Last month, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Council passed a motion titled “The IHRA and Academic Freedom,” opposing the adoption of the widely accepted IHRA Definition of Antisemitism (IHRAWDA) at the Canadian universities and colleges.
CAUT decried that “the Canadian federal government has adopted the IHRAWDA, along with provincial governments in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, and numerous municipal and provincial governments across Canada are considering the adoption of IHRAWDA.”
For CAUT, the “government adoptions of IHRAWDA can impact federal and provincial academic grants, scholarships and funding for projects that are seen to conflict with the IHRAWDA mandate to shield the state of Israel from criticism and charges of racism and colonialism.”
According to CAUT, the IHRA definition “poses a significant threat to academic freedom at Canadian universities and colleges and has already been used on a number of occasions to censor and impede the academic freedom of teachers and researchers who have developed anti-racist and decolonial perspectives on the policies and practices of the state of Israel.” CAUT explained that “the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism labels as “antisemitic a broad range of criticisms of the state of Israel, particularly targeting decolonial and anti-racist critiques of the policies, structures, and practices of Israel.”
This is a baseless accusation as the IHRA definition states clearly that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” However, the following should be considered examples of antisemitism: “Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust; Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations; Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor; Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis; Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”
As CAUT stated, the Canadian Government adopted an Anti-Racism Strategy on 27 June 2019. The strategy is titled “Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022.” The fight against antisemitism is part of this strategy. The resolution quotes the IHRAWDA: a “certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” Adding that “Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The anti-racism strategy includes a footnote with a link to the IHRAWDA.
However, CAUT justifies its stand by publishing an article by Rebecca Gould, “Free speech and double standards,” in November 2021, which argues against adopting the IHRAWDA for limiting free speech. Gould is teaching in the UK, at the University of Birmingham, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Professor and Professorial Research Fellow of Islamic World and Comparative Literature.
Gould, is a close follower of the historian Arno Mayer, a self-proclaimed “left-dissident Marxist.” Mayer, a German Jew who fled to the United States, has emerged as one of the most notorious revisionists of the Holocaust. Rather than denying that the Holocaust, or his preferred term Judeocide, did not occur, Mayer claimed that Antisemitism was never a major drive in the Nazi ideology but rather a byproduct of its animus toward Bolshevism.
More to the point, Mayer infamously argued that Jews and their collective being, the State of Israel, have used the memory of the Holocaust to block all criticism of Israeli politics.
Gould borrowed his words that the Holocaust had spawned a “collective perspective of ‘memory’ unconducive to critical and contextual thinking about the Jewish calamity.” By calling it “Jewish calamity,” it minimizes the scale of the Holocaust. The theory became popular among pro-Palestinian academic activists like Gould. She complains that “Mayer’s protest has gone unheeded,” adding that the Holocaust “has sanctified the state of Israel and whitewashed its crime” [against the Palestinians]. For her, “the time has come to stop privileging the Holocaust as the central event in Jewish history.” She goes further by stating that a “history of past Jewish suffering is unable to dictate the appropriate response to Jewish suffering, let alone to other peoples’ suffering… it is necessary to separate Jewish suffering from the Palestinian crisis. One tragedy does not license another. The Holocaust does not license the Israeli occupation. Nor does it license the bulldozing of Palestinian homes or the razing of Palestinian land.”
In Gould’s version, Palestinians are innocent victims of the Holocaust- empowered Israelis: “As the situation stands today, the Holocaust persists and its primary victims are the Palestinian people.”
While Gould’s pro-Palestinian arguments can be contested, however, Gould is Antisemitic according to the IHRAWDA clause, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” It is not surprising that she advocates against the adoption of the IHRAWDA.
In its resolution, CAUT stated that “CAUT vigorously opposes antisemitism.” With the surge of Antisemitism on Western campuses, CAUT should distance itself from Antisemites and adopt the IHRAWDA to curb Antisemitism. Academics can criticize Israel without having to resort to Antisemitic tropes.
