial terror, criminalization, surveillance, incarceration and murder of Black life in Canada and the US." It urged their supporters to "provide concrete material and political support." This solidarity call comes from their allied organizations, USACBI, and the BNC, which is based in Palestine. It has asked Palestinian solidarity organizations "to stand with the Movement for Black Lives and other Black-led organizations in their righteous struggle for justice." According to F4P, the "Black intifada" in the US is part of a long tradition of Black radical resistance that has inspired liberation movements globally, including BDS and the broader Palestinian justice project. The "Black Intifada" is a response to a number of deaths both in the US and Canada. The Black Intifada will come to protest the "historical neglect and profiling of Black, Indigenous and other racialized individuals." According to F4P, "we also acknowledge the disturbing resurgence of anti-migrant, anti-Asian/anti-Chinese, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-Latinx pandemic racisms."
Students Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill (SPHR) took the same position. In an address to the McGill University community, the group stated: "Like the United States, the settler colonial state of Canada has long been a staunch defender of Israel's behavior, providing it with significant diplomatic, economic, and military aid, at the same time as it pursues the destruction of Indigenous land and life here on Turtle Island."
Likewise, as IAM reported, some of the alliances are in contradiction, such as the Palestinian group, Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, has joined the group Sanctions Kill, in a rally in New York, in protest of sanctions. Declaring, "Sanctions Kill! Sanctions are War! End Sanctions Now!" Samidoun urged to end sanctions because sanctions are imposed against countries that resist American agendas. Samidoun explained that sanctions "are a weapon of Economic War," which results in shortages of necessities, hyperinflation, famines, disease, and poverty. "In every country, the poorest and the weakest – infants, children, the chronically ill and the elderly – suffer the worst impact of sanctions." Samidoun also promoted the "anti-imperialist alliance," which "recognizes imperialism as a global economic system." Samidoun called to oppose "US imperialism to assert its global hegemony in the interest of monopoly capital." But, Samidoun, of course, did not mind sanctions that target Israel.
Also, Palestinian BDS activists joined a demonstration outside the High Commission of Canada in London. The purpose of the protest was to "draw connections between British imperialism and the genocide of Indigenous peoples all over the world" and to "focus on stopping the colonial flow of capital." Protestors were chanting against "The violent legacy of British colonialism and settler colonial occupation of Indigenous peoples around the world." A representative of the Young London Palestine Solidarity Campaign read out a statement from the Palestinian National Committee of the BDS movement in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en nation.
The protest movement unleashed by the killing of George Floyd, known as Black Lives Matter, is expected to increase the Palestinian - African American intersectionality on campus dramatically. IAM will report on this development.
General Articles
The Decline of Israeli Contribution to Holocaust Studies: Possible Explanation
A new report by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities on the quality of Holocaust education in academic institutions has shown a decline in the number of researchers who focus on core issues of the Holocaust, a decline in the quality of Holocaust research, and a lack of courses in the field.
The report is based on a survey using data from 19 academic institutions. The committee of experts that wrote this report found that in 2018, some 218 Holocaust-related courses were taught to students at all levels. However, only 53 courses have dealt directly with the Holocaust, while the others focused on Holocaust commemoration and representation, as well as general historical context. Such scholarships often address "softer" aspects of the discourse, and have postmodernist influences, rather than the stiffer methods of historical research. According to the report, this is caused by several factors: the decline in humanities and social science research, lack of historical knowledge among the younger researchers, and weakness in knowledge of European languages.
The report mentions a letter from Prof. Galili Shahar, Prof. Daniel Baltman, and Prof. Amos Goldberg, to explain that "The field of Holocaust Studies is a chapter within the studies of Jewish History and Peoples' World. It should be taught from the broad historical contexts, in critical and comparative views. It is part of General History, Jewish Studies, Comparative Literature, and Philosophy, and is connected to Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and Postcolonial studies." The letter also referred to the "need to examine the narratives of all sorts, and critically examine the accepted narratives of scholars and lecturers in Israel."
According to the report, the Genocide theme is at the center of the curriculum at the Hebrew University, run by Prof. Baltman and Prof. Goldberg and is entitled "Holocaust Studies, Genocide and Mass Violence." It aims to "bring students to a broad integrative understanding of the historical phenomenon of genocide and mass violence, in which the Holocaust is a major event. Because the field is distinctly interdisciplinary, it is taught in the various faculties and departments of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the studies are performed in the forum of Holocaust Studies, Genocide and Mass Violence, which is attended by some 30 graduate students. The program aims to train students whose history of genocide is an integral part of their education". However, most of the curriculum and research students focus on the current cultural connections to Holocaust research.
The report notes the larger debate – the place of the Holocaust - between the particular to the universal, and between the uniqueness to a sequence of genocides.
In the recommendation section, the committee advised universities to recruit at least three or four research positions devoted to Holocaust studies.
The report also warns of the politicization of Holocaust research.
IAM has periodically reported on the politicization of the Holocaust. Amos Goldberg is a leading exponent of this trend, and one of the architects of the Holocaust-Nakba equivalence. IAM reported on Goldberg that he is "Protecting Holocaust Denial for Political Gains," when he co-authored a book which compared the Nakba to the Holocaust, ostensibly, because this is the only way for Palestinians to relate to the Holocaust. The book stated that Palestinians view the Holocaust "as a deliberate distraction from their own suffering or as an event of which they themselves are the ultimate victims. As such, both the Holocaust and the Nakba, as dominant national narratives, serve to bolster exclusive identities within the two groups. For the most part, each group sees its own catastrophe as a unique event and seeks to devalue or even deny the catastrophe of the other. These two national narratives are, in fact, connected to two far greater narratives embraced by contemporary global culture."
The so-called "comparative studies" of the Holocaust are another way in which Holocaust scholars push their political agenda, as IAM reported in length. For example, Alon Confino and Amos Goldberg have recently published an article, "To understand Zionism, we must listen to the voices of its victims.” For them, "the relationship between postcolonial studies and the study of antisemitism is both important and in need of development." Because "the contemporary discourse on antisemitism ignores the colonial aspects of Israel and Zionism." The authors cite a claim that "a renewed Arab antisemitism was little more than Zionist propaganda." From the Arab perspective they were right, "Zionism dispelled them from their land, and the movement’s adherents should be regarded as the side that waged war on the local population." In other words, Israel "is a settler colonial project that has created a hierarchical relationship between Jews and Palestinians based on segregation and discrimination." For the authors, there is a concept of apartheid, "Israel is a powerful state, a wrongdoer, and an occupier. Jews, like all human beings, can be both victims and victimizers." Therefore, it bestows on Jews "a double responsibility: to fight antisemitism worldwide while, as Israelis, to bear responsibility for crimes against the Palestinians." Since they are scholars of the Holocaust, their research taught them that "Stemming from the Holocaust and from the experience of European colonialism, listening to these voices has been acknowledged as a universal moral imperative beyond the Holocaust." As can be seen this trend is minimizing the Holocaust.
Such writing has angered Professor Israel W. Charny, of the Department of Psychology at the Hebrew University, and the co-founder of the Institute on the Holocaust & Genocide in Jerusalem. Charny named this trend Genocide Denial. In his 2016 article, "Holocaust Minimization, Anti-Israel Themes and Antisemitism: Bias at the Journal of Genocide Research,” Charny felt that the renowned academic journal, the Journal of Genocide Research (JGR) should not publish work that minimizes the Holocaust or promote anti-Israel and antisemitic ideas. As a result, Charny's accusations prompted Goldberg to mount an all-out attack against Charny. However, Charny recently found even more Holocaust minimizations by these scholars. The Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism has now published Charny's new article.
Unfortunately, the report by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities does not mention the Holocaust minimization espoused by Goldberg, Confino and ilk, it only warns of politization. It behooves the academic institutions that new recruits dedicate to research core Holocaust issues, rather than using their paid positions to bash Israel for political gains.
Tel Aviv University
Comparative Analysis of Textbooks: Israeli vs. Palestinian
Two scholars have recently published an analysis of school textbooks. One scholar is Prof. Avner Ben-Amos of Tel Aviv University’s School of Education, and the second is Dr. Arnon Groiss (Gross), whose work was commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research and published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Ben-Amos explores how Israeli textbooks and pre-college matriculation exams address the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians. In his research, he finds that the occupation is rarely a topic in schools. He names this phenomenon, an “interpretive denial,” that is, “the Jewish control and the Palestinians’ inferior status appear as a natural, self-evident situation that one doesn’t have to think about.” For example, Ben-Amos looked at textbooks for middle school and high school in the state and state religious schools, to see how they treat the ramifications of the 1967 Six-Day War. He examined history, geography, and civics books, as well as informal education like workshops and tours for high school students. According to Ben-Amos, the last two decades have seen a limited recognition of the occupation, albeit with a denial of its repercussions, which seems to be intentional. "If the education chiefs ignore the research literature, if the information on events can’t reach the classrooms, we’re dealing with an attempt to hide and silence,” he said.
According to Ben-Amos, the Israeli maps in geography textbooks show the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River with a few brown stains and dots to mark "Area A," which is governed by the Palestinian Authority. However, the textbook offers “no explanation for the various areas ruled by the authority.” The exams also ignore the Green Line and the Palestinian people in a question that refers to the Jewish population in “Judea and Samaria.” According to Ben-Amos, “It’s not simplistic denial, claiming that this reality doesn’t exist. It’s more complex denial, based on the fact that education officials know the reality in the territories but are unwilling or unable to admit it... The approach conveyed to the students is that there’s no fundamental difference between what happens beyond the Green Line and the reality within the line; that it’s the natural historical, geographic continuation.”
Ben-Amos concludes that since the Education Ministry must first approve the textbooks, the textbooks either ignore the occupation or attempt to normalize it, which is stemming from self-censorship. As clear guidelines are absent, "nobody wants to be blacklisted and denounced, which was the fate of teachers and publishers who tried to convey a more nuanced message than the one permitted by the Education Ministry."
Ben-Amos' findings will be published in a chapter in an upcoming book on the teaching of history, edited by Prof. Eyal Naveh and Dr. Nimrod Tal from the Israel Institute for Historical Education, at the Seminar Hakibutzim. The Institute publishes papers and recommendations on the topic of teaching history.
The second analysis of school textbooks, performed by Dr. Groiss, is titled "Israel, Jews and Peace in Palestinian Authority Schoolbooks and Teachers’ Guides." This study examines the contents of the Palestinian Authority’s schoolbooks and teachers’ guides as far as the conflict with Israel is concerned, from 2013 up to this day. This study provides an examination of approximately four hundred schoolbooks published between 2013-2020, and over a hundred teachers’ guides published mostly in 2018. The study provides examples of de-legitimization of Israel’s existence and the right of Jews in the Land of Israel, a denial of the existence of Jewish holy places in the Land of Israel, and a demonization of Israel and the Jews.
For example, the statement that "The Zionist enemy is wholly evil and constitutes an existential threat to the Palestinians" is often presented. The Palestinians are often depicted as the ultimate victims, with not even a shared responsibility for the conflict. They are educated to a violent struggle for the liberation of Palestine with no education for peace or co-existence.
Current schoolbooks deny the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and call it “legends,” while previous schoolbooks included some information about Jewish history in the Land of Israel in antiquity. The non-recognition of Jerusalem as a holy city to Jews, however, has been there all along.
For example, the book, Arabic Language – Academic Path, Grade 10, Part 2 (2019) p. 68, says that the occupier "has built for himself an artificial entity that derives its identity and the legitimacy of its existence from tales, legends and false visions, and has tried through various methods and ways to create live material evidence for these legends, or archaeological and architectural proofs that would confirm their truth and substantiality, but in vain."
The book National and Social Upbringing, Grade 3, Part 1 (2019) p. 29, says, “Jerusalem is an Arab city built by our Arab ancestors thousands of years ago. Jerusalem is a holy city to Muslims and Christians.” The name “Israel” has been replaced mostly by “the Zionist occupation.” Zionism is perceived as a mythical and a wholly evil entity, which creates feelings of fear and hatred.
In the book Geography and Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Grade 10, Part 2 (2019) p. 7, the Rhodes Armistice agreement is discussed, noting, "The Arab armies withdrew from Palestine and the Rhodes armistice was signed in 1949 separately between the Zionist occupation and each of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.”
Reference to terrorism is explicit in the newer schoolbooks. Terrorist operations are presented as heroic actions in the framework of the “revolution,” “resistance,” and “self-sacrifice,” including the hijacking of civilian planes, and the attack on the Israeli Olympic team in Munich. Dalal al-Mughrabi, who participated in the raid on the Israeli Coastal Highway in 1978, in which 37 civilians, among them 13 children, were killed, is held in high regard in the Palestinian textbooks. A teacher’s guide noted that al-Mughrabi had earned a higher status of honor than Izz al-Din al-Qassam, the historical source of inspiration of Hamas. A text in a grade-5 textbook mentions Izz al-Din al-Qassam, and Dalal al-Mughrabi, side by side.
The textbooks on science and technical subjects contain higher levels of demonization of Israel and the Jews, compared to previous years.
In the book Mathematics, Grade 11 [Humanities] (2018) p. 55, the following question is posed: "One of the settlers shoots at [Palestinian] cars that pass on one of the roads. If the probability of his hitting a car in one shot is 0.7, and the settler shot at 10 cars, what will you expect to be the number of cars that were hit?” In the teacher’s guide for this class, the answer to this question appears on p. 162, as “7”.
In the book, Social Studies, Grade 6, Part 1 (2019) p. 57, the maps show that Palestine stretches throughout the entire territory of the Land of Israel, with no trace of the State of Israel. The Jewish cities in Israel, including Tel Aviv, are absent from the map while Jaffa is present.
The books do not reflect the Palestinian Authority's message to the international community that it is committed to “a just peace” based on the two-state solution.
The study of Ben-Amos speaks about what is missing in the Israeli textbooks, while Groiss speaks about what there is in the Palestinian textbooks. Adherents to the Ben-Amos paradigm, inside the academy, have been quick to hold Israel to account for real and imaginary infractions vis-à-vis the Palestinians. They have little appetite to expose the fact that Palestinian education glorifies terrorists who killed and wounded thousands of Israelis over the years and, by doing so, propagates the dream of recovering the entire territory of Palestine by force.
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
Top Western Universities Recruit Israel-Bashers
A Haaretz article has focused attention on Israeli radical academic-activists who have left Israel in recent years. Titled "After Losing Hope for Change, Top Left-wing Activists and Scholars Leave Israel Behind." Haaretz postulated that "They founded anti-occupation movements and fought for the soul of Israeli society, but ultimately decided to emigrate. The new exiles tell Haaretz how they were harassed and silenced, until they had almost no choice but to leave."
Over the years, IAM has covered in length the scholars that the article mentioned.
Ilan Pappe, who made a name for himself by besmirching Israel, is the most known among this group. IAM published a 2002 article by Tom Segev, which negated Pappe’s contention that he was dismissed. As a professor at the University of Haifa, he published dozens of articles and books describing Israel as a criminal state. He supported Teddy Katz, a MA student at the university who wrote a dissertation falsely accusing the Alexandroni Brigade of a massacre in the village of Tantura in 1948. Members of the Brigade sued Katz, and the university withdrew his thesis. Pappe responded by sending a letter to the American Historical Association asking to censure Haifa University. Yossi Ben-Arzi, the then dean of the humanities faculty, noted that Pappe's appeal would damage the chances for the advancement of members who need recommendations from abroad, as well as affect their chances to publish abroad or receive invitations to conferences and sabbaticals. Ben-Arzi said that this was not a matter of freedom of speech or an attempt to attack Pappe for his anti-Zionist opinions, "This is a matter of non-collegial, unethical and immoral conduct, lies, badmouthing and impudence." Ben-Arzi filed a disciplinary complaint against Pappe, but the internal disciplinary court found no reasons to discuss the accusation "in the form in which it has been submitted" and dismissed the complaint. Pappe has left the University of Haifa upon receiving an invitation to head the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter, U.K.
Dr. Ariella Azoulay and Prof. Adi Ophir both featured in the Haaretz article. Ophir, who headed the Political Lexicon Project at the Minerva Humanities Center at TAU, once declared that Israel operates at the same ontological plane of evil as Nazi Germany. Azoulay, his frequent collaborator, whose title at the Minerva Humanities was Director of Photo-Lexic Research, has manipulated photographic images to prove that the Nakba and the occupation are the Holocaust of the Palestinians. They have both left Israel to teach at Brown University. IAM reported earlier this year that Azoulay was a signatory in a letter to a Brown University committee, pushing for BDS. Other signatories included Prof. Beshara Doumani, a Saudi born Palestinian who headed Brown's Middle East Studies program. Doumani presented an argument for divestment. To recall, Doumani has helped recruiting Azoulay to his Brown University department. Interestingly, Azoulay is not an expert of Middle East Studies but rather, "an expert on visual culture and photography, she is a theorist, film-maker, and curator whose scholarship focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." But in fact, Azoulay is an Israeli academic supportive of the boycott of Israel. IAM also reported in 2018 on a conference at Brown promoting BDS which was chaired by Doumani and Azoulay also participated, "Do boycotts foreclose or open up socially productive conversations about the ethics of cultural and academic production?" Based on a book, Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production, questioning, "What are the political possibilities embodied in emerging forms of intersectional solidarity around boycott movements, such as BDS?" It is unthinkable that a prestigious university such as Brown would hire faculty based on their political agenda.
