Scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies published a declaration on Israel/Palestine, in May 2021.
They “condemn the state violence that the Israeli government and its security forces have been carrying out in Gaza; their evictions of Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem; and their suppression of civilian protests in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Jewish-Arab cities, and Palestinian towns and villages in Israel.” Their views on the right of Jews to the land is equally twisted: “We also acknowledge that the Zionist movement… was and is still shaped by settler colonial paradigms.” Moreover, they claim that “the Zionist movement and the state of Israel in twentieth-century Palestine, have contributed to unjust, enduring, and unsustainable systems of Jewish supremacy, ethnonational segregation, discrimination, and violence against Palestinians.” They argue that Israeli Jews “continue to unfold on land whose majority Palestinian population the state displaced, whose lands it confiscated, and whose return it prevented during and after the 1948 war, and on lands that it has occupied and settled since 1967.” That Israel should challenge and limit “applying a settler colonial paradigm to the Zionist case, the unique historical Jewish connection to and presence in the Land of Israel, and the modern desperation and victimization that has propelled Jewish and Zionist settlement.”
Interestingly, they “affirm the pain, fear, and anger of Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel who have lost loved ones and homes to unjustifiable and indiscriminate Hamas rockets.” Yet, they did not condemn the Hamas rockets.
They conclude by stating that “we assert our commitment to upholding student and faculty free speech and academic freedom. This includes our colleagues’ right, if they choose to do so, to respond to ongoing events through non-violent protest, including in the form of boycott or other organized economic pressure on Israel.”
Israeli academics abroad, some teaching in prestigious American and British universities, are known for espousing anti-Israel ideas. For example, Uriel Abulof, Associate Professor at Tel Aviv University School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs, a fellow at Princeton University, was interviewed by an Ithaca newspaper last week. Questioned about the two-state solution, he said: “I think at that point and in many ways even today, the very existence of a Jewish polity, no matter at what territory, is considered almost an immoral abomination, a form of colonialism.” He said that most of his students have liberal political opinions that clash with nationalism spread by Benjamin Netanyahu. “They find it very troubling,” he said.
Abulof said that Netanyahu stocks fear among Jews around the world by pushing an anti-Palestinian narrative. “People like Netanyahu manage to leverage the fear, the anxiety of many Jews in order to sustain the occupation, in order to include elements that are purely racist into the Israeli parliament.” He added: “This has been tearing apart the Jewish communities worldwide.” Abulof believes that “One way to resolve the issues is to say no negotiating, Palestinian state tomorrow… If Biden tomorrow morning said to Israel, you know what, forget about the American veto in the Security Council, the day after, the Security Council approves Palestine as an independent state.”
Ironically, the Israeli Embassy in Washington lists Abulof in their Speakers Guide.
The hypocrisy of these and other detractors of Israel did not go unnoticed.
Jarrod Tanny, a Jewish History Professor in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, responded in an article, “Jewish studies — you have failed.” Tanny argued that in response to current threats and violence against Jews, these Jewish Studies academics decided to blame Israel for all that has ensued. Tanny accused the scholars of hypocrisy and political selectivity because “they only respond when white supremacists attack Jews.” If the assailants are wearing Palestinian keffiyehs, they get a pass. When diaspora Jews are attacked by “Palestinian freedom fighters,” there was no single word from these Jewish Studies academics, collectively speaking. Tanny then noted: “You have stood up publicly for literally everybody. Except for the Jews.”
By the same token, a recent article by Phyllis Chesler, Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY), titled “Academics Use Propaganda, Not Expertise, to Bash Israel,” makes similar observations. She notes that feminist academics of gender studies and similar fields have not had much to say about the fact that “Under Hamas’s theocratic reign, women in Gaza cannot travel without consent from a male guardian.” She discussed the fact that just days before Hamas started the recent war, a female reporter in Gaza was beaten for daring to be outside without her head covered. Gaza is also known as one of the world’s most dangerous places for gays and lesbians. Why are academics silent about that? She asks. “How is it possible for academic feminists to be more concerned with the so-called occupation and colonization of a country that has never existed than with the occupation of real women’s bodies in that very region?” She concludes by stating that “it constitutes the death of Enlightenment values and the degradation of independent thought. It is certainly the death of real feminism.”
