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General Articles
Protest Over the Summer Special Issue of Israel Studies


14.05.19

Editorial Note
 

A special summer issue of the journal Israel Studies, "Word Crimes; Reclaiming The Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," created the academic equivalent of a hurricane.   Edited by Donna Robinson Divine, a professor emerita of Jewish Studies and Government at Smith College, the issue covered the one-sided vocabulary used these days to describe Israel as an apartheid state, a colonial usurper in the Middle East, and a country which commits war crimes toward the Palestinians.  Divine explains that Israel, once a trope for self-sacrifice and solidarity, now "stands accused of practicing apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing" and colonialism. The issue explores this "lexical transformation" and describes "how and why it acquired its totemic standing". 

 

For those familiar with the history of social sciences in the West, the answer is quite simple.  In the 1970s, driven by political and social upheavals, the dominant positivist paradigm was replaced by the neo-Marxist, critical approach, which, over the years, painted Israel as a purely colonial power with no historical rights to the land. Unsurprisingly, the new paradigm depicted the Palestinians as the victims of the colonial machinations of the Jews and their Western allies.   Edward Said’s Orientalism became the icon of the new paradigm.  With the wealthy Gulf States investing in Middle East Centers on Western campuses, the new paradigm was spread globally. Equally important, this investment enabled them to influence who would be hired or invited to lecture in the Middle East Centers and the Israel Studies Departments, hence, the critics themselves.

 

A discussion of the merits of the two paradigms to depict the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is legitimate and, indeed, desirable.   However, the critics chose to ignore all this, and instead chose to attack the scholarship of the journal contributors by writing that the journal "ignores basic standards of academic scholarship, is heavily slanted in favor of Israel and relies on contributions from lightweights in the field." So much so, that Prof. Ian Lustick, who serves on the board of the Association for Israel Studies (AIS) stated that "the board would 'reconsider' its relationship with the journal".    

 

In a public letter to the AIS, the group of critics voiced their concerns, "we were dismayed" because the issue "fell far short of standards expected of academic journals... we believe has done serious damage to the reputation of the journal, and could cast a long shadow on the AIS and the field." Because the issue features essays on key terms in "critical scholarship of Israel/Palestine". They argue that "The castigation of intellectual categories as 'word crimes' is not a starting point for a good-faith discussion: it is a call to arms. By describing terms as 'linguistic transgressions' and scholarship as lacking in 'sanity', the issue made clear that its aim was not to contribute to vigorous debate, but rather to police and shut down this debate."  The critics also claimed that "barely a third of the 17 contributors to the issue could claim academic expertise in the subject they were writing on. Disciplinary boundaries are not sacred, but the selection of so many non-specialists (including non-academics)."

 

The critics argue that "It is not clear why an archaeologist was chosen to write on "Human Rights", and a communication professor served as an expert on "Apartheid". The essays made minimal and inadequate reference to relevant scholarship. The pieces on “Anti-Zionism” and “Occupation” did not have a single footnote. The essay on “Arab-Palestinian Refugees” failed to refer to key works by Benny Morris, Yoav Gelber, Walid Khalidi, and other scholars. The essay on “Colonialism” did not engage the rich literature on settler-colonialism from the last 15 years. These are a few examples of the numerous and pervasive failings of the issue. Overall the special issue read as a partisan and polemical exercise in advocacy rather than serious scholarship."  

 

The critics also issued a veiled threat: "Inability to make the distinction between advocacy and scholarship could threaten the future of the AIS as a vital scholarly space for research and discussion of contemporary Israel. The journal Israel Studies must undergo a serious overhaul to address these concerns in order to save its reputation and prevent such failures in the future. If such effort is not undertaken, the AIS should end its sponsorship of the journal and disaffiliate from it."

  

As noted, a proper debate on the issue of academic coverage of Israel, and the Arab-Palestinian conflict is long overdue. In the meanwhile, three notes are in order.

 

The critics railed against the fact that some of the contributors did not have the proper qualifications to write on the subjects.  They should be reminded that many of the radical scholar-activists, which IAM covered for almost two decades, switched from their original disciplines to write about the Arab-Israeli conflict.  For instance, Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal who was hired to teach and research child development and education has switched focus to the conflict; Prof. Yehouda Shenhav who was hired to teach and research on the sociology of organizations ended up writing about the conflict. Indeed, the Israel Studies Association gave him a prize for this work; Dr. Anat Matar was hired to teach and research philosophy and not Palestinian prisoners; Avner Ben Amos, a researcher in education who switched to the conflict; Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, a researcher on child education started lecturing on the conflict; Prof. Gadi Algazi is an expert of late medieval and early modern history and not the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; Prof. Shlomo Sand, an expert on French cinema and culture became an "expert" on Judaism; Among others.  With the sole exception of IAM, no one has ever questioned the fact that they were not qualified to do so. 


The critics had complained that many of the articles did not follow accepted scholarly standards.  They should be aware that the 2011 Evaluation Committee report by the Council of Higher Education on the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University noted that many of the faculty published in neo-Marxist, critical journals which did not maintain mainstream, (read: positivist) scholarly standards.

 

The critics chastised the contributors for failing to refer to the key works on refugees such as Walid Khalidi or Benny Morris.  They should be aware of the fact that Khalidi’s work on the refugees was criticized for lack of proper academic standards. As for Benny Morris, the question is what version of the 1948 story needs to be included. It is well known that after the failure of the Oslo peace process, Morris became disenchanted with the Palestinians and soon after revised his 1948 narrative about the refugees.


In fact, as the list of signatories of the petition reveals, the critics themselves are not all coming from this field of expertise.

 

In response, the journal editors Prof. Ilan Troen and Dr. Natan Aridan, wrote that the next published issues of Israel Studies would allow critics to analyze the "controversial" issue. This is the proper academic resolve. Using academic tools, critics should be able to debate. Calls to silence the opposition is nothing but charlatanism. 






Indiana University Press 
Israel Studies 
Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2019
Word Crimes; Reclaiming The Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (pp. 1-16) Donna Robinson Divine  https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.01 
Indigeneity (pp. 17-32) Ilan Troen and Carol Troen https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.02 
Colonialism (pp. 33-44) John Strawson https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.03 
Occupation (pp. 45-51) Efraim Karsh https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.04 
Terrorism (pp. 52-62) Jonathan Schanzer https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.05 
Holocaust Inversion (pp. 73-102) Lesley Klaff https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.07 
Arab-Palestinian Refugees (pp. 91-102) Asaf Romirowsky https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.08 
Human Rights (pp. 103-118) Alex Joffe https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.09 
Zionism (pp. 119-127) Thane Rosenbaum https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.10 
Israel Lobby (pp. 128-143) Natan Aridan https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.11 
Islamophobia (pp. 144-156) Miriam F. Elman https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.12 
Intersectionality (pp. 157-170) Gabriel Noah Brahm https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.13 
Pinkwashing (pp. 171-181) Corinne E. Blackmer https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.14 
Uncivil Society: Tracking the Funders and Enablers of the Demonization of Israel (pp. 182-205) Gerald M. Steinberg https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.15 
On Three Anti-Zionisms (pp. 206-216) Shany Mor https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.16 
Settlements (pp. 217-227) Ari Blaff https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.17 
Postscript: BDS (pp. 228-235) Miriam F. Elman and Asaf Romirowsky https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.24.2.18 


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




   U.S. News
'Anti-BDS, pro-Israel Hasbara': Internal War Breaks Out in Israel Studies Field
Controversial special issue of Israel Studies is slammed by some U.S. academics alleging pro-Israel bias, but co-editor rejects criticism as ‘ugly smear campaign’

Judy Maltz   
Apr 18, 2019 6:41 PM
 
An organization of Israel studies scholars is facing an internal rebellion over charges that it allowed itself to serve Israel advocacy efforts and compromised its professional integrity.

At the center of the controversy is a special issue of Israel Studies — a journal affiliated with the Association for Israel Studies — which is dedicated to pushing back against anti-Zionist rhetoric.

Critics say the issue ignores basic standards of academic scholarship, is heavily slanted in favor of Israel and relies on contributions from lightweights in the field.