Motions from the 91st CAUT Council Meeting
Nov. 25-26, 2021
MOTIONS/RESOLUTIONS MOTION OUTCOME
10. MEMBER RESOLUTION
The IHRA and Academic Freedom
WHEREAS CAUT wholeheartedly supports the academic freedom of university and college academic staff, and
WHEREAS CAUT wholeheartedly supports the academic freedom of university and college academic staff, and
WHEREAS CAUT vigorously opposes antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, and all forms of discrimination, racism, and hatred, and
WHEREAS antisemitism is a legally prohibited form of discrimination in Canadian human rights legislation, and
WHEREAS the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism [IHRAWDA] includes as antisemitic a broad range of criticisms of the state of Israel, particularly targeting decolonial and anti-racist critiques of the policies, structures, and practices of Israel, and
WHEREAS the IHRAWDA poses a significant threat to academic freedom at Canadian universities and colleges and has already been used on a number of occasions to censor and impede the academic freedom of teachers and researchers who have developed anti-racist and decolonial perspectives on the policies and practices of the state of Israel, and
WHEREAS the Canadian federal government has adopted the IHRAWDA, along with provincial governments in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, and numerous municipal and provincial governments across Canada are considering the adoption of IHRAWDA, and
WHEREAS government adoptions of IHRAWDA can impact federal and provincial academic grants, scholarships and funding for projects that are seen to conflict with the IHRAWDA mandate to shield the state of Israel from criticism and charges of racism and colonialism,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT CAUT opposes the adoption of IHRAWDA at Canadian universities and colleges. CAUT supports the academic freedom of its members and recognizes the need to safeguard the rights of scholars to develop critical perspectives on all states, including the state of Israel, without fear of outside political influence, cuts to funding, censorship, harassment, threats, and intimidation.
Canada: academics vote to reject IHRA definition of anti-Semitism December 2, 2021 at 3:25 pm
A major Canadian academic association representing more than 70,000 academic faculty and staff around the country has rejected the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in an effort to protect academic freedom.
The motion adopted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), states that it “supports the academic freedom of its members and recognises the need to safeguard the rights of scholars to critique all states, including the state of Israel, without fear of outside political influence, cuts to funding, censorship, harassment, threats, and intimidation.”
Human rights defenders across Canada have applauded the association’s move. It comes as hostile anti-Palestinian groups demand that governments and academic institutions in the western world should adopt the IHRA definition.
Leading this campaign in Canada is B’nai B’rith, an anti-Palestinian lobby group that has long pushed for the formal conflation of valid criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry. Last year it called for the expulsion of Professor Faisal Bhabha from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. Moreover, B’nai B’rith Canada has reportedly insisted that the government should only fund international humanitarian aid organisations that adhere to the flawed definition.
Critics argue that the IHRA definition is a blunt instrument and not fit for purpose in combating anti-Semitism. With seven of the 11 examples conflating anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel, it’s seen more as a political tool to crackdown on free speech about Israel rather than a credible definition to deal with racism towards Jews.
OPINION: Overthrowing Israel’s bogus definition of anti-Semitism
“Pro-Israel groups have repeatedly pointed to the IHRA definition as a tool that can be used by universities to shut down various forms of student activism, and specifically boycotts of Israel and Israeli Apartheid Week,” explained Michael Bueckert, vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, to The Electronic Intifada. “They have also suggested that the IHRA should be applied to scholarship, and have tried to get professors fired for their criticism of Israeli policies or Zionism.”
CAUT’s motion is just the latest in a series of defeats for the pro-Israel lobby’s push to use the IHRA definition to censor scholarship on Palestinian rights in Canada. Last year, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, which represents 17,000 professors and academic librarians in more than 30 faculty associations across the country, publicly rejected the province’s unilateral move to adopt the definition, calling it an abuse of power.
Applauding the motion, Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) and the Academic Alliance Against Anti-Semitism, Racism, Colonialism & Censorship in Canada (ARC), said that it was “a crucial action to protect academic freedom and critical scholarship in Canada.”===============================================
Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy
From October 2018 to March 2019, the Government of Canada held engagement sessions across the country to gather input from Canadians, especially those with lived experiences of racism and discrimination, in order to help inform the development of a new federal anti-racism strategy. The input is summarized in What we heard — Informing Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy.
