Home
Search
עברית
Board & Mission Statement
Why IAM?
About Us
Articles by IAM Associates
Ben-Gurion University
Hebrew University
University of Haifa
Tel Aviv University
Other Institutions
Boycott Calls Against Israel
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
Anti-Israel Petitions Supported by Israeli Academics
General Articles
Anti-Israel Conferences
Lawfare
Anti-Israel Academic Resolutions
Lectures Interrupted
Activists Profiles
Readers Forum
On the Brighter Side
How can I complain?
Contact Us / Subscribe
Donate
General Articles
Political Activism at the Israeli Anthropological and Sociological Associations

01.06.17

Editorial Note

During the 2009 Gaza operation, while 
thousands of Global Jihadists were active in southern Gaza Strip and Gaza was full of "tunnels intended for abducting troops, weapons, anti-aircraft missiles, and booby-trapped buildings in civilian centers... and weapons prepared for future attacks, such as motorbikes intended for kidnapping," some five hundred Israelis posted a petition online urging the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Israel.  The signatories also urged EU member states to adopt "immediate restrictive measures and sanctions, as well as cessation of all upgrade dialogue with Israel." 

Some of the petitioners were academics. Regev Nathansohn, who teaches Anthropology at the University of Haifa, was one of them.  Nathansohn was the winner of the best MA thesis in 2007 by the Israeli Sociological Association supervised by Yehouda Shenhav and Dan Rabinowitz, a former president of the Anthropological Association. The thesis was named "Shooting Occupation: Sociology of Visual Representation."

Nathansohn participated in the activities of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR) in 2009.  IHJR, was established in 2004 in order to launch a series of research initiatives to study history.  For instance, "The ‘Historical Memory on Haifa 1948’ project encompasses a series of joint research initiatives whereby Israeli and Palestinian scholars focused on actual events of the period surrounding 1948 and how they affected the lives of Jews and Palestinians in Haifa."   In spite of its lofty aim, the actual project was essentially an exercise of rewriting history.  A chapter which Nathansohn co-authored attests to this statement: "Joseph’s reply showed familiarity with the various Zionist paramilitary groups of that time: You know, history repeats itself. During that war it was the same as what we have today among the Palestinians. There is the Fatah, there is Hammas, and there is the Jihad Islami. Same as it was back then with the Jewish forces: the Palmach and the Haganah – their handling of things was softer, but there was the Etzel and the Lechi of Menahem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir and all this gang. They only knew how to kill. Whoever they caught they killed on the spot."   Even a casual observer would have noted that there is no place to compare the Jewish organizations to Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.  

In spite of such lapses, Yehouda Shenhav, Nathansohn's MA supervisor, wrote enthusiastically of this project: "In this remarkable project, Jews and Palestinians, write together the history and memory of the city of Haifa. Rather than presenting incommensurable national narratives, they offer a fresh and inspiring alternative: each article is co-authored by Arabs and Jews, thus turning the art of research and writing into a bi-national practice. Addressing 1948 as a benchmark, is crucial particularly today in facilitating not only a new reading of the political story, but also offering political possibilities. Haifa Before & After 1948 is an inspirational book that deserves to be read by everyone who is interested in the history and memory of bi-national societies."   Nathansohn is part of the younger generation of sociologists and anthropologists who continue the tradition of radical activists like Shenhav.  

Likewise, Matan Kaminer, a conscientious objector, and an activist , is the newly elected coordinator of the migration and demography community at the Israeli Sociological Association. Kaminer's dissertation is "an ethnographic exploration of the conjunction between settler colonialism and global migration" in Israel. Kaminer "has been active in the Israeli conscientious objectors’ movement, in national and municipal politics and in migrant solidarity work in Israel for the past fifteen years."  In 2010 he has taught a semester in Anthropology at TAU, but much of his life he has been a political activist. Kaminer describes Israel as a hollow democracy, "The demoralization of the intellectuals may have grave consequences for the Israeli regime; though financial and military aid for Israel still enjoys public support across the United States and Europe, much of this support depends on the continued credibility of the “only democracy” trope.  Thus, what increasingly looks like a shutdown of Israel’s ethnic democracy cannot be understood as a premeditated move to serve the regime’s interests. The current dynamic is probably better understood as an acceleration of a trend inherent in Zionism, as well as in other repressive social formations: the need to identify threatening enemies in order to ensure internal cohesion."   