Tanny and Chesler have a point. By adopting a selective and hypocritical approach to the day’s major issues, social sciences have lost most of their credibility.
Statement on Israel/Palestine
by Scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies
As scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies based in various universities, departments, and disciplines, we condemn the state violence that the Israeli government and its security forces have been carrying out in Gaza; their evictions of Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem; and their suppression of civilian protests in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Jewish-Arab cities, and Palestinian towns and villages in Israel. We express profound sadness at the recurrence of intercommunal violence between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel and anger at the impunity enjoyed by most Jewish attackers.
We share and hold the pain of Gazans, who have lost and are losing family members, homes, property, businesses, cultural institutions, medical facilities, and civilian infrastructure to Israeli bombings and of Palestinians in the West Bank who have lost loved ones in shootings by security forces. We affirm the pain, fear, and anger of Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel who have lost loved ones and homes to unjustifiable and indiscriminate Hamas rockets.
As such, we stand with our Israeli, Palestinian, American (including Jewish American), and international colleagues who are working towards a process of structural change that would bring equality and justice in Israel/Palestine, a systemically unequal space that, nonetheless and inescapably, has a common history and future. We also denounce expressions of antisemitism or islamophobia in connection with ongoing events in Israel/Palestine.
We are committed to scholarship, teaching, and learning about Jewish history, Zionism, and Israel in their global contexts and as shaped by historical and ongoing ideological trends, economic pressures, and waves of antisemitism. We also understand the State of Israel as a site of substantial Jewish diversity, ideological contention, and cultural flourishing, including among Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews, immigrants from the former USSR, Ethiopian Jews, and Jews displaced by the Holocaust and the violent spasms of modern nationalism. We value the work of our fellow Jewish Studies colleagues who are breaking new ground in the study of these topics and we understand how profoundly personal and emotion-laden these topics are for many Jews.
We also acknowledge that the Zionist movement, a diverse set of linked ethnonationalist ideologies, also was and is still shaped by settler colonial paradigms that saw land settlement as a virtuous means of solving political, economic, or cultural problems, as well as modern European Enlightenment discourses that assumed a hierarchy of civilizations and adopted the premise that technological progress and development of an ‘underdeveloped’ territory would be an unqualified good. These paradigms, as implemented by the Zionist movement and the state of Israel in twentieth-century Palestine, have contributed to unjust, enduring, and unsustainable systems of Jewish supremacy, ethnonational segregation, discrimination, and violence against Palestinians that have been forcefully condemned, including by Jews, Israeli citizens, and Israeli human rights groups such as B’Tselem. Israeli culture, society, and politics, moreover, continue to unfold on land whose majority Palestinian population the state displaced, whose lands it confiscated, and whose return it prevented during and after the 1948 war, and on lands that it has occupied and settled since 1967.
Israel is not the only state that must reckon with a history of land settlement and its enduring structural impacts on native or racialized populations. However, Israel, and those who study it or care about it, must do so even while recalling the challenges and limitations of applying a settler colonial paradigm to the Zionist case, the unique historical Jewish connection to and presence in the Land of Israel, and the modern desperation and victimization that has propelled Jewish and Zionist settlement.
We commit to exploring and engaging critically with these realities in our scholarly practice. As people who, by virtue of the work we do, focus on Jews and their experiences, we hold it imperative to listen to, amplify, and support our Palestinian and other colleagues whose scholarship details aspects of these histories and links Palestinians within Israel/Palestine to a broader Palestinian diaspora, to the Arab world, to Israeli and global Jewish communities, and to a variety of international communities. We understand the importance of continuing to reflect on the place of Palestine in Jewish Studies more broadly.
Recent events have reminded us that Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian residents of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, who have a variety of different legal statuses, are neither disconnected from one another nor external to the ongoing history of Israel. They, alongside the country’s many Jewish communities, have been, are, and will continue to be integral to the political, cultural, social, and economic history of Israel/Palestine. They deserve to have their full human rights and collective rights acknowledged and respected, as do all Jews, all Palestinians, and all people.
