The Battle over the Meaning of anti-Semitism


Editorial Note

Even before Joe Biden was sworn as the new president, pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel groups, among them academics, have urged to abandon the widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of anti-Semitism. They hope that the Democratic administration would undo Trump’s Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism, issued on December 11, 2019.  

Trump’s Executive Order stated: “My Administration is committed to combating the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and around the world.  Anti-Semitic incidents have increased since 2013, and students, in particular, continue to face anti Semitic harassment in schools and on university and college campuses.” As a result, “Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.”

The Executive Order instructed agencies charged with enforcing Title VI to consider the IHRA Definition, which states:  

“Antisemitism 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.” The examples identified by IHRA “might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intent.” 

Trump ordered that “the head of each agency charged with enforcing Title VI shall submit a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, identifying additional nondiscrimination authorities within its enforcement authority with respect to which the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism could be considered.”

The U.K. has followed suit. As IAM reported on October 15, 2020, Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, has warned universities that they could have their funding cut if they refuse to adopt the IHRA definition. He noted “too many disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism on campus and a lack of willingness by too many universities to confront this.” He added that “While many universities have rightly been quick over the summer to demonstrate their readiness to take action against other forms of racism, it is frankly disturbing that so many are dragging their feet on the matter of anti-Semitism.”  Williamson has asked university officials to consider directing their Office for Students to impose a new regulatory condition of registration using the IHRA Definition. Otherwise, they will face suspension of funding.

Soon after Trump’s Executive Order was announced, the media reported that “the move appears to be targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” which encourages boycott against Israel “for what it deems violations of international law.” BDS groups on college campuses hold annual events like “Israeli Apartheid Week” to push for Palestinian rights. The critics argued that Trump might use the order to “pander to Jewish constituents” or “as a goodwill gesture toward Israel,” which “tries to combat anti-Semitism and the BDS movement around the world.” Others worried that the “broadened definition of anti-Semitism” could infringe on free speech.

One such critic was Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, who said that the move would “silence Palestinian rights activism” because “Many Israeli apartheid apologists… are looking to silence a debate they know they can’t win.”

Evidently, many pro-Palestinians are putting all their weight behind the campaign to cancel the IHRA Definition. Omar Barghouti, the Qatari born Palestinian and one of the key activists in the BDS movement, would speak in a Zoom briefing on Sat, 23 January 2021, titled “how to oppose the IHRA definition across the UK, and Gavin Williamson’s attempt to impose it in England.” Worth noting, Barghouti lives in Israel and has studied at Tel Aviv University for nearly a decade. Other briefing participants are Ben Jamal, Naomi Wimborne Idrissi, Jonathan Rosenhead, Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, Tom Hickey, Mark Abel, Ghada Karmi, and Richard Kuper. The Zoom briefing is organized and hosted by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP). 

The purpose is to discuss how to “understand and resist” the pressure on universities and colleges to adopt the “contentious” IHRA Definition and “the Gavin Williamson’s attempt to force universities to comply through the threat of financial penalties.” The briefing will “address both the abuse of the definition as a means of silencing Palestine advocacy, and the attack on academic freedom and university autonomy.”  The briefing aims to “provide a toolkit for negotiating with managements, preparing motions or statements or talks on the definition, and campaigning amongst staff and students.”

Also, BRICUP intends to discuss the “misuse” of the IHRA definition, which “conflicts with the responsibilities of universities under the Equality and Education Acts,” and the potential impact on “freedom of academic staff to teach and research in their fields.” Students’ ability to debate issues on Palestine/Israel and to “interrogate the nature of Zionism.” How staff and Academic Boards in universities, and trade unions in colleges and elsewhere, “can resist the adoption of the definition by their institutions, and how they can defend Palestine advocacy in the face of the definition.”

Members of BRICUP perceive the IHRA Definition as “inadequate” because “It fails to capture some of the most virulent and most insidious forms of the disease; and its ambiguity and lack of precision leaves it seriously defective for use for either disciplinary, regulatory or legal purposes. It is also mired in controversy as an unsubtle attempt to block campaigns over the suppression of Palestinian rights by allowing them to become targeted as antisemitic.” BRICUP argues that “Palestinians have long warned that the widespread adoption of the definition and its examples would block campaigns over the suppression of Palestinian rights in just this manner.”   

Interestingly, however, there are no clauses in the IHRA definition which infringe on Palestinian rights, nor does it mention BDS. The only three clauses that could affect Palestinians are:  “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;” and “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Supporting the IHRA Definition is Kenneth L. Marcus, the author of the book “The Definition of Anti-Semitism.”  He noted that, as Vice President, Biden has spoken about the need to address anti-Semitism. Marcus suggested two new tools that can help President Biden fighting anti-Semitism. First, the legislation passed by the US Congress in late December elevate the State Department’s special envoy on anti-Semitism to ambassadorial status. Such a move should enable the Biden administration to fight anti-Semitism more effectively on a global scale. Second, the European Commission and IHRA released a new handbook presenting the IHRA Working Definition within the context of twenty-two real-world anti-Semitic incidents and crimes. 

Marcus’s proposal is useful. In order to fight anti-Semitism, any incident suspected as anti-Semitic should be evaluated with the framework of the IHRA Working Definition to clarify whether it is anti-Semitic or not. Quite possibly, some pro-Palestinian activism on and off-campus may be considered anti-Semitic, a prospect that has fueled their efforts to do away with the IHRA Definition. 

Date And Time       Sat, 23 January 2021       12:30 – 15:15 IST


Online Event

How to oppose the IHRA definition across the UK, and Gavin Williamson’s attempt to impose it in England.

About this Event

Omar Barghouti • Ben Jamal • Naomi Wimborne Idrissi • Jonathan Rosenhead • Salma Karmi-Ayyoub • Tom Hickey • Mark Abel • Ghada Karmi • Richard Kuper

Organised and hosted by BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine)

This is a Zoom briefing on how to understand and resist the pressure on universities and colleges across the country to adopt the contentious IHRA Definition of Antisemitism. In England this has now taken a new form: the attempt by the Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson, to force universities to comply through the threat of financial penalties.

The briefing will address both the abuse of the definition as a means of silencing Palestine advocacy, and the attack on academic freedom and university autonomy which Wiliamson’s demand represents. And it is designed to provide a toolkit for negotiating with managements, preparing motions or statements or talks on the definition, and campaigning amongst staff and students.

Registered participants will receive informative documents in advance, and will be sent log-on details on the day before the event.

The briefing will cover

  • the origin and misuse of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism;
  • how the IHRA definition conflicts with the responsibilities of universities under the Equality and Education Acts, and the legal status of Gavin Williamson’s threat;
  • the potential impact of adopting the definition on university autonomy, and on the freedom of academic staff to teach and research in their fields – especially but not only if they involve the study of the Middle East;
  • the potential impact of the definition on students’ ability to debate Palestine/Israel issues on university campuses, and to interrogate the nature of Zionism; and
  • how individual staff and Academic Boards in universities, and trade unions in colleges and elsewhere, can resist the adoption of the definition by their institutions, and how they can defend Palestine advocacy in the face of the definition.


Introductory remarks Jonathan Rosenhead  (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine – BRICUP)

The context  Ben Jamal   (Palestine Solidarity Campaign – PSC)

Omar Barghouti   (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel – PACBI)

Session One

Chair and respondent  Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi  (Free Speech on Israel)

Jonathan Rosenhead  What’s wrong with the IHRA Definition?

Salma Karmi-Ayyoub   (Barrister and Consultant on Human Rights)  The legal status of the IHRA definition, and of Williamson’s threat


Session Two

Chair and respondent   Ghada Karmi   (Author, Activist and Academic)

Tom Hickey   (BRICUP)   The definition and its impact on research, teaching and debate about Palestine

Mark Abel   (University of Brighton UCU)   Defending Palestine advocacy and academic freedom


Closing remarks

Richard Kuper (Jewish Voice for Labour and socialist publisher)   and  Jonathan Rosenhead  (BRICUP)  

  Participants may find the latest edition of the BRICUP Newsletter (no.138) helpful. This and all previous issues can be accessed on the BRICUP website.  


  Left-Wing Jewish Groups’ Rejection of Holocaust Alliance Antisemitism Definition Meets Criticism  

  by Algemeiner StaffJANUARY 12, 2021 6:19 PM

A statement from a coalition of progressive Jewish groups rejecting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism because it included anti-Zionism among its examples encountered criticism on social media on Tuesday.

The statement from the Progressive Israel Network, which includes the left-wing lobby group J Street, argued that the definition — which has been adopted by dozens of governments, NGOs, sporting organizations and other civic institutions around the world — stifles “legitimate free speech, criticism of Israeli government actions, and advocacy for Palestinian rights.”

The statement acknowledged that there “can be no doubt that some anti-Zionists and critics of Israeli policy can sometimes cross the line into antisemitism.” However, it went on to describe as “harmful overreach” the US State Department’s “unambiguous declarations that  ‘anti-Zionism is antisemitism’ and that ‘the Global BDS Campaign [is] a manifestation of antisemitism.’”

The statement echoed similar objections to the IHRA definition expressed by pro-Palestinian groups.

The words “Zionism” and “anti-Zionism” do not appear in the actual definition, which emphasizes that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

In an article this week for the British journal Fathom, Dave Rich — director of policy for the Community Security Trust (CST) of the UK Jewish community — pointed out that IHRA definition’s examples mentioning both Jews and Israel include: “‘Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust’; ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’; ‘Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis’; or ‘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.’”

Of the definitions critics, Rich wrote, “Do [they] really intend to claim that these examples suppress legitimate, non-antisemitic criticism of the State of Israel? If that is the case, let them try. They will struggle to persuade many people of their argument.”

Mainstream Jewish groups in the US support the IHRA definition in full. Anti Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said on Twitter on Monday that the definition “is a useful tool in fighting #antisemitism & does not restrict legitimate criticism of Israel.”

Continued Greenblatt: “To be clear, antisemitism referencing Israel still is antisemitism.”


Biden has new tools to fight anti-Semitism

Working with allies who have demonstrated their commitment to human-rights values, the president-elect can use the new anti-Semitism ambassador to strengthen American international leadership.By Kenneth L. Marcus

(January 8, 2021 / JNS) President-elect Joe Biden has two new tools that can help him in his professed priority to strengthen international ties, support human rights and combat anti-Semitism. The new tools play well to Biden’s foreign-relations experience and enduring belief in internationalism, which favors intergovernmental alliances, democratic cooperation and a liberal rule-based order.

First, in late December, Congress passed legislation elevating the State Department’s special envoy on anti-Semitism to ambassadorial status. This should enable the Biden administration to fight anti-Semitism more effectively on a global scale.

The outgoing special envoy, Elan Carr, did a remarkable job raising public awareness about the world’s oldest hatred. His predecessors in prior administrations—Ira Forman, Hannah Rosenthal and Greg Rickman—were also strong.

