|"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.
|The campaign waged to re-define the Bedouin as the indigenous people of Israel|
|NGO Monitor has just published the report-
"NGOs and the Negev Bedouin Issue in the Context of Political Warfare - Analysis of NGO Activity, 2010-2013".
It is worth noting that academics founded all the organizations mentioned in the report. Seth Frantzman, who holds a Ph.D. from the Geography Department at the Hebrew University and an expert on Bedouin, has sent the following analysis.
|Legal Warfare Report: Israeli academics pressure Western companies to terminate business links with Israel
|IAM has periodically reported on Israeli academics who participate in activities designed to pressure Western companies to terminate business links with Israel. These faculty work with a number of American denominations including American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Presbyterian Church USA and United Church of Christ who have taken a lead in the BDS movement. Other Israeli academics operate through Who Profits from the Occupation? a project aimed at identifying Israeli companies that, according to the official website "profit from Palestinian and Syrian land." Who Profits? helps to raise awareness and organize boycotts of such companies and also works with a coalition of radical groups in the West that promote "corporate accountability." The combined efforts of these groups have resulted in dissuading a number of companies from doing business with Israel and, recently, in helping to delist Caterpillar from the MSCI-ESG index of ethical companies. The index of "progressive investment" is used by pension funds, investment funds and individual investors interested in ethical investment.
Among the academics that IAM profiled in the past few months are:
Dalit Baum, formerly of Haifa University, who now works for American Friends Service Committee West Coast office in charge of BDS. Baum, a leader in the academic lesbian community in Israel was recently invited to aconference on gender organized by Hanna Herzog (TAU).
Neve Gordon (BGU) who published a chapter in a recently released book that supports BDS.
Merav Amir (HUJ) who is involved with Who Profits published a chapter in the same book.
Anat Biletzki (TAU) gave a lecture under the auspices of the Tree of Life Foundation of the United Church of Christ that supports BDS.
|Lawfare - IAM Review of "Contested Indigeneity: The Development of an Indigenous Discourse on the Bedouin of the Negev"|
|The burgeoning international human rights efforts have helped to create a "consciousness movement" of indigenous people. Spurred by activists, human right lawyers and scholars, in 1983 the U.N. created a working group on indigenous population. The group failed to come up with a definition of who qualifies for this category, but the U.N. adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. The Declaration and some subsequent resolutions were also ambiguous with regard to the compensation for indigenous people, notably whether they should be entitled of their lands and resources.
Citing this vagueness of the U.N. Declaration, Canada, New Zealand and Australia reject it, stating that the "provisions of the Declaration are overly broad, unclear and open to interpretation . . . the text is not balanced, and suggests that Indigenous rights prevail over the rights of others.” The three countries have subsequently reversed the decision but stipulated that the Declaration is vague enough to lend itself to different interpretations.
|Rebuttal to Dr. Amir Paz-Fuchs|
|Israel Academia Monitor has initiated a new program aimed at tracking the contribution of Israeli professors to lawfare (legal warfare), defined as the use of international law and human rights conventions to delegitimize the state of Israel in the international arena.
IAM believes that too little attention has been paid to this highly effective strategy.
The following article is a detailed rebuttal to a lecture which Dr. Amir Paz-Fuchs (Ono Academic Center and Tel Aviv University's Human Rights Clinic) delivered at a conference co-sponsored by the Ono Academic Center and the Law Faculty at Columbia University. The lecture was posted on Youtube and widely disseminated.