We recognize the diverse communities invested in these interlinked stories, and the asymmetries of power and influence not only between but also within ethnic, national, and religious communities, including the Jewish community. Finally, we assert our commitment to upholding student and faculty free speech and academic freedom. This includes our colleagues’ right, if they choose to do so, to respond to ongoing events through non-violent protest, including in the form of boycott or other organized economic pressure on Israel. We are committed to continuing our engaged conversation and collaboration around these questions with our colleagues in multiple departments and programs as well as with members of the public.
STATEMENT SIGNATORIES ADD YOUR NAME
Any referenced titles or affiliations are included for identification purposes only. Signing this statement reflects personal views; we are not speaking for or in the name of any university, department, or program.
Shir Alon, Assistant professor, University of Minnesota
Yaakov Ariel, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Karen Auerbach, Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Arash Azizi, PhD candidate in History, New York University
Lauren Banko, Research Associate, University of Manchester
Orit Bashkin, University of Chicago
Moshe Behar, Arabic & Middle Eatern Studies, U of Manchester, UK
Elissa Bemporad, Professor of History, Queens College and The Graduate Center – CUNY
Smadar Ben-Natan, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington
Nimrod Ben-Zeev, Polonsky Academy Fellow, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
Tova Benjamin, PhD Candidate, New York University
Rina Benmayor, Professor Emerita, California State University Monterey Bay
Beth Berkowitz, Barnard College
Lila Corwin Berman, Professor of History, Temple University
Richard Bodek, Professor of History, College of Charleston
Ra’anan Boustan, Research Scholar, Program in Judaic Studies, Princeton University
Samuel Hayim Brody, Associate Professor, University of Kansas
Vincent Calvetti, Ph.D. student, University of Washington
Michelle Campos, Associate Professor, Penn State
Marc Caplan, Brownstone Visiting Professor, Dartmouth College
Jessica L. Carr, Associate Professor and Berman Scholar of Jewish Studies, Lafayette College
Geoffrey Claussen, Associate Professor, Elon University
Aryeh Cohen, Professor, American Jewish University
Netta Cohen, University of Oxford
Alon Confino, PenTishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies, Professor of History and Jewish Studies, UMass Amherst
Andrea Cooper, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D.
Evelyn Dean-Olmstead, Independent Scholar, Linguistic Anthropology, Latin American Jewish Studies
Rachel Deblinger, UCLA
Hasia Diner, Professor of American and Jewish History, New York University
Sultan Doughan, Postdoctoral Associate, Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies, Boston University
Jennifer Dowling, University of Sydney
Arie M. Dubnov, Max Ticktin Professor of Israel Studies, The George Washington University
Gordon Dueck, Assistant Professor, Jewish Studies, Queen’s University
Susan L. Einbinder, Professor, Hebrew and Judaic Studies, University of Connecticut
Ayala Fader, Professor of Anthropology and Jewish Studies, Fordham University
Rachel Feldman, Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies/Religious Studies, Franklin and Marshall College
Emily Filler, Assistant Professor, Washington and Lee University
Louis Fishman, Associate Professor, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University
ChaeRan Y. Freeze, Professor, Brandeis University
Michal Friedman, Assistant Teaching Professor & Jack Buncher Professor of Jewish Studies, Dept. of History, Carnegie Mellon University
Libby Garland, Associate Professor of History, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY
Olga Gershenson, Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, UMass Amherst
Shai Ginsburg, Associate Professor, Duke University
Jennifer Glaser, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati
Amos Goldberg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Evan Goldstein, PhD Candidate in Religion & Modernity, Yale University
Pratima Gopalakrishnan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke University
Maxwell Greenberg, Graduate Student, UCLA
Liora R. Halperin, Associate Professor, University of Washington
Shay Hazkani, Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies University of Maryland, College Park
Alma Heckman, Assistant Professor, UC Santa Cruz
Elizabeth Heineman, Professor, University of Iowa
Roni Henig, Assistant Professor, New York University
Rachel Herman, USC Shoah Foundation
Faith Hillis, Associate Professor, University of Chicago
Dana Hollander, McMaster University
John Huddlestun, Associate Professor, College of Charleston
Mostafa Hussein, University of Michigan