Edited by the association’s president, Donna Robinson Divine, the special summer issue is titled “Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” She is also a professor of Jewish studies at Smith College in Massachusetts.

The controversy reached crisis point this week when, in an act of protest, a respected Israeli-American historian declined to receive a prestigious award from the association and an invitation to sit on its board.

In a letter announcing his decision, Arie M. Dubnov wrote: “Instead of an invitation to dialogue about the conceptual language and theoretical frameworks used by leading scholars in the field, the [journal’s] ‘alternative dictionary’ appears designed to provide talking points for anti-BDS and pro-‘hasbara’ efforts, and does not serve an academic purpose,” the Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies at George Washington University wrote, referring to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the public diplomacy performed by the Israeli government.

“I have deep concerns about the [association’s] affiliation with a peer-reviewed journal that publishes Orwellian ‘Newspeak’; instead of facilitating an open and good-faith scholarly exchange on some of the most fraught questions of our time,” Dubnov added.

Describing the articles in the journal as “tendentious,” Dubnov charged that “none of the authors present a clear research question, provide empirical evidence for their claims, or engage seriously with the existing scholarship on Israel-Palestine.”

The letter was addressed to Ilan Troen, an Israel studies professor at Brandeis University who also serves as the editor of Israel Studies. He is a past president of the association.

Between advocacy and scholarship

Israel Studies is not the association’s official journal, but because some of its leading members were involved in producing the special summer issue, Dubnov said he held it accountable. He demanded that the association’s leaders either admit their error, retract the special issue or cut their ties with the journal.

In a phone conversation with Haaretz, Dubnov said that by associating itself with this special issue, the association was “blurring the lines between advocacy and scholarship,” and “playing into the hands of those who have long said that Israel studies is an invented field that is nothing more than a cover for the Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry.”

He charged that the articles published in the journal “make a mockery of academic rules” and would never have passed muster in a serious academic publication.

In an email sent to colleagues in the association, Gershon Shafir, director of the human rights program at UC San Diego, also expressed indignation at the journal’s contents. “This attempt to suppress critical voices and dissenting views within the [association] is a microcosm of the larger assault on liberal voices and institutions in Israel,” he wrote. “The term ‘word crimes’ echoes accusations hurled at ‘the criminals of Oslo,’ while the claim of reclaiming parallels the attempted delegitimation of political opposition.”

“Ironically,” he added, “the [association] itself was created with the aim of procuring a forum where Israel may be analyzed with the tools common to the social sciences and humanities, to free the study of Israel from the bonds of political loyalty and subservience in which it was enmeshed. That accomplishment, academic autonomy, is threatened now by the repoliticization of the study of Israel through the criminalization of scholarship and assault on academic freedom.”
 
Asked about these allegations, Troen responded in an email to Haaretz: “The concept of ‘Word Crimes’ is valid and usefully applied to many sides of the debates and polemics surrounding Israel. It refers to how language in the Arab-Israeli dispute has been manipulated to advance partisan agendas. Terms like apartheid, colonialism, indigenous, Holocaust and more have evolved and have been applied and misapplied. No one issue of any journal could cover it all. Some critics of this issue of Israel Studies have taken a view contrary to Dubnov. They maintain some essays could have been more effective if grounded in deeper scholarship, not that the inquiry or the conclusions lack merit.”

Describing the association as a “big tent,” Troen added: “The alarm Dubnov is attempting to raise out of alleged concern for the field and the [association] is in his imagination. The field, the [association] and the journal are not in jeopardy. All are growing steadily and are secure.”

Association members who shared Dubnov’s concerns, but asked not to have their names published, said they were particularly troubled by the fact that a disproportionately large number of those who had edited the journal and written for it were affiliated with Scholars for Peace in the Middle East — a pro-Israel campus movement.

On its website, the movement describes its mission as “to inform, motivate, and encourage faculty to use their academic skills and disciplines on campus, in classrooms, and in academic publications to develop effective responses to the ideological distortions, including anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist slanders, that poison debate and work against peace.”

‘Academic thuggery’

Israel studies is a relatively new discipline, and most members of the Association for Israel Studies come from other fields such as history, political science and sociology. The association was founded in 1985 and has about 500 members. Its membership spans the gamut of traditional Zionists to supporters of the international boycott movement against Israel. The association’s official journal is the Israel Studies Review.
 
Ian S. Lustick, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and a founding member of the association, said he believes the crisis sparked by the publication of the special journal casts a cloud over the association’s future.

“Through the journal’s affiliation with the Association for Israel Studies and the fact that its editor is the association’s immediate past president, and because the editor of the special issue is the current president, the image and reputation of the association as a professional, scholarly, and not an advocacy, organization are compromised,” he wrote in an email.

“The fact that almost all the contributors to the ‘Word Crimes’ issue are members of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East — a straight-out advocacy organization — only adds to the problem and helps account for the firestorm of protest that erupted within the association when it suddenly appeared. Its content was, apparently, a complete surprise to the editorial board of Israel Studies, which includes numerous association members.”

Lustick said that at the association’s upcoming annual conference, scheduled to be held in Israel in June, the board would “reconsider” its relationship with the journal.

Asked for her response, Robinson Divine wrote that the association “will consider the matters that have arisen concerning the publication of the Israel Studies special issue at its annual board meeting in June. This is not the first time the association has confronted a controversial issue nor I suspect will it be the last. It is strong, and as its current president I am committed to protecting its academic integrity. As one of the editors of the special issue, I will ask someone else to replace me as chair to conduct the meeting during the discussion of ‘Word Crimes.’”

Miriam F. Elman, a co-editor of the special issue, was more defensive in her response and charged that critics of the journal were engaged in “an ugly smear campaign.”

“Wild accusations that, as editors, we corrupted the review process, by adopting a political litmus test for the selection of contributing authors, are simply false,” Elman, an associate professor of political science at Syracuse University, told Haaretz. “We approached contributors based on their knowledge, and with an eye toward including scholars from the United States as well as Israel and the United Kingdom, women scholars, and those with diverse disciplinary perspectives.”
 
She rejected demands that action be taken to rectify the situation. “Hysterical calls for the journal editors to apologize for publishing the special issue, or to have it retracted, and threats to boycott the journal and the Association for Israel Studies until the editors comply with these demands, amounts to academic thuggery,” she said. “There are well-established ways for readers of this journal to raise criticisms, and I for one would welcome the dialogue and debate on future pages of the journal. I am relieved that cooler heads are prevailing here and that there will be no caving in to this bullying. I believe we are talking about a very small minority, as very few scholars would run roughshod over academic freedom in this way.”

Joel S. Migdal, a professor of international studies at the University of Washington, said he did not share concerns about the future of the association. “I don’t think the organization is in jeopardy,” he told Haaretz. “It’s gone through these issues before, where people from the left thought people from the right were controlling the organization, and vice versa, and I think it will weather this storm just fine, too.”

Harvard historian Derek J. Penslar said he had reviewed articles for Israel Studies in the past and published his own articles in the journal, which he described as “solid and respectable.”

“But I did not see any of the articles for this special journal,” he told Haaretz. “None of them crossed my desk.”

Asked for his opinion about the special issue, he said he was “unhappy with it and surprised.”


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


APRIL 30, 2019 7:34 PM 3
Israel Journal Editors Reject Claims of Publishing ‘Anti-BDS’ Issue, Defend Academic Integrity
by Shiri Moshe

Editors of the Israel Studies academic journal are rebuffing claims that their latest work was rooted in political advocacy, rather than academic scholarship, amid calls by some critics for retractions and reforms.

The controversy stemmed from objections to the summer 2019 special issue of the journal, titled, “Word Crimes; Reclaiming The Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

The publication, according to its editors, sought to deconstruct the prevailing orthodoxy evident in scholarship on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — particularly its reliance on terms such as “apartheid,” “pinkwashing,” and “terrorism,” and the limits they impose on academic inquiry.

Yet critics have accused it of surreptitiously working in service of a political cause, namely opposition to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, which frequently employs much of the vocabulary examined by the special issue when denouncing the Jewish state and its conflict with Arab powers.