The enhanced position should enable Biden to succeed Carr with a high-profile successor who can work even more effectively with foreign peers. The candidates reportedly under consideration are highly qualified, including the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman and Sharon Nazarian.

Second, just today, the European Commission and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) released an excellent new handbook on fighting anti-Semitism. It presents the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, along with its guiding examples and relates those to the contexts of 22 real-world anti-Semitic incidents and crimes. The European Union had already called on its member states, as recently as December 2020, to use this definition to identify anti-Semitic incidents.

The handbook is issued to bolster this call within the European Union and to show how the working definition, including its guiding examples, can be used as a powerful defense against anti-Semitism. Its strength is in its real-world examples and best practices for policymakers.

This European contribution will reinforce longstanding U.S. efforts to make the working definition more widely adopted as the global standard. The George W. Bush administration had used a predecessor version of the IHRA definition for international affairs. The Obama administration had developed its own, nearly identical definition for this same purpose. The Trump administration adopted the IHRA definition by executive order, applying it domestically as well as internationally.

While the European Commission’s directives apply, as its name suggests, to the European Union, the United States is an IHRA member-state so the document applies here as well. This gives important elevation to the status of the IHRA definition in this country. While the Trump administration tended to go its own way, asserting leadership through mechanisms such as the Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism, the Biden team gravitates more towards international efforts such as this one.

The handbook observes that the working definition has been used by parliaments, governments, ministries, courts, law-enforcement agencies, city councils, civil-society organizations and (crucially) universities. For U.S. domestic purposes, the most important section addresses higher education, which has been a flashpoint for anti-Jewish incidents here.

It also observes that anti-Semitism in educational institutions often remains “invisible, unaddressed and unchallenged.” This is especially true when it is guised as anti-Zionism or criticism of Israel. This is a key reason why definitions are needed. Notably, the U.S. government began using the Working Definition in its oversight of higher administration during the outgoing administration.

The handbook reveals that the working definition is quickly gaining higher-education traction worldwide. For example, the German Rectors’ Conference, representing 94 percent of students at German universities, adopted the definition, declaring that it “provides a clear basis for recognizing hatred of Jews and is thus an important tool in combating it.” The rectors observed that the definition “takes into account” Israel-related anti-Semitism. The Romanian Ministry of Education promotes the adoption, by universities, of a code of conduct on anti-Semitism that incorporates the definition. Cambridge University decided, in November 2020, to adopt the definition as a “test to establish whether behavior that is in breach of the University’s rules is anti-Semitic.”

Although U.S. universities have lagged behind, they are now beginning to follow their European peers. For example, in August 2020, Florida State University’s president publicly endorsed the working definition and its contemporary examples. And in September 2020, New York University agreed to incorporate the IHRA definition into its revised non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy as part of its settlement agreement with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. These institutions are overcoming political resistance from critics of Israel, as well as erroneous charges that the definition would stifle free debate. Used properly, the definition can facilitate free speech while educating all participants in the ways that some speech can be hurtful and some conduct hateful.

These new tools can help Biden integrate domestic and international agendas. The former U.S. vice president has spoken passionately about the need to address anti-Semitism. Working with allies who have demonstrated with this new handbook their commitment to the human-rights values that he champions, he can use the new anti-Semitism ambassador to strengthen American international leadership.

Kenneth L. Marcus is founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and author of “The Definition of Anti-Semitism.” He served as Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education for Civil Rights (2018-2020).


Why are people fighting the IHRA definition of antisemitism?

Here’s what the IHRA definition says, why its supporters see it as a key for fighting Jew-hatred and why its critics are fighting it.

By BEN SALES/JTA   JANUARY 16, 2021 11:47

antisemitism signifies hatred of Jews and the ways that hatred is perpetuated through age-old conspiracy theories and their modern variants. But what about when that hatred is expressed through rhetoric about the Jewish state? Is anti-Zionism antisemitism?
Those questions have divided American Jews in recent years — and are doing so again this week.
Establishment Jewish groups want Joe Biden’s administration to treat some anti-Israel speech as antisemitism. Progressive Jewish groups disagree, worried about chilling or criminalizing legitimate criticism of Israeli policy.
At the center of the debate is a 500-word “working definition” of antisemitism, published in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA. That definition seeks to provide a guide to which statements or actions qualify as antisemitism.
It ranges from stereotypes about Jews to incitement of violence to Holocaust denial. A growing list of countries, international agencies, universities and sports teams have adopted the definition in an effort to help them recognize Jew-hatred.
But its provisions on rhetoric around Israel have sparked contentious debate, which was heightened last year when President Donald Trump signed an executive order essentially adopting the working definition as a reference for adjudicating civil rights complaints on campus. This debate has continued even as the IHRA has emphasized that the definition is not legally binding.
Here’s what the IHRA definition says, why its supporters see it as a key for fighting Jew-hatred and why its critics are fighting it.
The definition is an effort to describe an age-old hatred.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is an international network of academics, museum heads and nonprofit leaders from 34 countries that promotes Holocaust research and education.
In 2016, facing rising antisemitism around the world, the alliance drafted a definition of antisemitism that was aimed at helping countries, institutions and organizations recognize when it was taking place, and monitor and record it. The IHRA definition was based on an earlier one formulated in 2005 by a European Union agency.
The later effort was prompted by “a surge in antisemitic incidents in Western Europe, with attacks on Jewish targets including schools and synagogues,” reads a pamphlet published by the American Jewish Committee advocating for the working definition. “Governments were slow to recognize them, let alone respond to them.”
The document aims to help countries do that and covers a range of different ways that hatred of Jews can manifest.
According to the definition, antisemitism “is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and that antisemitism could take physical or rhetorical form and be directed at Jews as well as non-Jews, in addition to property and institutions.
The document lists 11 ways that antisemitism could take shape. They include calling for Jews to be killed, advancing enduring Jewish stereotypes about conspiracy and control, blaming Jews as a group for the actions of individuals or various forms of denying the Holocaust.
Six of the 11 examples have to do principally with certain kinds of rhetoric around Israel. They include:

Accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to a global Jewish agenda than to their home countries.
Denying Jews the right to self-determination or calling Israel a “racist endeavor.”
Applying a double standard to Israel that isn’t applied to other countries.
Applying classic antisemitic smears, like the blood libel, to Israel.
Comparing Israel to the Nazis.
Holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.

The definition says antisemitism “frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for ‘why things go wrong.’”
It is increasingly being seen as the guidebook for fighting antisemitism across the globe.
Since it was drafted, the working definition has gained currency in a growing number of nations and organizations. To date, 28 countries — mostly in Europe — have adopted the definition to help them determine what constitutes antisemitism.
In December, the Council of the European Union invited the bloc’s 27 member states to adopt the definition. Various other pan-European bodies have endorsed it as well, and in 2018 U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the definition can “can serve as a basis for law enforcement, as well as preventive policies.”
Some nongovernmental institutions — such as universities, soccer teams and, recently, an international Muslim clerical council — have also adopted the definition as a way to identify antisemitism. Last year, 145 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations wrote a letter to Facebook encouraging the platform to use the definition “as the cornerstone of Facebook’s hate speech policy regarding antisemitism.”
The U.S. State Department uses a similar definition of antisemitism, which it adopted in 2010. President George W. Bush’s State Department had endorsed the definition’s predecessor in 2007 as an “adequate initial guide” to antisemitism.
The Trump administration was even more reliant on the definition. Last year, an executive order by Trump instructed the Executive Branch to consider the IHRA definition, including its 11 examples, when investigating civil rights complaints — including those filed to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights regarding alleged discrimination on campus.
On Tuesday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a coalition of establishment Jewish groups, sent a letter to Biden asking him to adopt Trump’s policy regarding the IHRA definition.
“We believe that all federal departments and agencies should, in their work, consider the IHRA working definition of antisemitism (with examples),” says the letter, which was sent on Jan. 12 and first reported by Jewish Insider. “We urge your administration to maintain and build upon these policies of the last three presidents.”
Critics, especially Palestinians and their advocates, say the IHRA definition inhibits free speech.
As adoption of the IHRA definition has spread, so have protests against it from coalitions of activists and academics.
The definition’s opponents say its clauses on Israel will have a chilling effect on debate around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They worry that in condemning some forms of anti-Israel speech, the definition will serve to label all critics of Israel, or pro-Palestinian activists, as antisemites.
“The effort to combat antisemitism is being misused and exploited to instead suppress legitimate free speech, criticism of Israeli government actions, and advocacy for Palestinian rights,” reads a statement opposing adoption of the IHRA definition made Jan. 12 by a coalition of American Jewish organizations with progressive positions on Israel.
Palestinians have said that the Israel provisions, including the one that bans calling Israel racist, serve to make Israel immune to criticism for its treatment of Palestinians and for what they view as its violation of international law.
“To level the charge of antisemitism against anyone who regards the existing state of Israel as racist, notwithstanding the actual institutional and constitutional discrimination upon which it is based, amounts to granting Israel absolute impunity,” a group of 122 Palestinian academics and writers wrote in The Guardian. “The IHRA definition and the way it has been deployed prohibit any discussion of the Israeli state as based on ethno-religious discrimination.”
In 2018, British Jews slammed the country’s Labour Party for adopting the definition but initially refusing to include several of the Israel-related provisions. At the time, the party was embroiled in controversy over mounting allegations of antisemitism against its officials and particularly its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a longtime harsh critic of Israel.
Debate over the definition has flared again in the United Kingdom after the country’s education secretary instructed universities to adopt the definition. While Oxford and Cambridge have adopted the definition in recent weeks, according to The Guardian, a letter published by eight prominent British lawyers last week argues against adopting the definition.
Defenders point to the definition’s nuance on Israel and support for free speech.
The definition’s advocates say the definition distinguishes between legitimate criticism of Israel and instances where rhetoric either crosses the line into antisemitism or uses critique of the Jewish state as a front for hatred of Jews.
The definition makes clear that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”
The AJC pamphlet says the definition concerns itself only with “where and how anti-Israel animus can become a form of antisemitism, separate and apart from criticism of Israel,” and that “its careful wording leaves a wide berth for sharp and vigorous criticism of Israel’s government and policies.”
What’s more, the definition itself states that it is “non-legally binding,” and in introductions to the brochure, officials stress that point to argue that the definition should not be an obstacle to free speech.
“Non-legally binding in its nature, the working definition is helpful in public discourse as well as training for media, educators and public authorities, without impeding the legal right to freedom of speech,” writes Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission coordinator on combating antisemitism.
What was supposed to be a helpful guide has become a instrument of division.
The irony in all this is that the definition was supposed to help resolve debates over what constitutes antisemitism, not start them. But the definition has become divisive as activists have sought to give it the force of law — something that, according to one of the definition’s authors, was never supposed to happen.
“It was never intended to be a campus hate speech code,” Kenneth Stern, director of the Center for the Study of Hate at Bard College, wrote in a 2019 Guardian op-ed opposing Trump’s executive order.
Stern added that he fears right-wing pro-Israel groups “will hunt political speech with which they disagree, and threaten to bring legal cases. I’m worried administrators will now have a strong motivation to suppress, or at least condemn, political speech for fear of litigation.”
Some pro-Israel advocates have also sought to widen the definition’s scope. In a New York Times op-ed about Trump’s executive order, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner appeared to interpret the IHRA definition more expansively.
Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, wrote that the definition “makes clear” that “Anti-Zionism is antisemitism” — though the word “Zionism” does not appear in the definition itself. In employing the definition, he wrote, the executive order prevented students from harassing Jews under the guise of criticizing Israel.
“It has become fashionable among Jew haters to characterize any discriminatory behavior — no matter how loathsome — not as criticism of Jews, but of Israel,” he wrote. “This is a lie. Especially on college campuses, where discrimination, harassment and intimidation of Jewish students has become commonplace and is routinely, but wrongly, justified.”
All of this debate is now associated with the definition. That’s why the question of whether the U.S. should keep using it as its framework for identifying antisemitism has become one of the first open disputes among American Jews regarding the Biden administration.