The 2017 annual conference of the Israeli Anthropological Association which took place last week was featured on the website of MAKI, the Israeli Communist Party.  The report introduced the academic-activist Yeela Raanan of Sapir College.  MAKI's report noted that "Among the participants are activists of the left-wing lecturers' group at the universities and colleges 'Academia for Equality'." The conference marked solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. In particular the conference addressed Gilad Erdan, Minister of Public Security and urged him to meet the demands of the striking prisoners. Two days after MAKI published the article the Israeli Anthropological Association has posted their statement online.

There is no better proof of the mixing of politics and academics. Professional associations of this kind should not impose political agenda on the public who sponsor Israeli universities. 


בכנס השנתי של האגודה האנתרופולוגית הישראלית: סולידריות עם האסירים הפלסטינים

קבוצה של מרצים ודוקטורנטים יציעו בכנס השנתי ה-45 של האגודה האנתרופולוגית הישראלית שנפתח היום(רביעילהביע סולידריות עם האסירים הפלסטינים שובתי הרעבבין המציעים פעילי התארגנות המרצים מהשמאל באוניברסיטאות ובמכללות "אקדמיה לשוויון". הכנס של האגודה האנתרופולוגית נפתח הבוקר בכפר קאסם תחת הכותרת "בין עבודה לשדה: חשיבה מחודשת על ייצור ידע ועל זהות מקצועית באנתרופולוגיה העכשווית". הוא אמור להסתיים מחר בשעות הערב.
2017-05-17_200032
ד"ר יעלה רענן ממכללת ספירפעילה למען זכויות הערביםבדואיםמשתתפת בדיון במסגרת הכנס על פעילות פוליטית וחברתית כהשלמה לפעילות המקצועית (צילוםהאגודה האנתרופולוגית הישראלית)
יצוין שאסיפת האגודה האנתרופולוגית השנתית שנערכה ביוני 2015 הביעה את התנגדותה לכיבוש הישראלי בשטחים הפלסטינייםעכשיו מוצע הצעה נוספת לפיה האגודה "רואה בדאגה רבה את שביתת הרעב של האסירים הפלסטינים בבתי הכלא הישראלייםהאספה מציינת כי כליאתם של אלפי פלסטיניםמאות מתוכם ללא משפטהיא תוצאה ישירה של הכיבוש אליו אנחנו מתנגדים וכי פתרונה של סוגיית האסירים הוא חלק בלתי נפרד מסיום הכיבוש".
ועוד נאמר בהצעה: "האסיפה רושמת לפניה כי כמה מבין דרישותיהם של האסירים הפלסטיניים נוגעות לקיומן של זכויות האדם הבסיסיות ביותר שלהםכאנשי מקצוע העוסק בין היתר בייחודיותו ושבריריותו של האדם ובתלותם ההדוקה של בני אדם בזולתםאנו מציינים במיוחד את הזכויות: לקיומם של חיי משפחה ושארות באמצעות ביקורים של קרובי משפחה מדרגה 'ראשונה' ו'שנייה'ביקורי התייחדות עם בני או בנות זוגושיחות טלפון; לרכוש השכלהבין באמצעות מערכת החינוך הפלסטינית ובין באמצעות האוניברסיטה הפתוחה הישראליתבה כמה מאתנו מועסקים; לטיפול רפואי הולם ורצוניולחופש מהליכים רפואיים כפוייםובמיוחד מהזנה בכפייה".
"אנו קוראים לממשלת ישראלולשר לביטחון פנים גלעד ארדן בפרטלגשת בהקדם האפשרי למשא ומתן עם הנהגתם של האסירים השובתיםמתוך מגמה להגיע להסדר שיכבד את זכויותיהם וימנע פגיעה בחיי אדם,שמשמעותה בהמשך הדרך תהיה אך ורק העמקת האיבה והרחקת כל אפשרות של פתרון לסכסוך הישראליפלסטיני", נאמר עוד בהצעת ההחלטהבכנס שנפתח הבוקר יתקיימו כ-45 סדנאות ודיונים,בהשתתפות של יותר מ-100 חוקרים מישראל ומחו"ל במגוון רב של נושאים הקשורים באנתרופולוגיהבין היתר יתקיים דיון על פעילות פוליטית וחברתית כהשלמה לפעילות המקצועית.
לפרטים נוספים על הכנס ועל האגודה האנתרופולוגית: http://isranthro.org