One of the guest co-editors of the “Word Crimes” edition was Donna Robinson Divine, an emerita professor of government from Smith College who is also the president of the Association for Israel Studies (AIS), with which the journal is affiliated.

Due to these ties, as well as the AIS membership of other Israel Studies editors, some critics are calling for the association to either cut ties with the journal or force it to “undergo a serious overhaul.”

In two open letters to the AIS and Israel Studies, the former of which was signed by more than 140 academics as of Tuesday afternoon, critics said the special issue “fell far short of standards expected of academic journals,” calling a majority of its contributors “non-specialists” who could not “claim academic expertise in the subject they were writing on.”

“The essays made minimal and inadequate reference to relevant scholarship,” the letters added, criticizing a couple essays for failing to include “a single footnote.”

The AIS letter’s signatories included Arie Dubnov, a chair of Israel Studies at George Washington University who earlier this month declined an award from the AIS and an opportunity to join its board over the special issue.

The journal’s “‘alternative dictionary’ appears designed to provide talking points for anti-BDS and pro-‘hasbara’ efforts, and does not serve an academic purpose,” Dubnov charged in a letter explaining his decision to Ilan Troen, an emeritus professor of Israel Studies at Brandeis University who was also immediate past president of the AIS.

Yet Troen, a co-editor of Israel Studies who himself contributed to the special’s issue article on the term “indigeneity,” dismissed claims that it damaged the Israel Studies field as “preposterous,” and argued that it “addressed a real academic issue.”

“As with most journals some articles may be better than others,” he told The Algemeiner. “As promised, the issues that follow will offer an opportunity for other views to be expressed.  We’ll see if there is patience for that to take place.”

Other editors who spoke to The Algemeiner also pushed back against the criticism, rejecting claims that their work was not grounded in scholarship or that it aimed to advance a particular political ideology.

Miriam Elman, a professor of political science at Syracuse University who served as co-editor of the special issue, said it was inappropriate for its critics to be “smearing people as lightweight scholars” or questioning the integrity of editors.

“It’s not a civil debate,” she told The Algemeiner of the controversy. “I think they want disruption and intimidation. My own view is that this just another example of the silencing of open inquiry in academia today.”

The “Word Crimes” issue, she pointed out, “had the same exact kind of vetting and production process as any other special issue that Israel Studies has produced,” none of which have raised similar objections. Unlike regular editions, the special issues contain shorter essays that are designed to be accessible to the wider public, rather than solely the academic community.

While “Word Crimes” is more than 20 pages shorter than the previous special issue, “Israel at 70,” which did not generate a similar controversy, it nonetheless has 150 more footnotes — 538 in total, Elman said. In the “Israel at 70” edition, “six authors don’t have a single footnote or citation,” she noted.

“What we have here are people who, if not BDS promoters, are sympathetic to it, and are trying to shut [this issue] down,” she added. “Those calling for the journal to remove the special issue are also claiming that we are trying to silence them. That’s the irony here.”

Elman — who also leads the Academic Engagement Network, which opposes BDS — added that some of the same individuals who are critiquing the special issue had also protested the decision to hold the next annual AIS conference in Israel, and mounted “a serious” though unsuccessful campaign to change the location.

“I don’t think this is about the special issue per se, there is a larger mutiny in the works,” she said.

Robinson Divine likewise stood by the special issue’s objective, saying she submitted the proposal to the journal “because I thought the idea had scholarly merit and could be sustained by logic and evidence. I still do.”

“The collection does not compile a dictionary of acceptable terms; it, instead, argues for good old-fashioned research where evidence informs narrative and not the reverse,” she told The Algemeiner.

She contested claims that the special issue aimed to promote a political narrative, saying contributors were not subjected to a political litmus test. “In fact, I have no idea what political positions are held by the various contributors since I never asked,” Robinson Divine said.

Some of the criticism was leveled at the editors’ affiliations, with Haaretz reporting that anonymous AIS members were “particularly troubled” that a “disproportionately large number” of editors and contributors were members of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), an academic movement that accuses BDS of stifling debate and claims 40,000 members.

Asaf Romirowsky, the journal’s third guest co-editor and the executive director of SPME, argued that it was “foolish” to “take a dig at the editors” over their ties to SPME, which was not involved in the special issue “in any way, shape, or form.”

Addressing claims that some authors were “non-specialists” or “non-academics,” Romirowsky told The Algemeiner that, “with the exception of one author who is a graduate student, all the authors are PhDs who have written about the topics they’ve addressed. They were chosen because they dealt with these topics — and all came from different political persuasions. There was not one monolithic viewpoint.”

Some of the criticism extended to Romirowsky’s own submission to the special issue, which focused on “Arab-Palestinian Refugees.” In their open letter to the AIS, signatories claimed his essay “failed to refer to key works by Benny Morris, Yoav Gelber, Walid Khalidi, and other scholars.”

“I have been studying Arab Palestinian refugees for nearly two decades, I wrote a book about the topic,” Romirowsky said in response. “My footnotes in particular have UN documents, archival documents that include American foreign policy documents — and primary documents are much more important than secondary resources altogether.”

He suggested that the campaign amounted to a “personal attack” on the editors — a position Dubnov, addressing Elman’s comments, rejected. “[As] if keeping high scholarly standards is my own personal crusade or caprice,” he wrote in comments to The Algemeiner.

Yair Wallach — a senior lecturer in Israeli Studies and the head of the Centre for Jewish Studies at SOAS, University of London, who authored the open letters to the AIS and Israel Studies — told The Algemeiner that they attracted a sizable amount of signatories in a short amount of time, including from leading scholars, “because the failures of this special issue were so serious.”

He reiterated concerns ranging from the editors’ naming decision for the special issue — “Do they not understand the danger of referring to ideas and concepts as ‘crimes’?” — to the featuring of “non-specialists.”

“These failures remain unaddressed,” he said, “and the questions to the editors remain unanswered.”




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

Daniel DeMalach

העורכים של הגיליון "פשעי מלים" מגיבים.

התגובה המפורטת כאן למטה. היא מדווחת בין השאר כי כמה מחברי מועצת המערכת התפטרו בעקבות פרסום הגיליון.

כל אחד יוכל כמובן לגבש את עמדתו. בעיני התשובה איננה מספקת ואיננה נותנת תשובה נאותה להיבט החמור ביותר של הגיליון- פרסום המאמרים תחת הכותרת "פשעי מלים". העורכים מצדיקים זאת בכך שבעבר התקיים כבר מושב תחת כותרת זו באחד מכינוסי האגודה. ההיקש אינו "עובד" בעיני. אני לא מתלהב מהשיח על "פשעי מלים" אבל לא סבור שאפשר לפסול אותו לגמרי והכל תלוי בהקשר. כאן בגיליון הזה קשה שלא להבין את הכותרת כתורמת לקרימינליזציה של חלק ניכר מהשיח האקדמי.



Critique of the Special Issue of Israel Studies:

The Editors’ Response

Statement of concern 
The stringent criticism of Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict was initiated at the beginning of April 2019 and broadly disseminated along with petitions anyone could sign through listserv and social media postings to members of the Association for Israel Studies, the Editorial Board of the journal, Israel Studies, and a host of others with no connection to either the Association or the journal. It was also reported to the press.

The inauguration of this campaign is telling. In perhaps the first listserv posting, Ian Lustick claimed that Word Crimes criminalized populations and individuals and engaged in “demonization.” He was responding to the title, as he admitted he had not yet read the articles. He did not mention that he himself was publicly challenged recently for manipulation of language for polemical effect, specifically for his use of Holocaust, a topic treated in Word Crimes. More measured and specific criticism came from scholars who read the volume and faulted some of the essays for arguments that were not grounded in scholarship and read like opinion pieces.

The Editors of the journal publicly acknowledged that the essays were uneven and invited a scholarly critical response. Among steps they proposed was to begin the next issue with a Letter of Dissent and to post it on the journal’s website; a detailed plan for consultation with the editorial board leading to an agenda prior to the AIS annual conference at the end of June; and the stipulation that acknowledged scholars would shape and fully develop the section on “Zionist Dialectics” over as many issues as required to critically address the topics raised in Word Crimes, and more.