Indeed, Azoulay, now renamed as "Ariella Aïsha Azoulay," has declined to be interviewed for the Haaretz article. Instead, she sent in a written statement: "I don’t trust the press and I don’t want to be represented by it; I support the boycott and have no interest in being interviewed for a Zionist newspaper." She wrote in her book, "about the fact that I was born to be an ‘Israeli’ as a form of control by the state over the body and mind of its subjects and citizens, and about my refusal to identify myself in the ‘Israeli’ category." Azoulay refuses to live in the place where she was born because of those "who were expelled." She does not want to share "that pain with a Zionist audience," that "Israel inflicted and is continuing to inflict, above all on its Palestinian inhabitants, and in a different way on its Jewish citizens."
Another Haaretz interviewee was Neve Gordon, a professor of political science at Ben Gurion University who was one of the early proponents of the notion that Israel is an apartheid state, and later, called for the boycott of Israel. IAM reported that Gordon was invited to Berkeley to write his book Israel's Occupation, in 2004. Using neo-Marxist, critical jargon, Gordon essentially accused the Israeli government of running a Nazi-like state in the West Bank, where Palestinians are monitored continuously, abused, and worse. In the introduction to the book, Gordon clearly stated that, "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 and Eric Stover from the Human Rights Center welcomed me and provided me the necessary resources to write." AlSayyad was the head of the Middle East Center at that time. In 2003 AlSayyad was interviewed by the Saudi Aramco World, a cultural organ of the giant American-Saudi oil corporation.
The Aramco article gave an insight into the extent of Arab oil money invested in Middle Eastern centers in American universities since the 1990s, enabling it to exert influence on what the neo-Marxists call the "production of knowledge." The article detailed the amount of donations given to Berkeley by the Saudis. "Among major donations, Berkeley received two large gifts in the late 1990's from Saudi benefactors, one for technology-transfer studies and one for Arab studies. The Al-Falah ("Success") Program was established with a $2 million endowment from the Alireza family to support a better understanding of Muslims and to promote technology transfer to the Muslim world, particularly Saudi Arabia. The Sultan Endowment for Arab Studies, established by a $5 million gift from the Sultan ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz Charity Foundation, is dedicated to broadening understanding of the Arab and Islamic worlds."
Throughout the years, Saudi Arabia invested billions of dollars in US universities, prompting a New York Times to question "Why Is There So Much Saudi Money in American Universities?" The article discussed the benefits to Saudi Arabia. "The kingdom gets access to the brain trust of America’s top academic institutions as it endeavors to modernize its economy… Perhaps as important, the entree to schools like M.I.T. serves to soften the kingdom’s image." But, the NYT neglected to consider another benefit, that until not too long ago and for more than two decades, the Saudi gifts enabled Palestinian and their activist-faculty supporters to recruit anti-Israel academics, who in return, would produce anti-Israel scholarships. Similarly, to this day, with other Gulf states such as Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait.
Neve Gordon has moved to the U.K. and he is currently a Professor of International Law and Human Rights - a field he has no expertise in - at the School of Law, Queen Mary University of London.
The Haaretz article hit a raw nerve. Lawrence Davidson, a retired professor of history from West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania, penned an article in Counterpunch "Israel loses its best as chauvinism and religious extremism take over society." Whether Israel has lost its best is questionable.
As for Ilan Pappe, IAM posted in 2004 a review by Prof. Benny Morris of Pappe's book, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Morris wrote, "Unfortunately, much of what Pappe tries to sell his readers is complete fabrication." Morris quoted Pappe as saying, "my [pro-Palestinian] 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.... Mine is a subjective approach." Pappe's reconstructionist and subjective approach can hardly be beneficial for any scholarship.
As IAM has pointed out, these individuals were primarily activists who used their academic positions to bash Israel. In 2012 the Council of Higher Education threatened to close the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University where Gordon taught. The Evaluating Committee noted that the research and teaching in the Department were politically motivated, essentially, an extension of their political activism.
Over the years, IAM has reported of dozens of academic Israel-bashers who were recruited by respectable universities in the West. The Palestinians and their supporters understood well that portraying Israel as a Nazi-like state, or an apartheid state, and pushing BDS may be perceived as anti-Semitism. Having Israeli academics supporting, or even leading this effort, was definitely a bonus. As for the Israeli academics, contrary to the Haaretz article, they quickly learned the lesson: bashing Israel was a good career move, rewarded with a plush appointment abroad.
General Articles
Israeli Academics among those Pushing for the Irish Occupied Territories Bill
In the wake of the recent Irish election, a three-party coalition is likely to emerge. The prospective partners of the governing Fine Gael led by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, are Fianna Fáil, and the Greens. If the parties fail to form the coalition, Ireland would be heading to a second election. The picture should be clearer in the next couple of weeks. One obstacle in the talks is the Occupied Territories Bill, known as Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018. It was supported by the Fianna Fáil party and the Greens, and was passed in the Irish Senate two years ago but failed to get adequate support in the lower house, The Dáil.
IAM reported on the Bill in October 2019, that it is "An Act to give effect to the State's obligations arising under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and under customary international humanitarian law; and for that purpose to make it an offense for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances; and to provide for related matters."
The Irish government's Attorney General recently told the press that "It would be impractical to draft legislation banning the importation of goods from illegally occupied settlements." The ruling party Fine Gael opposed the Bill due the likelihood of damaging relations with Israel and the Trump administration.
Historically, Ireland's relationship with the Jews has been troublesome. Professor emeritus Colum Kenny of the School of Communications at Dublin City University, wrote in 2015 that "Ireland pledges to 'resist and combat' hateful anti-Semitism.” The article characterized Irish-Jewish relations. The first Jewish migrants came from eastern Europe to seek a better life in Ireland in the 18th century. However, their arrival created tension and in 1904 a Catholic priest provoked a pogrom in Limerick. Open anti-Semitism was not unusual. Some Irish firms announced they would not employ Jews, forcing some Jews to change their names. During World War II, Ireland refused to admit Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler.
Apparently alluding to the history of his country, the Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan who visited Yad Vashem in 2015 declared: "I believe it's essential that we redouble our efforts throughout the world to resist and combat anti-Semitism in all forms.” In contrast to his father, Oliver J. Flanagan's words in the Dáil in 1943, who said: "There is one thing that Germany did, and that was to rout the Jews out of their country. Until we rout the Jews out of this country, it does not matter a hair's breadth what orders you make. Where the bees are, there is the honey, and where the Jews are, there is the money." The Fianna Fáil government of Eamon de Valera had appointed Charles Bewley, an admirer of Hitler, as the ambassador to Berlin. De Valera later even signed a book of condolences upon Hitler's death.
Some scholars who live in Ireland support the bill. The Israeli-born Ronit Lentin, a professor of sociology at Trinity College, Dublin, is one of them. Like in the case of many pro-Palestinian activists, her scholarship is a thinly disguised anti-Israeli diatribe. In her 2000 book, Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah: Reoccupying the Territories of Silence, Lentin explained that the book is a "culmination of her need to break the silence about the Shoah in a society which constructed itself as the Israeli antithesis to diaspora Jewry, and to excavate a 'truth' from underneath the mountain of Zionist nation-building myths." According to her, these myths had "a profound impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Lentin criticized the "self-perceived right of occupation," and that "Israel thus not only negated the Jewish diaspora, but also stigmatized and feminized Shoah victims and survivors, all the while employing Shoah discourses as an excuse for occupation, both in the past and in the present."
Senator Frances Black who sponsored the Bill had Gerry Liston's, help in drafting it in 2016. Liston works as a legal officer in Sadaka, the Ireland Palestinian Alliance "Maximising support in Ireland for the freedom and rights of the Palestinian people." Sadaka declares itself an "independent political organization maintaining an independent position on internal politics and divisions within Palestine." Liston spent the summer of 2011 as a research intern for the Palestinian NGOs Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in Bethlehem and lived in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.
Black said in an interview with James Zogby, for the Arab American Institute, that she was 16 when she first heard about the Palestinian issue, "and it touched my heart." She has been working closely with the Irish Friends of Palestine Committee and speaks out regularly in support of Palestinian rights. Black discussed the situation in Gaza that water and electricity were cut off and railed against the Bank of Ireland for closing Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign accounts in 2016 for their support for BDS. Her sponsoring the legislation banning settlement goods is aimed to show "incredibly resilient Palestinians" that somebody cares.
In a 2016 public letter which was published in leading Irish newspapers, Black was among the signatories urging for BDS. The group misrepresented the BDS Movement's three goals: Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. However, anyone not familiar with these goals should know they are misleading. Israel doesn't occupy neither the West Bank nor the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians enjoy their own two autonomies. There are no Arab lands as much as there are no Jewish lands and the wall has reduced terrorism, therefore should not be dismantled. Israeli Arabs already enjoy full equality. Since the world approved a two states solution, Palestinian refugees should return to the Palestinian Territories, while Jewish refugees are directed to Israel. Of course, nothing of this sort is mentioned in the public letter.
Last month, a group of radical-leftist academics, presenting themselves as "concerned Israeli citizens" wrote a public letter urging to enact the Bill. The signatories included Prof. David Harel, Prof. Moty Heilblum, Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny, Prof. Yehuda Judd Ne'eman, Prof. David Shulman, Prof. Zeev Sternhell, among other politicians from the marginal Meretz party which won 3 seats out of 120 in the last Israeli elections.
The Irish press also reported on a letter from a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives which warned that if the Bill enacted into law, it could affect the immigration status of Irish people living in the US. Another letter, from Indiana's Secretary of Commerce, told the Irish government that jobs in Indiana could be put at risk if the Bill is enacted into law.
These warnings are a clear indication that passing the Bill would jeopardize the interests of Ireland as a country and its citizens as individuals. While the Bill does not mention Israel, it was drafted by pro-Palestinians and is directed at Israel alone. More serious repercussions would probably follow since the United States and parts of the European community do not tolerate the type of blatant anti-Semitism which the legislation represent. Singling out Israel is tantamount to anti-Semitism.
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
Intervention with Israeli Higher Education: The Case of Hilla Dayan
IAM reported before on how, for several decades, Gulf States oil money was invested in Western universities to gain influence. It also enabled Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists on campus, both faculty and students, to recruit like-minded peers. Furthermore, it enabled to recruit radical Israeli activists, known as "peace activists," to produce scholarships that promote the Palestinian agenda using the neo-Marxist, critical tools; such as Ilan Pappe, Neve Gordon, Ariella Azoulay, to name a few. This blatant interference should have raised the concern of academics, but it did not.
This endeavor also enabled the Israeli Communist Party (Maki) to influence the academy for many years. MAKI often collaborated with Academia for Equality (A4E), a group known as "an organization of left-wing lecturers.” The Maki organ, "Zo Haderekh," regularly discusses academic-related issues written for and by various academic-comrades such as Efraim Davidi and Avishai Ehrlich, among others. Maki has often been behind the demonstrations of students. Last month MAKI promoted on an "extraordinary" online discussion of three "leading A4E activists," who discussed the Coronavirus crisis and the future of higher education in Israel. The three A4E Participants were Prof. Isaac (Yanni) Nevo of Ben-Gurion University, Dr. Hilla Dayan of Amsterdam University College, and Dr. Lin Haluzin-Dovrat of the TAU Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas organized and led the event.
Prof. Nevo first discussed the impact of the Coronavirus on teaching, then stated that the public status of the academy is not limited in the social func'tioning known as research and teaching, as in the production of knowledge and training for the society's service. "These roles enclose the academy in a social and political framework that is interested in them. The deal is worthwhile to all sides, but this does not limit the academy's public status. This status is derived from the academy's additional role. The production of knowledge provides the checks and balances for its independence, to guarantee the autonomy required for such measure, thus marking the boundaries of political power as a way of marking the boundaries of power in a democratic society.”
The second speaker, Dr. Hilla Dayan, who lives in Amsterdam, said that in the Israeli academy, "The most dramatic crisis is the decision-maker crisis. The burning question is - Who decides? Who decides the policy? Budget? Who controls resources? We are all shocked at the homogeneity and blatant lack of representation among decision-makers. Therefore, we must continue to produce and develop new tools and concepts for the struggle that will require reflection on academia as a structure that preserves the social and economic power of dominant groups."
Dayan pursued Ph.D. at the New School for Social Research in New York, the epicenter of the neo-Marxist, critical scholarship. Her unpublished 2008 Ph.D. dissertation "Regimes of separation" was published as a chapter in the book The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Zone Books) by Adi Ophir (Editor), Michal Givoni (Editor), Sari Hanafi (Editor), along with Ariel Handel, Orna Ben-Naftali, Aeyal M. Gross, Keren Michaeli, Ariella Azoulay, Neve Gordon, Hilla Dayan, Yehuda Shenhav, Yael Berda, Leila Farsakh, Caroline Abu-Sada, Dani Filc, Gadi Algazi, Eyal Weizman, Ronen Shamir.
Only a few Ph.D. graduates enjoy the opportunity to get published along with such distinguished scholars, those who hold the correct political views. Clearly, the type of work that got Dayan’s academic career sprouting was her reports, such as the one published in 2008 by Kibush Occupation Magazine, titled "Unilever divests from Beigel & Beigel, after study exposes settlement connection" which she co-authored.
Clearly, Dayan's scholarship follows the neo-Marxist, critical trend to fit the Palestinian narrative. Her book chapter compares Israel to South Africa. Subtitled "Israel/Palestine: The Sovereignty of 'Auschwitz Borders,'" where she claimed that "From the outset, the specter of political incorporation of out-group populations haunted prestate Zionist institutions and, later, successive Israeli governments. The Palestinian catastrophe, al-Nakba, during the short seven months in 1948 in which estimated seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced into exile by Jewish militias following an apparently organized military plan, remained incomplete." For Abba Eban, the memorable foreign minister of the 60s, "the 1948 boundaries were reminiscent of the borders of Auschwitz. Curiously, when the 'Auschwitz borders' were swiftly overturn in 1967, the encroachment over a mass of undesired population did not immediately present itself as an existential concern."
Among the many distortions of history, Dayan completely misunderstood Eban's statement, who wrote: "We have openly said that the map will never again be the same as on June 4, 1967. For us, this is a matter of security and of principles. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz. We shudder when we think of what would have awaited us in the circumstances of June, 1967, if we had been defeated; with Syrians on the mountain and we in the valley, with the Jordanian army in sight of the sea, with the Egyptians who hold our throat in their hands in Gaza. This is a situation which will never be repeated in history."
Already Dayan admitted that "I am a product of an epistemological revolution, which was brought about by an entire generation of scholars dubbed post-Zionist in the 1990s, and of the intellectual milieu of the Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow, which, at that time, unraveled all I knew about myself and my society. One is not born but becomes non-Zionist." She goes against the “neoliberalized academia.” Israel’s university education is the "end point of segregation, exclusion, and denial of education." She proposes "occupation studies" to have an effect of "antiknowledge" which the average Israeli will not consider due to the "Zionist indoctrination.”
In another article, “Israel Against Democracy,” published by The Amsterdam Law Forum, Dayan postulated that Israel is "becoming the only dictatorship in the Middle East" and urged, "Policy makers and international stakeholders" to demand "justice, accountability and an end to a brutal occupation by Israel… punish this government for its anti-democratic excesses. Ensuring that Israel pays a heavy international price for domestic repression is not only a matter of a moral and legal obligation of the international community, but possibly the only way to bring the country to its senses."
As can be seen, Dayan is an activist calling for the boycott of Israel. In a 2015 article by Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions, titled "Hilla Dayan: 'I support the boycott from within,'” she detailed why she supports the boycott. Dayan urged the academic community to devise strategies to deal with "complicity with the occupation, academic profiteering from the occupation, institutionalized racism, incitement against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, inequality and exclusion." And urged to "change the neoliberal academic culture.” She promoted the academic boycott because of "the involvement in the occupation of the Israeli academia in general, and Tel Aviv University in particular" since the academia "heavily services the security establishments.”
The Israeli taxpayers who pay for the high quality of their higher education system should not accept those who call for isolation and punishment of Israel. Therefore, academics who push for BDS should be kept away. Prof. Nevo should not tolerate such interferences, for the sake of independence and autonomy of the academy.
General Articles
AAUP Losing Credibility over the Palestinian-Israeli Dispute
The prestigious academic organization, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), is losing credibility. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape the standards and procedures of higher education to maintain quality in education and academic freedom. However, of late, it has taken a wrong path.