Google Tranlate
At the annual conference of the Israeli Anthropological Society: solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners
A group of lecturers and doctoral students at the 45th annual meeting of the Israeli Anthropological Society expressed solidarity with the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. Among the participants are activists of the left-wing lecturers' group at the universities and colleges "Academia for Equality". 
Dr. Yeela Ra'anan of Sapir College, an activist for Arab Bedouin rights, participates in the discussion of political and social activities as a complement to professional activities
The article stated that the Annual Anthropological Association meeting held in June 2015 expressed its opposition to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. The Association "views with great concern the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and notes that the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, hundreds of them without trial, is a direct result of the occupation to which we oppose to and that the solution to the prisoners issue is an inseparable part to end of the occupation. "
"The Assembly noted that some of the demands of the Palestinian prisoners relate to the existence of their most basic human rights." As professionals who deal, inter alia, with the uniqueness and fragility of man and the close dependence of human beings on others, we particularly mention the rights to the existence of family life and visits by first and second degree relatives, visits to friends, and telephone calls, to acquire education, either through the Palestinian education system or through the Open University of Israel, where some of us are employed; for appropriate and voluntary medical care; and freedom from forced medical procedures especially forced feeding."
"We call upon the Government of Israel and Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan in particular, to approach as soon as possible the negotiations with the leadership of the striking prisoners, with the aim of reaching an agreement that will respect their rights and prevent harm to human life, which will only deepen the hostility and remove any possibility of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the proposal stated.
May 17, 2017

=====================================================================================================

19.5.2017 
האגודה האנתרופולוגית הישראלית 
גילוי דעת בנושא: שביתת הרעב של האסירים הפלסטינים 
האגודה האנתרופולוגית הישראלית החליטה באסיפתה הכללית שהתקיימה ביום חמישי ה-18 במאי 2017 לפרסם גילוי דעת בנושא שביתת הרעב של האסירים הפלסטינים: 
1 .אסיפת האגודה האנתרופולוגית, שהביעה בהחלטה קודמת (11 ביוני 2015) את התנגדותה לכיבוש הישראלי בשטחים הפלסטיניים, רואה בדאגה רבה את שביתת הרעב של האסירים הביטחוניים הפלסטינים בבתי הכלא הישראליים. האספה מציינת כי כליאתם של אלפי פלסטינים, מאות מתוכם ללא משפט, היא תוצאה ישירה של הכיבוש אליו אנחנו מתנגדים וכי פתרונה של סוגיית האסירים הוא חלק בלתי נפרד מסיום הכיבוש. 
2 .האסיפה רושמת לפניה כי כמה מבין דרישותיהם של האסירים הפלסטיניים נוגעות לקיומן של זכויות האדם הבסיסיות ביותר שלהם. כאנשי מקצוע העוסק בין היתר בייחודיותו ושבריריותו של האדם ובתלותם ההדוקה של בני אדם בזולתם, אנו מציינים במיוחד את הזכויות: 
o לקיומם של חיי משפחה ושארות באמצעות ביקורים של קרובי משפחה מדרגה ?ראשונה? ו?שנייה?, ביקורי התייחדות עם בני/ות זוג, ושיחות טלפון; 
o לרכוש השכלה, בין באמצעות מערכת החינוך הפלסטינית ובין באמצעות האוניברסיטה הפתוחה הישראלית, בה כמה מאתנו מועסקים; 
o לטיפול רפואי הולם ורצוני, ולחופש מהליכים רפואיים כפויים, ובמיוחד מהזנה בכפייה. 
3 .אי לכך, אנו קוראים לממשלת ישראל, ולשר לביטחון פנים גלעד ארדן בפרט, לגשת בהקדם האפשרי למשא ומתן עם הנהגתם של האסירים השובתים, מתוך מגמה להגיע להסדר שיכבד את זכויותיהם וימנע פגיעה בחיי אדם, שמשמעותה בהמשך הדרך תהיה אך ורק העמקת האיבה והרחקת כל אפשרות של פתרון לסכסוך הישראלי-פלסטיני.

