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Articles by IAM Associates
Israeli Academics: Israel Has to Go

IAM's investigative report, 12/12/07

By Joel Amitai

 

A recent Haaretz op-ed referred to the Monitor as "Israeli McCarthyites." The Monitor, of course, has never circulated a blacklist of Israeli academics to university administrations. It just tries to inform people about things that are important. One such important phenomenon, for example, is that of Israeli academics who call for Israel's dissolution.

That's right, its dissolution. This is not a matter of disagreement on policy issues, but of publicly advocating Israel's demise.

Last November 29, for example, the far-Left online magazine Counterpunch published a "One State Declaration" that dubbed Israel a "racist state" and called for "a non-sectarian state" and "The implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees"-in other words, the end of Israel, with the Jews remaining in it becoming a minority in the twenty-second Middle Eastern Muslim-Arab state.

This declaration was signed by six Israeli academics in foreign universities. Of these, Ilan Pappe is now with the University of Exeter in Britain but left the University of Haifa just this year after teaching there for years during which he regularly called for Israel's dismantlement. Omar Barghouti has studied for his PhD at Tel Aviv University and during that time helped found the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel while frequently denouncing Israel as an apartheid state.

Another signer, Oren Ben-Dor, now at the University of Southampton in the UK, has written that "All my education in Israel was one sided, treating the Other as the enemy, the murderers, the rioters, the terrorists-without alluding, in any way, to their pains and longings"-a description that will shock anyone who has lived in Israel during the Oslo period in particular, when the quest to give the Palestinians a state (which they repeatedly refuse) has become the main obsession of Israeli policy. As for signer Haim Bresheeth, he is now at the University of East London but up to 2002 was dean of the School of Media, Film and Cultural Studies at Sapir College in Israel.

The other ex-Israeli signers were Ghazi Falah and Nadim Rouhana, both formerly academics at Tel Aviv University.

But the advocacy of Israel's demise is not limited to Israeli academics who have left the country; it's a position also taken by academics within Israel today.  On November 17-18, not long before Counterpunch published its declaration, a conference called "Challenging the Boundaries: A Single State in Palestine/Israel" was held at the University of London. Along with all the expatriates mentioned above (except Ben-Dor), the participants included Ased Ghanam of the University of Haifa, who lectured on "Local Politics: The One State and the Palestinians"; Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin of Ben-Gurion University, who took part in a panel discussion; and Louise Bethlehem of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who spoke on "Drawing Lessons from the Case of South Africa."   Raz-Krakotzkin, who is senior lecturer in Jewish history at Ben-Gurion, said in an interview on the "PeacePalestine" blog in 2005 while he was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin:

"The establishment of a Palestinian state can be considered as a reasonable way to solve the question of the occupation, but it leaves many questions unsolved.. I still believe that at least for the moment the two states solution is the only alternative, but it cannot be reached under the principles that continue to direct the peace process, from the Israeli point of view.. We need a new vision, [a] vision of coexistence to replace the concept of separation. We have to struggle against the state of apartheid that is gradually established. A binational vision can be realized in different ways, and in several stages. But that is the only option for both peoples."

Given his view of the Zionist endeavor it perhaps makes sense that Raz-Krakotzkin wants to see it dissolved into "binationalism": "I try to show," he wrote, "the way the Zionist historical consciousness is based on suppression and the erasure of history: the history of the land, and particularly the Naqba, the transfer of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948"-a claim acknowledged to be false even by "new historian" Benny Morris who has verified that the large majority of Palestinians left voluntarily during the pan-Arab attempt to annihilate Israel in
1948-49.
Also at Ben-Gurion University is well-known geographer Oren Yiftachel, who wrote in Middle East Report in 2002: "The failed Oslo process, the violent intifada and-most acutely-Israel's renewed aggression and brutality toward the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, have cast a dark shadow over the joint future of the state's Palestinian and Jewish citizens.... The actual existence of an Israeli state (and hence citizenship) can be viewed as an illusion. Israel has ruptured, by its own actions, the geography of statehood, and maintained a caste-like system of ethnic-religious-class stratification. Without an inclusive geography and universal citizenship, Israel has created a colonial setting, held through violent control..... Occupation and settlement, which necessitate ever intensifying oppression of Palestinians with or without Israeli citizenship, have clear potential to make Israel gradually cave from within."

As Middle East scholar Martin Kramer has noted:

"Yiftachel has called for 'a conceptual shift, from Jewishness to Israeliness as the core of the country's national identity.' To that end, he advocates the cancellation of Israel's Law of Return, and the effective abolition of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund. In a presentation at Stanford, he said that while he now supports a two-state solution, he thought that Israelis and Palestinians would eventually form one state."

Other Israeli academics calling for "one state" include Jeff Halper, residing in Israel and retired from Ben-Gurion University's Anthropology Department-who wrote in Counterpunch in 2002: "'Fortress Israel,' as we call it, is by necessity based on a culture of strength, violence and crudity. In the final analysis, it will be the bulldozer that razes the structure that once was Israel"-as well as Avi Shlaim and Moshe Machover, who now ply their trade in the UK.  

Well, anything McCarthyite about this article? I didn't call for these people to banned, blacklisted, or denied their freedom of speech; I just gave information about their public statements and activities. I think it's worth knowing about. Their advocacy of Israel's demise is, indeed, amazing. If there were, for instance, a movement among Tunisian academics to merge Tunisia with Algeria, or a movement among Paraguayan academics to merge Paraguay with Argentina, it would be less amazing because there are many Arab countries and Spanish-speaking countries in the world. Israel, though, is the world's only Jewish state, reestablished sixty years ago after two thousand years of very difficult dispersion. In those sixty years it has managed to shine as a dynamic democracy in a harsh and hostile region.

Calling to replace Israel with a "binational" state means, of course, that the Jews in it-who would be just one branch of a people now, again, stateless and dispersed throughout the world-would, as mentioned earlier, become a minority within a Muslim-Arab state. That means facing a fate similar to those of minorities in other Muslim-Arab states such as the Christians and the non-Arab Muslims in Sudan, the Christians in Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq, the Kurds in Syria, and so on.

But that's just what our Israeli academics-as they enjoy all the perks, prosperity, and freedom of Jewish-democratic Israel or other democracies-advocate from the comfort of their ivied halls.

 

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