First, it awarded the association's Georgina M. Smith Award of Outstanding Faculty Activist to Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi of San Francisco State University, a Palestinian activist, famed for attacking Israel. The award is traditionally given to a person who provides "exceptional leadership" in improving the status of academic women or the profession in general. Abdulhadi "exemplifies courage, persistence, political foresight, and concern for human rights," and brings "justice-centered knowledge," by advancing "the agenda for social change in Palestine, the United States, and internationally. Her leadership transcends the division between scholarship and activism that encumbers traditional university life."
But, Abdulhadi is controversial. She has been a mentor of Palestinian student groups that staged several anti-Israel incidents on campus. Two Jewish students, Charles Volk and Liam Kern brought a court case against the Board of Trustees of the California State University (CSU), for failing to protect Jewish students on campus from harassment by these groups. The case was settled in March 2019. CSU agreed to "express its commitment to safeguarding the rights of all members of the San Francisco State University ("SFSU") community, including Jews, to practice their religion, to express their legally protected viewpoints, including Zionist and pro-Israel viewpoints, and to participate in university-sponsored activities free from discrimination based on any protected status, including their Jewish faith. SFSU will commit that, going forward, its implementation of CSU antidiscrimination policy and procedure." It was a lesson learned from anti-Israel events on campus. Therefore, CSU assured it would "protect SFSU students' right to be free from discrimination in CSU programs or activities based on any protected status, including the Jewish faith. CSU will include in its statement that it understands that, for many Jews, Zionism is an important part of their identity."
After the apology by the SFSU to Jewish students, Prof. Abdulhadi wrote a hostile message on Facebook: "I consider the statement below from President Wong, welcoming Zionists to campus, equating Jewishness with Zionism, and giving Hillel ownership of campus Jewishness, to be a declaration of war against Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians and all those who are committed to an indivisible sense of justice on and off campus. This includes our sisters and brothers in the Jewish community whose conscience refuses to allow Israel’s colonialism, racism and occupation –the inherent character of Zionism—to speak in their name. I am ashamed to be affiliated with SFSU administration and demand the immediate retraction of this racist, Islamophobic and colonialist statement, and the restoration of SFSU social justice mission." Abdulhadi detailed in length her anti-Israel political activism in the Foreword of the new book, Enforcing Silence: Academic Freedom, Palestine and the Criticism of Israel, edited by David Landy, Ronit Lentin, Conor McCarthy.
Claiming that Abdulhadi advances "the agenda for social change in Palestine," is questionable. The dire human rights condition of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria are well known but have not been mentioned by Abdulhadi and other pro-Palestinian activists. By focusing exclusively on the Israeli authorities, these egregious human rights abuses have been kept under the radar. The AAUP should be reminded that, as per its own definition, academic discourse should be balanced, rather than blatantly biased to vilify a politically convenient target.
Second, the AAUP false claims that BDS promoters have been unjustly treated as anti-Semite. Henry (Hank) Reichman, professor emeritus of History at California State University, East Bay, and chair of the AAUP's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, pushed this argument in a recent article that appears on Academe Blog of the Academe Magazine, an outfit of the AAUP. Reichman discussed the case of two BDS advocates - Professor Achille Mbemebe and Kamila Shamsie - whose invitation to appear in Germany was canceled. However, as IAM reported, the former espoused anti-Semitic writings. Mbembe claimed, for example, that the Israeli occupation of Palestine "is not apartheid, South African style. It is far more lethal." And that the Jewish "victimhood, and a supremacist complex" are making the occupation "the biggest moral scandal of our times, one of the most dehumanizing ordeals."
Reichman has also signed an open letter to the City of Dortmund, on behalf of Kamila Shamsie, whose Nelly Sachs literary prize was rescinded because of commitment to BDS. Reichman and the group called to "fulfill the mandate of the Nelly Sachs award by demonstrating its commitment to a writer’s freedom of conscience and expression."
However, Reichman misrepresented the spirit of the Nelly Sachs award. Sachs, a strong supporter of Israel, was a Jewish Swedish-German author and Nobel prize laureate, forced into exile under the Nazi regime. The prize named for her intends to honor individuals who "produce outstanding creative achievements in the field of literary and spiritual life which aim in particular to improve cultural relationships." Awarding the prize to a supporter of BDS with its anti-Semitic connotations is clearly not a way to promote "cultural relationships.” Reichman should also be aware that while the BDS movement claims to only target Israeli institutions, individuals have often been attacked.
The AAUP is one of several academic associations in the West that has been maneuvered to promote the Palestinian agenda of attacking Israel. IAM reported on similar cases of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), the British University and College Union (UCU), the American Studies Association (ASA), the American Anthropological Association (AAA), among others. For the prestigious AAUP, this is probably just the beginning, and there will be more to come. IAM would continue to report on this new and worrisome trend.

"Achille Mbembe Antisemite? You Make Me Laugh": The Case of Revital Madar
The new Minister for Higher Education Zeev Elkin has his work cut out for him. Over the years, IAM reported numerous cases of Israeli scholars who used their position to push a political agenda, including sponsoring and defending BDS. One current example stems from the heated debate about whether BDS is anti-Semitic. The Israeli government and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) have emphatically declared the BDS to be a unique form of anti-Semitism. The IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism includes two clauses, "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor" and "Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation," making BDS anti-Semitic. The IHRA Definition has been accepted by executive and legislative bodies in the West.
For instance, the German Parliament, Bundestag, passed a resolution calling BDS anti-Semitic and illegal. The reason is that singling-out Israel while giving a pass to countries with a much worse record of human rights abuse is tantamount to anti-Semitism. In response, some Israeli scholars opposed this decision, positing that BDS is not anti-Semitic.
More recently, the historian-philosopher Prof. Achille Mbembe from South Africa was disinvited to appear in music and cultural festival in Germany, because he espouses BDS.
Some Israeli scholars decried the German decision and mounted a defense of Mbembe.
Revital Madar, a Ph.D. candidate at the Hebrew University, posted on the Academia-IL Facebook group an article which she translated from French, "Achille Mbembe Antisemite? You Make Me Laugh" by Jean-Francois Bayart. Bayart argued that Mbembe was accused of anti-Semitism for "daring" to describe "the apartheid regime in connection with Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories." Madar argued that the last "victim of the Zionist Lobby" in Germany is Achille Mbembe, whose criticism of the Israeli policy in the occupied territories "made him, what else, an anti-Semite." Also, she noted, Bayart's response relates to the contemporary state’s "persecution of thought" and of lacking an understanding of the comparative. Madar took to cite Bayart, that the "comparison, then, between the apartheid regime and the occupation of the Palestinian territories is the classics of political sociology, as an argument about the colonial nature, or not, of the Zionist project. Raising the question leaves the answer open. The comparative is sharing questions, not answers."
Clearly, she did not bother to read Mbembe, who espouses anti-Semitic literature, nor followed his activism. In 2010, Mbembe was a signatory to a petition urging the University of Johannesburg to sever its relations with Ben-Gurion University. In 2015, he wrote the foreword for the book Apartheid: The Politics of Analogy, which was highly venomous. The occupation "is not apartheid, South African style. It is far more lethal." As the Jewish "victimhood, and a supremacist complex" are making the occupation "the biggest moral scandal of our times, one of the most dehumanizing ordeals." Israelis are willing "to go all the way—carnage, destruction, incremental extermination" while there is "no need to take responsibility for the suffering inflicted on the other party because we have convinced ourselves that the other party does not exist. Thus thuggishness, jingoism, racist rhetoric, and sectarianism. Thus every two or three years, an all-out, asymmetrical assault against a population entrapped in an open-air prison." For this, Israel uses "the army, the police, the settlers, the pilots of bombing raids, the zealots, and the cohort of international Pharisees and their mandatory righteousness, starting with the United States of America.” He accused Israel of trying to purge the "Palestinians from the land,” a phrase that hinted at Hitler’s agenda of purging Jews from the human race. Not surprisingly, Mbembe urged a total isolation of Israel by the international community.
In Dec. 2015 Mbembe was among scholars from South African universities, "deeply disturbed" by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, "the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement." They pledged, "we will not: accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions; act as referees in any of their processes; participate in conferences funded, organized or sponsored by them, or otherwise cooperate with them."
In 2016, in an article titled "The society of enmity," in Radical Philosophy, he wrote that Israel's "desire for apartheid and the phantasy of extermination are not new phenomena.” From the “regular imposition of curfews within Palestinian enclaves and controls on movement to the objective imprisonment of entire towns... regular military incursions, home demolitions, the desecration of cemeteries, whole olive groves uprooted, infrastructure turned to rubble and obliterated, high- and medium-altitude bombardments, targeted assassinations, urban counter-insurgency techniques, the profiling of minds and bodies, constant harassment.” According to him, “the metaphor of apartheid does not fully account for the specific character of the Israeli separation project... The apocalyptic and catastrophist elements that underwrite it are far more complex" in comparison to South Africa, "given its ‘hi-tech’ character, the effects of the Israeli project on the Palestinian body are much more formidable" and its "various techniques of material and symbolic erasure." Israel's "procedures and techniques of demolition... and its fanatical policy of destruction aimed at transforming the life of Palestinians into a heap of ruins or a pile of garbage destined for cleansing... when required, transform itself into an instrument of strangulation."
IAM reported in November 2018 of an international conference, "Recognition, Reparation, Reconciliation: The Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma" at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Several Israeli scholars were persuaded to withdraw their participation due to pressure from the BDS movement. Mbembe and a colleague published a statement, announcing "We let the organizers know this morning that we would have no option but to withdraw from the conference if a satisfactory agreement was not found between the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the Organizing Committee. A short while ago, we were informed by the organizers that the Israeli speakers who were on the program have rescinded their participation at the conference and for this reason, we are open to participating in the conference." It did not occur to Mbembe and his colleagues that the BDS Movement repeatedly stated that only Israeli institutions were to be boycotted and not individual Israeli scholars.
Mbembe's work makes it clear that it falls within the category of anti-Semitism as promulgated by IHRA.
Evidently, Revital Madar is not bothered by Mbembe’s virulent anti-Semitic writings. Perusing her CV makes clear why.
She is a graduate of the Program in Cultural Studies and her Ph.D. thesis is titled “Repudiated Violence and Sovereignty – The Case of Israel.” Her supervisor is Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, and her Ph.D. committee comprises of Prof. Louise Bethlehem, Prof. Gadi Algazi, and Dr. Yael Berda.
All four are prominent academic activists whose controversial work has been reviewed by IAM before.
As for Madar, she is a fast learner when it comes to combining academics and political activism. She started by studying philosophy and writing on Mizrahi topics, but she remade herself into an expert on law, to use lawfare against Israel. Proving that Israel is breaking international
humanitarian law is a big academic business these days. In fact, lawfare is a precursor of BDS in the sense that it legitimizes the calls to boycott Israel. Not surprisingly, she landed a plush position as a visiting Ph.D. fellow in the prestigious International Law Department at the Graduate Institute Geneva. Her two works in progress are titled "Sovereignty from Below: The Performance of Israel’s Rule of Law and the Legal Place of the Palestinian" and "Exceptional Violence and Ordinary Racialization: The Construction of Sovereign Difference in Israel’s Military Courts."
Madar is the "second generation” product of a cohort of radical scholars who have abused their academic positions to besmirch every aspect of Israel’s existence. They have written books that are part of the radical anti-Israeli canon which dominates social sciences, participated in conferences, and gave lectures far and wide on the subject. Many have been rewarded for their activism by securing positions in prestigious universities in the West, as IAM reported. Fighting BDS has become a strategic task to which both the government of Israel and numerous Jewish organizations have been devoted. However, it should be clear that BDS is the tip of the iceberg built on a foundation of a broader academic paradigm that delegitimizes the State of Israel.
There are no easy solutions to the problem of the radicalization of the social sciences in Israel. Pleading academic freedom, the universities have vehemently objected to taking any remedial steps. Minister Elkin would be well advised to create a committee to investigate the matter.
General Articles
Noam Chomsky Among Academics Cooperating with Iranian Canadian-Based Anti-Israel Research Institute
On March 29, the Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) has published an article notifying readers that a group of Western academics and others signed an open letter calling to lift the sanctions on Iran. The letter included signatures of distinguished academics such as Noam Chomsky, Hamid Dabashi, Robert Crews, and John Packer, among others. The letter was drafted and coordinated by the Canadian Institute for Peace and Diplomacy.
Chomsky has a long history of anti-American and anti-Israel activities. He began as an anti-Vietnam War activist. In 1970, Chomsky, as a member of the Committee on New Alternatives in the Middle East, was instrumental in inviting Arie Bober, co-founder of the anti-Zionist group Matzpen, to a speaking tour on U.S. campuses. Bober presented a “socialist, non-Zionist Israeli viewpoint.” Chomsky’s group found Bober's views of “great importance in the Middle East.” Chomsky’s activities prompted the Israeli security to refuse him entry to Israel in May 2010, as reported by Al Jazeera TV.
Chomsky has visited Lebanon in 2006 and met with Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hizbollah. In the meeting, Nasrallah asked Chomsky, "How can we have our point of view heard in the US?" Chomsky responded, "You need to reach the American public before American politicians. The public in the US is generally ahead of the politicians. Often public opinion conflicts with policies set in Washington. US politicians are usually elected by a minority of the population and represent two parties that are virtually indistinguishable on fundamental issues. If you can inform the public and get them to understand your position, they will put pressure on the politicians and hopefully prevent them from conducting their most destructive policies. Without internal public pressure, US policy is not likely to change significantly.” Chomsky's views of the U.S are negative; he believes that for the U.S, “secular nationalism in the Arab world was an enemy – it was working for the poor. This is the same reason why Hamas and Hezbollah are enemies: they are working for the poor. It doesn’t matter if they are Catholic or Muslim or anything else.”
The Institute for Peace and Diplomacy in Canada (IPD) which coordinated the letter urging to lift the sanctions, was established in January 2019. It is acting as a mouthpiece for Iran and promotes the Iranian agenda. While it is understandable that Iranian views should be heard, IPD also espouses anti-Israel propaganda.
IPD-associate, Reza Yeganehshakib, a Middle East expert at Saddleback College and Santa Monica College, wrote in November 2019 that the "Iranian threat" is an election campaign slogan for the Likud Party. That "Netanyahu has heavily relied on the 'Iranian Threat' as a fear mongering tactic... Netenyahu’s misuse of a foreign country, Iran, to shape the domestic politics inside the country. Iran has been an eternal part of the political narrative in Israel." According to Yeganehshakib, the anti-Iran campaign was designed to deflect attention "from crucial internal issues such as housing crisis, unemployment, and failure to make peace with the Palestinians." He postulates that Likud with Blue and White Alliance proves that the "Netenyahu’s Iran story will not work forever; and the Likud party, especially after Neteyahu’s departure, needs to redesign its strategy based on internal matters if it wants to remain in power," Yeganehshakib determined.
The purpose of the IPD in Canada is to influence Canadian foreign policy to cooperate with Iran in the name of progressive values. In February, Narbutt published "A Vision for a Progressive Canadian Foreign Policy.” He suggested that in order to advance peace, Canada should address nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East, adding that "this goal should be at the forefront of any progressive foreign policy agenda." Since there have been efforts to declare the Middle East as a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the United Nations General Assembly, Canada voted against such plans pointing out to its relationship with Israel. A nuclear-weapons-free zone would "require Israel to abandon its longstanding tradition of ‘nuclear ambiguity’ and advance towards disarmament." Canada’s vote against the resolution "does not assist in building Canada’s image as a state that is honestly advancing an agenda of peacekeeping." Because "progressive Canadian foreign policy must pursue nuclear disarmament in the Middle East." However, Narbutt does not advise Canada to exercise pressure on Iran to advance towards disarmament.
IPD states that it wants to promote peace through diplomacy and dialogue, using "progressive and independent voices.” IPD is "building a network of experts, researchers and advocates who are ready to offer fresh and constructive ideas to resolve global challenges and conflicts through peaceful means. Through its publications, conferences, policy briefings, and recommendations the IPD will provide its perspective to policymakers, leaders in government, civil society and businesses.”
However, these lofty sentiments are a front for an Iranian propaganda outfit. The IPD team features Younes Zangiabadi, executive vice president and co-founder; Bijan Ahmadi, executive director and co-founder; Pouyan Kimiayjan, fellow associate; and Amadeus Narbutt, research associate. The IPD Address, coincidentally, is also a home to the Iranian Canadian Journal and Roqe Global Media Inc., its two directors are Jian Ghomeshi and Mehrdad Ariannejad.
For instance, Zangiabaldi published an article at the journal The Iranian titled "Why Canada’s Approach To Human Rights Has Been Ineffective In The Middle East.” He complained about the inaction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that "It is ironic that while Sweden and Norway are actively engaging and mediating between various stakeholders of complex regional conflicts, Canada is still deciding whether having diplomatic relations with Iran is necessary or not."