Google Translate
19.5.2017
Israeli Anthropological Association
Statement on the subject: The hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners
The Israeli Anthropological Society decided at its general meeting on Thursday, 18 May 2017, to publish a communiqué on the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners:
1. The meeting of the Anthropological Society, which, in its previous decision (June 11, 2015) expressed its opposition to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, views with great concern the hunger strike of the Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails. The Assembly notes that the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, hundreds of whom are without trial, is a direct result of the occupation to which we oppose to and that the solution of the prisoners issue is an inseparable part of ending of the occupation.
2. The meeting notes that some of the demands of Palestinian prisoners relate to the very existence of their most basic human rights. As professionals who deal, inter alia, with the uniqueness and fragility of mankind and the close dependence of people on others, we note in particular the rights:
O The existence of family life and family visits of first and second degree relatives, family visits with spouses, and telephone calls;
O To acquire education, either through the Palestinian education system or through the Open University of Israel, where some of us are employed;
O Adequate and voluntary medical treatment, and freedom from forced medical procedures, in particular forced feeding.
3. Therefore, we call on the Government of Israel and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in particular, to approach the leadership of the striking prisoners as soon as possible, with the aim of reaching an agreement that will respect their rights and prevent harm to human life which will lead to extended hatred. The possibility of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

============================================================

A Hollow Democracy
MATAN KAMINER
Israel has never extended democratic liberties to Palestinians. Now it is beginning to deny them to its Jewish citizens as well.
Our spring issue, “By Taking Power,” is out now. To celebrate its release, subscriptions start at just $14 by following this link.
The “Jewish and democratic” State of Israel has always been, as Palestinian-Israeli politician Ahmed Tibi quips, “democratic for the Jews, and Jewish for the Arabs.”
The Nakba, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes, and the Law of Return, which allowed for immediate naturalization for all Jews that immigrated to Israel, turned the Palestinian citizens of Israel into a persecuted minority.
After the 1967 war, Palestinians living in the rest of Palestine were deprived of all political rights, with millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants denied the right to return to their homes.
But the settler-colonial logic of eliminating the natives from political life, if not from physical presence in the country, has also depended on maintaining the truth of the aphorism’s first part: “democratic for the Jews.”
Indeed, until recently it has been possible for Israelis and sympathetic observers to “deduct the Arabs” and portray Israel as a normally functi'oning Western democracy. Israeli Jews enjoyed civil liberties comparable to those available in liberal democracies — including the right to organize against the repression of Palestinians.
Today, this freedom is rapidly dwindling.
The Only Democracy
There have always been Jewish Israelis opposed to the oppression of Palestinians. Despite the popular hate they draw, organizations espousing direct action against the occupation, networks of draft resisters, and groups working to commemorate the Nakba have until recently been allowed to operate legally.
Oppositional journalists, primarily at the liberal Ha’aretz daily but also in other media, have been allowed to speak out, and bastions of academic critique such as Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government and Tel Aviv University’s Department of Sociology have educated thousands of students. The left-Zionist party Meretz has participated in national governments and numerous municipal councils, even electing a mayor here and there.
This vivacious civil society has generally excluded Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up roughly 20 percent of the population. The General Security Service (Shin Bet) keeps a watchful eye over Palestinian citizens and their institutions, insinuating itself deep into the segregated educational system and preventing university education in Arabic for fear of radicalization.
Palestinian movements are frequently outlawed, from the socialist al-Ard in the 1950s to the “northern branch” of the Islamic Movement last year. In every election cycle, the Electoral Commission debates whether Palestinian parties will be allowed to participate, and at the last election the minimum share of the vote required for representation in the Knesset was raised, explicitly in order to exclude them (a move which backfired spectacularly).