- What We Heard Report
- Deepening Understanding, Developing Ideas: A Cross-Country Conversation on Anti-Racism
- Anti-racism resources
- Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022
Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022
On this page
- Foreword from the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage & Multiculturalism
- Guiding principles
- Demonstrating Federal Leadership
- Way forward
- Empowering Communities
- Building Awareness and Changing Attitudes
- Ensuring a lasting impact
- Appendix: examples of ongoing initiatives that contribute to addressing racism and discrimination
Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2022[PDF]
AntisemitismAntisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.Footnote3Footnote3International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance “Working Definition of Antisemitism”. For further information, visit: https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-antisemitism.
Commentary / Free speech and double standards
by REBECCA RUTH GOULD
On 1 October, David Miller was fired by the University of Bristol for his controversial statements about Israel. The reason for terminating his employment, the university said, was that ‘Professor Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff.’ The behaviour in question consisted of words: contentious words with which many would disagree, but words nonetheless, words not directed against any specific individual and not conforming to any conventional definition of harassment, though respected colleagues have argued otherwise.
In 2017, while teaching at Bristol, I was accused of antisemitism after a student unearthed an article I wrote for Counterpunch four years before joining the university. One of the most appealing aspects of moving to the UK had been the space it seemed to offer me as an American for a less polarised debate about the occupation of Palestine. At Columbia University, where I received my PhD, there had been a fight over the tenure case of the Palestinian anthropologist Nadia Abu El-Haj in 2007. She was granted tenure two months later, but the row left an indelible mark on campus politics, especially in relation to Middle Eastern Studies.
In the UK, the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism by Theresa May’s government in 2016 emboldened those who would conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. The IHRA definition was cited by the student who complained about my article.
The university inquiry dragged on for months, during which I learned that institutions are leaned on from many directions when their staff members are accused of antisemitism. The ethical mandate to oppose antisemitism and other forms of racism does not figure nearly as high in their list of concerns as pressure from the government, the media and students. The complaint against me was dismissed, but I left Bristol soon afterwards with the distinct sense that justice had not been served. Palestinian perspectives were ignored in my case, and the suppression of Palestinian voices only increased after my departure.
Four years later, anti-Israeli activism isn’t the only controversial issue on campus. The University of Bristol Islamic Society complained that Steve Greer, a professor of human rights, was promoting Islamophobia during his lectures. The week after Miller was sacked – even though an independent report by a QC concluded that his comments ‘did not constitute unlawful speech’ – the university dismissed the complaint against Greer. With all the attention on Miller’s case, Muslim students found their discontent relegated to the sidelines and their concerns overruled.
Amid these efforts by liberal education administrators, Jews, Muslims and polemicists of all stripes to protect their ideological turf, a crucial fact is getting lost. When a university academic, who was hired to pursue his research and to articulate, publicly and without fear, the consequences of his research, is fired for doing precisely what he was hired to do, everyone suffers a blow. Miller’s dismissal makes it easier for other universities to act as Bristol did, even if on different ideological grounds. Everyone loses out when universities punish their employees for speaking what they consider to be
From this point of view, it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong in the debate over antisemitism on the left, or whether Miller’s thinking displays conspiratorial tendencies. What matters is that a freethinker has had his livelihood taken from him for expressing his views. That is a problem, not just for the fight against antisemitism, but for the idea of democracy.
Rebecca Ruth Gould is the author of Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus. This commentary first appeared in the London Review of Books on October 12, 2021. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily CAUT.
BIRMINGHAM UNIVERSITY’S PROF. REBECCA GOULD SEEMS TO IDENTIFY AS JEWISH ONLY WHEN CRITICISING EFFORTS TO FIGHT ANTISEMITISM
A professor at the University of Birmingham is on record claiming both that she is Jewish and also that she is not Jewish.
Prof. Rebecca Gould, who previously taught at the University of Bristol, was one of numerous signatories to a letter calling on the German Government not to equate the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement with antisemitism. The signatories to the May 2019 letter all described themselves as “Jewish and Israeli scholars”.
Meanwhile, in a 2019 academic article titled ‘The Palestine Exception to Academic Freedom’, which she co-authored with fellow academic Malaka Shwaikh, Prof. Gould said: “I am not Jewish according to any widely accepted definition”.
Prof. Gould went on in that article to explain: “On my father’s side, I am of Jewish descent. My father’s ancestors were born in Lodz, in what was then the Pale of Settlement within the Russian empire and is now a part of Poland. They migrated to Australia in the nineteenth century, in search of new opportunities, before arriving in the US, where they became perfect capitalists, converted to Catholicism, and changed their name from the Jewish Goldstein to the gentile Gould to improve their economic prospects. Such is the extent of my ancestral link to Judaism.”
