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Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
Academic Forensics: Ilan Pappe and Exeter University


Editorial Note

Ilan Pappe, a subject of a number of posts by IAM, has exceeded his past performance in his long quest to portray Israel as Nazi Germany reincarnate.   For those familiar with Pappe’s career, the trajectory that brought this former professor at Haifa University is breathtaking.

Styling himself as a New Historian, along with Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim, Pappe made the relatively modest claim that Israel was not as overwhelmed by Arab forces during the 1948 war as traditional historiography would have it.  But as his political activism in the Communist Party took off, Pappe revised his own revisionist history of 1948, embellishing it with progressively defamatory incidents of alleged IDF behavior.  Things came to a head when, in the early 2000s, Pappe defended his protégé, Teddy Katz in the “Tantura Massacre” case.  Katz, a postgraduate student, claimed that the Alexandroni Brigade committed a massacre in the Arab village of Tantura, but retracted when the Brigade veteran sued in court.  

To amplify his position, in April 2005 Pappe appealed to the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) to boycott Haifa University for it alleged violation of academic freedom—a process that lead to a subsequent annual vote of the University and College Union to boycott the Israeli academy.

In 2007 Pappe left Israel to teach at Exeter University, England, a position he used to create the narrative that Israeli behavior toward the Palestinians is on par with the treatment of Jews by the Nazis.  For instance, in his book Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine Pappe claimed that the alleged wholesale expulsion of Palestinians was accompanied by massacres, concentrations camps etc. His new statements (below) on the alleged racist policies of sperm donations are a natural progression of creating the equivalence between Israel and Nazi Germany.

Needless to say, Pappe has become a tireless activist for academic BDS, signing countless petitions, appearing in countless BDS events and supporting the self-appointed virulently anti-Israel Russell Tribunal where he accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinians.

Along the way reputable historians condemned Pappe for shoddy scholarship and fabricating facts.   In Dec 2011 Dexter Van Zile, the Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA)  complained to the Exeter University authorities that Pappe invented key quotes to prove that David Ben Gurion authorized a wholesale expulsion of the Palestinians.  But the University declined to pursue the case that would have required a disciplinary action against Pappe.

This stand should not surprise those familiar with the University’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies and its founder, Professor Tim Niblock.   A recipient of Saudi largess, Niblock spent years writing laudatory books about Saudi Arabia.  Donations from the Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi prompted Niblock to state that “Libya has pursued one of the most engaged and outgoing foreign policies of the Arab world.”

Niblock's deep admiration for the oppressive regimes in the Middle East was matched by deep animosity for Israel.  Expressed in articles, editorials and op-eds, the theme was always the same—occupation of the Palestinians and American failure to exert pressure on Israel are at the core of West’s problems in the Middle East.


The European Center for Palestine Studies (ECPS) in Niblock’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter was tailored-made for Pappe.  Niblock, now retired, is listed as one of the fellows, and the advisory board is made up of frequent critics of Israel like Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, John Dugard and Richard Falk, the infamous UN rapporteur for Palestinians.  

Even a perfunctory glance at the ECPS’s website indicates that Pappe’s ambitious goal, is taking shape.  “Toward a Common Archive” aims to create a replica of Spielberg’s archive of Holocaust’s survivors’ testimonies. Interestingly, the “Testimonies by Zionist Fighters in 1948” was posted first, in an apparent bid to support Pappe’s version of events of 1948.  Also Interesting, that some of the ECPS projects are supported by European foundations.


For those who expect the academy to reflect the pure and objective standards of research, the Niblock-Pappe partnership may come as a surprise.  But those who track the extensive finance network in the field see it differently.  

In 2001, Martin Kramer, an esteemed scholar of the Middle East, lamented that Middle East Studies in the United States were being distorted by Saudi money.  Since then, Arab money has been all but surpassed by generous donations from European governments and foundations.   


Illuminating as this anecdotal evidence is, to fully understand the functioning of the old and new funding sources requires a systematic study. 


The Independent

The country is becoming increasingly obsessed with purity, and is willing to entertain the idea that Operation Protective Edge was enjoyable

The public debate in this country about the Gaza crisis has some familiar features. The public at large deems Israel's actions as war crimes, while the government and mainstream media justify Israel’s action as self-defence. One of the main reasons for this gap seems to be that social activists know Israel much better than the politicians, diplomats and some of the journalists whose business it is to engage with Israel and its policies.

The activists’ presence on the ground, and the reports they post on the internet, provide a far more nuanced insight into the Israeli psyche and mentality that can explain Israeli policies in Gaza beyond the conventional mainstream’s political analysis. Two examples within this short space are enough to demonstrate this observation.

The first is the present drive among infertile Jewish parents to seek the sperm of the combatant elite units who fought in Gaza. This is to ensure the purest and most supreme DNA possible for their prospective children. And it is fully supported by the official Israeli Sperm Bank.

To be honest, these soldiers did not do too well in the battlefield. Conventional armies are inept when it comes to battling face-to-face with desperate guerrillas dug deep in tunnels and bunkers. Possibly the HAMAS DNA would have been a bit more fitting for this purpose, if one wishes to take ad absurdum this Israeli Jewish obsession with human engineering.

It was bad enough to base the whole Zionist idea on the wish to create an exclusive and supremacist Jewish democracy, in a land where the Jews were not and are not going to be ever such a majority (unless they genocide the local population). But now we are faced with a society that seems to be taking this obsession one step further. The rising demand for IDF sperm suggests that Israelis don't just have a desire for absolute Jewish majority, but one of the highest quality: the quality you find in the elite units that devastated a huge civilian space called Gaza.

On the internet you can also find a questionnaire distributed among soldiers of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) inquiring about their experiences during Protective Edge operation. One of the five questions in it asks: “Tell us about something funny that happened to you in the operation”. It also asks the respondent to write “something I learned about myself during the operation”.

Can one imagine such a questionnaire distributed among the half million Gazans who became refugees or anyone else living there under a month long barrage of F-16s, heavy artillery, guns ships and tanks?

I am not a great believer in the power of the Hamas to change the reality by launching missiles. But I have been in Israel during the operation, and have realised that despite the natural fear these fire crackers create among the public, most Israelis generally regard the conflict as a highly excited adventure. 

The picture on the other side could not have been more different. It is a picture of mass killing, including hundreds of dead children and ten thousand wounded people – most of them civilians. It is also a picture of destruction, with entire swathes of urban and rural infrastructure blown to pieces. And it is the continued ghettoization of the most densely populated area in the world. None of this is an adventure; nothing funny could have happened to the Palestinians here.

This “fun” society inspired by visions of ethnic purity and supremacy is not only a danger to itself or the Palestinians. The unconditional support it receives from the West is a crucial factor in the region’s overall instability. 

It was Sir Thomas Rapp, the most senior British Diplomat in the Middle East who warned his boss, Ernest Bevin in 1950 of the danger of such a biased pro-Israeli position: “The younger generation [in Israel] is being brought up in an environment of militarism and thus a permanent threat to Middle East tranquillity is thereby being created and Israel would thus tend to move away from the democratic way of life to totalitarianism of the right or the left”. His prophetic warning unfolds daily in front of my eyes here in Israel.

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