Curtis Hutt, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Sarah Imhoff, Associate Professor, Indiana University
Mara W. Cohen Ioannides, Missouri State University
Gregory Irwin, USC Shoah Foundation
Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, Endowed Chair of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College
Robert Johnston, Professor of History, University of Illinois Chicago
Hilary Kalisman, Assistant Professor of History, Endowed Professor of Israel/Palestine Studies in the Program for Jewish Studies, University of Colorado Boulder
Amy Kaminsky, Professor Emerita, University of Minnesota
Eileen Kane, Associate Professor of History, Connecticut College
Philip Keisman, PhD candidate, CUNY Graduate Center
Nancy Ko, PhD student, Columbia University
Anna Koch, University of Leeds
Ofri Krischer, Ph.D. student, George Washington University
Tally Kritzman-Amir, Visiting Associate Professor Harvard University
Jacob Ari Labendz, Assistant Professor, Youngstown State University
Jenny Labendz, Assistant Professor of Religious studies, St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, NY
Tim Langille, Senior Lecturer, Arizona State University
Nitzan Lebovic, Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Lehigh University
Laura Levitt, Professor, Temple University
Lital Levy, Associate Professor, Princeton University
Miriam Libicki, Instructor, Emily Carr University / Graphic Novelist
Yaakov Lipsker, PhD student, Jewish Theological Seminary
Raphael Magarik, Assistant Professor of English, University of Illinois at Chicago
Shaul Magid, Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
Jessica Marglin, University of Southern California
Arturo Marzano, Associate Professor, University of Pisa
Daniel May, Hebrew Union College
Devi Mays, Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and History, University of Michigan
Charles McDonald, Sava Ranisvljevic Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University
David Mednicoff, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Public Policy, UMass Amherst
Shaul Mitelpunkt, Senior Lecturer in Modern History, The University of York
Leslie Morris, Professor of German, University of Minnesota
Eva Mroczek, University of California, Davis
Harriet Murav, Center for Advanced Studies Professor / University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Dorit Naaman, Professor, Queen’s University, Canada
Devin E. Naar, Associate Professor, University of Washington
Rachel Rafael Neis, Associate Professor, University of Michigan
Tamar Novick, Senior Research Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Atalia Omer, Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
Ranen Omer-Sherman, Endowed Chair of Jewish Studies, University of Louisville
Craig Perry, Assistant Professor, Emory University
Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor Emerita, American Studies and Center for Jewish Studies University of Minnesota
Vadim Putzu, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Missouri State University
Shari Rabin, Assistant Professor, Oberlin College
Moriel Ram, Lecturer in Politics of the Global South, Newcastle University
Ben Ratskoff, Ph.D. student, UCLA
Elliot Ratzman, Earlham College
Maryanne Rhett, Professor, Monmouth University
Cara Rock-Singer, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Na’ama Rokem, University of Chicago
Michael Rom, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cape Town
Sven-Erik Rose, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis
Kate Rosenblatt, Assistant Professor, Religion and Jewish Studies, Emory University
Bruce Rosenstock, Professor, University of illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Noga Rotem, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Washington
Michael Rothberg, Professor of English, Comparative Literature, & Holocaust Studies, UCLA
Nora L. Rubel, Associate Professor of Religion, University of Rochester
Joshua A. Sabih, Senior Researcher, Roskilde University and University of Copenhagen
Brent E. Sasley, Associate Professor, University of Texas at Arlington
Allison Schachter, Associate Professor, Vanderbilt University
Suzanne Schneider, Deputy Director & Core Faculty, Brooklyn Institute for Social Research
Abby Schrader, Professor of History, Franklin and Marshall College
Benjamin Schreier, Professor of English and Jewish Studies, Pennsylvania State University
Jonathan Sciarcon, Associate Professor of History and Judaic Studies, University of Denver
Raz Segal, Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Stockton University
Naomi Seidman, Professor, University of Toronto
Sasha Senderovich, Assistant Professor, University of Washington
Yossi Shabo, Ph.D. student, University of California, Santa Cruz
Joshua Shanes, Associate Professor, College of Charleston
Adam Shear, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Pittsburgh
Sam Shuman, PhD Candidate, University of Michigan
Tamir Sorek, Pennsylvania State University