A bill currently under consideration, and supported by the government, would allow the Knesset to remove its remaining Palestinian parliamentarians on almost any pretext. Palestinian activists are also routinely subjected to intimidating interrogations and searches and lengthy arrests following demonstrations.
Yet ludicrous as the idea of Israeli democracy may be from the point of view of Palestinian refugees, residents of the Occupied Territories, or even the state’s own Palestinian citizens, it plays a critical fun'ction for the Israeli regime.
First and foremost, Israeli democracy — or “ethnocracy” — ensures the consent of the Jewish populace for policies that do not necessarily serve its interests. The neoliberal dismantling of the welfare state and sale of public resources; the siphoning of government funds to maintain affluent West Bank settlements, where less than ten percent of the population lives; institutional racism against Jews of non-European extraction, including Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews; the monopoly of the misogynistic Orthodox Rabbinate over family law; all are legitimized as not only necessary to protecting the Jewish character of the state, but also as enjoying the democratic support of the Jewish majority.
Internal Jewish democracy also plays a crucial role on the geopolitical stage. The international media pays close attention to Israel’s fractious parliamentary life and to its civil society, whose NGOs also receive ample financial support from Western governments and foundations.
By vigorously criticizing Israeli state policies while refraining from criticism of the regime as such, liberal Israeli intellectuals enable the ruling elites of the United States and Western Europe to argue that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East,” thus justifying the enormous military and financial aid they channel to it among their own populations.
The real reasons for this support are, of course, predicated on Israel’s strategic importance to the West, but the illusion of Israeli democracy makes this backing that much easier to justify.
The Circle Tightens
But the democratic public sphere available to Jews in Israel has been under attack in recent years, and in recent months it has been shrinking rapidly.
At the head of the offensive stands Im Tirtzu, a non-governmental organization which began operations in 2008 with a campaign for censoring critical academics, before moving in 2010 to target Israeli NGOs which had provided evidence on human rights violations in Gaza for the United Nation’s Goldstone Report.
Im Tirtzu and other right-wing NGOs funded by wealthy American donors live in close symbiosis with politicians in both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and its ally, the religious-nationalist Jewish Home.
Ayelet Shaked, who became a Knesset member for Jewish Home after serving as Netanyahu’s chief of staff and heading an Im Tirtzu clone called My Israel, exemplifies this milieu. As minister of justice since March 2015, Shaked has made Im Tirtzu-style McCarthyite tactics government policy, for example by pushing through a law requiring representatives of “foreign-funded” NGOs to wear special badges while in the Knesset.
Notably, the law applies only to organizations funded by foreign governments — primarily liberal human rights organizations — freeing right-wing NGOs, whose donors are non-governmental, from such restrictions.
Additional vectors for the constriction of the liberal public sphere are Minister of Education Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), who has taken to censoring the books and plays students consume, and Minister of Culture Miri Regev (Likud), who has made the allocation of funding for culture on grounds of loyalty to the state her primary objective.
Heartened by the success of its representatives in government, Im Tirtzu has pushed on with a campaign against Breaking the Silence — a group of ex-soldiers which disseminates testimonies on human rights violations in the Occupied Territories.
In a chilling video produced by Im Tirtzu, Breaking the Silence is denounced together with other human rights NGOs as shtulim — literally, “planted ones,” connoting something like “collaborators” or “snitches” — for receiving money from sinister foreign governments like the Netherlands and Norway.
In January, in a step which apparently went too far and drew heat from Netanyahu and Bennett, Im Tirtzu denounced Amos Oz and actress Gila Almagor — both pillars of the establishment — for “supporting planted organizations.”
But perhaps more ominous than Im Tirtzu’s activities is the political turn of the liberal media. In January, Uvda — Israel’s most respected investigative news show — aired an “exposé” produced entirely by another Im Tirtzu clone, Ad Kan, with the intent of smearing the activists of the solidarity group Ta’ayush, which operates in the Southern West Bank.
An Ad Kan mole taped activist Ezra Nawi bragging falsely that he had turned over Palestinians who sold land to Israelis to the Palestinian Authority and that the latter had been executed.