The discrepancy in Prof. Gould’s biography was brought to the attention of Campaign Against Antisemitism by a concerned member of the academic community. Prof. Gould has not responded to our request for comment.
Prof. Gould is apparently prepared to identify herself as Jewish in order to try to lend authority to a matter that impacts the Jewish community (an overwhelming majority of British Jews, for example, feel intimidated by tactics used to boycott Israel) but is much less certain of her Jewish identity on other occasions.
The academic article rightly notes that Campaign Against Antisemitism has criticised both Prof. Gould and her co-author, Dr Shwaikh, in the past. We previously exposed Prof. Gould as having written that “As the situation stands today, the Holocaust persists and its primary victims are the Palestinian people”.
We observed that Prof. Gould’s co-author, Dr Shwaikh, had made various deeply concerning statements, including that “If terrorism means protecting and defending my land, I am so proud to be called terrorist. What an honour for the Palestinians!”; marked Holocaust Memorial Day by tweeting that “The shadow of the Holocaust continues to fall over us from the continuous Israeli occupation of Palestine to the election of Trump”; claimed that “Zionism ideology [sic] is no different than that of Hitler’s”; and wrote that “Hitler did his deed and the Palestinians had to pay for it.” Dr Shwaikh previously claimed through her solicitors that the tweets, sent over a significant period, were the result of a hacking attack, but failed to substantiate her claim when challenged.
COUNTERPUNCH November 1-15, 2011
Volume 18 no 19
By Rebecca Gould “The last thing I want is to be called an ‘anti-Semite’,” an American friend confided, as we returned to Jerusalem after a daylong excursion to Hebron. We were gliding down the highway that stretched in front of us like a ribbon traversing the gaping darkness. I was so surprised by his words, offered in response to my question rega- rding why so many Israeli flags had to be hoisted above a road that cut through the heart of the Pal estini an territories, that I had to ask for clarification. “I can’t make Israelis the enemy,” he explained. “I live with them. I speak Hebrew better than Arabic. They are my friends:’ I was less surprised by the timing of these comments than by their content, for they marked the culmination to lengthy pronouncements evincing entirely different sentiments, as we traveled between the cave villages surrounding Hebron. As soon as Israel was behind us, I became the captive audience to his unceasing reflections on the injustices attending Israel’s occupation of Palestine, making up for many months of diplomatic silence. At every invitation, my friend was the first to point out that the greater weight of injustices lay on the Israeli side. This was a conflict, he said, marked by misinformation, deception, and fabrications of the past, and the winners were more culpable than the losers. “Israel exists only on subsidies:’ he repeated tirelessly, stressing the violence the state of Israel had introduced into the economy of the Levant. By contrast, Palestine was an “artificially underdeveloped economy” forced into economic depression by Israel’s draconian policies. And now, at the conclusion to a journey that had exposed me to a hitherto unknown aspect of an interlocutor I had believed to be unsympathetic to the Palestinian cause, he confessed his fear of being pegged as an anti-Semite. As we crossed the border into Israel, this confession seemed to mark a turn back to politics as usual. to silent complicity and diplomacy, and an infinite deferral of the mandate to speak the truth wherever it may lead. From a human perspective, my friend’s concerns were entirely legitimate. Indeed, they were shared completely by myself. Although I did not live in Israel, I received financial support from the same Israeli organization as did my friend . Like him. J had no interest in alienating anyone and no desire to acquire a reputation as a despiser of any group. However, no aspect of my question could have legitimated such labeling. That Israeli flags were posted at every single turn of a road that ran straight through Palestinian territory struck me as strange, given that Hebron had not been ceded to Israel after 1967. I wanted to know whether renegade settlers or the Israeli government were behind these unsolicited decorations. That my question evoked fears of the anti-Semitic label rather than a direct confrontation with the problem at hand reveals the power wielded by this ever-present accusation to steer conversation away from the occupation. From casual conversations to political debates. the specter of anti-Semitism constrains open discussion regarding the impact of Israeli policies on Palestinian lives, especially in what are known as Israel’s liberal publications. In a recent review of Han Pappe’s book, The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel, the Israeli left-wing newspaper Haaretz berated the Israeli historian, who was made to abandon his professorship at the University of Haifa for the University of Exeter in 2007, for lacking “any understanding