Neta Stahl, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Ronit Y. Stahl, Assistant Professor of History/University of California, Berkeley
Charlie Steinman, Ph.D. student, Department of History, Columbia University
Lior B. Sternfeld, Associate Professor, Penn State
Mira Sucharov, Professor of Political Science, Carleton University
Carol Symes, Associate Professor of History, Classics, and Medieval Studies, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Sheera Talpaz, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature, Oberlin College
Frances Tanzer, Assistant Professor of History, Clark University
Irene Tucker, Professor of English, University of California, Irvine
Alana M. Vincent, Associate Professor of Jewish Philosophy, Religion and Imagination, University of Chester
Mark S. Wagner, Professor of Arabic, Louisiana State University
Steven Wagner, Lecturer in International Security, Brunel University London
Yair Wallach, Senior Lecturer in Israel Studies, SOAS, University of London
Avery Weinman, Ph.D. student, UCLA
Sarah S. Willen, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Connecticut
Diane L. Wolf, Professor, University of California, Davis
Mir Yarfitz, Director of Jewish Studies, Associate Professor, Wake Forest University
Orian Zakai, Assistant Professor of Hebrew, George Washington University
Saul Zaritt, Associate Professor, Harvard University
Sarah Ellen Zarrow, Endowed Professor of Jewish History/Assistant Professor, Western Washington University
Ran Zwigenberg, Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Jewish Studies, Penn State
Academics Use Propaganda, Not Expertise, to Bash Israel
by Phyllis Chesler
May 24, 2021
Men wearing Palestinian keffiyas have been running around beating up Jews in the streets of America and Europe. Israel was envisioned as the safe haven for persecuted Jews living in exile, and now Jews living in the diaspora are being attacked because Israel not only exists, but dares to defend itself against Islamist terrorist aggression.
A group calling itself the Palestinian Feminist Collective launched “A Love Letter to our People in Palestine,” which states that “once again, Palestinians from the far north to the far south of our homeland are defying settler colonialism’s attempts to partition the land and the people….” Buzz words such as “settler violence” and “ethnic cleansing,” are employed and understood as “part of the ongoing Nakba [catastrophe] that has spanned Palestinian time and space since 1948.”
The Collective’s feminism is one in which “gendered violence is core to settler colonial practice. We stand with you (as you) resist this masculinized and militarized colonization.”
Its language is communist revolutionary language and is a throwback to the West’s romance with Che Guevara, Mao, Stalin, and the American Black Panthers.
Subsequently, academic feminists, issued a statement “In Solidarity With Palestinian Feminist Collective,” which links to non-scholarly boilerplate propaganda, none of which is concerned with the Islamic gender apartheid that afflicts Arab Palestinian women in Israel, Gaza, and on the West Bank. They focus on “evictions in East Jerusalem” without understanding the history, legality, or nature of this dispute.
The statement itself is problematic, but worse, it lists entire departments at dozens of universities. This was done without the knowledge or approval of some, if not many, of the faculty members who work in them.
The gender studies people link to facts about the “humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,” which fail to acknowledge that Israel left Gaza in 2005. Whatever the situation there may be, it is due to Hamas’s greed, corruption, and terrorist goals.
Dear God: How is it possible to claim that “Palestine is a feminist issue,” which they do, without even mentioning forced child marriage, forced veiling, and honor killing – which are indigenous customs – not caused by the alleged Israeli occupation?
Under Hamas’s theocratic reign, women in Gaza cannot travel without consent from a male guardian. Days before Hamas started the latest war, a female reporter in Gaza was beaten for daring to be outside with her head uncovered. Gaza is among the world’s most dangerous places for gays and lesbians. The gender studies and feminist academics have not had much to say about these issues.
How is it possible for academic feminists to be more concerned with the so-called occupation and colonization of a country that has never existed than with the occupation of real women’s bodies in that very region?
Those who care so much about trigger warnings and micro-aggressions seem not to care about the trauma of having to get to a bomb shelter within 15 seconds or in no more than a minute in Israel; the trauma of having to live and sleep in a bomb shelter; the trauma of rockets overhead. This is Israel’s reality – and only became reality for Gazans after Hamas attacked Israel in 2006, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2019, and in 2021.