The proposal was dismissed as charges posted to the web and elsewhere became more extreme. There was fulsome praise for the editors, the unquestioned contribution of the journal to the field, and the academic standards and openness to diverse opinions it has championed over a quarter of a century, followed by increasingly harsh and uncompromising demands that the only way to avoid irreparable damage to the journal’s sterling reputation was for the editors to resign and for the editorial board to be restructured. Some members of the current editorial board did resign to register their protest. More troubling are reports of pressure exerted on individuals, such as a warning that association with the journal could jeopardize promotion.

The claim that is being loudly trumpeted and broadly advertised is this: the publication of one special issue of Israel Studies that includes some essays whose scholarship has been faulted puts the future of the journal and with it the entire field of Israel Studies at risk. The only acceptable way to forestall the damage is if the demands of the critics are met—and now. This is a canard.

The role of social and mass media in rapidly exacerbating a critique that would normally have occasioned scholarly debate and argumentation is worthy of study by experts in media and politics. There are preferred means in the academy for voicing complaints and criticism. Both AIS institutions, preparing to consider the situation at the annual June meeting, and the journal’s institutions have been entirely disregarded. Both were bypassed in a surprisingly furious rush to judgment and a unilateral demand to dictate outcomes.

This campaign to enlist members and non-members to bypass legitimate and authorized bodies – the AIS Board, Executive Committee, and General Assembly – and to impose decisions without a normal deliberative process vitiates the very values it claims to represent. This is an episode of enormous consequence for the AIS. A similar effort last year was overruled, but only apparently contained. Resorting to external manipulation of an association of scholars bespeaks a fundamental disregard for its members and institutions.

Background
At its founding and during the early years of the journal, there were only a few dedicated centers, institutes or study programs in Israel Studies in Israel and none beyond. Few academic courses were offered abroad beyond Zionism and later the conflict. In the following years of rapid growth, the journal provided a crucial scholarly platform that stimulated and developed a growing field.

During nearly a quarter century, Israel Studies has been a prime venue, publishing the work of more than 600 different scholars who have contributed at least one article in 67 issues. Within this extensive compass there have been special issues, collections of papers around a special theme, and a department for “Zionist Dialectics.” Currently more than three thousand university libraries, research institutes and individuals subscribe to the journal. It is widely disseminated through JSTOR, Project Muse, EBSCO and others. Down-loadings are ubiquitous, including by scholars from countries with no formal relations with Israel, but wanting to know more about the country.

Sponsors and the Affiliation with the AIS
Israel Studies is sponsored by Ben-Gurion University’s Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Zionism and Brandeis University’s Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. It is affiliated with the AIS.

The terms of affiliation, as distinct from sponsorship, involve no financial or any other substantial obligation. Affiliation means members of the AIS participate in the editorial board and they enjoy a reduced subscription rate. AIS adverts may appear gratis in the journal. And the editors report to the Board of the AIS at its annual meeting. In other words, the AIS bears no financial responsibility for the journal and, importantly, does not have any role in its operations, including the appointment of editors. This arrangement has apparently been deemed satisfactory since it has never been questioned; only appreciation has ever been voiced at Board meetings.

We believe “affiliation” has benefited both parties. However, there are no impediments to disaffiliation should one or both sides determine that is desirable.

Academic Standards
As even critics of this special issue acknowledge, Israel Studies is highly respected for its academic standards. In the two years prior to the publication of Word Crimes, from 4 to 7 reviews were solicited for each article that passed scrutiny for potential acceptance. 120 different reviewers, among them members of the Editorial Board, have contributed to this process for at least one essay. After receiving the reviews, authors revised to an acceptable standard, explained why all or a portion of the reviews would be accommodated, or turned elsewhere to publish. Note that there has never been an instance of non-consideration or acceptance because of political views – and that includes articles for special issues.

Special issues: 
18 of the 67 issues published to date have been entirely or substantially devoted to special topics. Some have been expanded into separate volumes published in association with the journal.

Special issues have been initiated by the journal’s editors and members of its editorial committee. Editors of special issues have primary responsibility for reviewing and soliciting additional external reviewers. This process is common and until the present has never been questioned. In fact, special issues have elicited appreciation.

The most recent Special issue, Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:
The term “Word Crimes” has aroused serious objections and is subject to misinformation. It is not new to the AIS. A panel with that title was submitted and accepted after inspection of full abstracts by the program committee at last year’s AIS conference at UC/Berkeley. A large room was packed with AIS members. There was great interest; no one raised an objection. A session with this title will soon take place at another major academic conference. The initiating editor describes the rationale for the term and the issue:

Donna Robinson Divine: 
We used the term Word Crimes to point to the way terminology is being used to lead and mislead in what is increasingly the conventional language for discussing Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians. The link between language and thought, a problem that reaches back to Plato who addresses the confusion of language in democracy in the Republic, is a staple of at least a century of Anglo-American philosophical studies. The crime of the title is the politicization of the discourse and the attendant disposition to cast Israel into a rhetorical zone once reserved for brutal regimes committing ghastly crimes. The issue does not compile a dictionary of acceptable terms nor does it proclaim any one approach to the study of the Conflict sovereign. Instead, it argues for good old-fashioned research where evidence informs narrative rather than narrative determining what acquires the status of fact. The special issue of Israel Studies focuses on words because the terms, themselves, distort the dynamics of the Conflict and obscure changing Israeli, Palestinian, regional and global developments.

Neither ideology nor politics informed the selection of contributors. In fact, I have no idea what political positions are held by the various contributors since I never asked. Nor did I list myself as AIS President in the description of contributors. I wrote the introduction as a Smith College Professor, Emerita. I sought scholars willing to interrogate what has become the conventional wisdom on how to study the Conflict and who could put their ideas into a short readable essay. The contributors come from several different countries and possess different kinds of expertise—some work in think tanks and are active in formulating policies—one, in fact, is a graduate student. We wanted to reach outside of the campus gates because we believe the university is not the only residence of people with creative ideas on this topic.

I submitted the proposal to Israel Studies because I believed the project had scholarly merit and could be sustained by logic and evidence. That the uproar was unleashed and driven before people had read any of the essays suggests that the issue not only struck a chord--and hit a nerve--but that it, perhaps, was also a useful blow for diversity.

The problem of narratives about Israel and the Conflict is that they angrily feed off one another, as symbols grasped by partisans for one cause or another. WORD CRIMES is arguing for an alternative-not a consensus on causes or resolutions--but rather for a reasoned dialogue about these differences and a serious probing of concrete evidence.

I have profound respect for scholarship on Israel and have expressed that admiration in almost all I have ever put in print on the country: Here is what I wrote in the Introduction about research on Israel:

“More importantly, joining scholarly revisionism to political activism has produced no insights not disclosed through old fashioned research methods and access to archives holding newly declassified records. Traditional academic work had already liberated Israeli scholars from subscribing to a simple narrative of their country's state-building experience as fulfilling only a progressive national mission. Many newly minted Israeli academicians—some calling themselves new historians, others critical sociologists—probed the Zionist nation-building project by examining its impact on Palestine's Arab population, Middle Eastern immigrants, and on the lives and experiences of women long before the new vocabulary commanded serious attention. In fact, the generation that witnessed Israel's founding debated almost every aspect of the country's public policy even if these heated discussions were not always translated into English or incorporated into the published material reaching bookstores in the West.”

In a genuine academic community, intellectuals do not try to silence or ‘troll’ one another but rather to talk despite their differences even with no other aim than to display the grounds of their diversity. If AIS cannot stand for that kind of academic integrity, it may not be able to stand at all.

Additional observations: (Troen and Aridan continued)
The credentials and political affiliations of the editors and contributors: Aspersions cast on the issue’s authors cross the line to the scurrilous. We also do not know the politics of the authors, and would never ask.

The blanket indictment that all are members of pro-Israel and anti-BDS groups, especially SPME (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East) and working on its behalf is false. 
Some examples.