The Institute for Peace and Diplomacy in Canada is the latest in a long-term Iranian drive to spread its propaganda abroad. Under innocuously sounding names, such fronts approach Western scholars to bolster their legitimacy. These outfits should not fool anyone. Iran is a brutal regime that maltreats its population and foments terror and unrest in the Middle East through its infamous Revolutionary Guards and its proxies like Hezbollah.
General Articles
Honaida Ghanim: Israeli Scholar of Arab Descent Recruited to Bash Israel
The Israeli universities have provided academic opportunities to Palestinians. But some have used it to besmirch Israel.
Omar Barghouti, Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian, Bashir Bashir, and Raif Zreik, among others, fit this category. Dr. Honaida Ghanim, who received her Ph.D. with distinction from the Hebrew University in 2004, has joined this group as well. She was a fellow at the Hebrew University, a post-doctoral student at Harvard, and is often invited to Van-Leer Institute in Jerusalem. By any measure, she had done very well in Israel.
Since 2009, Ghanim has served as the general director of the Palestinian Forum of Israeli Studies (MADAR) in Ramallah. MADAR is registered as a not-for-profit organization with the Palestinian Ministry of Interior and has obtained a research center’s operational licensing from the Palestinian Ministry of Information. MADAR publishes a journal Qadaya Israeliya (Israeli Affairs). As such, MADAR mostly collects information that aims to present Israel in a negative light.
The current publication is dealing with the rising organized crime in Palestinian towns in Israel, which Ghanim co-edited. The journal discusses crime "Compared to a low rate in the Jewish community." The journal notes this has to do with the police and thus Palestinians in Israel face a major dilemma: On the one hand, organized crime can only be confronted by the police, but on the other, the state and police are the problem, not the solution. Because the Israeli state has an interest in maintaining organized crime "as long as it affects Palestinian citizens only." The police are "taking advantage of and employing organized crime as a means to control and manipulate the Palestinian community." Palestinians are compelled to call for police protection against organized crime, although they are "convinced that the Israeli police already oppress and alienate them.”
In an article comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa, Ghanim claimed the two are not identical, but for both cases, the result is "oppressive" and characterized by "violations of the most basic human rights." In apartheid, the execution of military order and the racist law relies on the tyranny and oppression of entire populations. "For this reason, many have concluded that the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is far worse than apartheid." She explains that the "Zionist colonial settler enterprise" which culminated in the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the expulsion of half of the Palestinians, since 1967, has "expanded to include all of Mandatory Palestine, hence turning the land west of the Jordan River, de facto, into a one binational space.” According to her, an entire population is held under military occupation in a space, which, in the past, was predominantly Palestinian. Currently, she claims, "residing in the occupied territories are two unequal populations that are physically segregated and overseen by two different systems of rule. One holds full citizenship and benefits from civic rights, whereas the second is subject to the whims of a civil administration."
However, Ghanim concludes that establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank represents a temporary solution "where quiet and a situation of non-violence is not sustainable long term." Because such a solution does not address the "settler colonial nature of the Israeli National Project;" the rights of indigenous people expelled in 1948; the colonization of space and continued expropriation of land; and "Jewish domination of the political arena under the guise of a Jewish and democratic state."
In another article about "the Nakba," Ghanim explained that "The Nakba is the disaster that befell the Palestinian people in 1948, after the Jewish forces (subsequently Israeli) had embarked on a massive operation of ethnic cleansing that aimed at ridding Palestine of its indigenous population, in order to found on its land a nation-state for the Jews. The cleansing operations resulted in the expulsion of half the Palestinian population from historic Palestine." When the fighting broke out from November 1947 until November 1948, "the Palestinians were not adequately equipped for it. The Arab combat troops were composed mainly of irregular forces of local and other Arab volunteers." While "The Zionist military forces has been estimated at 62,000 men, some of whom had previously served in the British and other European armies, and were highly trained." Soon after, "work began on drafting 'Plan D' (Dalet) for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The plan aimed to seize areas intended for founding the Jewish state, and to 'cleanse' them of their Palestinian inhabitants." She details fighting by Irgun, Haganah, Palmach, Stern Gang, Givati Brigade, Alexandroni Brigade, but brings no account to the Arab fighting. She ends by disclosing that "the majority of Palestinians continue to live in hope of returning home, even if that home has been reduced to a pile of dust.”
Clearly, Ghanem is not a historian, she mentions the Balfour Declaration but fails to mention the San Remo Resolution agreed by the post-World War I Allied Powers in 1920. The League of Nation resolved that Syria and Mesopotamia shall be recognized as independent states and that the British Mandate will be responsible for putting into effect the Balfour Declaration in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. Adding that, "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." The Following year Jordan was established in Palestine as a gift to the Emir Abdullah for the Great Arab Revolt. The current Palestinian People were part of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine.
The main problem lies with Ghanim's conclusion, that, establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is a temporary solution, because Palestinians will never accept a "Jewish domination of the political arena under the guise of a Jewish and democratic state."
This type of scholarship is not 'critical,' it solely aims to debunk Israel for political purposes.
Hebrew University
HUJ Dmitry Shumsky: The Next Generation of Academic-Political Activists
Dr. Dmitry Shumsky, a senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is said to be interested in Zionist history. Thanks to Haaretz newspaper, he became a political activist.
Shumsky, who immigrated from Ukraine to Israel in 1990, made himself first an expert on Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union and provided Haaretz with "an indictment against the Russian-speaking community."
It is his background that apparently attracted the attention of Haaretz, which was highly upset by the ascent of Avigdor Lieberman’s rightwing party Yisrael Beiteinu. As well known, the party, which was supported mainly by the Russian immigrants, took a hard-line position against the Palestinians who, at the time, waged a bloody Intifada. For the Russian immigrants - the suicide bombing attack in front of the crowded Dolphinarium discotheque in Tel Aviv in 2001, killing 21 young Russian immigrants and wounding more than 120 - was a seminal event in this respect.
Nevertheless, Haaretz, like most of the liberal media at the time, could not bring itself to admit that Islamist terrorism destroyed the Oslo peace process and bolstered Likud and other rightwing parties. Haaretz proposed an alternative explanation, namely, that some Israeli Jews, like the Mizrahim and the Russians, suffer from a congenital hatred of the Arabs. To prove that, in February 2004, the Haaretz journalist Lilly Galili interviewed Shumsky for an article Titled "Why do they hate Arabs and Mizrahi Jews? For those reasons they hated Caucasian." The then Ph.D. candidate at the University of Haifa Jewish History Department, obligingly told her that the Russian-speaking immigrants brought with them Islamophobia from their country of origin. Not incidentally, Shumsky had authored an article "Orientalist Discourse and Islamophobia among Russians speaking intelligentsia in Israel," presented at a conference at Ben-Gurion University. He explained that "the nationalistic and racist manifestations among the immigrants from the Soviet Union" derives from the fact that the "immigrants imported the Islamophobic discourse that ruled the Soviet Union… This is a special incarnation of the Soviet Orientalist discourse that has put Russian colonial consciousness vis-a-vis the natives of the Caucasus and Central Asia.”
How could Shumsky empirically determine that the Russian immigrants are infected with the virus of “Soviet Orientalist discourse” is anyone’s guess. But wrapping himself in the mantle of Edward Said was a good career move. Soon after, Shumsky became a Haaretz columnist.
Shumsky's Ph.D. thesis deals with the early Prague Zionism and explores the ideological path pursued by its prominent Zionist activists who moved from Jewish nationalism to the idea of a binational Arab-Jewish state in Palestine.
Fifteen years later and Shumsky still follows the same train of thought. Shumsky's most recent academic articles in 2020 and 2019 focus on Vladimir Jabotinsky, the iconic thinker of the rightwing Likud Party. For Shumsky, Zionist historians portrayed Jabotinsky exclusively as "clung to a Jewish national identity," but Shumsky sees this as a one-dimensional image, because Jabotinsky, in his younger age, had an identity of a "Russian state patriotism." Likewise, Shumsky argued, Jabotinsky's “pro-Odessan” articles escaped the attention of scholars who only focused on his “national Zionist thought and activity,” something Shumsky aimed to refute.
His most recent book, Beyond the Nation-State: The Zionist Political Imagination from Pinsker to Ben-Gurion, aimed to demonstrate that some of the most prominent Zionist mainstream thinkers envisioned something different than what Israel is today. The book was reviewed by Allan Arkush, professor of Judaic studies and history at Binghamton University, who found Shumsky's assertions as "marked by many forced and unsatisfying readings." Arkush added that some of Shumsky's arguments "seem rather dubious.” Arkush also noted Shumsky's decade long op-ed columns in Ha’aretz, "denouncing Israeli policy toward the West Bank, supporting BDS, and calling for an end to Jewish sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem."
Once ensconced in Haaretz, Shumsky could practice his extreme anti-Israeli animus. One of his discursive tricks was to imply that the BDS movement was mostly an invention of the Likud government. In one Haaretz article, he claimed that "If the BDS movement didn’t exist, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of occupation and settlement would have had to invent it." Both the boycott movement and the Israeli government are striving for a single organic Israeli unit. "There is basic consent between the BDS movement and the Israeli government regarding the geopolitical space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, as a single state called Israel." Therefore, Shumsky urged to "join a boycott of the occupation and settlement project.”
In May 2015, Shumsky was behind a petition published in Haaretz (his employer), where he collected money. "Do not Let the Occupation Turn 50!" Claiming that "Out of deep concern for our country's physical survival and moral integrity, we... call to end the occupation." The petitioners "call on the international community and the 15 members of the UN Security Council: 1. To support the Palestinian Authority's appeal to the UN and immediately recognize the State of Palestine and accept it as a full member.2. To impose an economic and cultural boycott on the settlement enterprise in the territories Israel occupied in June 1967.”
In a 2018 Haaretz article, "We Are All BDS," Shumsky sympathized with the Palestinians and ignored Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians. He hypothesized the next intifada, declaring that "the Palestinians’ understandable resistance to national servitude under Israel will be more violent than in the past until it develops into the mother of all intifadas." He warned that Israel's response would be lethal and "may even include expelling part of the Palestinian population and tightening the noose of military rule around the necks of those who escape the fate of transfer." In order to prevent this, he suggested that "remnants of the left that oppose the occupation and the settlements must begin preparing for life in a new political reality," a South Africa situation in "all intents and purposes," with leftists and Palestinian subjected to "one apartheid state." It is "the left," which should "openly support boycotts of and sanctions on Israel until it releases the Palestinian people from national enslavement in their own land." Because "if this horror scenario materializes," every decent Israeli "will have to stand behind the boycott, divestment and sanctions program."
His political bias is so evident in another article, where Shumsky envisioned a Palestinian state. For Shumsky, "It is not inevitable… the Palestinian state will allow some of the Jews to remain in its territory. In this case, they may even be granted basic civil rights. After all, the Palestinians are the only Arab nation under the control of the only democracy in the Middle East. It is therefore possible that it should learn from this experience and build an Arab and democratic state.”
Haaretz, a pioneer of the Oslo agreement, turned a blind eye to the fact that Yasser Arafat either could not or would not stop Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The newspaper had little to say about Iran and Hezbollah’s effort to derail the fragile peace process and their role in the bloody second intifada. Rather than acknowledging this simple fact, Haaretz turned to Shumsky, who peddled fanciful theories such as the "virus of Orientalism.”
Anti-Israel Academic Resolutions
Dispute Over BDS Vote: The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Threatens to Sue University of Durham
In July 2019, IAM reported on cases where professional Middle East associations have been taken over by political activists to promote BDS.
One such case pertains to the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES). The 2019 BRISMES Conference, "Joining the Dots: Interdisciplinarity in Middle East Studies," took place at the University of Leeds between 24-26 of June 2019. At the same time, the BRISMES leadership has held its annual general meeting (AGM) which voted in favor of BDS. However, the BRISMES case had a twist, when, the following day, on Jun 27, 2019, the officers of BRISMES have published a notice on the BRISMES website explaining that BRISMES "has not endorsed the academic boycott of Israeli Institutions as advocated by BDS.” While the AGM has voted in favor of a boycott, “This vote is not binding on the Society."
According to the BRISMES constitution, "The principal aims of the Society shall be to encourage and promote interest and study in the United Kingdom of the Middle Eastern cultural region from the end of classical antiquity to the present day through the dissemination of information and by the encouragement of co-operation amongst persons and organizations concerned with the scholarly study of the region."
Surely, there is no mention of calls for boycott as part of the association's aims. Also, the constitution determines that no amendments may be made to the “aims” provision “without the prior consent in writing of the Charity Commissioners."
Still, BRISMES claims to be changing. It focuses now on Middle East studies, "in ways that recognize the circumstances of, and express solidarity with, our Palestinian colleagues, whose education, research and scholarship are profoundly impacted by Israeli colonization and occupation."
In response to the officers' announcement that the BDS vote is not binding, Laleh Khalili, an Iranian American professor of International Politics at the Queen Mary University of London, declined an invitation to give the annual lecture at BRISMES. She accused BRISMES of an "attempt to circumvent organizational democracy.” Khalili also declared, "I am ashamed... to see that the officers of BRISMES are imperiling the institution. Should their unethical and politically motivated chicanery continue, I will join in with all other current and potential members to boycott the organization." Khalili took it to her social media and wrote, "Friends, if you are members of BRISMES, don't resign yet. You need to stay in to support the activists who are trying to change the organization. If people leave, this will be seen as a victory for the old guard and for their anti-BDS position."
Likewise, Palestinian Nada Elia, an emerita professor of Gender and Global Studies and a member of the Steering Collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), described BRISMES move as “underhandedness.” She blamed it on "the norm at large and small universities, public and private, as well as various scholarly associations, from Europe to North America." Still, she was optimistic that "the popular discourse" would shift towards an "embrace of justice for all," and "universities will need to listen to their faculty, students and staff. Academic associations will need to respect the decisions of their membership."
Prof. Ilan Pappe, an Israeli BDS activist and a subject of numerous IAM reports, responded on June 30, 2019, on the Facebook page of BRISMES: "yes this is disappointing on the one hand, and i published the version i received from the people who initiated the motion; but Mai Taha got it right: the members are for BDS, the leadership, as in so other cases, is timid. But it is another important step in the right direction."
Shortly after this BDS attempt, the University of Durham decided to pull out from its' BRISMES membership, because of the "events of this past summer and in particular the resolution put forward by BRISMES members to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions," as well as "the events of the BRISMES Annual General Meeting and the mood of proponents of the resolution."
In response, the BRISMES leadership wrote a fuming letter, threatening the University of Durham with legal action. "We note that there may also be further legal issues arising from breach of contract... By withdrawing administrative services to BRISMES in response to the AGM resolution, the University of Durham may therefore have acted in breach of its legal obligations to uphold freedom of expression and academic freedom." The letter explicitly warned that the "possibly unlawful actions have exposed us to considerable loss and damage." The letter also disclosed how the then-officers resigned from their positions and contacted the Charity Commission for intervention.
Last month, to put more pressure on the University of Durham, the international organization Middle East Studies Association (MESA), wrote the University of Durham a letter, "to express its grave concern," and to argue that the University of Durham withdrawal from BRISMES, "constitutes a violation of their academic freedom." MESA asked the University of Durham to "publicly affirm its commitment" to BRISMES.
The University of Durham has so far not responded to any of these demands. IAM will report on the case as it develops.
General Articles
Israeli Student Caught Spying for Hezbollah
An Israeli student was indicted recently for spying for Hezbollah. She took photographs of the Israeli army vehicles and bases and sent them to a Hezbollah agent.
The Central District Attorney Office published on March 30, 2020, a press release announcing that the court in Lod indicted an Israeli student for having a "contact with a foreign agent, handing information to an enemy with the intent to harm the State of Israel's security, and providing a service to a terrorist organization." The student has lived in Beersheba in the last three years, but her place of study is undisclosed. In early 2018, she was contacted on Facebook by a person named "Ali Baba" from southern Lebanon. He requested that she provides information for Hezbollah.
The student allegedly provided him with photographs of army vehicles on Route Six; of the border near Rosh Hanikra; Haifa's Bahai Gardens; the view from Stella Maris, the Haifa Port; Rambam Medical Center; army vehicles near Hebron; Hatzerim Air Force Base and Museum; Iron Dome Missile Defense System in Beer Sheva; and the Erez Border Crossing. Upon Ali's request, the student attended a lecture by the military journalist Yossi Melman and asked Melman whether a war between Israel and Hezbollah is foreseeable. Melman responded that it was unlikely. She recorded Melman and sent it to Ali. Ali requested photographs of an army base in Ramat Aviv, but she refused. She was added to a WhatsApp group of Hizbollah activists named "Know Your Enemy," run by an "Ali Hussein,” where she was requested to translate from Hebrew to Arabic articles dealing with Israel's security. Eventually, on March 20, 2020, she was detained by the police. According to her next-door neighbors in Beer Sheva, she was quiet and pleasant, took her studies seriously, and studied around the clock.