These feminist professors have not signed their individual names because their entire departments have signed on to this statement. This includes: Amherst, Barnard, nine California universities, Georgetown, Georgia State, Rutgers, Stanford, University of Hawaii, Washington State, Yale, as well as nine Canadian universities – McMaster University, Mount Royal University, Queens University, Saint Mary’s University, St. Francis Xavier University, University of British Columbia, University of Regina, University of Waterloo, and York University.
I randomly sampled the publications of one professor at each of 10 gender, women’s studies, and sexuality departments. Their specialties include the study of testosterone, and the “reciprocal relations between science and the social hierarchies of gender, sexuality and race”; transnational feminist and Caribbean Studies, the Black Radical Tradition, and Guyana; Queer Kinship in Taiwan; race and technology, white supremacy and racial liberalism; Queer, Race, and Queers of Color; obesity, IVF failures, and endurance sports such as marathon swimming; Feminist Performance, Cultural Criticism, Theories of Race; Sexuality, psychoanalytic, postcolonial, queer and trans theories.
Only one professor at the University of California, Berkeley Law School has addressed the issue of honor killing – but mainly to attack President Trump and Ayaan Hirsi Ali for misguidedly stigmatizing an entire people for crimes that allegedly also occur in the non-Muslim West.
Perhaps this is what is now considered “feminist” work. But none of these randomly chosen 10 have an advanced degree in the history and nature of the Middle East, the Arab World, Islam, Judaism, or Israel. None are teaching courses in such areas as experts. They are merely using their expert credentials to support propaganda.
The feminist academics are not alone. Another statement, “Palestine and Praxis: Scholars for Palestinian Freedom,” features 70 pages of signatories with about 45 names on each page. This amounts to approximately 3,150 signatures and counting. These professors teach all over the United States, including at Ivy League schools, Canada, France, Holland, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Australia, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, and Turkey.
“As scholars, we affirm the Palestinian struggle as an indigenous liberation movement confronting a settler colonial state,” the statement says. “Israel is once again conducting a large-scale aerial bombing campaign… Palestinian scholars write under the threat of settler colonial erasure and imposition of exile… it is imperative that we not enact their replacement and erasure within our own scholarship… Scholarship without action normalizes the status quo and reinforces Israel’s impunity…”
What is “praxis?” It means “practice,” or “action.” Do these professors believe that the very use of the word “praxis” constitutes an action of some kind? If so, toward what end? They tell us.
“Scholarship without action normalizes the status quo and reinforces Israel’s impunity… scholarship must also be ethical by centering decolonization and raising the voices of Palestinian scholars so that they remain sources of authority and not merely objects of study.”
Thus, the professors call on scholars to commit to BDS – boycott campaigns – and to anti-Israel campus activism and to “pressure (their) government to end funding Israeli military aggression.”
This statement is, quite simply, a declaration of war on the Jewish state.
Guess what? Only 11 of the first 450 signatories teach in Middle East, Palestine, and Arabic Studies.
Both the feminist academics and the “scholars” are recycling Palestinian Islamist propaganda and trying to pass it off as scholarly opinion. Do not fall for it. What both statements say can be heard on Fridays in the most fundamentalist of mosques throughout the Middle East and among the statements of Muslim Brotherhood outposts such as the Muslim Student Association and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
To them, “Palestine” symbolizes the most sacred oppression and the most important indigenous resistance.
When presumed scholars pontificate on issues beyond their expertise on issues as complex as these, it constitutes the death of Enlightenment values and the degradation of independent thought. It is certainly the death of real feminism.
Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY), and the author of 20 books, including Women and Madness, and A Family Conspiracy: Honor Killings. She is a Senior IPT Fellow, and a Fellow at MEF and ISGAP.
Jewish studies — you have failed Jarrod Tanny
MAY 22, 2021, 6:44 AM
2017 – Charlottesville: an outpouring of anger and grief from Jewish studies faculty
2018 – Tree of Life: : an outpouring of anger and grief from Jewish studies faculty
2021: Threats and violence in the diaspora against Jews because of what Israel is (allegedly) doing. The response – a collective letter blaming Israel for all that has ensued.
Jewish studies – you have failed
I have been saying this for three years, that the left only cares about attacks against Jews when it comes from white supremacists. And now we know with the utmost certainty that this is also true of Jewish studies scholar-activists.
Jewish studies – you have failed.