How Israel is harming the war on antisemitism

Noa LandauPublished at 04:30

Behind the scenes, a stormy argument is taking place in the Jewish world between two camps that were aptly defined by the late Prof. Yehuda Elkana – the one that, ever since the Holocaust, has been saying “never again,” and the one that has been saying “never again to us.” Recently, this issue has been the focus of the first public battle within the American Jewish community in the run-up to Joe Biden’s inauguration as president.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is an international project that seeks to define what antisemitism is for countries and organizations worldwide in order to help them fight it, legally and educationally. On the face of it, this is a worthy goal. But the definition IHRA adopted in 2016 has become the subject of a fierce political controversy, with the Israeli government orchestrating and intensifying the drama.

The reason is the definition’s focus on examples of the “new antisemitism” against Israel as a Jewish collective. Or in other words, on whether criticism of Israel that reaches the point of anti-Zionism is necessarily antisemitic.

Thus, for instance, its examples of antisemitism include “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” and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” An especially deceptive example, however, is “applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” After all, the Israeli-Palestinian situation is a very specific one, and so, presumably, is the criticism aimed at it.

These examples have sparked concern among many individuals and groups, including liberal Jewish organizations, that IHRA’s definition infringes on freedom of expression in a way that allows criticism of Israel to be branded antisemitic. And Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has proven in recent years that this concern is justified.

Netanyahu, the Strategic Affairs Ministry under its previous minister, Gilad Erdan, the Foreign Ministry (which has made promoting the IHRA definition a supreme diplomatic goal), and Jewish organizations funded by Israel have all argued repeatedly, citing IHRA, that the BDS movement, for example, is antisemitic. Israel has thereby proven that IHRA’s definition of antisemitism indeed has a political aspect.

In addition, the Netanyahu government has deliberately blurred the Green Line between criticism of Israel and criticism of the settlements, thereby further fanning the controversy. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration then added fuel to the fire when it announced that it planned to label important human rights organizations like Amnesty International “antisemitic.”

Since the IHRA definition was drafted, 28 countries and numerous organizations, including universities and sports associations, have adopted it, with encouragement from the Israel lobby. Last week, the European Commission even issued a nonbinding recommendation on the matter. Israel would dearly love for Facebook and Twitter to adopt it as well.

Last week, in a step that flew under the radar of the Israeli discourse, 10 liberal Jewish organizations, including J Street and the New Israel Fund, issued an unusual joint call for the Biden administration not to implement its predecessor’s pledge to enshrine the IHRA definition in law. This was in contrast to establishment Jewish organizations, which have been urging the Biden administration to adopt it.

The inauguration of a Democratic president provides an opportunity for Israel to reconsider, in light of the fact that its involvement is harming the war on antisemitism more than it is helping. The politicization of this issue is clearly an unwise, erroneous step that has also proven counterproductive; it is a battle that has actually served to strengthen the BDS movement.