The article on colonialism received much attention. The author, John Strawson, is a Professor of Law at the University of East London where he directs the Centre on Human Rights in Conflict. He is also a certified critic of Israel, prominently associated with Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a network of Jews who are British or live in Britain, practicing and secular, Zionist and not. They describe themselves as opposing “Israeli policies that undermine the livelihoods, human, civil and political rights of the Palestinian people.” He is also a prominent member of Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch. See:
http://www.israelcampus.com/…/Petitions%20-%20Israeli%20Aca…

Ilan Troen is an established scholar who pays dues to the Israeli Labor Party, had contributed to the sadly defunct Meimad, and continually tries to find a home on that side of the ever-changing Israeli political spectrum. He is openly opposed to BDS and officially represented the AIS at a MESA conference where BDS was a key agenda item. He has engaged in similar events at the MLA, AAA, and AHA on his own and on behalf of various groups. His commitment to opposing academic boycotts extends to public opposition to acts taken by the Israeli government. His article on indigeneity was extensively reviewed and revised twice, in a far more extended form that will be published this coming winter and again, for Word Crimes.

Asaf Romirofsky, one of the editors of the special issue, wrote on “Arab-Palestinian Refugees.” Romirofsky recently published a book on the subject (Palgrave Macmillan) after immersing himself in the topic for two decades, since he was a graduate student. He was faulted for not referencing well-known scholars although his footnotes are replete with references to UN, US and other archival materials. His decision to refer to primary sources rather than to the works of other scholars has been derided.

Donna Robinson Divine is the Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies and a professor of government emerita at Smith College, a well-published expert, and award- winning teacher. Her election as president of the Association for Israel Studies testifies to the high regard with which she is held. Moreover, she is constantly requested to review for leading scholarly journals and to review applications for grants for the NEH, Fulbright, and the Israel Science Foundation. She, too, fails to meet the scholarly standards of the listserv.

Miriam Elman, the third editor of the special volume and one of its contributors, is a highly regarded and well-published political scientist positioned at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Her experience in reviewing manuscripts and grant proposals is extensive. In fact, Troen and Elman first met during years of service for the Fulbright program where they served as two of the three expert referees for selecting and prioritizing grant applications for scholarship on Israel.

Short bios of other contributors are found in the volume. Donna Divine has already explained the logic of choosing them.

The tone of the critique of these scholars and their scholarship suggests that there is some unidentified rancor mixed in with valid criticism. Opposition to (some of) the topics, disagreement with the perspectives and scholarship of (some of) the authors, and a judgment that the editors failed to exercise sufficient oversight in this one instance do not explain the uncompromising position and wholesale condemnation of the journal, and the special issue.

Next steps
The editors acknowledge that the special issue is imperfect and should have been improved. Because as editors of a long-running journal we are, and have been, dedicated to balance. We will carry on this debate through subsequent issues, opening “Zionist Dialectics” as a forum and soliciting submissions by scholars with opposing positions on these topics.

It is worth noting that no past or present member of the Editorial Board has ever complained about not being consulted about planned or published issues. In light of the serious indictment of the special issue, we will inaugurate full and transparent consultations with all members of the board on the forthcoming “Zionist Dialectics” segments. We require and appreciate members’ active participation to formulate subjects, designate potential authors, and review essays. The value of this section depends on the participation of the editorial board.

Israel Studies will continue with or without the members of the current Board. The sponsors of the journal have the authority to effect all necessary changes. Both have distinguished publishing records and produce significant scholarship in Hebrew and in English.

The next issue of Israel Studies will be published around the time of the AIS Annual Conference in June. The following two issues are in advanced planning. Israel Studies will continue to lead in producing scholarship based on diversity of perspectives and the highest academic standards.

Ilan Troen and Natan Aridan
2 May 2019


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


 

Letter to the AIS: Concerns regarding the “Word Crimes" Israel Studies special issue
To the members of the board of the Association for Israel Studies:

Israel Studies is a much respected scholarly journal which is affiliated to and sponsored by the Association for Israel Studies (AIS), as stated in the Association by-laws (article V.B).

Since its establishment in 1996, Israel Studies has published numerous important contributions from hundreds of scholars. The journal has done much to advance knowledge, understanding, and discussion of contemporary Israel. It has long established a reputation for publishing excellent scholarship in the field.

For this reason, we were dismayed by the journal's last special issue (volume 24, no. 2), which fell far short of standards expected of academic journals. As scholars involved in Israel Studies through teaching, research, and professional affiliation, we are writing to voice our concerns about this issue, which we believe has done serious damage to the reputation of the journal, and could cast a long shadow on the AIS and the field.

The issue, titled "Word Crimes: Reclaiming The Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict", featured essays on key terms in current critical scholarship of Israel/Palestine. The castigation of intellectual categories as “word crimes” is not a starting point for a good-faith discussion: it is a call to arms. By describing terms as “linguistic transgressions” and scholarship as lacking in “sanity”, the issue made clear that its aim was not to contribute to vigorous debate, but rather to police and shut down this debate. Passionate discussion on the adequacy of terminology and theoretical frameworks is the bread and butter of our profession, and should be welcomed, not “criminalised”.

The declared intention of the guest editors was to “restore academic integrity” to the field. But barely a third of the 17 contributors to the issue could claim academic expertise in the subject they were writing on. Disciplinary boundaries are not sacred, but the selection of so many non-specialists (including non-academics) requires justification, which was not provided. It is not clear why an archaeologist was chosen to write on “Human Rights”, and a Communication Professor as an expert on “Apartheid”. The essays made minimal and inadequate reference to relevant scholarship. The pieces on “Anti-Zionism” and “Occupation” did not have a single footnote. The essay on “Arab-Palestinian Refugees” failed to refer to key works by Benny Morris, Yoav Gelber, Walid Khalidi, and other scholars. The essay on “Colonialism” did not engage the rich literature on settler-colonialism from the last 15 years. These are few examples of the numerous and pervasive failings of the issue.

Overall the special issue read as a partisan and polemical exercise in advocacy rather than serious scholarship. It was particularly worrying to note that leading members of the AIS, including its current president, took part in the making of the issue.

Academic discussion of Israel/Palestine is already, and inevitably, politicized. The field is characterized by deep engagement on the one hand, and deep disagreement and contentions on the other hand. This is what makes it so interesting, relevant and worthwhile. However, for the discussion to be meaningful and scholarly, basic academic standards need to be maintained. Adherence to academic rules of discussion is key to make it possible to have a discussion at all. Otherwise, we are in the realm of advocacy and polemics. Inability to make the distinction between advocacy and scholarship could threaten the future of the AIS as a vital scholarly space for research and discussion of contemporary Israel.

The journal Israel Studies must undergo a serious overhaul to address these concerns in order to save its reputation and prevent such failures in the future. If such effort is not undertaken, the AIS should end its sponsorship of the journal and disaffiliate from it.

We call upon the Association for Israel Studies, which according to its by-laws, is a sponsor of the journal Israel Studies, to take concrete actions to reassure scholars interested in Israel that it is not a platform for advocacy, and that it welcomes the work of scholars regardless of their identity, theoretical approach or political persuasion. The AIS should communicate in clear terms and in action that it is devoted to critical academic reflection and discussion; that it stands against the policing of discourse, and is committed to encouraging free and open debate.