If the assailants are brown, if they are wearing Palestinian keffiyehs, or if they are holding BLM signs, they get a pass. Jews in America and Europe are fair game, because in the hierarchy of “structural racism” we “white Jews” are the oppressors.
You may claim that this is about Israel. And you are free to issue your virtue signaling one-sided documents blaming the Jewish state for a complicated conflict in the middle east.
But guess what? Not only will that not solve the conflict, it actually endangers diaspora Jews. And we have seen this concretely this week.
All that said, this isn’t the worst of it. No, the worst of it is the utter silence when diaspora Jews are actually attacked by “Palestinian freedom fighters”.
There have been more Jewish casualties in the diaspora this week than Charlottesville and Tree of Life, and there has not been a single word from you, collectively speaking. Not one word from the signers of this one-sided statement.
Sure, nobody has died. But is cold-blooded murder the threshold for you to speak out? A cursory glance at inter-War Europe, even Nazi Germany in its early years, amply demonstrates that vandalism, bullying, and physical assaults precede murder. But they still constitute hate crimes.
All you had to do – at a bare minimum – was to insert a paragraph into your condemnatory statement of Israel that “attacks against diaspora Jews are inexcusable.” That’s it.
But even that, apparently, is too much to ask.
Why is it so much to ask, when you, committed scholar-activists, have issued countless statements over the past 5 years, standing up for Muslims, Black people, Latinx, Asian Americans. You have stood up publicly for literally everybody. Except for the Jews. Or rather, except for the Jews, when the perpetrators are not white supremacists.
Why? Perhaps David Hirsh is correct that this is the price of admission into Woke circles – you have to demonstrates that left-wing antisemitism is kosher. Well, you have done that. Congratulations.
Or maybe you are in fact self-hating Jews, as I argued – with reluctance to use the term – in an op-ed I wrote.
You have betrayed your community, you have betrayed your students, and you have made a mockery of our field in the academe, because there exists no other field that is so disdainful of the community is studies.
And one last time – when I say you betrayed your “community” I don’t mean Israelis, though of course your abandonment of Israel is clear and has been clear for quite some time.
No, I mean your community in the diaspora. The Jews who walk among you are being forced to take the “Palestine litmus test” for their worthiness. Of course, many who have been attacked this week were not even interrogated. It was just assumed that they failed the anti-Zionist litmus test because they were visibly Jewish.
I had intended to write an op-ed painstakingly deconstructing all that is wrong with the condemnatory statement of Israel, how blaming Israel while ignoring Hamas’s rockets of terror is not only immoral but speaks of a deep historical ignorance.
But I concluded that was pointless, because your failure to stand by Israel pales in comparison to your failure at home.
So I will say it one last time.
As a collective, Jewish studies, you have failed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jarrod Tanny is an Associate Professor and Block Distinguished Scholar in Jewish History in the Department of History, University of North Carolina Wilmington.
“Free Palestine”: Ithaca Speaks Out Against the Israel Palestine Conflict
Monday, May 17th 2021, 7:33 PM EDT
By Cody Taylor
ITHACA, N.Y.(WENY)– Around 100 people attended a protest on May 16th on the Ithaca Commons to show opposition to the killing of Palestinians by the Israeli Government.
There is not much that is new about this conflict, as it has been going on for over 70 years; what is new is the number of protests and attention this issue has received within the United States.
Malak Abuhashim, a Cornell student who is Palestinian but grew up in Cleveland Ohio said she started spreading the word about the oppression of her people at a very young age after she noticed that Americans had little interest in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
“I switched to the public schools and I was like wait, people here do not know about Palestine,” said Abuhashim. “ I was in second grade and I was going around in my little class being like hey guys, support Palestine and it just shows I have always had to speak out about the oppression my people face at such a young age.”
Abuhashim’s family originated from Yibna Palestine and fled during the 1940s because of the conflict.
“ Our family lived there for generations, we had houses there, farms and everything and we was forced to flee,” said Abuhashim.
The experience that Abuhashim is describing, the 1940s, is when an increasing number of Jews were arriving in Palestine, after fleeing persecution in Europe and seeking a homeland following the Holocaust of World War 2. Prior to this Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after the Ottoman Empire was defeated during World War 1. Tensions between the Jews and the Palestinians were growing during the 1920s to the 1940s as Britain was tasked with establishing a home for the Jewish people.