In December 2017, an indictment was filed against Khaled Abu Judeh, a student at the Ashkelon College, and his half-brother Zahi, for the murder of the late Israeli soldier Ron Kokia in Arad. According to the charges, Khaled, a Hamas supporter, was the "brain" behind the plan and carried out the killing. On November 30, 2017, while Khaled was traveling in his vehicle in the city of Arad, he spotted the late Ron Yitzhak Kokia. He decided to carry out the attack and contacted Zahi. Khaled got out of the vehicle with a knife and walked toward the soldier who was sitting on a bench. Around 9:17 pm, Khaled approached the soldier from behind and stabbed him several times while trying to snatch his weapon. The soldier tried to prevent it, but Khaled managed to snatch the weapon and fled, leaving the soldier bleeding to death. After escaping from the scene, Khaled arrived at his home in the Kuseife area, where he met Zahi, who helped him to hide.
In August 2019, the General Security Service (GSS), in collaboration with the IDF and the Israeli police, thwarted a bomb attack intended to be carried out in Jerusalem, after they uncovered a ready-to-operate explosive device in Hebron, as well as the lab which created it. Several Hamas military squads have been exposed in the Judea and Samaria area, planning to carry out terrorist attacks. The activists were instructed to set up squads to carry out kidnaps, shootings, stabbings, to purchase arms, and to recruit additional activists. In June 2019, Tamer Rajah Rajabi, a student at the Polytechnic College in Hebron, was arrested. He was known as an activist in Hamas' student organization, "al-Qutla al-Islamiyya."
Also, in 2019, Amin Yassin, an Israeli Arab medical student in Slovakia and his neighbor were indicted for plotting together an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror attack. The two, who reside in the town Tamra in the Galilee, conspired to organize terrorist acts on behalf of the Islamic State. The two supported ISIS since 2014, and in 2018, conspired to murder Yassin’s cousin, a soldier in the US Army. They also discussed their hopes to blow up a booby-trapped car in a Jewish city in Israel. The two downloaded numerous files containing ISIS information and training manuals on weapons and terrorist attacks.
In February 2016, following a joint investigation by the police and the GSS, a student from Tel Sheva in the Negev was indicted for contacting Jihad activists from Arab states. Three weeks earlier, the student was arrested while on his way back from Jordan, where he studied and was taken to interrogation. During the interrogation, it emerged that before he left Jordan, he agreed to help a Tunisian activist to infiltrate into Israel in order to carry out together terrorist attacks. It also emerged that during this period, he had agreed to join a Salafi Jihadist organization.
A GSS report from 2009 on students' involvement in terrorism, listed names of students from the Palestinian Territories, only some of the terrorist attacks were thwarted.
The GSS noted that terrorist organizations perceive universities and students as an "attractive target" for spotting and recruiting activists. Students are "intellectual, politically aware, motivated young people who possess leadership skills," therefore can lead an operational activity.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
Scottish Parliament Urged to Endorse BDS
Dr. Eurig Scandrett, a senior lecturer in Sociology in the Psychology, Sociology and Education Division at Queen Margaret University in Scotland, filed a petition on behalf of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign - petition number PE01803 on the Right to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). It calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to support the right of public bodies and institutions in Scotland to debate, endorse, and implement BDS.
The petition process in Scotland allows citizens to get their concerns on the Parliament's agenda if it has the power to act. Once a petition is submitted, before it can be published, it is reviewed against the required criteria, and any suggested changes are discussed with the petitioner. Then the petitions can be scheduled for consideration by the Committee. It takes several months before consideration.
The petition stated that Scottish public institutions, governed by the Scottish Government, are entitled to have a different stand from the UK Government, including on international relations. Scandrett explains that the "petition does not ask the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Government to support BDS, but rather to protect the right of public bodies to take their own decisions."
However, in December 2019, the Queen gave a speech stating that the UK Government will "stop public institutions from imposing their own approach or views about international relations, through preventing boycotts, divestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries and those who trade with them." Nevertheless, Scandrett believes that Scotland should defy the Queen's request. He rejects the Queen's concern that “such boycotts have legitimized antisemitism.” He attested that "It is important to note that BDS does not legitimize antisemitism." He even later repeated this claim, that "Antisemitism has no place in such a campaign, and the campaign for BDS is clearly distinct from, and opposed to, antisemitism."
Scotland has seen several attacks against Israel and Jews. As a result, in January 2017, the Government of Scotland commissioned Lord Bracadale, a retired judge, to investigate and author a consultation report to review hate crime legislation in Scotland. The consultation paper cited, among others, two examples of Jewish people being targeted because of their perceived association with the state of Israel. In the first case, during a concert performed by the Jerusalem String Quartet at Edinburgh's Queen Hall in August 2008, members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) interrupted and shouted slogans “they are Israeli army musicians”; “end genocide in Gaza”; and “boycott Israel.” Lord Bracadale stated, “The evidence did not permit the inference that their comments were made because they presumed the musicians to be Israeli or Jewish.”
A second case took place in March 2011 in the student halls of residence at St Andrew's University and reached the Scottish courts. Chanan Roziel Reitblat brought charges against two students, Samuel Colchester and Paul Donnachie. The complainer was a Jewish Lithuanian-born based at Yeshiva University in New York City who spent a semester at St Andrew's. He was not a citizen of Israel and has never visited. In his room above his bed, he had pinned an Israeli flag. After a night out, the two accused were very drunk, entered his room, both of them placed their hands inside their trousers and then rubbed their hands onto the Israeli flag while making offensive comments, “Israel is a terrorist state, the flag is a terrorist symbol, and you are a terrorist. Israel has no history here.” The accused were members of the SPSC, and during the court hearing, a protest by SPSC members was held outside, calling the charges "absurd." Lord Bracadale noted that there was no connection between the complainer and actions by the State of Israel, and thus the “hostility was manifestly directed towards him because of his perceived nationality or religion.”
Worth noting that these attacks were orchestrated by SPSC.
Scandrett is a longtime pro-Palestinian activist. In a 2012 report about an official visit of Friends of the Earth to the Palestinian Territories. Scandrett, the vice-chair of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The theft of resources and the pollution of land and water are designed to serve only the interests of the apartheid state of Israel. This is nothing short of an environmental nakba.”
In Autumn 2015, he revealed personal motivation: "My other current passion is Palestine solidarity, promoting the boycott of Israel and supporting good friends involved with the nonviolent anti-colonial struggle. Susan and I had a great holiday in Palestine in June: it’s good when solidarity can include enjoying the place, relaxing with friends, seeing new sights and enjoying the Mediterranean sun."
The Scottish Parliament has expanded the democratic rights of its citizens. However, by doing so, it risks providing a platform for specious, unsupported charges against Israel and the Jews by the BDS campaign. Hopefully, the Parliament would take note of this problem.
Tel Aviv University
TAU: Home to another BDS Advocate
The Israeli governments have been fighting for years against the BDS movement. Out of deference to a most extreme form of academic freedom, the Israeli universities - where some of the BDS ideology has developed - have never been censored.
IAM has often reported on BDS activists operating from Israeli campuses. One prominent example is Omar Barghouti, the Qatari born Palestinian and a leading BDS activist, who studied for almost a decade at the TAU Philosophy Department. During this time, he co-founded the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Dr. Anat Matar, Prof. Rachel Giora, Prof. Neve Gordon, and Dr. Kobi Snitz, among others, have all used their academic position to support BDS.
Prof. Ilan Pappe, another prominent BDS advocate who moved to the UK and trashed Israel on any available platform, has traveled in January to Kuala Lumpur to deliver a lecture at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, where he stated, “My suffering is nothing compared to Palestinians.” He has now moved back to living in Israel. In a recorded interview, he has used the Coronavirus lockdown to blame Israel for the suffering of the Palestinians. Israel has not barred his entry, nor sanctioned him for his longtime BDS activism.
Some of the Israeli universities protected those seeking to boycott them while waving the flag of freedom of speech and academic freedom, a state of affairs that continues even today. TAU Minerva Humanities Center (MHC), a bastion for radical activists, is a home to another BDS activist, Dr. Manar Makhoul, a post-doctorate Palestinian who has been working at the MHC in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. Makhoul is teaching a course, "To Be a Palestinian? Literature, History and the Question of Identity," at the Program of Judeo-Arabic Culture Studies at TAU.
However, as IAM reveals, Makhoul has been a BDS activist. In 2016, Makhoul was a signatory in a letter of protest to participants at the Norway annual urban development conference, known as Oslo Urban Arena (OUA), because it chose to invite Hila Oren from the Tel Aviv Foundation as a keynote speaker. The signatories asked conference participants to leave the conference hall while Oren talks. The signatories wrote they were "saddened" that OUA chose to profile Oren, a "prominent front figure for Israeli state policies," because, "Tel Aviv-Jaffa is a key site of continuous struggle, where the Palestinian population was ousted to make room for largely European colonizers of Jewish background." Oren, the letter continues, "has the active support of Israeli government... [with] continued occupation, ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestinian lands." This is “in violation of our rights and the future of our people, who lived for centuries in peace." The letter is signed by people who work “for an end to the deplorable occupation."
Makhoul had also worked as a networking & advocacy officer at BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, and has featured in BADIL's organ, al-Majdal, in a 2013 publication Eight Years of the BDS Movement: Where have we come since 2005? which he co-edited. Makhoul's chapter "Home and Away: a review of BDS discourse," is aimed to "contribute to the success and evolution" of the BDS movement. He boasted about how within three years alone from the launch of the BDS call in 2005, al-Majdal already published a journal with contributions by BDS activists based in Australia, the Basque country, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Catalonia, England and Wales, Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA. "The growth of the BDS movement within the first three years was no less than astounding," he wrote. In his chapter, he suggested that "the BDS movement must locate itself as an integral part of the Palestinian national emancipation movement." Makhoul wanted to see the BDS movement addressing the domestic affairs in Palestine and urged to "allocate time and energy for advocating for state sanctions against Israel." Because resistance to oppression is "multifaceted and complementary." For him, "the next challenge for Palestinian civil society is to build a strong BDS campaign inside Palestine and among Palestinian communities in exile." Interestingly, Makhoul also noted that the BDS movement’s Arabic webpage started to operate only in April 2010, that is, five years after the launch of the BDS Call. It means that the targeted audience was primarily English speakers. He suggested adding more work on the local mobilization and awareness.
TAU did not bother to check whether Makhoul supports BDS, which is against the law since 2011. As centers of learning, the universities have to be models of law-abiding behavior. The flimsy excuse for academic freedom sounds hollow in this context.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
Game Changer for German Universities
The German association of public and government-recognized universities, known as the German Rectors' Conference (HRK), plans to make the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism mandatory on all German universities. Member institutions are represented by their executive boards and rectorates at the HRK General Assembly.
This resolution comes after last year, as IAM reported in May 2019, the German Bundestag had passed a resolution, Motion 19/10191,
describing the BDS campaign against Israel as anti-Semitic, with some of the BDS slogans recalled Nazi propaganda.
Titled "No place for anti-Semitism," the resolution was passed by the HRK general assembly on 19 November 2019. It was one month after the terrorist attack in Halle (Saale) on Yom Kippur, and the HRK general assembly was "horrified," marking the increase of anti-Semitic incidents in Germany of at least 1,799 cases in 2018. The HRK declared, "There is no place for anti-Semitism at German universities." The HRK resolved to support the resolution "Against BDS and all anti-Semitism," based on the IHRA definition, because it "provides a clear basis for recognizing hatred of Jews and is therefore an important tool in combating it. Israeli anti-Semitism is also taken into account." The HRK Emphasized that "Jewish life on campus must not be endangered; Jewish researchers, teachers and students must be able to feel safe at all universities." The HRK resolved to "welcome this anti-Semitism definition and would like to see it established at all university locations."
Not surprisingly, several groups of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel academic-activists, with members of Jewish and Israeli descent, petitioned against the HRK resolution. Prof. Rolf Verleger, an emeritus psychologist in the Department of Neurology at the University of Lübeck, claimed the "IHRA definition is highly controversial because it can be easily used to silence criticism of Israel and ban speakers." According to this group, "persons who wouldn't be allowed to speak at a German university if this definition is adopted: Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Hannah Arendt, Marek Edelman (leader of the Warsaw uprising and anti-Zionist), Naomi Klein, Pinchas Elijahu Verleger (uncle of one the authors of this petition, an anti-Zionist who was shot in the street by the SS)." For them, German universities have already set an example by launching the campaign "Universities for openness, tolerance and against xenophobia" in 2015, which called for decisive action in favor of a tolerant and cosmopolitan society. The petitioners maintained that adopting the IHRA definition "neither serves the cause of combating anti-Semitism, nor does it protect its victims" and urged "to fight anti-Semitism while respecting legitimate support for Palestinian rights, without infringing the basic rights of free speech, expression and political association, while zealously protecting democratic spaces."
Another group, the Israeli radical-leftist Academia for Equality (A4E), also wrote the HRK to express concerns, maintaining the IHRA definition "dangerously mislabels and limits the possibilities of support for Palestinian rights," because "it conflates support for Palestinian rights with anti-Zionism, and it conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism." They note, however, the "rise in anti-Semitism as well as other forms of racism around the world, including in Germany, is a cause for grave concern." They argue that the IHRA definition clause which states "Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation," forces supporters of Palestinian rights to prove they are not anti-Semites. According to the IHRA definition, "if one criticizes Israel in a way allegedly involving a double standard, he or she is an anti-Semite. If one favors a binational or a democratic one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he or she is an anti-Semite. So is one, when he or she blames Israel for institutionalized racism or criticizes the lack of separation of religion and state in Israel, which leads to severe discrimination of women and people of LGBTQ communities, as well as non-Jewish communities in Israel." They sum up that "As a result, the definition creates an unjustified bias in favor of political-Zionist Israel and against the Palestinians."
In similar veins, Professor the Baroness Haleh Afshar OBE, president of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), has written a letter to the HRK, on behalf of BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom. In her letter, she stated that BRISMES condemns antisemitism and all forms of racism but political groups have "weaponized" the IHRA definition in ways that threaten freedom of speech, which sometimes "intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the policies of the Israeli government but that are not antisemitic." She also noted, "with deep concern," that the HRK resolution against the BDS campaign was in stark contrast with the BRISMES motion
reaffirming the right of BRISMES members to "engage in an open and transparent discussion about BDS, in an atmosphere free from intimidation and censorship," adopted in 2015. Interestingly, however, Afshar, who teaches politics and women's studies at the University of York, backed an appeal by the York branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in 2009 that sent volunteers from North Yorkshire to Gaza.
While all the petitioning groups ignored the fact that the IHRA definition clearly states that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic," they also did not bring concrete examples to demonstrate their arguments.
Nevertheless, the following case demonstrates how serious the German police takes Palestinian threats. Earlier this month, Khaled Barakat, a Palestinian activist, was barred for the second time from entering Germany. According to the German police, he was considered "a security risk" because of his insisting that Israel has no right to exist. Barakat posted on Facebook "Palestinian resistance will continue until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine from the river to the sea." Israeli experts noted that Barakat is a member of the Palestinian Popular Front terrorist organization and a BDS activist in Europe. This case indicates that negating Israel's right to exist is considered anti-Semitic in Germany, as per the IHRA definition.
Worth noting that the groups petitioning the HRK stated they oppose anti-Semitism. However, insisting that anti-Semitism should be part of the general perception of racism and xenophobia, is an old trick of the left which resents the uniqueness of the Holocaust. Of course, it makes it easy for them to ignore the dramatic rise in anti-Semitic incidents - as indicated by the HRK in Germany and beyond. Even more telling, Arabs, or Palestinians have perpetuated many of the violent anti-Semitic attacks.
It would have behooved the above scholars to condemn these attacks. However, rather than take a moral position, they have chosen to hide behind the defense of “academic freedom.”
Boycott Calls Against Israel
BDS Leadership Obfuscates Palestinian Women Fighting Patriarchal Violence to Pretend they are Resisting Israeli Oppression
The Palestinian war against Israel is multifaceted. IAM has been documenting the abuse of the academic platform to advance the delegitimization of Israel.
For instance, the theory of Pinkwashing, which has been very popular, illustrates this point. The theory, embraced by such academic luminaries as Sarah Schulman, says that Israel celebrates LGBTQ rights to conceal the “occupation.” Of course, the fact that the Palestinians are oppressing and persecuting their LGBTQ community is not mentioned. This type of obfuscation meant to obscure reality.
The same modus operandi is behind the celebration of International Women's Day by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC). It has announced that "On International Women’s Day we celebrate the leadership of women fighting oppression and militarization." Their message is disseminated globally to countries such as Israel, Chile, Argentina, India, Brazil, the United States, and Europe. The BDS leadership is working to persuade the international community that the women of Palestine are "at the forefront of our struggles," which will lead to "a more just, beautiful and dignified world." They stress in their message that "Women leading justice movements worldwide recognize more and more Israel’s involvement in systems that oppress them." The BNC also added that "From the 1920s to today Palestinian women have played a leading role in resisting Israel’s decades-old regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, while simultaneously fighting social oppression, sexism, discrimination and prejudice domestically."