A list of signatories so far (to be updated regularly)
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vRaNa7FY0_2JnKZDrL6IEyQotCX_g_0W1-8wbdwPUFrx9yLhYQxsntXWv1Au5IJxk5-UZ3pqR3hxzic/pubhtml

Please sign a related letter addressed to the editorial board of the journal https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Gxx9iBFnDbaZMDHQP30efzhuszLSrERJGWl2s-N3EMk/

 

List of signatories AIS letter : 

1 Yair Wallach

Senior Lecturer in Israeli Studies, SOAS, University of London

2 Arnon Degani

Ben-Gurion Center for the Study of Zionism and Israel

3 Hilary Kalisman

Assistant Professor of History, Endowed Professor of Israel/Palestine Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder

4 Udi Greenberg

Associate Professor, Dartmouth College

5 Shira Robinson

Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, GWU

6 Tamir Sorek

Professor of Sociology, University of Florida

7 Lauren Banko

Lecturer, Yale University

8 Zachary Smith

University of Pennsylvania, Political Science, PhD candidate

9 Marik Shtern

Post doctorate, Sociology Department , UCSD

10 Shaul Magid

Distinguished Fellow in Jewish Studies - Dartmouth College

11 Ian Lustick

Professor of Political Science. University of Pennsylvania

12 Nitzan Lebovic

Association Professor, Lehigh University

13 Lior Sternfeld

Assistsnt Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Penn State

14 David Myers

Professor, UCLA

15 Oded Erez

Assistant Proffesor, Bar Ilan University

16 Liora Halperin

Associate Professor, University of Washington

17 Bryan Roby

Assistant Professor - University of Michigan

18 Daniel DeMalach

Department of Administration and Public Policy. Sapir Academic College

19 Hillel Cohen

Hebrew University

20 Anat Matar

Tel Aviv University

21 Orit Bashkin

University of Chicago

22 Abigail Wood

Senior lecturer, University of Haifa

23 Amos Noy

The Folklore Research Center, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

24 Una McGahern

Senior Lecturer, Newcastle University

25 Hila Zaban

Research Fellow, University of Warwick

26 Seth Anziska

Lecturer in Jewish-Muslim Relations at University College London

27 Moriel Ram

Postdoc research Israel Studies, SOAS

28 Shafik SayidAhmad

lecturer - Alqasimy -BaqaAlgharbiya

29 Hila Amit

independent scholar and author

30 Raz Chen-Morris

Chair of the Department of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

31 Oded Steinberg Dr .

32 Sara Helman

Senior lecturer Ben Gurion University

33 Hagar Kotef

Senior Lecturer SOAS, university of London

34 Adi Livny

Phd Student, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

35 Yoav Galai

Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London

36 Ranen Omer-Sherman

Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Endowed Chair, University of Louisville

37 Hilla Dayan

Lecturer, Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands

38 Eli Osheroff

PhD candidate, The Hebrew University

39 Yaara Benger Alaluf

Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin

40 Shira Wilkof

Postdoctoral fellow, Tel Aviv University

41 Yonatan Sagiv

Research Associate, Centre for Jewish Studies, SOAS

42 Lee Rotbart

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

43 Jacob Eriksson

Lecturer in the Department of Politics, University of York

44 Tal Rippa

PhD candidate, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

45 Noa Shuval

Tel Aviv university

46 Uri Ben-Eliezer

Prof. Chair, Sociology, univ. of Haifa

47 Barbara Mann

Professor, Jewish Theological Seminary

48 Ronit Lentin

Associate Professor (ret) Trinity College Dublin

49 Assaf David

Head of the Manarat Center, the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

50 Derek Laffan

Researcher at Dublin City University

51 Sarai Aharoni

Assistant Proffesor, Gender Studies Program, Ben Gurion University

52 Ruti Kantor

Senior Lecturer, Bezalel

53 Lior Libman

Assistant Professor of Israel Studies, Binghamton University - SUNY

54 Yoav Peled

Prof. Emeritus of Political Science, Tel Aviv University

55 Piki Ish-Shalom

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

56 Halleli Pinson

Senior lecturer, Dep. of Education, Ben-Gurion University

57 Erella Grassiani

dr University of Amsterdam

58 Yael Berda

Assistant prof ( lecturer) dept of sociology HUJI

59 Noor Abo ras Student

60 Rawda Makhoul

Ph.d. student BGU

61 Adriana Kemp

Associate Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Tel Aviv University

62 Ruth Ben-Artzi

Associate Professor of Political Science, Providence College

63 Ishay Landa

Associate professor, The Open University Israel

64 Oren Yiftachel

Professor, Ben-Gurion University

65 Jon Isacoff

Professor, Political Science, Gonzaga University

66 Daniel Heller

Senior Lecturer, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University

67 Michal Frenkel

Professor of sociology Hebrew University

68 Ron Reichman

Stanford University

69 Avner Ben-Amos

Tel-Aviv University

70 Chana Morgenstern

University Lecturer in Postcolonial and Middle East Literatures, Cambridge University

71 Gershon Shafir

Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego

72 Mark Tessler

Professor, University of Michigan

73 Marc Volovici

Postdoc, Birkbeck, University of London

74 Isaac Nevo

Philosophy Dept. Ben-Gurion University

75 Uri Horesh

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Essex

76 Tamar Novick

senior research scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

77 Eitan Bar-Yosef

Associate Professor, Ben-Gurion University

78 Shay Hazkani

Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

79 Nimrod Ben Zeev

Phd Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

80 Noa Roei

Assistant Professor UVA

81 Roni Henig

Columbia University

82 Roi Livne

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan

83 E. Natalie Rothman

Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto

84 Ayala Emmett

Professor Emeritus of Anthroplogy, University of Rochester

85 Dirk Moses

Professor of Modern History, University of Sydney

86 Yoav Kapshuk

Lecturer, Kinneret Academic College

87 Yuval Evri

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow King's College London

88 Itamar Haritan

PhD Student, Cornell University

89 Moshe Behar

U of Manchester

90 Galit Hasan-Rokem

Professor Emerita The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

91 Shachar Pinsker

Professor, University of Michigan

92 Michael Gluzman

Professor, Tel Aviv University

93 Menachem Klein

Professor Bar Ilan University

94 Amos Goldberg

Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University

95 Alon Confino

Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies, Professor of History and Jewish Studies

96 Chen Misgav

Post doctoral scholar at the Open University of Israel

97 Stanley Dubinsky

Professor, University of South Carolina

98 Na'ama Rokem

Associate Professor, University of Chicago; Director, The Joyce Z. and Jacob Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies

99 Ishay Rosen-Zvi

Full Professor, Tel-Aviv University

100 Chana Kronfeld

Professor, University of California, Berkeley

101 Yonathan (Jon) Anson

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

102 Eli Osheroff

PhD student, the hebrew university

103 Tamar Katriel

Professor (Emerita) University of Haifa

104 Gadi Algazi

Professor of history, Dept. of History, Tel Aviv University

105 Yinon Cohen

Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Columbia University

106 Ariel Hirschfeld

Senior lecturer ,Dep. of Hebrew Literature, The Hebrew University

107 Ido Harari

Graduate student, the department of Jewish thought, Ben Gurion university of the Negev

108 Avigail Arnheim Musical director

109 Noah Hysler Rubin

Senior lecturer, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design

110 Nimrod Luz

Faculty, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee

111 Marcella Simoni

Lecturer, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy

112 Hagit Borer QMUL

113 Daniel Bertrand Monk

George R. and Myra T. Cooley Chair in Peace and Conflict Studies. Professor of Geography and Middle East Studies, Colgate University

114 Philipp Messner

Archivist, University of Zurich

115 Zvi Efrat

Professor of Architecture, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design

116 Ruvi Ziegler

Associate Professor in International Refugee Law, University of Reading (UK)

117 NURIT PELED-ELHANAN

LECTURER IN LANGUAGE EDUCATION HEB. UNIV. AND HEAD OF COMMUNICAITON DEPARTMENT DAVID YELLIN ACADEMIC COLLEGE

118 Cliff Jones

Honorary Senior Fellow University of Liverpool

119 Rachel Brenner

University of Wisconsin-Madison

120 Karin Loevy

NYU School of Law, IILJ Research Scholar

121 Michael Stanislawski

Columbia University

122 Joyce Dalsheim

Associate Professor, UNC-Charlotte

123 Meir Amor

Associate Professor, Concordia University

124 Olga Gershenson

Professor, UMass Amherst

125 Motti Golani

Chair, The Chaim Weizmann Institute for the Study of Zionism and Israel University of Tel Aviv