Like Abuhashim’s family, many others had considered Palestine home for decades, but on the other hand, the Jews said it was their ancestral home.
Tensions between Jews and Arabs eventually turned into violence, from 1920 to 1948 there were an estimated 20,600 lives taken.
A popular solution that has been discussed many times throughout this 73-year conflict has been a two-state solution, which envisions an independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.
The first time this was tried was in 1937, The Peel Commission Plan, which was a recommendation by the British Government to split the state into a Jewish state and an Arab state. This plan would have allocated a large majority of Israel to the Palestinians and was ultimately rejected by the Arabs.
Uriel Abulof, Associate Professor at Tel Aviv University School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs said looking back at that decision from 1937 says a lot.
“I think at that point and in many ways even today, the very existence of a Jewish polity, no matter at what territory, is considered almost an immoral abomination, a form of colonialism,” said Abulof.
This two-state solution was tried again in 1947 and was rejected by the Arabs, which ultimately led to British rulers leaving and the state of Palestine being declared the state of Israel.
War followed the creation of the state of Israel and led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, like Abuhashim’s grandparents, being forced out of their homes in what is known as the Catastrophe. Most Palestinians who fled ended up living in the Gaza strip and the West Bank, two areas that have received aerial bombardments from Israel airstrikes in the past few days.
“I have cousins I have never met, I have uncles and aunts I probably never will be able to see, everything that is happening [with the bombings and the conflict] is happening to them and around them,” said Abuhashim.
Abulof said through speaking to students about this conflict he found that the majority of his Jewish students agree that Palestinians should have their own state. He also feels that the majority of his students have a liberal political view system, that is clashing with Nationalism spread by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel.
“They find it very troubling because they see themselves as part of the Jewish people, in principle, that the Jewish people have a right to have their own state,” said Abulof. “It has been increasingly hard for Liberal Jews to say ok, we support a Jewish state, what does it mean to support a Jewish state, do you support people like [Benjamin Netanyahu]?.”
Abulof said Netanyahu stocks the fear of Jewish people around the world by pushing an anti-Palestinian narrative, a narrative that would proceed the Jewish state, leaving only Palestine where “Jews will at best be able to survive”.
“People like Netanyahu manage to leverage the fear, the anxiety of many Jews in order to sustain the occupation, in order to include elements that are purely racist into the Israeli parliament,” said Abulof. “This has been tearing apart the Jewish communities worldwide. “
Abulof said in his two years of being in the U.S., he had hope of bringing people from both sides of the conflict together.
“To see if there is any possibility here, you know, so far away from where the violence is to try and come together, to grieve together, to mourn together the deaths,” said Abulof. “ To somehow build some bridges, but… there was no willingness for that.”
Abulof argues that the concentration should not be about where this conflict started or who is right and who is wrong but instead on the fact that this has become an existential conflict.
“It’s the belief that the world, the land, whatever is not big enough for the both of us and so it’s either us or them,” said Abulof.
Abulof does not think that the Israeli’s or the Palestinians will solve the problem on their own.
“ The solution lies within mitigating the radical veto, to stop the radical veto one way or another,” said Abulof.
Abulof believes there are two ways to do that, one is the top-down method, which establishes a Palestinian state before a negotiation for peace happens.
“ So far what we have done is negotiated the establishment of a Palestinian state,” said Abulof. “ One way to resolve the issues is to say no negotiating, Palestinian state tomorrow. “
In order for this top-down method to happen the Biden administration would need to take out its own veto right in the Security Council.
“ If Biden tomorrow morning said to Israel, you know what, forget about the American veto in the Security Council, the day after, the Security Council approves Palestine as an independent state,” said Abulof.
The other possibility is the bottom-up method or as Abulof calls it, “the Double Referendum.” This method would require both Palestinians and Israelis to go to the ballot to say yes or no to a very basic outline of the two-state solution.
“The Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem will go to Palestine, the Jewish to Israel,” said Abulof. “ The Palestinians will take 100% of the land and if there are parts that will remain in Israel, there will be a territorial exchange in a rate of 1 to 1.”