or empathy for Jewish Israel’s sense of vulnerability and victimization:’ Pappe’s fatal flaw, according to the reviewer in Haaretz, was his failure to recognize Israel as a country that “has never enjoyed a moment when there was n’t somebody calling for its destruction:’ as though such a recognition should have modified whatever criticisms Pappe had to make of Israel today. Stated otherwise, Pappe had no legitimate right to critique Israel’s treatment of Palestinians residing within and outside the Green Line, unless he counterbalanced such complaints with a recognition of Jewish suffering. The evaluative strategy that holds an author responsible not for what he said but for what he didn’t and that calls him to account for not discussing matters that have at most a tangential bearing on his immediate subject does not stand up to the test of rigorous analysis. I submit that such compromised intellectual standards were only deemed adequate because of the special nature of the subject at hand, and because of the contemporary uses that are made of the long, and not always relevant, history of anti -Jewish hate. In a more objective discussion, Pappe’s work would have been read on its own merits, not for what it had to say about Jewish suffering, which was not its subject, but for what it had to say about Israel’s relation to Palestine. Underlying both Haaretz’s dismissal of Pappe’s scholarship as “unbalanced” and my fri end’s fears of being labeled an anti-Semite for the clarity with which he perceived the Pales tinian occupation are events in World War II Germany that, notwithstanding Palestine’s distance from this conflict, continue to infl uence the events in contemporary IsraelPalestine. As Zev Garber and Bruce Zuckerman have shown, Elie Wiesel did the most to popularize the use of the Greek term holokaustos (“entirely consumed by fire”) to translate the Hebrew shoah. Already 20 years ago, the historian Arno Mayer contested the use of the term “holocaust” in lieu of the shoah, because he recognized that this word had spawned “a collective prescriptive ‘memory’ unconducive to critical and contextual thinking about the Jewish calamity:’ Unfortunately, Mayer’s protests have gone unheeded. When the most religiously freighted term imaginable is used to describe a purely human tragedy, memory becomes an instrument of ideology rather than a means of connecting with the past. This problem is only exacerbated by the way “holocaust” implies divine ordinatio n. Defining the shoah vis-a-vis the Greek (and, incidentally, Christian) term for a sacrifice to God has helped make it available to manipulation by governmental elites, aiming to promote the narrative most likely to underwrite their claims to sovereignty. Claiming the Holocaust as a holy event sanctifies the state of Israel and whitewashes its crimes. As Mayer feared, it also forestalls objective critique of any group associated with those who were brutally “sacrificed” half a century ago. I n the face of this overwhelming fear of being labeled anti-Semitic and of promoting anti-Semitic values that haunts nearly eve ry discussion of the Isra elPalestine conflict, perhaps the time has come to stop privileging the Holocaust as the cent ral event in Jewish history. While it may be possible to construct a historically solid argument that Israel as a country, like the Jews as a people, has “never enjoyed a moment when there wasn’t somebody calling for its destruction,” such a his tory could only ever be the starting point for a post-Holocaust reality. Above all, a history of past Jewish suffering is unable to dictate the appropriate response to Jewish suffering, let alone to other peoples’ suffering, in the present or the future. No people’s past should be allowed to determine another people’s future. Against Moral Calculus Just as it is necessary to separate the past from the present in contemporary Israel-Palestine, so, too, it is necessary to separate Jewish suffering from the Palestinian crisis. One tragedy does not license another. The Holocaust does not license the Israeli occupation. Nor does it license the bulldozing of Palestinian homes or the razing of Palestinian land. To refuse the moral calculus that transforms Jewish suffering into a justification of Israeli oppression does not imply insensitivity to or obliviousness of what the Jews have faced over the course of their long, often devastating, history. Even less does it earn one the label of anti-Semite. Rather, it opens a post-Holocaust present to an ethics that looks beyond the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” principle that has undergirded all three of the world’s most influential monotheisms – regardless of how they toss this label at each other, all have subscribed to such ethics in practice – at various moments in their history. Two wrongs do not make a right. Jewish suffering will never be appeased by making Palestinians pay the price for the world community’s silence half a century ago, when the Jews were being exterminated. The justification of silence regarding Israel’s illegal expansion in Palestine on the grounds that protest against this injustice could be perceived as anti-Semitic