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Israel Academia Monitor

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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

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IAM supports the universal tradition of academic freedom that is an indispensable characteristic of higher education in Israel. At the same time, it is concerned by the activities of a small group of academics--sometimes described as revisionist historians or post-Zionists, among other labels--who go beyond the “free search for truth and its free exposition” (to quote the American Association of University Professors) that is the hallmark of academic freedom. Exploiting the prestige (and security) of their positions, such individuals often propound unsubstantiated and, frequently, demonstrably false arguments that defame Israel and call into question its right to existence.

 

 
 
We are happy to announce the publication of the study Academic Freedom in Israel: A Comparative Perspective; it compares academic freedom in Israel with that enjoyed by faculty in three academic leaders- Germany, Great Britain and the United States. This first of a kind research, is systematic, detailed and meticulously referenced.
The study indicates that, contrary to the view of radical scholars and their liberal supporters, the Israeli academy has enjoyed far greater freedom than its counterparts in the comparative cases. Indeed, in all three countries a combination of case law, ethic codes and strong oversight by boards of directors and politicians who appointed them have prevented radical faculty in public universities from abusing and subverting academic privileges to push an activist political agenda.
Not countervailed by academic duties and a need to account to the public and its elected representatives, the expansive sense of academic freedom has hurt Israel’s academic standing in the world. Liberal arts and social science, in particular, have been trending well below global averages, jeopardizing Israel’s overall competitive quest.
We hope that the study will spur a long-overdue debate on how to restore much- needed balance between academic freedom and the broader interests of the society and the state.
 

First IAM Round table in Tel Aviv and videos from the IAM roundtable, May 3, 2013 

The 2nd IAM event "BDS Campaign Against Israel" 2014 and Audio


A unique opportunity to purchase the IAM book on Academic Freedom

     
            
                              

Click to view whole articles:
(Extract) 
Boycott Calls Against Israel
 
20.02.2020
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
 
12.02.2020
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
 
05.02.20
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
 
29.01.2020
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
 
23.01.20
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
 
16.01.20
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
 
08.01.2020
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
 
02.01.20
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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