To elaborate on their message, the BNC has published a picture of Palestinian women demonstrating in the streets, taken on September 26, 2019. However, the demonstrations of Palestinian women in Haifa, Ramallah, Rafah, Nazareth, Beirut, Taybeh, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Arraba, Jish, and Berlin, all marching at the same time, was for something entirely different. These Palestinian women rejected the grim reality of gender-based violence and oppression, the patriarchy and patriarchal violence, which includes Femicide, or "Honour Killing," that subsists in the Palestinian society for many decades. These are acts of violence and murder of girls and women thought to have shamed their families.
The women-protesters decried the case of Israa Gharib, who was 21 years old when she died, after being severely injured at home by family members. Her attack was sparked by a photograph on Instagram of her with a man who proposed to her. The photo incensed her family so much that they instructed her brother to punish her physically. Gharib was beaten nearly to death by her family, who then followed her to the hospital to finish the crime. A video taken at the hospital documenting her screams shows that no one around intervened to help her.
According to Palestinian feminists who marched in the streets, it is an "aggressive patriarchal culture and adherence to barbaric traditions as well as the misconception of honor that leads to such murders."
One of the organizers of the demonstrations, Riya Alsanah, of the group Tal3at (Arabic: stepping out), explained that the latest Femicide of Gharib shook the Palestinian society because of its brutality. It is not an "individual matter but a broader social one in which institutions are deeply complicit," she said. According to official figures, as real numbers could be higher, 28 Palestinian women were killed in 2019 and 35 women in 2018. This practice is a "widespread issue and it is an epidemic that is spreading throughout our society," she added.
Already in 2000, Palestinian Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian of the department of Criminology and Social Work at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and an Israeli citizen, has spoken at the UN at an event organized by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM, now part of UN Women). She is a leader in the fight for the rights of women victims of gender-related violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and spoke at the inauguration of a trust fund in support of actions to eliminate violence against women. Shalhoub-Kevorkian explained that the deaths of women from these crimes are often not reported and not adequately documented, which makes it difficult to advocate for these and other potential victims. "We realized we needed to map and get a landscape of femicide in the Palestinian areas and study not only the victims but also the larger problems contributing to the violence, such as attitudes and beliefs." Shalhoub-Kevorkian admitted she was a victim of rape when she was ten years old. She gave an example of a case of a girl whom she was assisting, a 14-year-old who was raped by her 35-year-old cousin and was forced by her family to marry him. The girl's father said that his first thought upon hearing about the rape was to kill his daughter. The girl's mother also said that she wished her daughter had died. As part of her work, Shalhoub-Kevorkian reaches out to tribal heads, religious leaders, and the police, searching for background information on cases and how they are dealt with. "We interviewed all the police officers in the West Bank, and what we found was amazing — the gender bias, stereotypes, the degrading way they treated women." She added that there is much-hidden information that has not been comprehensively studied.
Her work bore fruit, and in 2011, the Palestinian Cabinet endorsed a national strategic plan to combat violence against women in the Palestinian territory, the first of its kind. It was announced by the Palestinian Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The Ministry, with the support of UN Women, has led the development of the National Strategic Plan to Combat Violence against Women. The UN agency also stressed the importance of such a strategy and assured a strong UN involvement in the implementation. The strategy unifies existing efforts to end violence against women, such as improved policing, applying forensic science to cases of violence, extended social services, and better training for social workers. The Cabinet agreed on by-laws requiring all shelters of survivors of violence to uphold quality and human rights standards and established a new helpline, backed by web-based counseling and referral mechanisms, to give 18,000 callers access to life-saving information.
Still, with the many efforts to stamp out the violent tradition, there are too many cases of Femicide within the Palestinian society even today. The cynical use by political groups, such as the BDS movement, of Palestinian women marching and fighting for their lives, should be called out as outright lies and falsification of reality.
We should also be alerted that, like with Pinkwashing, which was spread by the academy and used in Gender Studies, scholarships presenting Palestinian women's struggle subverted as a tool against Israel, could be flourishing — serving as a scapegoat to disguise the Palestinian violence.
This highly deceptive practice robs the academic community of its legitimacy and does a disservice to the Palestinian women who are fighting for their rights.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
BDS Alliances are Growing in Different Directions
Separate events bring together Palestinian BDS organizations to join various solidarity groups.
Some contradict the BDS agenda. Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network working for Palestinian prisoners is an advocate for BDS against Israel. Now it also opposes the US sanctions. Samidoun joins a rally in New York on March 14, protesting sanctions. "Sanctions Kill! Sanctions are War! End Sanctions Now!" Samidoun urges to end sanctions because sanctions are imposed against countries that resist American agendas. Samidoun explains that sanctions "are a weapon of Economic War”, which results in shortages of necessities, hyperinflation, famines, disease, and poverty. “In every country, the poorest and the weakest – infants, children, the chronically ill and the elderly – suffer the worst impact of sanctions."
Samidoun, of course, doesn’t mind if sanctions target Israel.
Samidoun also promotes the "anti-imperialist alliance," which "recognizes imperialism as a global economic system." Samidoun calls to oppose "US imperialism to assert its global hegemony in the interest of monopoly capital." In other words, Samidoun is not just working for Palestinian prisoners but is an anti-Imperialist action group.
To recall, IAM reported in February that the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) announced that Palestinians stand in solidarity with Canada's Wet’suwet’en nation, opposing the TransCanada Coastal Gaslink pipeline which "aims to steal Wet’suwet’en land, use resource extraction to solidify control over Indigenous territories, destroy the environment and violate Indigenous laws." According to the BNC, the BDS movement has a similar struggle against imperialism.
At the University of Toronto, last week, Palestinian groups joined the anti-pipeline protestors and representatives from Israeli Apartheid Week unfurled a large banner in support.
On the same issue of protest against Canada, another demonstration in London was joined by Palestinian BDS activists outside the High Commission of Canada. The purpose of the protest was to "draw connections between British imperialism and the genocide of Indigenous peoples all over the world" and to "focus on stopping the colonial flow of capital." Protestors were chanting against "The violent legacy of British colonialism and settler colonial occupation of Indigenous peoples around the world." A representative of Young London Palestine Solidarity Campaign read out a statement from the Palestinian National Committee of the BDS movement in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation.
Another BDS intent is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, with Palestinian activists trying to prevent pro-Israel groups from participating an anti-racism march. The celebration of International Day Against Race Discrimination will be taking place on March 21. Pro-Israel groups, among them Glasgow Friends of Israel, announced intention to join the march. Palestinian activists wrote a statement in protest, because Glasgow Friends of Israel are part of the "Israel lobby network" and work in cooperation with the Israeli Embassy and Israeli government officials, "they are unwelcome because of their advocacy for state enforced racism and apartheid". Such pro-Israel ”Organizations that actively support Israel while it continues the murder and racist oppression of Palestinian people are as out of place on an anti-racism march today as organizations supporting apartheid South Africa would have been on an anti-racism march." The Palestinian activists have joined the group Scotland Against Criminalizing Communities (SACC) which campaigns against Britain's anti-terrorism laws, which are "built on a dangerously broad definition of 'terrorism.' They are unjust and racist." According to SACC, "Terrorism in the UK can only be prevented by ending the UK's involvement in aggressive wars and its support for oppressive regimes.” SACC also organizes an annual Islamophobia Conference every year. The following groups protested against Glasgow Friends of Israel: Muslim Women's Association of Edinburgh; Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Islamic Human Rights Commission; Edinburgh Action 4 Palestine; Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign; and ISM Scotland.
Clearly, attempting to disinvite pro-Israel groups to join the anti-racism march is, in itself, a racist endeavor.
But these events also show that Palestinian activists belong to a wide anti-West alliance that is being formed. An indication to what lies ahead.
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
Anti-Zionist Haim Bresheeth Admits Being anti-Semite
Professor Haim Bresheeth is an Israeli BDS activist who teaches film at SOAS University of London. Even by his own admission, he is a "filmmaker, photographer, film studies scholar, activist”.
Recently, Bresheeth has published a call to the British Labor Party: "My life’s work as an anti-racist and anti-Zionist activist makes me an antisemite according to Labour," because he is "an ex-Israeli Jew who has been active for over five decades as a socialist, anti-Zionist and anti-racist activist." After detailing his biography as an activist, he admitted, "It is evident that my background qualifies me as an antisemite according to the Labour coda."
The Bresheeth list of “in your face” anti-Israel activities is long. Earlier in life Bresheeth was an activist with the radical leftist group Matzpen.
In 2003, Bresheeth was among the founders of Jews Against Zionism, an organization of "Jews and others opposed to the Zionist movement and ideology, and to its impact on both Palestinians and Jews. We believe that the conflict in Palestine cannot be resolved without a return of Palestinian refugees and dismantlement of the Zionist structure of the state of Israel; and that this is impossible in the context of 'two states' and a re-partition of Palestine."
In 2006, Bresheeth published a letter defending an anti-Israel activist, Ghazi Walid Falah, a professor of Geography at Akron, Ohio, who was detained in Israel during a family visit on the eve of the Second Lebanon War. According to the police, he allegedly took pictures of an antenna near Kibbutz Adamit close to the border with Lebanon. Since Falah was a regular visitor to Iran and Syria he was detained for a longer investigation. Falah used his case during a session at the annual American Geographical Association gathering claiming he was kidnapped without trial. Bresheeth wrote in his support, “I may be eligible for years in jail... I have been an anti-Zionist for 3 decades"
As a member of the British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), Bresheeth has participated at the First Palestinian Conference for the Boycott of Israel (BDS) in Al-Bireh, Ramallah in 2007. The meeting attracted some 300 activists from all round the world. In his speech, Bresheeth compared the South African apartheid and Israel's "Zionist regime” which is “unable to provide solutions to Jews, to the Palestinian people, or to the people in the region."
As an anti-Israel activist at the University of East London he was hosting the Nakba Day Events.
In an interview in 2012, Bresheeth claimed that “the end of racist and unjust, brutal practices and policies of Zionism will not come from within... without an end to this colonial project, there can be no just peace for anyone, and no just resolution of the Palestinian question, created by Zionism and its western allies in crime. As long as the Zionist state stays intact, we have a situation reminiscent of South Africa under apartheid" Bresheeth continued, "This neo-colonial enterprise, serving the aims of western capitalism, has not only caused the Palestine continued Nakba, but has also poisoned middle- Eastern politics with anti-Arab, Islamophobic attitudes and positions which have fed the right in Europe, North America and elsewhere."
He was among the signatories, as IAM reported, of a call to boycott a congress of the Federation of the European Biochemical Societies promoting biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, molecular biophysics, and other related research, in Israel in 2017.
As a non-historian, Bresheeth has written books about various historical topics. In a book about the Palestinian Nakba, Bresheeth’s chapter discussed how "Israel managed to capitalize on the few important acts of armed resistance by Jews in Nazi-controlled Europe, and to make them, ipso facto, a justification and raison d'etre for its own actions in 1948 and afterwards"; his book The Gulf War and the New World Order, was described by one reviewer, it "has the advantage of revealing the dilemmas faced by the Marxist Left;" his book Introducing the Holocaust: A Graphic Guide, argues "that the Nazis did not intend to physically destroy the European Jewish population but did so only because Hitler was unable to expel all the Jews because Western nations refused to accept the Jewish refugees", the book was described by a reviewer as "Horrific descriptions of the organized and 'efficient' murder of Jews"; his forthcoming book, An Army Like No Other: How the Israel Defense Forces Made a Nation, is "an unflinching exploration of the war-driven origins of the Israeli state as well as the on-going story of Israeli militarism.”
Not surprisingly, Bresheeth likes to collaborate with the Iranians. In 2018, Bresheeth took part in the making of the Iranian Press TV series "Israel From Inside.” The program has taken a "critical look at developments within Israel, whether political, economic or social.” Bresheeth talks to experts familiar with Israeli internal affairs, discussing issues such as "discrimination and government corruption in Israel."
In striking contrast to his loathsome for Israel, something that repeats in his writing is the hope for Israel as "a democratic, autonomous political and cultural entity twinned with a similar Palestinian entity." While Israel is achieving this goal, nothing, in reality, should prevent the Palestinians from fulfilling this dream. Yet in the eyes of the anti-Israel activist, Israel can do no right and the Palestinians can do no wrong.
British universities have been home to too many anti-Israel propagandists. Of course, criticism of Israel is acceptable but espousing lies isn't. There is no question whether people who admit opposing Zionism, who believe in the "dismantlement of the Zionist structure of the state of Israel," are anti-Semites, whether Jews or non-Jews. After the adoption of the global definition of anti-Semitism, the time has come to end such unacademic practices and to hold those people to account.
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
Eyal Weizman's Academic Tool Against Israel
IAM has often reported on how scholars have abused their academic positions to push their political agenda. One such case is Dr. Eyal Weizman. Weizman is an Israeli scholar of architecture working at the UK’s Goldsmiths University of London, where he founded the center for Forensic Architecture (FA). Recently, Weizman has hit the news when he was refused a US visa.
Weizman intended to use his trip to the US to advance an investigation into a Florida detention center where migrant children are held.
Weizman’s exhibition True to Scale, currently showing at the Museum of Art and Design in Miami, includes an investigation into a CIA drone strike in Pakistan, presented by a UN Special Rapporteur in the General Assembly; an analysis of the Chicago police killing, lead to an investigation by the mayor and the city’s police department; and an inquiry into Israeli bombing in Gaza, that informed the International Criminal Court’s recent decision to open an investigation into the possibility of Israeli war crimes.
While he was refused a visa, the American security officer asked him to provide information on the people he was in contact with, places to which he had traveled, whether he had recently been in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia or met their nationals? And the hotels at which he has stayed. He was also asked to supply the US Embassy with information on fifteen years of travel history. Where he had gone to and who had paid for it. Weizman declined to provide this information and explained, "Working in human rights means being in contact with vulnerable communities, activists and experts, and being entrusted with sensitive information. These networks are the lifeline of any investigative work. I am alarmed that relations among our colleagues, stakeholders, and staff are being targeted by the U.S. government as security threats."
Weizman is a notoriously anti-Israel activist who, as a student in London, mapped Israeli settlements, producing a study that was presented as evidence to the International Court of Justice.
FA started around 2010 with the London riots and the big protest after the police killing of Mark Duggan. Weizman’s group is trying to use cutting edge technologies to help social movements and civil society to "invert the balance of epistemological power, against the monopoly of knowledge that states have." Their work seeks to "invert the forensic gaze and turn it against the actors – police, military, secret service, border agencies" For this, "our training as critical scholars in deconstructing police statements, or military statements taken by secret services or the government."
Weizman's clients have an anti-Israel agenda. He is currently working with the AM Qattan Foundation (AMQF), a registered UK charity, founded in 1993 by Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan, a Palestinian refugee who made a fortune in the Gulf construction industry. AMQF employs more than 100 people in the West Bank and Gaza, running programs on science, drama and the arts. The FA exhibition is in Ramallah. Yazid Anani, the curator of the exhibition and director of A.M. Qattan Foundation’s public program division, said that the exhibition "presents a paradigm shift and refutes post-colonial theories, especially the attempt to assert that ‘The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house’." As Palestinians, "we must learn from the experiences of others who struggle in the Global South and from cases where resistance has been able to expose crimes perpetrated by authoritarian regimes, holding them accountable for human rights violations. This is especially significant in light of the ongoing human rights violations and the violent acts that the Israeli colonial authorities are carrying out daily against Palestinians."
Weizman's clientele also includes Amnesty International, which has published a letter of protest against Weizman's visa refusal demanding its' reversal; the International Criminal Court, Weizman serves on the Technology Advisory Board; the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem where he serves on its Advisory Board; The New York Times, their co-production video One Building, One Bomb, won an Emmy award.
Weizman's anti-Israel bias was spotted by Yagil Henkin, a military historian who reviewed Weizman's 2007 book Hollow Land. Henkin noted that the book "is part and parcel” of Weizman’s political activities, where Weizman intends to show "how the Israelis have succeeded in subjugating the Palestinians through the calculated use of space." Henkin concludes that "grab bag of speculations is firmly grounded in modern critical theory. Indeed, throughout the book Weizman cites such neo-Marxist, post-structuralist, and post-colonial heavyweights as Frantz Fanon, Antonio Gramsci, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Edward Said, and Adi Ophir. Yet if the book’s radical appeal ensures its admission into the post-Zionist canon, its theoretical baggage inevitably weighs it down. Indeed, its barely concealed biases and distortions would irritate any reader."
In an interview, Weizman stated, "I support the BDS movement. It is a form of civil action directed at Israeli colonial practices and simultaneously at those Western governments, above all that of the United States, which support nearly all of Israel’s actions and continually reward the state with unparalleled financial, diplomatic, and cultural support.”