BRICUP Newsletter 138
November-December 2020
P 2. Special Issue of Molecules: An Ongoing Saga. Malcolm H. Levitt, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Southampton
P 4. Limiting free speech (on Israel) and Controlling Virtual Spaces:
Adam Abdulla, Apartheid off Campus, University of Leeds
P 5. Terrorism and false claims of ‘Islamo-leftism’ add to troubles on French university campuses
Robert Boyce- BRICUP
P 6. Undefining Antisemitism
Tom Hickey and Jonathan Rosenhead -BRICUP
P 9. A statement from 400+ Current UK Students on IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
P 10. Americans for Peace Now Refuses to Adopt ‘Weaponized’ Definition of Antisemitism
P 11. The University of Cambridge Adopts the IHRA Definition
Announcement P 11. Report on systematic targeting of Palestinian academia News from PACBI P 11. Israel lobby spreads more lies about Palestine groups at New York University
From the Electronic Intifada
Steven H. Miles, The Torture Doctors: Human Rights Crimes and the Road to Justice (.
Derek Summerfield
UK scholars to human rights in Palestine.
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: We welcome comments from our Supporters on any of the issues raised in our newsletter
Special Issue of Molecules: An Ongoing Saga
Malcolm H. Levitt, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Southampton
Scientific publishing is a strange business. Publishing houses make profits through the following extraordinary business model: (1) hundreds of highly qualified professionals perform thousands of hours of academic and scientific research at the expense of the tax payers or charitable foundations, (2) they and their teams produce with great care scientific publications conforming to rigorous quality standards, (3) the research teams typeset their papers at their own expense using freely available software, to the specifications of the journal, (4) the paper is submitted to rigorous peer review by other highly qualified professionals, performed entirely without pay, (5) if successful, the authors’ institution pays a large fee to publish the article in one of the many thousands of scientific journals, with transfer of copyright to the publisher, (6) the authors or institution libraries buy back the rights to view or use the articles, even if they themselves did all the work and wrote the article. Steps (1) to (4) are performed entirely free, at no cost to the publishing house. Steps (5) and (6) result in huge profit for the publishers. It is all completely mad and has been for years. The scientific world is struggling like an insect in a spider’s web to break free from this insane model, but it is remarkably resilient, for reasons beyond the scope of this article.
Not surprisingly this, to put it mildly, attractive business model has attracted the attention of all sorts of dubious operators, some of them respectable and some of them less so. One of the big operators in this marketplace is called MDPI ( Its boss is called Shu-Kun Lin (more on him later), and although it is largely based in China, it maintains a small office in Switzerland presumably for residency advantages. MDPI runs 283 scientific journals, and one of those is a Chemistry journal called Molecules. Molecules has itself several sections, one of them being Organic Chemistry. At some point in the summer, the Organic Chemistry section of Molecules opened a special issue on a particular branch of Chemistry with a Guest Editor called Dr Mindy Levine, who declared her affiliation as “Department of Chemical Sciences, Ariel University, 65 Ramat HaGolan Street, Ariel, Israel” (see
This contentious affiliation came to the attention of BRICUP and PACBI (The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) in July. I was asked if I could help to raise the issue of the affiliation and I agreed. I thought the best way was to contact the editorial board of the special issue and request that the author’s affiliation is corrected to one meeting international standards. As the readers of this newsletter will know very well, Ariel is not in Israel. I should mention that I am a UK scientist with a lifetime of experience in chemistry and physics and my reading of the situation was that the best way to handle this issue was to avoid stirring up a political campaign, with open letters, press releases and the like, but to calmly raise the issue through the academic channels. My experience of the vast majority of scientists is that political campaigns or stunts are a big turn-off, with few exceptions. I know that this view may not be entirely consonant with BRICUP members, but that was, and remains, my reading of the situation.
While preparing to contact the editorial board I was astonished to discover that just the Organic Chemistry section of Molecules has 69 members. This is very unusual – the editorial boards of most journals have no more than 10-20 members. The reason that MDPI journals have enormous editorial boards is not because those members actually do anything. It’s seen as good for one’s CV to be on the editorial board of a journal. In return for the nominal kudos, one of the expectations of an editorial board member is that they contribute an article a year to the journal. Hence by appointing 69 scientists to the editorial board, the Organic Section of Molecules (note -just one section of a single journal) more or less ensures about 50 articles a year, together with its publication charges. Repeated over all sections of all 283 journals of MDPI, this constitutes a very nice stable profit for doing absolutely nothing except counting the income. Nice.
Anyway, I spent a good afternoon tracking down and emailing all 69 members. The email I sent was very restrained and professional in tone, and
merely proposed that the Guest Editor should be requested to correct her affiliation to one conforming to international law. I cited at least one UN resolution on the status of the occupied territories. I deliberately did not suggest a specific corrected affiliation since I did not think, and still do not think, that is a wise or appropriate thing to do. It’s likely that my view differs from many other BRICUP members here, but I do not consider myself qualified to propose the correct form of the affiliation of someone living in Ariel. However, I do consider it within my rights to point out that “Ariel, Israel” is not correct under international law.
I did not know at the time, but later came to know that the American Physical Society, an academic society that also publishes a raft of academic journals, some of them the best in the field, had already adopted an explicit policy on the acceptable form of affiliations, for example “Ariel University, Ariel, West Bank”, see If I had known this, I would have used that information.
Anyway, after sending that email, nothing appeared to happen, except that I received two or three supportive responses from members of the editorial board. However, on 14 September, I was copied in to an email from the section managing editor of Molecules to one of the editorial board members, stating that “Our leader contacted Dr Levine to discuss, and Dr Levine disagreed to change her affiliation. And in order to avoid further mistakes, they decided to close her special issue and remove her information from our journal website.” Indeed, the reference to the special issue had disappeared from the journal website.
This small victory proved to be temporary. The subsequent developments are quite confusing, but I think instructive. My inclination was to bank this small victory, and start to chip away, using a similar low-key behind-the-scenes approach wherever the same issue cropped up again. Maybe eventually enough momentum could be built up to open up the campaign and make it more public. However, I felt that the time was not right. That cautious view was definitely not shared by PACBI, and in my opinion what followed was a textbook case of overplaying one’s hand, although many others will disagree with me on that.
Quite rightly, this was seen primarily as a PACBI issue (and indeed, they had originally raised the issue with BRICUP who had got me involved.) But, in going for the declaration of a big victory with attendant press releases and open letters, the gains were lost. In my view it was a case of misguided overreach. A Zoom call between several of us ended up with an agreement to publish a press release and an open letter (although my recollection of the call seems to differ a bit from the others.) PACBI issued a press release which contained the following phrases: “Nobel Chemistry Laureate George P Smith and Royal Society Fellow Malcolm H Levitt congratulate journal on principled decision”. In a letter to the editors, they urged the journal to “correctly and factually” indicate the professor’s affiliation as “Ariel University, illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, Occupied Palestinian Territory”. see
Although I have omitted some of the intermediate text, the press release can certainly be read as meaning that I, and also George P Smith, demanded that the journal corrected the affiliation to include “illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel”. As stated above, that is not strictly accurate. I never suggested such an affiliation, and I would not have done so. To be fair, I agreed to sign this press release, having failed to read it closely enough.
Possibly the only people who read the press release were at the offices of the Jerusalem Post in Israel. They published an article on 5 October stating that “The group is led by Prof. George Smith, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Prof. Malcolm Levitt, a Fellow of the Royal Society. The group asked the journal to change the address to say “Ariel University, illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, Occupied Palestinian Territory’.” As you can imagine from my views above, I was not at all happy about this. In fact, I felt that I and George were now branded as well-meaning but misguided idiots indulging in a stunt, which was of course, precisely the intention of the Jerusalem Post. George and I immediately received, as expected, a good portion of hate email. More importantly, the fuss caused the journal to reverse its decision. Indeed, the special issue has been reinstated (link above) and
will now appear with “Ariel, Israel” as the affiliation of the Guest Editor.
There is a curious sequel. George Smith, who is indeed a Nobel Laureate and a quite extraordinary person, managed to get in contact with Shu-Kun Lin, the director of MDPI. He asked him in a measured and polite email to reconsider the decision to reinstate the special issue. He received this terse reply from the man himself: “If your guys are scholars please do research. The political issue is not your business.” George and I discussed this, and I followed up with a polite email to Lin which sneakily informed him that George was a Nobel Prize winner and that maybe someone had hacked his (Lin’s) account since his email was so out of character. To my astonishment I got a prompt response from Lin apologising for his email to George, saying that he was very busy and had responded hastily, etc., and that he would consider the issue further, in light of the APS policy (see above). However, nothing has happened. That’s where we are now.
I think that for BRICUP members there is quite a bit to consider and discuss here. Did the cautious and low-key approach lead to a small but concrete gain which was thrown away? Or was the loss of the small gain a small price to pay for the attendant publicity and coverage? I have my own view.
Limiting free speech (on Israel) and Controlling Virtual Spaces:
How voices are shut down, dissent limited and topics taken off the agenda.
Adam Abdulla, Apartheid off Campus, University of Leeds
Universities and students’ unions should be the bastions of free speech and academic debate; they are meant to be open spaces for debate where faculty and students are encouraged to engage in critical discussions around issues that shape our world. It would seem, however, that some issues are more desirable than others and that some voices are more equal than others. Have we discovered the limit of free speech on western campuses and are we entering a time when arbitrary censorship of dissent will be the hallmark of higher education with virtual spaces curated by ‘big tech’? More particularly, what are the implications of marginalising Palestinian and Muslim voices in academic institutions that are also materially complicit in the continuation of Israeli violations of international law, at a time when the fight against racism and decolonisation is used as a marketing technique by universities both in the UK and the US?
In late October 2020, Zoom unilaterally deleted an online event which was originally going to be co-hosted by the Leeds University Union Palestine Solidarity Group (PSG) titled: ‘We Will Not Be Silent with Leila Khaled’. The event was in solidarity with the Palestinian feminist, freedom fighter and organiser who was prevented by the company from participating in an online panel on feminism and marginalisation of women’s voices and dissent on 23 September. The panel was organised by Professor Rabab Abdulhadi of the San Francisco State University, which failed to support Professor Abdulhadi and bowed to pressures from pro-Israel legal groups and Zoom.
Professor Abdulhadi and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) thereupon urged solidarity groups at universities across the world to take action and organise online events to demonstrate their resistance to Zoom censorship and pressure from Zionist lobbying groups. The various groups were invited to show a video of Leila Khaled speaking on various occasions about her people’s resistance to the Israeli occupation and colonisation of their land, which has been going on continuously for nearly a hundred years with the support of major Western powers (notably the UK and US). Rising to prominence as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the 70s, Leila Khaled was the first woman to hijack an aeroplane and was the feminist face of the armed struggle against the Israeli military Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Labelled a terrorist by some, today she is an advocate of the boycott of Israel, recalling the successful campaign against Apartheid South Africa and the global solidarity with the ANC’s armed struggle. Given the historical context and Leila Khaled’s long-held support for voluntary non-violent BDS, the cancellation of her platform and the silencing of her voice should disturb every progressive
academic and student who cares about the struggle for global justice and academic freedom.
After deleting the event, Zoom went on to disable the present author’s private account. In response to the Zoom censorship and pressure from the Leeds University Union (LUU), the organisers decided that PSG would not hold the event. Instead it was held by Apartheid Off Campus (a network of UK student activists), an organisation unaffiliated to the University of Leeds or the LUU. Despite this, an article appeared in the Daily Telegraph (27.10.20) falsely claiming that the events was ‘organised by the Leeds University Palestine Solidarity Group’, and stating that ‘The university has launched an investigation into how the webinar took place despite the society [Leeds PSG] having been denied permission to host it.’
This controversy comes only a few months after the LUU failed to protect the author from racist, Islamophobic smears circulated, in secret, by two senior committee members of Leeds University Jewish Society to more than 200 student societies at the Union during the final weeks of student executive elections. The smears included accusing the author of being linked to ‘terrorists’ and implying that I am a threat to the Jewish community on Leeds campus. In reaction to the smear, an open letter to the LUU and in support of the author was signed by more than 500 students and academics across the UK within days.
Additionally, two Jewish colleagues penned a second letter, complaining to the LUU and defending the author from the bogus claims. The LUU investigated the matter and penalised the authors of the smear but failed to deliver on its promise to revise its policies with special attention to the issues that pertain to POC and Muslim students. The recent behaviour of the LUU has left some students feeling excluded and marginalised by their union at a particularly difficult time for all. Indeed, being Muslim and Palestinian at this university it is a constant struggle to have one’s voice heard and perspectives respected. Unfortunately, this sort of treatment of pro-Palestine voices does not come as a surprise.
The University of Leeds is known to be complicit in the continuation of Israeli violations of international law in Occupied East Jerusalem. Despite being forced by student activists in 2018 to divest from a number of complicit companies and recently urged by sabbatical officers in the students’ union immediately to cut its ties to the Hebrew University, Leeds still maintains the institutional connection. The Hebrew University’s student accommodation in Jerusalem is partially built on illegally annexed Palestinian land, which amounts to a war crime under international law. It has also been accused of systematically racist treatment of Palestinian students and the surrounding neighbourhood.
This recent spike in censorship should be a warning light to everyone who cares about their ability to criticise institutional racism and engage in non-violent forms of resistance to oppression. Dissent and free critical academic thought are the basis for any movement that aims to change the status quo and motivate mass solidarity, whether for the Palestinian struggle for liberation, the Black Liberation struggle or the struggle of the indigenous peoples of the Americas against continuous oppression and ongoing land theft. We must unite in our efforts and recognise that oppression and violence come in more than just a physical form.
Marginalisation, epistemic violence and denial of agency are forms of violence that complement its physical counterpart. They must not be tolerated at institutions that claim to champion equality and diversity.
Terrorism and false claims of ‘Islamo-leftism’ add to troubles on French university campuses
Robert Boyce
A series of terrorist attacks in France carried out by lone perpetrators, culminating in the brutal beheading of a middle school teacher on 16 October has had serious consequences for free speech in the country’s universities. One threat comes from conservative academics who have intensified their campaign against what they call ‘Islamo-leftism’. This is an extremely vague term which in substance amounts to an attack on French Muslims who seek to maintain their religious and cultural traditions, academics who engage in post-colonial studies which allegedly encourages ‘separatism’ among ethnic minorities, and the social sciences in general. On 22 October the Minister of National Education, citing the