126 Naor Ben-Yehoyada

Assistant Professor, Columbia University

127 Avery Robinson

Researcher, University of Michigan

128 Diego Rotman

Hebrew University

129 Yoav Mehozay

University of Haifa

130 Boaz Atzili

Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University

131 Nathaniel Shils

PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

132 Uri Ram Professor

133 Yael Chaver

Lecturer, UC Berkeley

134 Shir Alon

Assistant Prof, University of Minnesota

135 Matan Kaminer

University of Michigan

136 Shlomit Lir

Postdoc the Center for Israel Studies Ben Gurion University of the Negev

137 Dov Waxman

Professor of Political Science, International Affairs and Israel Studies, Northeastern University

138 Abigail Jacobson

Senior Lecturer, Islamic and MES, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

139 Michael Shalev

Professor, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

140 Hamutal Tsamir

Dept. of Hebrew Literature, Ben Gurion University

141 Tovi Fenster

Full Professor Tel Aviv University

142 Ilan Peleg

C.A.Dana Professor of Government & Law, Lafayette College

143 Yuval Yonay

Associate Prof., University of Haifa

144 Nathan Kurz

Independent Scholar

145 Rachel Green

Assistant Professor, UMass-Amherst

146 David Abraham

Prof. Em. of Law, University of Miami

147 Lev Grinberg

Full Professor, Ben Gurion University

148 Charles Manekin

Professor of Philosophy, University of Maryland

149 Ron Kuzar

Professor (Emeritus), University of Haifa

150 Gal Levy

Teacher and Researcher The Open University Israel

151 Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin Professor

152 Haggai Ram

Ben Gurion University of the Negev

153 Jerome Bourdon

Professor, Department of Communication, Tel Aviv University

154 Yoni Furas

Postdoc, Haifa Uni

155 Eliran Bar-El

University of Cambridge

156 Eyal Sivan

Professor - Amsterdam Universsity of the Arts

157 Kobi Metzer

Professor (emeritus) of Economics, The Hebrew University of Jerudalem

158 Amit Levy

PhD student, Department of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

159 Yael Padan

Research Fellow, University College London

160 Ori Yehudai

University of Toronto

161 Yoav Beirach

Tel Aviv University

162 Daniel Boyarin

Prof. of Talmudic Culture, UC Berkeley

163 Ofer Berenstein

PhD Candidate, Dept. of Communication, Media and Film, University of Calgary, Canada

164 Daniel Levine

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Alabama

165 Oren Shlomo Postdoc

166 Yael Shenker

Faculty member Sapir

167 David Tal

Yossi Harel Chair in Modern Israel Studies, University of Sussex

168 David Abraham

Prof. Em. of Law, University of Miami

169 Arie Dubnov

Associate Prof. of History & Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies, the George Washington University

170 Abraham Mansbach

Prof.Em. Ben Gurion University

171 Hamutal Tsamir

dept. of Hebrew Literature, Ben Gurion University

172 Tamar Katriel

Professor (Emerita), University of Haifa

173 Marco Allegra

Principal Investigator, Institute for Social Sciences, University of Lisbon

174 Hagit Borer

Professor, Queen Mary University of London

 


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



Concerns regarding the “Word Crimes” Israel
Studies special issue
Yair Wallach
May 3
To the members of the board of the Association for Israel Studies:

Israel Studies is a much respected scholarly journal which is affiliated to and sponsored by the Association for Israel Studies (AIS), as stated in the Association by-laws (article V.B).

Since its establishment in 1996, Israel Studies has published numerous important contributions from hundreds of scholars. The journal has done much to advance knowledge, understanding, and discussion of contemporary Israel. It has long established a reputation for publishing excellent scholarship in the field.

For this reason, we were dismayed by the journal’s last special issue (volume 24, no. 2), which fell far short of standards expected of academic journals. As scholars involved in Israel Studies through teaching, research, and professional affiliation, we are writing to voice our concerns about this issue, which we believe has done serious damage to the reputation of the journal, and could cast a long shadow on the AIS and the field.

The issue, titled “Word Crimes: Reclaiming The Language of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, featured essays on key terms in current critical scholarship of Israel/Palestine. The castigation of intellectual categories as “word crimes” is not a starting point for a good-faith discussion: it is a call to arms. By describing terms as “linguistic transgressions” and scholarship as lacking in “sanity”, the issue made clear that its aim was not to contribute to vigorous debate, but rather to police and shut down this debate. Passionate discussion on the adequacy of terminology and theoretical frameworks is the bread and butter of our profession, and should be welcomed, not “criminalised”.

The declared intention of the guest editors was to “restore academic integrity” to the field. But barely a third of the 17 contributors to the issue could claim academic expertise in the subject they were writing on. Disciplinary boundaries are not sacred, but the selection of so many non-specialists (including non-academics) requires justification, which was not provided. It is not clear why an archaeologist was chosen to write on “Human Rights”, and a Communication Professor as an expert on “Apartheid”. The essays made minimal and inadequate reference to relevant scholarship. The pieces on “Anti-Zionism” and “Occupation” did not have a single footnote. The essay on “Arab-Palestinian Refugees” failed to refer to key works by Benny Morris, Yoav Gelber, Walid Khalidi, and other scholars. The essay on “Colonialism” did not engage the rich literature on settler-colonialism from the last 15 years. These are few examples of the numerous and pervasive failings of the issue.

Overall the special issue read as a partisan and polemical exercise in advocacy rather than serious scholarship. It was particularly worrying to note that leading members of the AIS, including its current president, took part in the making of the issue.

Academic discussion of Israel/Palestine is already, and inevitably, politicized. The field is characterized by deep engagement on the one hand, and deep disagreement and contentions on the other hand. This is what makes it so interesting, relevant and worthwhile. However, for the discussion to be meaningful and scholarly, basic academic standards need to be maintained. Adherence to academic rules of discussion is key to make it possible to have a discussion at all. Otherwise, we are in the realm of advocacy and polemics. Inability to make the distinction between advocacy and scholarship could threaten the future of the AIS as a vital scholarly space for research and discussion of contemporary Israel.

The journal Israel Studies must undergo a serious overhaul to address these concerns in order to save its reputation and prevent such failures in the future. If such effort is not undertaken, the AIS should end its sponsorship of the journal and disaffiliate from it.

We call upon the Association for Israel Studies, which according to its by-laws, is a sponsor of the journal Israel Studies, to take concrete actions to reassure scholars interested in Israel that it is not a platform for advocacy, and that it welcomes the work of scholars regardless of their identity, theoretical approach or political persuasion. The AIS should communicate in clear terms and in action that it is devoted to critical academic reflection and discussion; that it stands against the policing of discourse, and is committed to encouraging free and open debate.