Clearly, Weizman’s FA is a tool to attack Israel, he has no investigation into Palestinian misconduct. He also attacks the UK and the US, discrediting their police and border control. The Goldsmiths University of London enables him to refute the phrase borrowed from Audre Lorde, "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House." We should expect more bias coming from his direction.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
The Academic BDS Support Network
The BDS National Committee (BNC), established in 2007, is the Palestinian leadership of the global BDS movement. According to Israeli experts, it has been headed by Omar Barghouti. It runs a network of groups promoting BDS and operating an international affairs lobby which lends support to native groups such as the Canadian Wet'suwet'en Nation in northern British Columbia. According to the BNC, the Palestinians stand in solidarity with these land defenders who resist "Canada’s colonial incursions of their unceded territories."
Their next BDS event is taking place at Harvard University today. It features speakers such as Omar Barghouti and Cornell West. The organizers claim that "Palestinian land and livelihood have been stolen... through annexation and Israeli settlement movement's expansion into the West Bank.” While this issue is controversial, the American administration recently determined settlements as not illegal.
Likewise, the organizers of the conference claim that "Palestinians in Israel are made second-class citizens—through a system of 67 discriminatory laws." Contrary to this assertion, Israeli Arabs enjoy equality and freedom just like all other Israelis. The conference organizers went even further to argue that the "state of Israel refuses to grant citizenship rights to the millions of indigenous Palestinians made stateless by their policies, including those in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan." These allegations come in contrast to the UN Partition Plan which made clear that Palestinians should find a home in the areas designated for Palestinians. As for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, it is shameful that the Arab States do not grant citizenship to their Palestinian population after so many decades.
The conference organizers should certainly discuss racist laws. For example, the Palestinian Authority law bars selling land to non-Palestinian buyers. A year ago, the Palestinian security forces thwarted attempts by Palestinians to sell lands and houses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to Jews. Last year, the Palestinian security forces announced they have arrested 44 Palestinians suspected of involvement in the alleged real estate transactions. Three of the suspects have been sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. Even an American-Palestinian was sentenced to life for selling land to Jews and was found guilty. Even worse, a Palestinian man was shot and killed for the sale of West Bank land to Jews. And another Palestinian prisoner who was accused in 2012 of selling land to Jews has recently died in the prison's hospital. No protest was heard over such violations.
The organizers of the conference suggest that because Palestinians are not Jewish, they "live under apartheid" resulting from the walls and fences that Israel has built to separate from the Palestinians. The conference organizers should also discuss that Egypt is currently erecting a wall along the border with Gaza to prevent extremists from entering the Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip.
Omar Barghouti will be hosted by the conference. Originally from Qatar, Barghouti has lived in the U.S for 11 years and earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University. He married an Israeli Arab and moved to Israel. He then studied Philosophy at Tel Aviv University for nearly a decade while in the midst he co-founded the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
Another speaker is Prof. Cornel West, of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University, a famed civil rights activist and a pro-Palestinian, BDS supporter. West is a Bernie Sanders appointee at the Democratic Party. West stated that in order to achieve a non-violent solution, supporters of BDS such as himself, "see this strategy as a last-ditch effort to avoid more bloodshed."
When West debated Prof. Alan Dershowitz on the issue of BDS, in 2017, he declared, "my argument is BDS is in no way perfect, having its own internal tensions, variety of different voices, the reason why I joined that movement is not because I don't have criticisms of the moment, of course I do. My brother Omar knows that, he lives in ramallah. it is the last nonviolent effort to try to ensure that the moral character and the human values of a settler colonial enterprise that has involved itself in expansion... and leading towards a full-fledged apartheid. Not because Israel is in any way to be compared with the South African apartheid regime in all of its form. Those Palestinians – in Israel, much less apartheid. Those precious brothers and sisters in the West Bank, in Gaza, Bishop Tutu says it is worse that apartheid. That is a moral issue." Not surprising, Dershowitz's arguments against BDS were more compelling and the audience vouched for him. Still, West's enormous public popularity makes him an important asset to the BDS movement.
The moral issue led by the BNC is questionable, it has attacked the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – with their "grave human rights violations perpetrated by rogue regimes" but it kept silent over Palestinian rogue regimes' human rights violations.
To double their efforts in fighting Israel, the BNC has announced the upcoming "Israeli Apartheid Week" (IAW) titled "United Against Racism,” scheduled to take place between 16 March and the International Day against Racism and Racial Discrimination, on 21 March 2020.
For those who follow the BDS movement in the United States, the BNC support network should be of great concern.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
University of Sydney Conference "BDS – Driving Global Justice for Palestine" in July 2020
The University of Sydney will host a three-day conference "BDS – Driving Global Justice for Palestine" on 24-26 July 2020.
The organizers asked academics and activists to send in proposals for a 20-minute talk addressing aspects of Palestine solidarity activism, BDS campaign, and their wider contexts and ramifications. Possible themes could include the following: “Palestine solidarity, antiracism and indigenous justice; Palestine and decolonization; Palestine and the failure of international law; the cultural boycott; transnational solidarity and BDS; Palestine and the media; the academic boycott beyond the humanities; Israel’s anti-BDS campaign; the Nation-state law; Israel, Palestine and the Trump administration; Palestine and the Australian Labor Party; BDS, refugees, and the right of return; the academic boycott of South Africa; critiques of BDS; Palestine, students and activism; Zionism and BDS; freedom of speech, academic freedom and BDS; Anti-Semitism and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; legal attacks on BDS; justice-work, activism and BDS in academia; Palestine and South Africa; the Israel lobby; BDS in Palestine and abroad; Palestine, unions and politics; arms, cultural and sporting boycotts; Palestine and the Jewish community; boycott politics in academic organisations."
The conference is organized by Sydney University Staff for BDS along with a number of pro-Palestinian organisations such as the Australia Palestine Advocacy network (APAN) and BDS Australia. The international keynote speakers include Knesset member Haneen Zoabi, Mazin Qumsiyeh, David Palumbo-Liu, among others. The conference intends to "contribute to greater academic and public understanding of campaigns for justice for Palestinians, including through boycott, divestment and sanctions".
The conference academic committee includes Nadia Abu El-Haj (Columbia); Eran Asoulin (UNSW); David Landy (Trinity College Dublin); Alana Lentin (Western Sydney) Ronit Lentin (Trinity College Dublin); Stuart Rees (Sydney) Nick Riemer (Sydney); and Marcelo Svirsky (Wollongong); among others.
This is the second conference on this theme. The first conference "BDS: Driving Global Justice for Palestine," was held in July 2017. IAM reported then that the first conference speakers included notoriously anti-Israel academics such as Jake Lynch, Sol Salbe, and Marcelo Svirsky among others, and many non-academic activists. IAM also noted that a year earlier, in 2016, Sydney University's vice-chancellor Dr. Michael Spence spoke on the topic of antisemitism and BDS on campus stating that “We have repeatedly expressed the fact that anti-Semitic behaviour is not acceptable on campus,” he said. “One is always going to have people who engage in hateful behaviour of one kind or another. What I want to do is empower the great body of students and staff to know how to deal with and fight against that.” In particular, 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." But he also commented that “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.”
Those who are not sure what is BDS, according to the BDS movement website, "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law."
There is no doubt that Palestinians deserve "freedom, justice and equality", but Israeli authorities have noted that Palestinians have not achieved anything remotely resembling this requirement under the self-rule in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is also not in Israel's capacity to pressure Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and other states to grant Palestinians equal rights. Israel contests the argumentation that it is "occupying and colonizing Palestinian land" since the Palestinian People have their own governance. Israel also contests the assumption that it is "discriminating against Palestinian citizens," who enjoy full freedom and rights equally to all other Israeli citizens. As for Israel's "denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes,” this proposition misrepresents the 1947 UN partition proposal which granted the Palestinians the better part of the former British Mandate. The Palestinians and their Arab allies started a war in which they had the misfortune to lose and face the consequences, similar to other belligerents in the WWII disputes.
In striking contrast to the rational of this conference, in November 2019, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that “The UN was born out of the horrors of WWII, born out of an ethos of never again. An institution born to do so much good has allowed anti-Semitism to seep into its deliberations, all under the language of human rights and we are not buying that, my government is not buying that, our government is not buying that... We know the character of our friend Israel and we stand with our friends and under this government, we’ve set up trade and defence office in west Jerusalem to deepen our ties on trade and defence industries.” Earlier that year, PM Morrison called the UN "the place where Israel is bullied and where anti-Semitism is cloaked in language about human rights."
Worth noting that some of the proposed topics of the conference are indeed legitimate. But Sydney University should make sure that an academic conference is balanced, and all sorts of views are presented as in a marketplace of ideas. The conference academic committee should also include those who oppose BDS, and proposals could include also topics such as calling to boycott Palestinian academics for not condemning Palestinian terrorism. Likewise, Sidney University should not be hiding behind shop-worn excuses for academic freedom to avoid dealing with the abuse of academic legitimacy by Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists. There is a huge difference between a legitimate panel and the type of political activism that the conference currently offers.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
The Palestinian Ministry of Education Campaign to International Academic Community: Ariel University non-Recognition and non-Collaboration
The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education has addressed the international academic community, urging scholars and institutions to reject cooperation with Ariel University. The campaign, titled "No Academic Business as Usual with Ariel University and all other Israeli Academic Institutions Illegally Built on Occupied Palestinian Land,” was also joined by the Council of Palestinian Universities' Presidents and the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees. It was first published on November 29, 2018, calling on states, academic institutions and research bodies to end institutional relations with Ariel University and "other Israeli academic institutions illegally built on occupied Palestinian land."
The campaign cited B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, as stating that Ariel was seized “under the false pretext of imperative military needs and on land that was declared state land.” The Palestinian call has recently resurfaced.
The campaign states that Ariel University is expected to double its size in the next 5 years, due to the 20-million-dollar donation from philanthropist Sheldon Adelson. To recall, the Adelson Family Foundation has contributed to the founding of a new medical school at Ariel University. According to Ariel University, the purpose of the new medical school is "To meet Israel’s critical shortage of physicians and other health professionals." The medical school would be complemented by a new Regional Medical Center, a first of its kind in the area, to provide top-notch health services, not only to the Ariel area but also to all the residents in the region.
The campaign urges states, institutions, and scholars to avoid being "complicit in illegality", by "Refraining from accrediting or recognizing any diplomas or qualifications conferred by Ariel University" and urges "universities, conferences and workshops not to host individual academics from Ariel University unless their affiliation is properly indicated as 'Ariel University, illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, Occupied Palestinian Territory' in conference material." Likewise, with journals and presses.
The International Advisory Board, for the "Ariel University non-recognition and non-collaboration" campaign, includes Prof. David Harel of Weizmann Institute. As stated by the organizers, the Advisory Board members provide "strategic input and serve as public advocates of the campaign."
At the same time, Academia for Equality, a group of Israeli radical academics, has posted a letter by Israeli psychologists and social workers refusing to participate in a series of seminars organized by Ariel University. The group of signatories includes Dr. Ruchama Merton and Israeli radical academics such as Prof. Uri Hadar, Dr. Kim Yuval, and Dr. Julia Chaitin, among the 68 signatories.
In February 2019, the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies (SeSaMO) responded to the call from the Palestinian academic world to refuse to recognize Ariel University.
There is more than a fair share of hypocrisy in the Palestinian call for boycotting Ariel University and its future regional medical facility. In fact, when the Palestinian leadership needs medical treatment for themselves or for members of their families they turn to Israeli hospitals. It stands to reason that Palestinians will also benefit from the Ariel University Regional Medical Center, as they do with other Israeli hospitals and health services. For example, wounded Palestinian suicide bombers are treated without prejudice by Israeli doctors in hospitals, alongside their victims.
Boycotting Ariel University is illegal in Israel since the anti-Boycott Law was enacted. The Israeli proponents of the Ariel University boycott should be aware of this.
Tel Aviv University
How Not to Promote Peace Studies: The Case of the TAU Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research
Last December, the Tel Aviv University administration announced plans to close later this year, the Tami Center for Peace Research, because the donors backed off. Philanthropist Daniela Steinmetz, who together with her husband sponsor the Center, (named after their deceased daughter) explained that “The relevance and the interest in resolving the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict has waned considerably,” which has “led us to think it would be preferable to invest the funds in something for which there is a greater need.”
The Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences added that "there was no justification for continuing the center's operations" because "there has been a continuing erosion that is worrying about the quality and the academic level of the center's activities and its publications. Under an academic platform for research on peacemaking - theory and practice, it has become the stage to create position papers on monotonous subjects."
Scholars involved with the Center reacted to the news. Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal expressed dismay, “I was dumbfounded and very sad to hear the news of the plan to close the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research. It is hard to imagine that such a plan even crossed anyone’s mind...After about 45 years on the university’s faculty and about 40 years during which I have been engaged in researching conflicts in the world and their solution through peace, I can testify that the center is one of the most splendid and active contributors to the production of knowledge and developments for expanding views that I am familiar with anywhere in the world. I refuse to believe that Tel Aviv University will shut down a center that aims to advance peace in the state of Israel.”
Bar-Tal has also circulated a letter, signed by him and his colleagues, titled "No to the Closure of Tami Steinmetz Center," in which he wrote that the University's decision "reflects the university's surrender to a pervasive public and political mood whereby the conflict in the Middle East is unsolvable, the peace process is no longer relevant, and there is no point in researching the factors involved in its promotion and containment.” He added, "We mustn't, as current and former academic faculty members, accept this position." Bar-Tal vehemently disagreed with the assessment of the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, "these arguments are essentially unfounded. They are particularly outrageous as in this case they do not rely on in-depth assessment or examination as is customary but is based on an opinion that was invited by the university administration in retrospect." He argued for the achievements of the Center as a world leader in the field of peace studies.
Bar-Tal's position should not come as a surprise. IAM often reported that his scholarship mostly blamed Israel for the continuation of the conflict. To recall, Bar-Tal has developed a theory on a “Masada Complex" of Jewish Israelis which prevents them from embracing peace. Bar-Tal also promoted the theory on the Israeli "development of socio-psychological barriers" to peace.
Another scholar of the Tami Steinmetz Center is Prof. Amal Jamal. In a lecture hosted by the Center, titled "Peace Movements in Israel - Critical Examination", in Apr 2017, Jamal shared some eye-opening conclusions. According to him, the peace camp does not contribute to peace; and, Israel cannot offer a solution because Israel is the problem.
A perusal of the publications of the Center indicates that blaming Israel for the peace stalemate was the prevalent mode of “peace research.” Evidently, the majority of researchers at the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research did not look at the conflict as a dynamic interactive process between two players. As a result, their methodology has suffered from two serious biases.
The first one is the tendency to adopt psychological reductionist theories, linked to Geza Roheim, a controversial psychoanalytical anthropologist. Akin to the psychoanalytical tradition in political science, the theory postulated that all mass phenomena could be conceptualized in terms of individual psychological processes derived from some historical meta-structures or events. In the case of the Israeli Jews, the Holocaust and the Masada Complex were said to prevent them from embarking on a genuine peace process.
The second bias is known as the “spoilers’ effect,” a concept pioneered by Stephen Stedman who studied successful as opposed to failed peace processes. Stedman noted that a group or groups which strongly opposed a peace settlement would use violence in order to sabotage and undermine the overall credibility of the “peace hosts,” that is, the group which sponsors the agreement.
Stedman’s theory fits well with the Oslo process. In early 1994, a few months after Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed the Declaration of Principles, the top Iranian leaders concluded that peace between the Palestinians and Israel would destroy one of the foundational principles of Khomenism: the control of Jerusalem and the annihilation of the Jewish state. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its foreign operational branch the Quds Force, used the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas to launch a cycle of devastating suicide bombing, which, as assumed, undermined the Israeli trust in peace. Indeed, shortly before his death in 1995, Rabin contemplated building a fence to stop the attacks. Arafat who lost control over the Palestinian Authority was either unwilling or unable to take on the Islamists. So much so that he refused to accept the highly generous Israeli peace proposal at Camp David II. In the subsequent Second Intifada, more than a thousand Israeli civilians were killed and thousands wounded. When Israel left the Gaza Strip, Hamas used Iranian-supplied missiles to periodically shell the Jewish settlements across the border. Hamas and PIJ had never changed their plan to create a Palestinian state on territory that would include the present State of Israel. Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy, has repeatedly declared its intention to wage a war against the Jewish State.
Cleary, acknowledging the role of Iran and its Islamist proxies would have created a better understanding of the collapse of the peace process. However, the Center's scholars, as well as the larger peace studies community, have shied away from Stedman. To acknowledge that spoilers may play a crucial role in conflict resolution would have destroyed the foundational theory of peace studies, namely, that all players in the peace process are equally motivated to achieve peace.