example of ‘Carlos the Jackal’, another solitary terrorist of no less than 45 years ago, publicly denounced ‘Islamo-leftism’. He claimed that the dangerous ideas that contributed to ‘Islamo-leftism’, having originated in the United States, were spreading like a virus through French universities and were responsible for the current bout of terrorism. Almost immediately several hundred academics signed a petition in support of the Minister, followed by a more measured counter-petition denouncing this threat to free speech, teaching and research on campus. (The counter-manifesto can be found here )
In the midst of this controversy the French government adopted a bill on financing for future academic research which includes a clause that would inflict a year in prison and a fine of 7,500 euros on anyone who ‘disrupts the harmony’ of a university campus and three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros on groups who cause disruption. Rather than denounce this hopelessly vague charge, the Minister for Higher Education attempted to minimise this assault on free speech by lamely suggesting first, that there was really nothing new in the legislation which begged the question why it was introduced, and second, that the law would only be enforced against individuals coming from outside the university and was unlikely to be applied because university presidents would decide whether the police should intervene on campus, although this is not what the law actually states. Not surprisingly these assurances failed to dissuade the association of university presidents from declaring ‘no confidence’ in the Minister and requesting the Prime Minister to replace her.
Neither assault has directly targeted campus advocates of Palestinian human rights. But it is significant that the academic at the centre of the ‘Islamo-leftism’ campaign, the philosopher Pierre-André Taguieff, has also been the leading populariser in France of the argument that anti-Zionism is the ‘new antisemitism’ and that leftist critics of Israel are joined in an unholy alliance with Muslimists. It seems highly likely therefore that the ‘Islamo-leftism’ campaign will soon fix on supporters of Palestine. It also seems only a matter of time before pro-Palestinian activists who challenge the presence of Israeli agents on campus find themselves charged with the crime of ‘disrupting the harmony’ of their university.
Undefining Antisemitism
A comprehensive survey of key contributions so far to the debate on the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
Tom Hickey and Jonathan Rosenhead
This is an account of an ongoing campaign in which BRICUP is deeply involved. This means, first that some of the facts may have changed before you read this, and second, that some identifying details of individuals and institutions are omitted.
Beware, Rogue Minister
In October Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education told English universities that they must adopt in complete form the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism by Christmas, or face financial penalties. This instruction has caused widespread consternation among university managements. They know he has no powers to instruct them on matters of internal governance, and many of them doubt that he has the powers to take any of their money away in such a cause. However, to deliberately go against the minister, particularly one not known for subtlety (or even competence) is not done lightly. For many Vice-Chancellors, ducking and weaving might be the highest form of resistance.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Williamson’s initiative was not preceded by any civil service preparation. There are no policy papers within the Ministry on this subject – no departmental research on the current state of adoption, no systematic information gathering, no assessment of the consequences of the policy in terms of Departmental objectives, no checking that his proposed action wasn’t ultra vires. That is, it’s a personal political objective masquerading as considered government policy.
These circumstances don’t make the definition any less of a threat to university autonomy. But they do alter the balance of political and legal leverage and advantage in the ongoing tussle between the institutions and the Minister. BRICUP is engaged with other organisations to strengthen the hand of those within all of our
universities that want no truck with this definition, a campaign we will describe below.
Deconstructing the Definition
The IHRA definition itself remains what it always was: inadequate as a definition of antisemitism. It fails to capture some of the most virulent and most insidious forms of the disease; and its ambiguity and lack of precision leaves it seriously defective for use for either disciplinary, regulatory or legal purposes. It is also mired in controversy as an unsubtle attempt to block campaigns over the suppression of Palestinian rights by allowing them to become targeted as antisemitic.
As a definition, it has been widely criticised, but it is the illustrative examples attached to it that have been seen as most damaging. Their conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism has been noted with disapproval by the Institute of Race Relations; by eminent legal experts including ex-Court of Appeal Judge Sir Stephen Sedley; by Liberty; by leading academic experts on anti-Semitism, including Anthony Lerman and Brian Klug; by 40 global Jewish social justice organisations, and by more than 80 UK-based BAME groups. The most recent authoritative demolition of the definition, in this case specifically focused on Williamson’s attempt to impose it on universities, is that of David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck College, University of London. It was published as we were completing this article.
A legal opinion from distinguished QC Hugh Tomlinson has pointed out that restrictive use of the definition would violate both the European Convention on Human Rights’ and universities’ statutory duties under the Education Act 1986. In his conclusion, Tomlinson points to these issues which universities need to take extremely seriously:
“that public authorities cannot lawfully act in a way which is inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights’ protection of freedom of expression; and
that under the Education Act 1986 universities in particular have a specific statutory duty to ensure freedom of speech expressed in the widest terms.”
Related concerns have been expressed in the opinion by Geoffrey Robinson QC who concludes
“[t]he IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is not fit for any purpose that seeks to use it as an adjudicative standard. It is imprecise, confusing and open to misinterpretation and even manipulation.”
Even the definition’s lead author, Kenneth Stern, a US attorney and member of the American Jewish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, is opposed to this use. It wasn’t constructed with a view “to target or chill speech”, he has said; it was, rather, drafted with consistent data gathering in mind. Stern has complained that the definition “was never intended to be a campus hate speech code”, and that when so used it “is an attack on academic freedom and free speech, and will harm not only pro-Palestinian advocates, but also Jewish students and faculty, and the academy itself.” (Stern is due to speak at a meeting on December 14th.)
Yet that is precisely how it is now being used by Williamson in relation to university campuses; by local authorities in the UK to deny meeting venues to pro-Palestine advocacy groups; and by US Secretary of State Pompeo to attempt the proscription of charitable organisations that are critical of Israel, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam. Since President Trump’s Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism, the IHRA definition has, in effect, been codified into law. It is being used in the Americas and in Europe to delegitimise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The general purpose is to silence the voice of Palestinians, and to prevent any criticism that requires Israel to meet the demands of international law.
Palestinians have long warned that the widespread adoption of the definition and its examples would block campaigns over the suppression of Palestinian rights in just this manner. In November this year, 122 Palestinian and Arab scholars, journalists and intellectuals published an impressive letter of protest in The Guardian. One of the points it makes is that the definition has mostly been deployed internationally against left-wing and human rights groups supporting Palestinian rights and specifically the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Perversely, they say, it also sidelines the very real threat to Jews coming from right-wing, white nationalist movements in Europe and the US.
Academic opposition
For those of us in the Academy there is an additional concern: that wherever it is adopted, the definition will become a lever for external interests to press for the abbreviation both of the right to free expression and of the freedom of scholarly inquiry. This pressure would impact most intensely on issues related to Israel and Palestine, but also be felt across a whole range of disciplines from history and politics through international relations, archaeology, cultural studies and psychology, to philosophy and jurisprudence.
This concern is not a theoretical possibility – it has already happened across the world. In the UK there are numerous cases in which academic colleagues have been challenged, often by outside bodies, alleging that the content of their lectures or publications is antisemitic according to the definition; in some cases this has led to formal internal disciplinary processes. In all cases to date these charges have been found to be without substance, but their negative effect on free scholarship and debate is not limited to those who have been targeted in this way.
Opposition to Williamson’s attempt to impose the definition on universities is rising. The feeling against it can be judged from messages circulated by staff at universities where possible adoption is threatened. One academic wrote this in a letter of concern to the management and Academic Board of her university:
When mobilised for political purposes alongside its illustrative examples, the definition deters criticism of Israeli law and of Israeli government policy and of the illegal occupation and settlement of the West Bank. It can be used to prevent critiques of Zionism as a political ideology that focusses on its role in the justification of the colonisation of Palestine, or on its relationship to the systematic discrimination against Palestinians in Israel.
Another wrote
… as someone who has suffered directly from continued armed Israeli aggression against my country, I find that to be denied the basic right even to criticise this violence through the peaceful production and dissemination of knowledge is an abnegation of any principle of justice.
Concern amongst academics is not limited to the curtailment of academic freedom for research on, and teaching about, the Israel-Palestine conflict. Once that Rubicon is crossed the omens are that the move will be followed in the medium term by other government interventions to influence the diet of provision (the educational ethos of institutions, the range of disciplines supported, the character and purpose of degree programmes, and even the details of syllabuses). The beginning of an onslaught on teaching based on critical race theory is a pointer to the direction of travel.
Another staff letter of dissent argued,
I am very concerned that a concession by the University … to the threat from the Secretary of State for Education in the UK would have serious implications for the status of our Institution as an autonomous site of learning and research. For this reason alone, even were there no other grounds for its rejection, the IHRA definition should not be adopted by the University.
Opposition in universities to the adoption of the IHRA definition has been widespread. In some, this has taken the form of senior academics, and those who teach and research in the most immediately affected areas, writing letters of concern to their Academic Boards. Elsewhere it has involved adopting motions at branches of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) that are critical of the definition and urge their local Academic Boards and Councils to reject the instruction from the Secretary of State, and to defy his threat of financial penalties.
In one institution in which the Academic Board last year rejected the IHRA definition as unfit, the (majority lay) Council overrode that decision and announced its adoption, though with added caveats giving rhetorical support to the ideal of free speech. The response of the Academic Board was to set up an impressive and broad Working Group to consider how the situation should be resolved. As we write the Working Group’s report, the product of almost a year of intensive work, is about to be considered by the Academic Board that established it. This could become a test case for the definition, and for the right to academic rather than government control of universities’ internal processes.
UCU opposition
The UCU branch at another university made a submission to its local management which argued that the intervention by the Secretary of State was improper and that adoption would both be incompatible with the public duty of a university, and would also create legal and industrial jeopardy for the institution. Furthermore the adoption of the IHRA definition will embroil the University in a potentially unending series of procedural challenges to the authority of its management, in a potential series of industrial disputes as the UCU is obliged to defend its members against interventions forced on the management by malevolent or innocent but misguided external forces, in the exacerbation of differences of opinion amongst its staff, and in the inevitability of legal action that seeks either to force the implementation of one interpretation of the definition or on the contrary to protect staff and students from inappropriate managerial censure provoked by malicious accusations of antisemitism. Free Speech on Israel
BRICUP has been playing a central role in this campaign, together with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Free Speech on Israel (FSoI) and Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL). The three groups have jointly written to all Vice-Chancellors in the UK explaining the case against adoption of the definition, and urging a defence of academic freedom for staff and open discussion and freedom of assembly on the issue of Palestine. For institutions that have already adopted the definition, the letter was necessarily somewhat different. It asked what measures had been put in place to protect staff from malicious accusations, protect Palestinian students and their supporters from attempts to prevent campus discussions, and preserve the freedom of scholars to research the history and practices of the Middle East, and design and teach courses without fear of scurrilous attempts at intimidation.
Separately, BRICUP has written to every UCU branch in the HE sector to explain the case against the definition, to register the motions against the IHRA definition passed at successive UCU Congresses, to urge the branches to make representations to their local managements and Academic Boards, and to promise vigorously to defend any members who fall foul of malicious allegations based on the definition. It has offered UCU branch officers and activists the following model motion for debate in their branches:
This branch notes:
the Secretary of State’s attempt to force universities to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism through threats of financial penalty; that the definition has been criticized as both inadequate and dangerous by eminent lawyers and experts on antisemitism;
that its illustrative examples conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel and Zionism;
that it has already been used to discipline colleagues’ teaching and research, and against campus meetings.
The branch believes that:
this intervention threatens university autonomy;
the definition threatens academic freedom, and seeks to outlaw support for Palestinian resistance, and specifically the BDS campaign.
The branch resolves to:
defend members and students facing malicious accusations of antisemitism;
urge Academic Board and Senate/Council to reject the definition;
circulate the BRICUP statement to all UCU members, and members of AB and Council;
organise a members’ campus (or Zoom) meeting on Palestine, Settler Colonialism, and the Threat to Academic Freedom.
If BRICUP supporters and Newsletter readers would like further information on how you might contribute to this campaign by raising the issue in your own university or school, or in your UCU branch, please contact us at .
A statement from 400+ Current UK Students on IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
As students in the UK, we are deeply concerned that the space to bring the facts of the past and ongoing dispossession faced by Palestinians into the public domain, including in UK universities,
is under severe threat by the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism with its attached examples.
We believe that the IHRA definition is a threat to the fundamental right for Palestinians to describe their lived experience of oppression. The discredited definition, and specifically its illustrative examples, conflates anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of the laws, policies and constitutional order of the State of Israel.
We are therefore gravely concerned by the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson’s, announcement that he is actively exploring measures to force universities to adopt the definition, including cutting their access to funding streams. The vast majority of UK universities have so far rightly withstood pressure to adopt.
As a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations warned back in 2018, the discredited IHRA examples erase Palestinian history and shield Israel’s far-right regime of occupation and oppression by conflating discrimination against Jews on the one hand with legitimate critiques of Israel’s policies and system of injustice on the other.
The concerns raised about by Palestinian civil society around the definition, and its illustrative examples, are shared by the Institute of Race Relations; eminent lawyers including ex-Court of Appeal Judge Sir Stephen Sedley; civil rights organisation Liberty; leading academic experts on antisemitism Anthony Lerman and Brian Klug; 40 global Jewish social justice organisations; and more than 80 UK-based BAME groups.
These concerns are not merely academic; they have unfortunately been substantiated by many examples across the globe.
The right of Palestinians to accurately describe their experiences of dispossession and oppression, to criticise the nature and structure of the state that continues to oppress them and to openly criticise the ideology of Zionism which informs the actions, policies and laws of that state, is a core right, protected under numerous international laws and conventions, including Article 10 of the European Convention for Human Rights.