merely extends the lifespan of anti-Jewish prejudice. Two wrongs do not make a right, but one wrong, left unresolved and unhealed, often will fester and multiply, until other people suffer for crimes committed before they were born and in which even their ancestors had no share. Unfortunately, the moral calculus encapsulated in the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” formula delimits the scope of political possibilities with respect to the Palestinian question in Israel today: a tragedy perpetrated on the Jewish people half a century ago by German powers, and sustained by broad Euro-American complicity, is made to justify, sometimes explicitly and at other times by implication, an occupation that violates international law. 1he Jews have been sinned against, the reasoning seems to run , so, now it is the turn of Israel to sin against the Arabs. If the Jews do not engage in violent, pre-emptive “self-defense;’ the logic continues, then they will face another extermination. In today’s topsy-turvy world, Israel is more likely to share strategic goals with Germany, a country that played a major role in creating the JeWish tragedy, than with Palestine, a country that participated in millennia of harmonious Jewish-Arabic coexistence prior to modernity. This peculiar turn of events has led Edward Said to speak paradoxically but cogently of “Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims,” thereby suggesting that Zionism, an ideology that derives much of its force from the need to prevent the Jews from being victimized, has, in fact. produced more victims than victors. As Edward Said registered, when he argued that “the Jewish tragedy led di rectly to the Palestinian catastrophe,” the Palestinians are, in fact, linked to the Holocaust, although not in ways commonly recognized in the public sphere. The paradoxes do not end here, for, as Gilbert Achcar has pointed out in his recent provocative study, Arabs and the Holocaust, as “a colonial state born at the very moment in which the process of decolonization was first gaining strength,” Israel is a political anachronism. If Israel and Israel’s supporters wish to be remembered by history as the people who merely passed onto others the violence that was cruelly inflicted on them first, then the logic that makes Jewish suffering an obligatory preface to any discussion of Israel’s oppression is eminently justified. If they wish to be remembered as the people who used horrific suffering to fulfill the seemingly impossible yet honorable mandate of benefitting humanity, then another kind of resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and another language for reflecting on Israel’s politics, will have to be found. The Holocaust is Over – Avraham Burg, a former Knesset speaker has claimed in the title to his book. Burg’s bestselling book, which has caused a stir in Israel, bears the subtitle: We Must Rise From its Ashes. Burg is only partially correct. In addition to rising from the ashes of the shoah, Israel must find a way of not passing on the crime the Nazis introduced into the world onto the next generation of its citizens. If Israel can find a way to stop the cycle of bloodletting released into the world over half a century ago, then, even in an era weary of nations and the states that underwrite them, it will merit the world’s admiration. As the situation stands today, the Holocaust persists and its primary victims are the Palestinian people. A long road remains to be traveled, and much fear needs to be discarded before the ashes can be wiped away. CP
Rebecca Gould is assistant professor of literatures of the Caucasus and the Islamic world, Department of Asian & Slavic Languages & Literatures at the University of Iowa.
The Palestine Exception to Academic Freedom: Intertwined Stories from the Frontlines of UK-Based Palestine Activism
“The Palestine Exception to Academic Freedom: Intertwined Stories from the Frontlines of UK-Based Palestine Activism,” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 42(4): 752-73.
15 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020
St. Andrews University
Rebecca Ruth Gould
University of Birmingham; Harvard University – Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
Date Written: May 23, 2020
This autobiographical co-authored essay explores how hate speech wounds within the logic of the Palestine exception, whereby Israel-critical speech is subjected to censorship and silencing that does not affect other controversial speech. Three months after the UK government’s “adoption” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism in 2016, we were subjected to a series of attacks in the media, in the public sphere, and in our workplaces in connection with our Palestine-related activism and criticisms of Israeli policies from years earlier. The crackdown on academic freedom that has overtaken UK universities since 2017 has been widely condemned, but rarely has this story been told from the vantage point of those who were targeted and censored. We document here in detail how the Palestine exception to free speech and academic freedom has damaged academic freedom within the UK and silenced Palestinian voices.