Until such time, the peace studies scholars in Israel are bound to live in a bubble detached from the nitty gritty of real conflicts. Instead of complaining that Daniela Steinmetz pierced this bubble, they should be grateful that for thirty years the family largesse enabled them to use the Center as a platform for “mundane papers,” in the words of the TAU Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Boycott Calls Against Israel
Fierce Battle on BDS in the UK: Omar Barghouti is Coming to Speak
On Monday, January 27, the BDS campaigner Omar Barghouti would participate in an event organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) at King's College London. He is going to promote "Building a United Anti-Racism Front," and looking "at how liberatory struggles must work together against institutional racism and oppression". The invitation to the event claims that "The struggle for justice in Palestine is a struggle against an institutionalized discriminatory framework of power which meets the legal definition of apartheid."
The invitation explains that "The Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a call for global resistance to apartheid rooted in the affirmation that challenging Israel’s system of racism and discrimination is a crucial component of a universal anti-racist struggle. This event will look at how we withstand attempts to delegitimise BDS and wider activism for Palestine as a united movement, and how we build widespread support for an end to institutional racism. A crucial part of this is pushing for UK universities to end their investments and institutional links to Israeli apartheid, the extent of which has been revealed by PSC’s online database."
PSC is a UK organization that was incorporated in 2004 with its main focus on BDS. It has a large number of patrons, including Jeremy Corbyn and hosts 63 chapters nationwide.
In late 2019, PSC has published research estimating that UK universities invest nearly £456,311,000 in companies complicit in Israeli "violations of Palestinian human rights, including through supplying weapons and technology to the Israeli military, and investing in Israel’s illegal settlement economy." PSC explains the findings, that it sent Freedom of Information requests to 151 UK Universities while 53 UK universities did not hand over any information and the remaining UK universities have only provided partial data in response to the request. Based on the direct and complete data from 44 universities, PSC calculated an average “complicity percentage” for the sector, i.e. an “average percentage for what proportion of a university’s total endowment is invested in complicit companies (3.78%). It then applied this percentage to all the universities which provided partial or no data.” In response to the report, one commentator protested, "So basically, it is a fiction," for calculating an average “complicity percentage.”
So far, the PSC report has not attracted any special media attention other than the usual pro-Palestinian outlets.
Meanwhile, since mid December 2019, the government of Boris Johnson announced it will pass a law banning local councils from joining BDS. It argues that taxpayers' money should not be used to fund public organizations campaigning on foreign policy, as foreign policy is constructed by the government.
Ben Jamal, the director of PSC opposes adopting this law because it is a "serious assault upon the rights of Palestinians to articulate their oppression and call for peaceful action to address it" and it also means abandoning the fundamental right of freedom of expression.
Of late, the UK Counter Terrorism Policing published a guide which is designed to catch those who are at risk of committing terrorist violence around the UK, including a list of groups that they view as a potential concern. Among these groups is PSC as well as Greenpeace. After a public outcry for Greenpeace, the police has promised to review the list.
Once the Government passes the law it would certainly make a difference. Still, in the academia, the heart of the battles of ideas, Barghouti and his fellow BDS activists would continue to spread venom against Israel.


Boycott Calls Against Israel
Jewish anti-Zionist Congress: a Manifest of anti-Semitism
Since July 2019, a group of Jewish pro-Palestinian academics and activists of 45 members, are working to host the first Jewish anti-Zionist Congress, pushing for BDS.
The Founding Declaration expresses a clear hatred of Israel. It opens with a claim that it is time for Jewish anti-Zionist academics and others to "halt the usurpation of the designation of Jewishness by the artificially implanted State that calls itself ‘The State of Israel’."
The group declares its aims. "We are maximising support for the Palestinians and against Zionism by uniting as an international political movement against that State, which is not only inimical to Palestinians but is a threat to the Jewish diaspora as well. Our broader structure incorporates people with different views on an anti-Zionist spectrum which can mobilise around certain common actions such as the BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions) campaign."
Professor Ilan Pappe of Exeter University, formerly of the University of Haifa, is one of their activists. After reading the final version of the proposition, Pappe wrote in response, "Dear all I would be very happy to be part of it."
The author of the congress proposition is Abraham Weizfeld, Ph.D., a Canadian Jewish Socialist academic and a peace activist. Weizfeld is, a self-proclaimed, "Revolutionary academic, human-rights activist, and Jewish Bundist," who in the past, has "travelled to Libya on several occasions to defend the rule of the Jamahiriya of Muammar Gaddafi and ultimately the Libyan National Council revolt".
Weizfeld resides in both Montréal, Québec, Canada and Nablus, Palestine. He has authored three books, among them, Sabra and Shatila,
2009, which is described by Google Books as a Fiction, "At this time of the 60th commemoration for the 1948 Palestinian Nakba/ethnic cleansing of 88% of the Palestinian Arab population from what became the Zionist State of Israel, this second edition of the documentary study 'Sabra & Shatila' brings us to contemplate the 'pogrom' of these refugee camps resulting in some 3,000 deaths over a three-day period." The original edition of the book, in 1984, "gave a voice for the Jewish oppositon to the rampage and tragedy of Zionism.” In The Federation of Palestinian and Hebrew Nations, 2018, he declared that: "the dominance of one nation in one land, with the subsequent degeneration into the series of war crimes that began in 1947. To move away from this conception of a Zionist State requires another methodology that offers an alternative to the domination of one nation by another that is rationalized by the myths of nation-building promoted by the Nationalist school of thought. With an approach that is inter-national, in the root meaning of the term, this book fuses the Jewish Bundist concept... By avoiding the notion of the Nation-State, this exit may then be named “the No-State Solution”.
In 2014, Weizfeld has sent a letter to Khalil Maqdesi and the central committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, where he "affirmed our determination in confronting Zionism and imperialism" and assured the PFLP that "not all Jewish people are Zionists and that actually there is a very strong Jewish opposition to Zionism... We are not only thousands but hundreds of thousands." Weizfeld praised the non-Zionist Chasidim, the Satmar community. If they are to be considered the enemy, "Then who is left to be the allies of the Palestinians?"
Fifteen Jewish members have so far been invited to participate in the planning of the anti-Zionist Congress. Prof. Ilan Pappe of Exeter University; Sonia Fayman, member of Union Juive Française pour la paix (UJFP); Miko Peled, an Israeli-American activist, author, and karate instructor who authored The General’s Son: The Journey of an Israeli in Palestine; Dan Fischer, a graduate worker in Indiana, member of the Middle East Crisis Committee; Stanley Heller, executive director of the Middle East Crisis Committee who authored, Zionist Betrayal of Jews: from Herzl to Netanyahu; Elizabeth Aaronsohn, Ed.D. Associate Professor Department of Teacher Education Central CT State University; Roland Rance, member of "Jews Against Zionism"; Vivienne Porzsolt, spokesperson and founding member of "Jews against the Occupation", Australia; Robert Naiman, policy director of "Just Foreign Policy"; Naturei Karta Rabbi Hirsh; Michèle Sibony, member of UJFP; Pierre Stambul, member of UJFP; Gabrielle Ben Hamouda; Sara Kershnar, co-founder of the "International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network". These are all members of the "Jewish Anti-Zionist Congress" group. The group exchanges ideas with other like-minded groups, such as: "Jewish People's Liberation Organization"; "Jewish Activism for Middle East Justice and Peace"; "Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians"; "canpalnet news, Palestine & the Canadian connection"; "CPRR Jewish Forum"; "Jewish Non-Zionist FORUM"; "Jewish Peace News"; "J-P_Solidarite-y"; "JUNITY-Canada, Jewish Unity for a Just Peace"; "PAJU The Palestinian and Jewish Unity"; "Collective FARAZ"; "Group FARAZ." Since 2001, Weizfeld has founded and monitors most of these groups.
Weizfeld goes as far as to claim that Zionism, "continues its irrationality by discriminating against the Africans of Jewish origin and the Jewish Arab communities of the Maghreb, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and others. Such displaced persons were lured by the ‘State of Israel’ and are now subject to the second class ‘Dhimmi’ status, which is thus transferred from the Ottoman Caliphate era to the Zionist one of Apartheid."
In a paper which Weizfeld authored, discussing Antisemitism amongst the Arabic political culture, in 2013, Weizfeld suggested that "Being conscious of the evident Antisemitism amongst the Arabic political culture is not evidence that we as a Jewish People do not harbour many, who only think of Arabs as an enemy to be hated. Leaving aside which hatred is stronger".
To recall, Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists recruit Jewish and Israeli academics and activists to support their cause, in order to deflect accusations of anti-Semitism. However, as can be seen from these writings, since 2001, Weizfeld and his fellow-Jewish academics such as Pappe with all the other activists actually contribute to the spreading of anti-Semitic notions, as defined by the Working Definition of anti-Semitism. Therefore, a Jewish anti-Zionist congress should not take place.
Ben-Gurion University
What Happened to the Promised Reform at the BGU Department of Politics and Government

The Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University was at the center of controversy in 2012. An evaluation committee appointed by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) published a scathing report which found the Department below the required standards of comparable departments. Excessive community activism, high percentage of neo-Marxist critical theory, and failure of faculty to publish in mainstream journals, among others, prompted the CHE to threaten to close the Department unless it improved its offerings.
After considerable pressure organized by the Department, including numerous petitions from foreign academics, the CHE retreated. The Department stayed open after a promise to correct the problems. It stated its willingness to recruit some mainstream established scholars and add core course offering.
IAM examined the Department staff and offerings for the academic year 2019-2020. Some courses such as "Introduction to politics and government" by Dr. Menachem Ratzon, and "Introduction to International Relations" by Prof. Guy Ben-Porat, comport to accepted standards.
However, IAM notes a few problems with the staff and the offering. For example:
Prof. Dani Filc and Dr. Michal Givoni, both neo-Marxist, critical scholars, have been discussed by IAM before. Givoni is teaching a seminar "Hope and Despair in the Political Life". The seminar is about "The despair that surrounds political life today, in Israel and elsewhere, is a renewed interest in the role of the politics of hope. It seems there is a sweeping agreement that there are good reasons to despair - From the harms of the neoliberal market economy and its frequent crises, through the rise of the populist right wing, to climate change - makes the question of whether it is possible to hope for a crucial question of more and more developments and events that politics is structured through it… Along with engaging in hope and loss, the seminar will be devoted to conceptualizing, mapping and analyzing emotions and other feelings that characterize the collective emotional life in Israel and elsewhere in the face of the deceiving withdrawal of the future."
Jennifer Oser offers the course "Can We Make a Difference? Citizens and Policy Change" The course "will examine the relationship between citizen participation and social/political change in democratic polities from a cross-national and historical perspective. Students will be expected to engage critically with classic texts on the topic."
Dr. Dov Khanin, former MK of the communist leaning Joint List, is teaching "How to Make a Change?" "This course is designed to address the widespread feeling that in our society, change cannot be promoted. Within the course, we seek to challenge this feeling and to show that changes are constantly taking place in our society and that there is a direct connection to the conscious activity of people who promote them. We will discuss different change theories and we will analyze in their light, struggles in the world and in Israel. The course will combine theoretical insights with case studies and situations in Israeli reality and will be based on active involvement of the students."
Dr. Itay Snir is teaching a course on the "Frankfurt School: Marxism, Culture and Criticism." The course is dealing with "The political theory originating from the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research has been for almost a century a dynamic tradition of critical thought influenced by Marxism and seeking to update it and adapt it for changing social realities. The researchers identified with "The Frankfurt School" challenges many of the accepted assumptions in academic discourse and combining different fields of knowledge such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, communication, and cultural criticism, in order to understand the mechanisms of control and oppression -- The complexities that operate in the modern capitalist society.”
However, the case of Dr. Chen Misgav showcases the defaults in the Department. Misgav is teaching a course "Politics of Life, Body, and Sexuality”, discussing “three concepts in the context of political, social and the spatial - life, body, and sexuality. The concepts refer to the politics of the human activity of the living body, aspects of life itself in the world and the sexuality of the body. We will discuss in the way a person's life, body and sexuality shape his political presence in the world, the way is to life, the bodies we live in, and the sexuality of those actual bodies play a role in designing the political role, how they are used or may be used as a political tool and as part of politics of social movements, activism and protest, and how the inherent political dimension is expressed in different social, cultural and spatial environments." Misgav's course has not attracted enough students so he appealed to his Facebook friends and stated, "Unfortunately this year, there is a shortage of students enrolled in my Ben Gurion University course 'Politics of Life, Body, and Sexuality,' so if you know someone at BA who may be interested and would like to enroll please offer them." Misgav’s plea is a highly unorthodox way to attract students.
As noted by these examples, the offerings of the Department are still top heavy with courses on the far left of what one would expect in a political science department. These would not provide students with relevant skills in the twenty first century. Equally to the point, the Department and the university are public institutions which are supported by taxpayers and should, as the evaluating committee noted, serve the interest of the Israeli society which needs citizens with appropriate skills. Instead, the Department is still a refuge for a motley assembly of radical activists who push their political agenda on government-provided salaries.

Boycott Calls Against Israel
Ariella Azoulay among pro-Palestinians Pushing for BDS: Brown U Committee Votes on non-Binding Resolution to Divest
Palestinian and pro-Palestinian groups obsessed with harming Israel are busy. The method is simple, they convince people with no knowledge of the complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute that only Israel is to be blamed. They recruit Israelis and Jews to push this agenda. Brown University as a case in point.
In December, a divest resolution was approved by the university’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies (ACCRIP) paving the way for activists to pressure the university to withdraw support for companies "facilitating the occupation and its human rights abuses".
In March 2019 Brown University Palestinian groups among them Brown Divest! advised ACCRIP to divest from companies doing business with Israel. They provided a number of investment screening criteria, "based on international human rights law" on companies that:
Provide products or services that contribute to the maintenance of the Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;
Provide products or services to the maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories;
Establish facilities or operations in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories;
Provide products or services that contribute to the maintenance and construction of the Separation Wall;
Provide products or services that contribute to violent acts against either Israeli or Palestinian civilians.
Christina Paxson, Brown University’s President, wrote in March 2019 against the Brown Divest referendum, that “Brown’s endowment is not a political instrument to be used to express views on complex social and political issues.”
But already in November 2012, ACCRIP wrote President Paxson that for two years, "we have had an ongoing dialog with Brown Students for Justice in Palestine (BSJP). The group raises serious allegations that major US corporations in which Brown may be an investor, such as Caterpillar, Boeing, and others," that are "profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.”
Paxson responded in 2012, explaining that "the conflict between Israel and Palestine is deeply troubling, complex and divisive," that needs to be resolved to establish a lasting peace. As a university, "we have forums for civil, inclusive and open discourse". But "When it comes to divestiture, ACCRIP has the narrow charge of applying a well-defined set of criteria to the facts of each case brought to its attention."
Brown Professor Beshara Doumani, a Saudi born Palestinian who heads Brown's Middle East Studies program is one of the faculty members who signed an open letter in support of Brown Divest referendum. He said, "This is a clear case of systematic discrimination and violence by one powerful party against another that has been going on for decades." To recall, IAM reported that Doumani has helped to recruit Ariella Azoulay to Brown University because she is an Israeli academic supportive of the boycott of Israel. Not surprisingly, Azoulay, of the department of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media, also called upon other Jewish people as well as ACCRIP to support the divestment proposal. She said, “I insist on our right as Jews to support and to take responsibility towards the catastrophe that is happening on a daily basis in Palestine... It’s true that it will not solve the Palestinian catastrophe, but it will be what students can do today. Even if it is small, it is significant.”
IAM reported in February 2018, on a conference promoting BDS chaired by Doumani and held at Brown on March 8, 2018. "Do boycotts foreclose or open up socially productive conversations about the ethics of cultural and academic production?" It was based on the published book, Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production, and asked, "What are the political possibilities embodied in emerging forms of intersectional solidarity around boycott movements, such as BDS?" Doumani was also a signatory in the BDS petition in August 2014 "Over 100 Middle East Studies Scholars and Librarians Call for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions." Evidently, Doumani's Palestine Studies program mostly attacks Israel. Besides Azoulay, Gadi Algazi, a scholar of late medieval history at TAU who has switched to writing political polemics on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, was another invitee to Brown. Also, BGU Neve Gordon lectured at Brown, in 2015.
After sharp criticism for its pro-Palestinian bias, in late 2016 Brown University has launched the Israel Fund, an endowment offering opportunities for Brown community members to learn about Israel from Israelis, hosted by the Judaic Studies program. Not surprisingly, the Israel Fund faced opposition from Doumani who decried the "uncertainty about the agenda behind the Israel Fund.” Doumani was evidently upset that the Israel Fund may provide a positive perspective of Israel, but he should not have been worried. Unlike the highly politicized program which Doumani runs, the Israel Fund awards themes such as “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Contested Narratives.”
Meanwhile, Azoulay and other Israelis and Jews serve as the “fig leaves” of Doumani’s long term BDS drive.



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