Likewise we affirm the rights of all students, alongside all UK citizens, to study and disseminate information around the constitutional order and structure of the State of Israel, as well as to stand in solidarity with Palestinians facing continued dispossession and oppression, including through advocacy for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel until it complies with international law. As recently upheld by the European Court for Human Rights, advocating for boycott is a protected right under Article 10.
Attempts to suppress our right to bring information about Palestinian history into the public domain violate our right to free expression, and serve to render Palestinians invisible as a people. These attempts also contradict our academic freedom to learn, discuss, question and test received wisdom.
We call on UK Universities to unequivocally protect our right to describe the facts of Palestinian oppression, to describe Israel’s laws, policies and actions as racist or as constituting apartheid; to criticise the political ideology of Zionism and to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as nonviolent measures of accountability to bring about its compliance with its obligations under international law and its respect for Palestinian rights.
If you are a UK student, and would like to add your name to the letter, you can do so here
Americans for Peace Now Refuses to Adopt ‘Weaponized’ Definition of Antisemitism
Americans for Peace Now, a Jewish non-profit organisation, whose stated aim is to help find a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is refusing a request from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism on the grounds that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition is ‘already being abused to quash legitimate criticism and activism directed at Israeli government policies’
See here * for further details
*Haaretz is currently offering a promotion which gives a first months subscription for just $1
The University of Cambridge Adopts the IHRA Definition
On November 4th, the General Board of the University agreed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition on antisemitism in full, with clarifications recommended by the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2016.
OTHER NEWS News from PACBI Monday , Dec 7th A November 2020 report from Scholarsatrisk (Scholars at Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project) documents Israel’s systematic targeting of Palestinian academia via: ▪️ House raids and detention without trial or charge of scholars & students ▪️ Movement/travel restrictions and visa denials ▪️ Barring imports of equipment & books
For more information, go to (
Israel lobby spreads more lies about Palestine groups at New York University
From the Electronic Intifada, 23 October 2020
New York University has agreed to settle with the US Department of Education over allegations that the university had not appropriately responded to claims of anti-Semitism.
Two attorneys filed the complaint last year on behalf of a student who alleged that she faced “two years of extreme anti-Semitism on the NYU campus which has created an intolerable and unlawful hostile atmosphere for Jewish students.”
Echoing previous attempts by Israel advocates to silence Palestinian rights activists on campuses, the complaint accused Students for Justice in Palestine of creating the “hostile” climate due to the group’s criticism of Israel and its state ideology Zionism. But in the end, Israel lobby groups seeking censorship and punishment of Palestinian rights advocates barely got what they came for. The university has committed to tackling bigotry against Jews – but, notably, it has not explicitly conceded any undertaking to prevent criticism of Israel.
Read the full article here
Steven H. Miles, The Torture Doctors: Human Rights Crimes and the Road to Justice (Georgetown University Press 2020), ISBN 9781626167520, 224 pages.
Reprinted from the Human Rights Quarterly
Derek Summerfield
During the Middle Ages in Europe torture drew a distinction from its association with confessed truth, repentance, and salvation, yet by 1874 Victor Hugo could write that “torture has ceased to exist.” This magisterial book reminds us how much torture has outlived its obituarists, noting in the Preface that the US Office of Refugee Resettlement estimates that 500,000 torture survivors live in the United States alone. It would seem astonishing to the average citizen that a practice so noxious, the ostensible province of the barbarian—the very antithesis of the professed values and public reputation of the medical profession—should have so intimately involved doctors in so many countries, not least in Western democracies. Steven Miles sets out to exhaustively document and interrogate this role, a vital ethical task.
He starts with examples—from Haiti, Malawi, Syria, Turkmenistan, Ivory Coast, Bosnia, Rwanda—where the torturers-in-chief were
physicians themselves—before going on to the Nazi doctors and their trial at Nuremburg in 1946–1947. He describes a striking aftermath—the election in 1992 of Dr. Hans Sewering of Germany to the Presidency of the World Medical Association (WMA). The WMA had been specifically created after World War II as the official watchdog of the ethical behaviour of doctors worldwide. During the war Dr. Sewering had been in the SS, the Nazi organization most responsible for genocidal killings, and had dispatched over 900 disabled children to their deaths. It is telling—touching on the core question of impunity running through the whole book—that after the war Dr. Sewering experienced no challenge to his career and rose to be president of the German Medical Association. However, the WMA Presidency was exposed as a step too far and Sewering was forced to stand down. But in 2008, fifteen years later, he was awarded Germany’s highest medical honor. His obituary did not mention his Nazi past.
The WMA’s Declaration of Tokyo is the seminal anti-torture text for doctors. This makes it clear that the ethical duties of a doctor go well beyond not directly participating, or not being in the room where the torture is taking place. Whenever he encounters or thinks he encounters torture the doctor has a duty to protest, speak out, and protect the detainee. If he is a working member of a unit whose methods during interrogation include torture, he is in what Amnesty International has called “institutional complicity” with such practices, and this cannot be fudged.
Why do doctors collude with torture? The medical advisor in the Nazi doctors’ trial concluded that a morally lazy careerism lay at the core of most physicians guilty in this way. I think it is much deeper than that, touching on matters of personal identity. In a famous lecture on “Politics as a Vocation,” the sociologist Max Weber distinguished between an “ethic of responsibility” and an “ethic of conviction.” (1) By “ethic of responsibility,” Weber meant conformity to professional standards and accountability. In our profession this means the ethical standards by which doctors should practice, including a commitment to factual evidence— standards determined by peer opinion, by patients and public, employers, and the licensing authority. By “ethic of conviction,” Weber was identifying actions that were inspired by personally valued ideals, political or other philosophies, or identities. In my thirty-five years of anti-torture human rights work, and with an emphasis on the collusion of doctors, I have witnessed how regularly, in doctors, an ethic of conviction trumped an ethic of responsibility, even in matters of grave human rights abuse.
I will give two personal examples. First, in the early 1990s when I was principal psychiatrist at the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture in London, we documented in the medical journal, The Lancet, accounts of the torture of Turkish Kurds (a persecuted people in that country) given to us directly after they had sought asylum in the UK. This prompted a number of Turkish doctors to publish protesting letters in The Lancet. One began memorably:” No state tortures its citizens unless it has to.” Second, in 1999 Professor Eran Dolev, then Head of Ethics of the Israeli Medical Association, told a visiting delegation from the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture interviewing him that “what’s a couple of broken fingers?” in the interrogation of a Palestinian detainee for the information this could yield. (2) It seems to me that Professor Dolev and the Turkish doctor were both expressing Weber’s ethics of conviction, that doctors were doctors but also citizens, and here saw patriotism and loyalty to the state as the higher value and what was expected of them.
Moreover, Dolev was Head of Ethics, no less: what kind of ethical leadership had he been offering, for example, to the Israeli physician implicated in the Nader Qumsieh case in 1993, documented by Amnesty International?(3) Five days after his arrest, Qumsieh was brought to a medical center in Be’er Sheva, where a urologist diagnosed a torn scrotum and bleeding. Qumsieh testified that he had been beaten during interrogation and kicked in the testicles. The urologist later received a call from the Israeli military, and as a result wrote a second report which he antedated by two days, without further examination of the patient. In it he recorded that “according to the patient, he fell downstairs two days before he came to the emergency room.” This time his medical findings were recorded as: “superficial haematoma in the scrotal area, which corresponds to local bruises sustained between 2 and 5 days prior to the examination.”(3) The urologist’s original report disappeared from Qumsieh’s medical file.
These issues, sometimes referred to as the “dual loyalty” question, come through strongly in Miles’s account of United States health professionals like Larry James and James Mitchell in defence of their active roles at the heart of the “enhanced interrogation” program in the United States post-9/11. These professionals knew what they were doing, and were doing it willingly, unthreatened and uncoerced. There is a significant distinction to be drawn here: in many highly repressive states, protesting or refusing to cooperate is dangerous, and silence a survival strategy. In the 1990s in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the director of the Al-Basra military hospital and a doctor at Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah were both executed for refusing to carry out punitive amputations ordered by the authorities for those caught evading the draft or for other offenses.
In drawing a global map of torture doctors, Miles describes physician complicity as a “pandemic.” Doctors monitor torture, fail to record injuries, and write medical reports which do not record torture, or attribute injuries to an innocent cause, as in the Qumsieh case above. Miles writes that it is reasonable to estimate that torture doctors ply their trade in more than 100 countries. Taking the specific example of the UK, he describes a troubled history regarding medically supervised flogging during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. His view that the UK and the British Medical Association have been reticent on the matter of holding torture doctors accountable is one I would entirely endorse. In 1976 the European Commission of Human Rights ruled that the UK was using techniques on prisoners in Northern Ireland that constituted “inhuman and degrading treatment” and “torture.” In 2014 two authoritative organizations—the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, and Public Interest Lawyers—detailed a total of fifty-eight allegations of UK doctors’ involvement in the torture of Iraqi prisoners between 2003 and 2008. In one case, from the Al Shaibah Detention Centre, the victim related that he told the doctor about the beatings he had suffered but the doctor made no comment. He told me he thought I had a stomach ulcer. He said this without examining me. . . . I told him that I had never had anything wrong with my stomach before, until the soldier had smashed me in it with the hammer. . . . My t-shirt and shorts were covered in blood from the beatings to my face and in particular my nose. The doctor could clearly see this and didn’t ask me about it. I told him about the injury I had received to my nose and that I thought it was broken because it was so swollen but he didn’t do or say anything.
In only one Iraqi case has a UK military doctor, Derek Keilloh, been brought to account, being eventually struck off the medical register. Miles comments that “the penalty against Keilloh appears to be unique in the long history of British complicity with torture.” This was in the case of the torture-murder of Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist, in Basra in 2003. His head was covered by a bag for twenty-four hours and a group of soldiers beat and kicked him. He died of asphyxia with at least ninety-three injuries evident all over his body. Dr. Keilloh (who had unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate Mousa) did not report his bodily injuries.
Miles ends the book with an extended account of what is the nub of the matter: accountability, and its flipside, impunity. We may wonder why only one case was brought against a UK doctor in relation to the war in Iraq when there was evidence against as many as fifty-eight. Why were the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council so silent, and initiated no proactive work to investigate credible allegations about the conduct of member doctors? In the US we witness the refusal of the American Psychological Association (APA) to respond to cast-iron evidence of complicity in torture by one of their members. By way of deeper implication, Miles tells us that in 2005 the APA was in covert collaboration with military intelligence officials specifically to create a cover for psychologists in the program, in effect licensing them to do what they had to do. Are national medical associations proactive in any country in relation to opposing state torture, and in ensuring their member doctors behave ethically in terms of the WMA Declaration of Tokyo? To pluck another example from the book, one survey found that three quarters of India’s physicians had seen a tortured person and one seventh had witnessed torture. What role is the Indian Medical Association playing in its silence and inactivity regarding such matters? It is hard not to conclude that national medical associations, and comparable bodies like the APA, function at base as buttresses and shields of the state and its policies. The effect of this, explicit or implicit, is to impart legitimacy
and support for what is being done, and to those who do it to hint that in the world of realpolitik medical ethical codes are largely window dressing. What this then instills is a sense of impunity, so vividly illustrated in the case material in the book.
Beyond national medical associations lies the WMA. The WMA calls itself an “independent confederation” of currently 111 national medical associations. Some associations claim that their WMA membership is of itself evidence of their ethical probity. But in practice, does the WMA provide real leadership regarding doctors and torture, part of its core mandate as I noted earlier? Is it proactive and even-handed in investigating incriminating evidence from credible human rights sources? To these questions I offer my own experience as convener of a campaign regarding the well documented complicity of Israeli doctors with torture in interrogation units, shielded by the Israeli Medical Association (IMA). The IMA is a member of the WMA. In 2009, 725 physicians from forty-three countries made a joint submission to the WMA, attaching a dense evidence base—from Amnesty and other international NGOs, but chiefly comprising detailed case studies (some with the involved doctors’ names) compiled by the well-respected Israeli NGOs Physicians for Human Rights Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. (4)(5)(6)) The result? No acknowledgement, even of receipt of the dossier, and only later we heard indirectly from WMA Council Chair, Dr. Edward Hill, that the WMA would definitely not respond to the material. But there was a response of a different kind, a libel lawsuit initiated in London against me personally as convener by the WMA President himself (Dr. Yoram Blachar). At the time Dr. Blachar was also the IMA President, as he had been in 1997 when he defended Israeli practices in a letter to the Lancet. He wrote that “the guidelines on interrogation recommend only that ‘moderate physical pressure’ be sanctioned. Even this is restricted to cases defined in terms of a ‘ticking bomb.’”(7) Yet in 1994 the UN Committee Against Torture had reiterated that “moderate physical pressure” was indeed torture, and also outlawed the “ticking bomb” justification. Here we witness the president of a national medical association defending torture in the pages of a famous medical journal. Our subsequent submissions spanned the terms of office of two further WMA presidents, but with the same result. The WMA is in violation of its own mandate, which is to ensure that its member associations adhere to its codes, but it seems it will not act when the case is Israel, nor I suggest if it was the UK or other influential Western states.(8)
Miles says that the WMA and others should craft and endorse procedural guidelines to help medical licensing boards convene and conduct hearings. This is right, but assumes a shared probity and a process free from political pressures—on the evidence in his book, it is very unlikely. And there is one bullet Miles doesn’t bite on regarding the WMA: the WMA is composed of national medical associations, so what happens when one of those is the principal accused party? And how free is the WMA of political influences? From our experience, the WMA is hollowed out and does not fulfill the ethical purposes for which it was created. (9) Overall, the evidence suggests that there is no effective supervision of the ethical behaviour of doctors worldwide, nor much political momentum to rectify the situation. Perhaps there never was. As Miles says, “a complete lack of accountability is the norm.” This is a mournful note to conclude on, but The Torture Doctors is a work of great scholarship, an essential piece of documentation and likely to be a seminal work.
1. Max Weber, Politics as a Vocation (1965)
2. Bamber H, Gordon E, Heilbronn R, Forrest D. ‘Attitudes to torture’, Journal of Royal Society of Medicine 2002;95:271-2
4. “Ticking Bombs”. Public Committee Against Torture in Israel/ Physicians for Human Rights Israel. 2007. http:www.
5. Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim: the Involvement of Medical Professionals in Torture and Ill-treatment in Israel. Public Committee Against Torture in Israel/ Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. 2011.
6. Adameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. Adameer collects hard evidence on
torture and ill-treatment committed against Palestinian detainees. 2019.
7. Blachar Y. ‘The truth about Israeli medical ethics’, Lancet 1997;350:1247
8. Summerfield D. ‘The WMA speaks out on Iran but not on Israel. Why not?’
BMJ 2009;339:b4635
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Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism


 Issued on: December 11, 2019

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  My Administration is committed to combating the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and around the world.  Anti-Semitic incidents have increased since 2013, and students, in particular, continue to face anti Semitic harassment in schools and on university and college campuses.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance.  While Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, individuals who face discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin do not lose protection under Title VI for also being a member of a group that shares common religious practices.  Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.

It shall be the policy of the executive branch to enforce Title VI against prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI.

Sec. 2.  Ensuring Robust Enforcement of Title VI.  (a)  In enforcing Title VI, and identifying evidence of discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, all executive departments and agencies (agencies) charged with enforcing Title VI shall consider the following:

(i)   the non-legally binding working definition of anti Semitism adopted on May 26, 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which states, “Antisemitism 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”; and

(ii)  the “Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism” identified by the IHRA, to the extent that any examples might be useful as evidence of discriminatory intent.

(b)  In considering the materials described in subsections (a)(i) and (a)(ii) of this section, agencies shall not diminish or infringe upon any right protected under Federal law or under the First Amendment.  As with all other Title VI complaints, the inquiry into whether a particular act constitutes discrimination prohibited by Title VI will require a detailed analysis of the allegations.

Sec. 3.  Additional Authorities Prohibiting Anti-Semitic Discrimination.  Within 120 days of the date of this order, the head of each agency charged with enforcing Title VI shall submit a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, identifying additional nondiscrimination authorities within its enforcement authority with respect to which the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism could be considered.

Sec. 4.  Rule of Construction.  Nothing in this order shall be construed to alter the evidentiary requirements pursuant to which an agency makes a determination that conduct, including harassment, amounts to actionable discrimination, or to diminish or infringe upon the rights protected under any other provision of law.

Sec. 5.  General Provisions.   (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


December 11, 2019.


Many American Jews are worried Trump’s executive order on anti-Semitism would do more harm than good

Rosie Perper Dec 12, 2019, 4:41 AM
The annual national Hanukkah menorah-lighting ceremony on the White House Ellipse in December 2010. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday with the goal of combatting anti-Semitism on college campus.
Three administration officials told The New York Times that the order would threaten to withhold federal funding for colleges and universities that fail to combat discrimination on their campuses.
Critics of the executive order included many Jewish people, who took umbrage with the order for several reasons.
On Wednesday, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, published an op-ed in The New York Times about the executive order, which was signed by Trump.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday with the goal of combatting anti-Semitism on college campus.

However, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing three administration officials, that the executive order would classify Judaism as a race or nationality instead of just a religion — setting off a firestorm.

According to The Times’ report, the order would threaten to withhold federal funding for colleges or universities that fail to combat discrimination of minority students on their campuses.

The Times described the logic of the order this way:

“Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the department can withhold funding from any college or educational program that discriminates ‘on the ground of race, color, or national origin.’ Religion was not included among the protected categories, so Mr. Trump’s order will have the effect of embracing an argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin in the Middle East, like Italian Americans or Polish Americans.”

The move appears to be targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which encourages various forms of boycott against Israel for what it deems violations of international law. The group, which has become popular on college campuses, holds annual events like “Israeli Apartheid Week” to push for Palestinian rights.

Though not all Jews are Israeli citizens and not all Israeli citizens are Jewish, some Jewish groups argue that BDS activism fosters harassment or intimidation of Jews and Israel supporters on campus.

Some critics suggested that Trump might use the order to pander to Jewish constituents or as a goodwill gesture toward Israel, a close ally, as the country’s government tries to combat anti-Semitism and the BDS movement around the world. Others worried about the broadened definition of anti-Semitism would infringe on free speech.

Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told The Times that the move would “silence Palestinian rights activism.”

“Many Israeli apartheid apologists, Trump included, are looking to silence a debate they know they can’t win,” Munayyer said.

On Wednesday, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, published an op-ed in The New York Times clarifying the executive order.

“When news of the impending executive order leaked, many rushed to criticize it without understanding its purpose. The executive order does not define Jews as a nationality. It merely says that to the extent that Jews are discriminated against for ethnic, racial or national characteristics, they are entitled to protection by the anti-discrimination law.”

But notably, the group most vocally against the measure reported in The Times appears to be Jewish people themselves

Halie Soifer, the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said on Tuesday that Trump’s executive order represented “the height of hypocrisy.”

“If President Trump truly wanted to address the scourge of anti-Semitism he helped to create, he would accept responsibility for his role emboldening white nationalism, perpetuating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and repeating stereotypes that have led to violence targeting Jews,” she said in a statement. “Instead, President Trump continues to view Israel and anti-Semitism solely through a political lens, which he attempts to use to his political advantage.”

She added: “President Trump is more interested in symbolic gestures that politicize Israel and use Jews as political pawns than actually doing something meaningful to ensure our security and that of Israel. The timing of this signing reveals this is a PR stunt, plain and simple.”

Others, including Jews, expressed similar outrage on social media.

The actress and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Michaela Watkins said on Twitter that Trump’s reclassification of Judaism mirrored sentiments used by white nationalists and Nazi Germany.

“This is antisemitism of the highest order,” she said.

—Michaela Watkins (@michaelaWat) December 11, 2019

Some said the order appeared to question whether Jews are really American.

Kelly Weill, a journalist for The Daily Beast, tweeted that it “gestures at ethno-nationalizing American Jews right out of their country.”

Leah Litman, an assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan, tweeted that the order questioned the nationality of American Jews.

“Is this what we’re calling an executive order that purports to define american jews as … some nationality other than american?” Litman said.

—Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) December 11, 2019

Other people on social media said the move would put them in danger of anti-Semitic backlash.

—danielle weisberg (@danielleweisber) December 11, 2019

—IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) December 11, 2019

Still others on social media, including Jews and non-Jews, said the order itself was anti-Semitic.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Violent anti-Semitic attacks have spiked to levels unseen in decades. Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel said in May that attacks targeting Jews worldwide rose by 13% in 2018, to nearly 400 cases. About one in four took place in the US.

The Anti-Defamation League said it found 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents reported throughout the US in 2018.

Responding to Readers Arguments Concerning the UCLA Nazarian Center


Editorial Note 

Two weeks ago, IAM reported that the “UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies Becomes an anti-Israel Platform,” which has met with a barrage of responses from our readers. 

One reader suggested that IAM is calling for the boycott of Israeli academics by opposing the invitation to radical political academic-activists.   Other readers suggested that IAM “attacked” the Nazarian Center. But both arguments are not correct. IAM sees the Nazarian Center as an important tool to advance the field of Israel studies. IAM keeps an eye to make sure that the mission of teaching Israel studies is met. 

The Nazarian Center mission states that “Our goal is education—to advance knowledge and academic scholarship about Israel.”  However, a perusal of the Center’s activities, the books it selects for review and invited scholars and speakers indicate a gap between the declaration and reality.   This should come as no surprise as UCLA has a long history of anti-Israel activism and has been denounced for its “Zionophobia” and anti-Semitism. 

One reader wrote to say that the speakers who participate in the colloquium should be treated as critical of Israeli policies and not anti-Israel.  IAM has never objected to criticism of Israel as part of academic discourse. However, a balanced debate requires at least a similar number of speakers on both sides.  Moreover, some speakers cross the line into BDS advocacy.  