When broadcast bereft of context, this tape was enough not only to brand Nawi as a traitor and murderer, but also to trigger his arrest and that of two comrades from Ta’ayush, Israeli Guy Butavia and Palestinian Nasser Nawajeh. The three were released by the courts, but not before Nawajeh was transferred to Ofer Prison in the West Bank to be tried under military law.
Ad Kan struck again in March with allegations that Breaking the Silence was “gathering intelligence” on military activities, this time broadcast as fact on Channel 2 News. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) quickly went on record saying that “if” the allegations were true, they would constitute treason. More recently, Ya’alon has himself become a target for insisting that a soldier who had been filmed shooting a bound and helpless Palestinian was “not a hero” and should stand trial.
Searching For Enemies
The constriction of the Israeli public sphere coincides with the rising pressure from Palestinian campaigns such as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). The most visible and contentious element of the movement is the academic and cultural boycott (PACBI), which targets precisely those segments of Israeli society that are often seen as bastions of opposition.
So far, many Israeli intellectuals have spoken against the boycott, though the apparent unanimity is a direct result of the climate of fear and of a law penalizing supporters of the boycott. But if the attacks on them from within Israel continue, they cannot be expected to continue to play this role. Some, including Israel’s most globally famous author, seem already to be refusing it.
The demoralization of the intellectuals may have grave consequences for the Israeli regime; though financial and military aid for Israel still enjoys public support across the United States and Europe, much of this support depends on the continued credibility of the “only democracy” trope.
Thus, what increasingly looks like a shutdown of Israel’s ethnic democracy cannot be understood as a premeditated move to serve the regime’s interests. The current dynamic is probably better understood as an acceleration of a trend inherent in Zionism, as well as in other repressive social formations: the need to identify threatening enemies in order to ensure internal cohesion.
The Palestinian resistance is in disarray, the Arab world has descended into internecine war, and Iran has been rehabilitated; the search for enemies thus turns inward, losing all proportionality with the real power of those supposed enemies.
But while it may weaken Israel’s position internationally, the collapse of Israel’s limited democratic sphere is not something leftists should be applauding. For one thing, it goes hand in hand with a further deterioration in conditions for both citizen and non-citizen Palestinians.
Moreover, there is no foreseeable scenario under which the Palestinian struggle can achieve its aims by pure force of arms. The seven million Jews who live in historic Palestine must be accommodated, and eventually, a critical proportion of them will have to be won over to supporting a negotiated solution if one is to be achieved.
Surely, the most important group to bridge the divide is the Palestinian minority within Israel, which has the most to lose from a war of annihilation and the most to gain from a resolution that guarantees their individual and collective rights.
Under adverse conditions, this group has recently found parliamentary unity in the Joint List, which subsumes leftists, liberals, and Islamists. Yet the Palestinian public itself implicitly recognizes the importance of maintaining contact with the Jewish population by electing the Jewish Dov Khenin among its delegates in a Knesset where Palestinians are sorely underrepresented. Outside the Knesset, too, those Israeli Jews who stand for equality and against occupation have a role to play.
The Palestine solidarity movement can do little to prevent the constriction of the democratic space which Israeli Jews have enjoyed, and it would be presumptuous to demand that it devote its scarce resources to that end, much less that it overlook many Israeli liberals’ lack of solidarity with Palestinians.
Nevertheless, it is in the movement’s interest to keep an eye on developments within Israel and to look forward to a day when a truly significant Israeli opposition — perhaps one forged in the fires of repression — can become a partner in decolonization.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matan Kaminer has been active in the conscientious objection movement, in migrant solidarity work and in municipal and student politics in Israel. He is currently a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Michigan.

=======================================================================================




Back to "General Articles"Send Response
Top Page
    Developed by Sitebank & Powered by Blueweb Internet Services
    Visitors: 243597779Send to FriendAdd To FavoritesMake It HomepagePrint version
    blueweb