Yours sincerely,

Jerome Bourdon, Professor, Department of Communication, Tel Aviv University Noor Abo ras, Student David Abraham, Prof. Em. of Law, University of Miami Sarai Aharoni, Assistant Proffesor, Gender Studies Program, Ben Gurion University Gadi Algazi, Professor of history, Dept. of History, Tel Aviv University Marco Allegra, Principal Investigator, Institute for Social Sciences, University of Lisbon Shir Alon, Assistant Prof, University of Minnesota Hila Amit, independent scholar and author Meir Amor, Associate Professor, Concordia University Yonathan (Jon) Anson, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Seth Anziska, Lecturer in Jewish-Muslim Relations at University College London Avigail Arnheim, Musical director Boaz Atzili, Associate Professor, School of International Service, American University Lauren Banko, Lecturer, Yale University Eliran Bar-El, University of Cambridge Eitan Bar-Yosef, Associate Professor, Ben-Gurion University Orit Bashkin, University of Chicago Moshe Behar, U of Manchester Yoav Beirach, Tel Aviv University Nimrod Ben Zeev, Phd Candidate, University of Pennsylvania Avner Ben-Amos, Tel-Aviv University Ruth Ben-Artzi, Associate Professor of Political Science, Providence College Uri Ben-Eliezer, Prof. Chair, Sociology, univ. of Haifa Naor Ben-Yehoyada, Assistant Professor, Columbia University Yaara Benger Alaluf, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin Yael Berda, Assistant prof ( lecturer) dept of sociology HUJI Ofer Berenstein, PhD Candidate, Dept. of Communication, Media and Film, University of Calgary, Canada Hagit Borer, Professor, Queen Mary University of London Daniel Boyarin, Prof. of Talmudic Culture, UC Berkeley Rachel Brenner, University of Wisconsin-Madison Yael Chaver, Lecturer, UC Berkeley Raz Chen-Morris, Chair of the Department of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Hillel Cohen, Hebrew University Yinon Cohen, Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Columbia University Alon Confino, Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies, Professor of History and Jewish Studies Joyce Dalsheim, Associate Professor, UNC-Charlotte Assaf David, Head of the Manarat Center, the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Hilla Dayan, Lecturer, Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands Arnon Degani, Ben-Gurion Center for the Study of Zionism and Israel Daniel DeMalach, Department of Administration and Public Policy. Sapir Academic College Stanley Dubinsky, Professor, University of South Carolina Arie Dubnov, Associate Prof. of History & Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies, the George Washington University Zvi Efrat, Professor of Architecture, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design Ayala Emmett, Professor Emeritus of Anthroplogy, University of Rochester Oded Erez, Assistant Proffesor, Bar Ilan University Jacob Eriksson, Lecturer in the Department of Politics, University of York Yuval Evri, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow King’s College London Tovi Fenster, Full Professor Tel Aviv University Michal Frenkel, Professor of sociology Hebrew University Yoni Furas, Postdoc, Haifa Uni Yoav Galai, Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London Olga Gershenson, Professor, UMass Amherst Michael Gluzman, Professor, Tel Aviv University Motti Golani, Chair, The Chaim Weizmann Institute for the Study of Zionism and Israel University of Tel Aviv Amos Goldberg, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University Erella Grassiani, University of Amsterdam Rachel Green, Assistant Professor, UMass-Amherst Udi Greenberg, Associate Professor, Dartmouth College Lev Grinberg, Full Professor, Ben Gurion University Liora Halperin, Associate Professor, University of Washington Ido Harari, Graduate student, the department of Jewish thought, Ben Gurion university of the Negev Itamar Haritan, PhD Student, Cornell University Galit Hasan-Rokem, Professor Emerita The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Shay Hazkani, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park Daniel Heller, Senior Lecturer, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University Sara Helman, Senior lecturer Ben Gurion University Roni Henig, Columbia University Ariel Hirschfeld, Senior lecturer ,Dep. of Hebrew Literature, The Hebrew University Uri Horesh, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Essex Noah Hysler, Rubin Senior lecturer, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jon Isacoff, Professor, Political Science, Gonzaga University Piki Ish-Shalom, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Abigail Jacobson, Senior Lecturer, Islamic and MES, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Cliff Jones, Honorary Senior Fellow University of Liverpool Hilary Kalisman, Assistant Professor of History, Endowed Professor of Israel/Palestine Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder Matan Kaminer, University of Michigan Ruti Kantor, Senior Lecturer, Bezalel Yoav Kapshuk, Lecturer, Kinneret Academic College Tamar Katriel, Professor (Emerita) University of Haifa Adriana Kemp, Associate Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Tel Aviv University Menachem Klein, Professor Bar Ilan University Hagar Kotef, Senior Lecturer SOAS, university of London Chana Kronfeld, Professor, University of California, Berkeley Nathan Kurz, Independent Scholar Ron Kuzar, Professor (Emeritus), University of Haifa Derek Laffan, Researcher at Dublin City University Ishay Landa, Associate professor, The Open University Israel Nitzan Lebovic, Association Professor, Lehigh University Ronit Lentin, Associate Professor (ret) Trinity College Dublin Daniel Levine, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Alabama Gal Levy, Teacher and Researcher The Open University Israel Amit Levy, PhD student, Department of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Lior Libman, Assistant Professor of Israel Studies, Binghamton University — SUNY Shlomit Lir, Postdoc the Center for Israel Studies Ben Gurion University of the Negev Roi Livne, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan Adi Livny, Phd Student, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Karin Loevy, NYU School of Law, IILJ Research Scholar Ian Lustick, Professor of Political Science. University of Pennsylvania Nimrod Luz, Faculty, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee Shaul Magid, Distinguished Fellow in Jewish Studies — Dartmouth College Rawda Makhoul, Ph.d. student BGU Charles Manekin, Professor of Philosophy, University of Maryland Barbara Mann, Professor, Jewish Theological Seminary Abraham Mansbach, Prof.Em. Ben Gurion University Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University Una McGahern, Senior Lecturer, Newcastle University Yoav Mehozay, University of Haifa Philipp Messner, Archivist, University of Zurich Kobi Metzer, Professor (emeritus) of Economics, The Hebrew University of Jerudalem Chen Misgav, Post doctoral scholar at the Open University of Israel Daniel Bertrand Monk, George R. and Myra T. Cooley Chair in Peace and Conflict Studies. Professor of Geography and Middle East Studies, Colgate University Chana Morgenstern, University Lecturer in Postcolonial and Middle East Literatures, Cambridge University Dirk Moses, Professor of Modern History, University of Sydney David Myers, Professor, UCLA Isaac Nevo, Philosophy Dept. Ben-Gurion University Tamar Novick, senior research scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science Amos Noy, The Folklore Research Center, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ranen Omer-Sherman, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Endowed Chair, University of Louisville Eli Osheroff, PhD candidate, The Hebrew University Yael Padan, Research Fellow, University College London Yoav Peled, Prof. Emeritus of Political Science, Tel Aviv University Nurit Peled Elhanan, Lecturer in Language Education, Hebrew University; Head of Communications Department, David Yellin Academic College Ilan Peleg, C.A.Dana Professor of Government & Law, Lafayette College Shachar Pinsker, Professor, University of Michigan Halleli Pinson, Senior lecturer, Dep. of Education, Ben-Gurion University Moriel Ram, Postdoc research Israel Studies, SOAS Uri Ram, Professor Haggai Ram, Ben Gurion University of the Negev Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Professor Ron Reichman, Stanford University Tal Rippa, PhD candidate, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Shira Robinson, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, GWU Avery Robinson, Researcher, University of Michigan Bryan Roby, Assistant Professor — University of Michigan Noa Roei, Assistant Professor UVA Na’ama Rokem, Associate Professor, University of Chicago; Director, The Joyce Z. and Jacob Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Full Professor, Tel-Aviv University Lee Rotbart, Hebrew University of Jerusalem E. Natalie Rothman, Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto Diego Rotman, Hebrew University Yonatan Sagiv, Research Associate, Centre for Jewish Studies, SOAS Shafik SayidAhmad, lecturer — Alqasimy -BaqaAlgharbiya Gershon Shafir, Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego Michael Shalev, Professor, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Yael Shenker, Faculty member Sapir Nathaniel Shils, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania Oren Shlomo, Postdoc Marik Shtern, Post doctorate, Sociology Department , UCSD Noa Shuval, Tel Aviv university Marcella Simoni, Lecturer, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy Eyal Sivan, Professor — Amsterdam Universsity of the Arts Zachary Smith, University of Pennsylvania, Political Science, PhD candidate Tamir Sorek, Professor of Sociology, University of Florida Michael Stanislawski, Columbia University Oded Steinberg, Dr . Hebrew University Lior Sternfeld, Assistsnt Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Penn State David Tal, Yossi Harel Chair in Modern Israel Studies, University of Sussex Mark Tessler, Professor, University of Michigan Hamutal Tsamir, Dept. of Hebrew Literature, Ben Gurion University Hamutal Tsamir, dept. of Hebrew Literature, Ben Gurion University Marc Volovici, Postdoc, Birkbeck, University of London Yair Wallach, Senior Lecturer in Israeli Studies, SOAS, University of London Dov Waxman, Professor of Political Science, International Affairs and Israel Studies, Northeastern University Shira Wilkof, Postdoctoral fellow, Tel Aviv University Abigail Wood, Senior lecturer, University of Haifa Ori Yehudai, University of Toronto Oren Yiftachel, Professor, Ben-Gurion University Yuval Yonay, Associate Prof., University of Haifa Hila Zaban, Research Fellow, University of Warwick Ruvi Ziegler, Associate Professor in International Refugee Law, University of Reading (UK)

 



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