For instance, IAM quoted from an article by Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, who argued that “the 1948 Nakba was neither the beginning nor the end of a process of settler-colonial expropriation.   In another article, Sabbagh-Khoury discussed Israel’s mixed cities of Arabs and Jews, that they “result of Israeli’s policies of settler colonialism” where the “Israeli establishment constantly strives to exclude Palestinians from these cities and to make their continued existence there difficult. In addition, I addressed Israel’s ongoing policy of Judaizing these cities, of exercising its control over them, and its attempts to remove Palestinians from them and erase them from their history. Because these cities have been absent as Palestinian cities from Palestinian ‘official political discourse’ and collective consciousness, since the advent of the Nakba.”  For those not familiar with the neo-Marxist, critical nomenclature, according to the colonial theory which dominates the social sciences, the Jews were colonial settlers with no right to the land, who dispossessed and expelled the native population, the Palestinians. They created an apartheid state that keeps them subjugated.  Thus, like in South Africa, the BDS is a necessary tool to roll back Israel’s colonial possession.  This type of scholarship advocates that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state. Negating this right is considered anti-Semitic by the worldly accepted IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Other colloquium speakers preach similar ideas. IAM reported that Ameer Fakhoury wrote of a “new partnership of Arabs and Jews, working side-by-side to combat Jewish supremacism.”  He also co-authored an article, “How the Jewish Left and Palestinian Arabs Can Remake Israeli Politics,” declaring that “A political alliance between Israel’s left wing and Arab parties could topple Benjamin Netanyahu.” Worth noting that Fakhoury is described as “a political activist, a lawyer and the Director of Wahat al-Salam / Neve Shalom’s School for Peace.”

And then there is Dov Waxman, the head of the Nazarian Center.  IAM mentioned that in 2011, Waxman co-authored an article “The Boycott Debate: No Longer Taboo in Progressive Pro-Israel Circles.”  The article stated that a growing number of American Jews on the left are beginning to “reconsider and revise” their position on BDS, and “they are for the first time giving it serious consideration and debating it merits.” Arguably, “debating the merits” is a polite academic jargon to legitimize BDS. Waxman and his co-author stated that “A more focused and limited boycott of products made in West Bank settlements has many advantages. It combines BDS’ appeal of direct consumer activism with commitment to a two-state solution as the only acceptable outcome to the conflict. It underlines the fact the settlements are not in Israel, and hence that boycotting their products is not the same as boycotting Israeli goods produced inside the Green Line.”  Waxman should be reminded that the 2011 Boycott Law also targets calls to boycott products made by Jews in the West Bank.

In a 2018 article, Waxman has stated: “The age of unquestioning support for Israel from American Jews is over: An era of conflict is replacing the age of solidarity. Within the American Jewish community, there are two major aspects to this divide: ambivalence and anger. On the one hand, there is a process of detachment from Israel, often expressed as indifference and apathy… following 1967, there is a tendency to see the relationship as newly troubled and in terminal decline. It is much more that the infatuation has come to an end; this is now a troubled marriage.” 

In a 2016 interview, Waxman predicted that Donald Trump’s “election would surely be a risk for Israel. His nationalist, isolationist and xenophobic orientation to American foreign policy endangers all US alliances, even that with Israel, and his recklessness, inexperience and ignorance in foreign affairs is bound to unnerve Netanyahu, who is politically conservative and is always seeking to maintain the status quo. I doubt that Netanyahu really wants a Trump presidency.” Waxman’s prophecy has failed.  

Waxman’s co-organizer of the colloquium is David N. Myers, a history professor at UCLA, who published an article in 2015, “Another Way to Think about BDS,” which legitimizes BDS.  He wrote: “we kid ourselves if we don’t recognize that there would be no BDS movement if there were no occupation of the West Bank and ongoing denial of Palestinian national rights. BDS took rise in July 2005, after the collapse of the Second Intifada and the Oslo peace process. Its first declared goal was to end the occupation of the West Bank. Unlike prior Palestinian actions, it is a nonviolent form of protest against the ongoing denial of self-determination to the Palestinian people.”   

More consequentially, Myers currently serves as the board president of the New Israel Fund (NIF).  The NIF funds several controversial groups, including B’Tselem which presents itself as a human rights group.  Recently, B’Tselem declared that Israel is an apartheid state, prompting media outlets in the West to repeat the charge.

The Nazarian Center should decide whether it aims to promote the study of Israel or serve as an incubator for radical polemicists who urge to “topple Benjamin Netanyahu,” or push for an American Israeli divide in “a process of detachment from Israel,” while seeing “the relationship as newly troubled and in terminal decline,” as Waxman configured.

The above quotations clearly show that the Nazarian Center is not a neutral and detached observer as its mission statement promises. Israel is a complex society with a dynamic foreign policy within the fast-changing Middle East.  As the Abraham Accords demonstrate, Israel is the nucleus of a new geostrategic alliance of the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Morocco, which would confront Iran’s hegemonic drive in the region. The Abraham Accords represent a paradigm change for Israel and its allies that may eventually lead to a more creative solution to the Palestinian problem.

IAM advises the Nazarian Center that under the spell of NIF it is steeped in the old paradigm of Palestinian grievances. Hopefully, it would soon address all these issues. IAM is here to help. in Israel: Past, Present and Future
A research colloquium organized by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and co-sponsored by The Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History at UCLA.
The colloquium will bring together an invited group of scholars from diverse disciplines – History, Law, Political Science, Sociology, and Philosophy – to present and discuss critical topics of democracy in Israel. The final papers resulting from the research meetings are to be published in an edited volume.
Colloquium Moderators:
Dov Waxman ( and David Myers (
Liron Lavi (
Presented remotely via Zoom

January 14, 2021 – 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Pacific Time)
Presenting Scholars:
1. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
2. Dmitry Shumsky, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University ofJerusalem.
3. Alexander Kaye, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University.
Liora Halperin, Department of History, University of Washington.

March 11, 2021 – 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM (Pacific Time)
Presenting Scholars:
1. Dani Filc, Department of Politics and Government, Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
2. Amal Jamal, School of Political Science, Tel Aviv University.
3. Dahlia Scheindlin, The Century Foundation.
Gershon Shafir, Department of Sociology, University of California San Diego.

May 13, 2021 – 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM (Pacific Time)
Presenting Scholars:
1. Julie Cooper, School of Political Science, Tel Aviv University.
2. Ameer Fakhoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa.
3. Menachem Mautner, The Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University.
Suzanne Stone, Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization.

For questions on the closed colloquium, contact Liron Lavi: (

TweetDov Waxman@DovWaxman·Apr 1, 2016I don’t support BDS, but it’s not necessarily anti-Semitic to do so.


The Growing Gap Between Israel And American Jews September 13, 2018 BY MOMENT

Symposium Editor: Marilyn Cooper
Interviews by: Sarah Breger, Marilyn Cooper, George E. Johnson, Sala Levin and Ellen Wexler

Dov Waxman

The age of unquestioning support for Israel from American Jews is over: An era of conflict is replacing the age of solidarity. Within the American Jewish community, there are two major aspects to this divide: ambivalence and anger. On the one hand, there is a process of detachment from Israel, often expressed as indifference and apathy. But the majority of American Jews, about 70 percent, remains emotionally attached to Israel. Within that group there is growing debate and argument about Israel, particularly about Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. There is a mounting sense of frustration, and many are alarmed by the direction the Israeli government is heading. Ultimately, there is a risk that U.S. Jews might become completely alienated from Israel.

This is not simply a divide between Israel and American Jews; increasing divides exist throughout the American Jewish community and deep splits exist within the Israeli Jewish community. That said, there is a growing sense that Israeli and American Jewry are two separate communities moving in opposite directions. Since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the second intifada (2000-2005), Israeli Jews and Israeli politics have moved to the right. American Jews, for the most part, remain firmly in the liberal camp. There is not, however, a divide between Israel and American Orthodox Jews, who remain very attached to Israel and are supportive of the Netanyahu government.

There is an ahistorical attitude that looks at the honeymoon period after 1967 as the norm. However, the American Jewish relationship with Israel has always been in flux, and it has not always, or even often, been characterized by strong, unequivocal support for Israel. Before Israel’s establishment, Zionism struggled to obtain support from American Jews. Even in the 1950s, Israel wasn’t that dominant in American Jewish life. Because most American Jews today are no longer in love with Israel in the way that they were during the period following 1967, there is a tendency to see the relationship as newly troubled and in terminal decline. It is much more that the infatuation has come to an end; this is now a troubled marriage.

Dov Waxman is a professor of political science, international affairs and Israel studies at Northeastern University. His most recent book is Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel.


Dov Waxman: “Israel Is Becoming A Divisive Issue In American Politics”


by Mitchell Plitnick

1. FOUNDATION FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE: In your latest book, you explore a growing divide in the American Jewish community over Israel. In the current presidential election, Israel has been at issue a number of times: Donald Trump’s AIPAC speech, Bernie Sanders stating his support for Palestinian rights in a speech in Brooklyn, the Democrats refusing to use the word “occupation” in their platform while the Republicans’ platform explicitly states that Israel is not an occupying power. How do you see these issues playing out in the Jewish community, in the context of your view of this growing divide?

DOV WAXMAN: Although Israel often comes up as an issue in American presidential election campaigns (unlike most foreign policy issues which are generally given scant attention), what makes this election campaign unusual, and highly significant, is the divisive way in which Israel has been discussed and debated. Unlike in previous elections when candidates simply spouted bromides about the US-Israel relationship and competed over who was the most pro-Israel, in this election we have heard a broader range of views about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians, including some unprecedented criticism of Israel during a nationally televised primary debate (Bernie Sanders’ denunciation of Israel’s “disproportionate” response to Palestinian rockets attacks in the 2014 Gaza War during a CNN Democratic debate with Hillary Clinton).

Political disagreements over Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—both within the Democratic and Republican parties and between them—have been on prominent display, clearly indicating that Israel is becoming a divisive issue in American politics. Although there is still strong support for Israel, there is growing disagreement over Israel’s policies (most notably, its continued settlement building in the West Bank), over its treatment of the Palestinians, and over how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Surveys show that Democrats, especially liberal democrats, have become more critical of Israel and more sympathetic towards the Palestinians, while Republican support for Israel has become emphatic and absolute (to the point that the Republican Party platform now explicitly rejects calling Israel an “occupier” of the West Bank, despite its almost 50-year military rule over that area). The bipartisan pro-Israel consensus that has long reigned in American politics is, therefore, eroding, just as the pro-Israel consensus within the American Jewish community is also eroding—as I describe in my book, Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel. What’s happening in American politics today mirrors what’s been happening in American Jewish politics for some time—criticism of Israel is going mainstream and divisions over Israel are deepening.

None of this, however, is going to affect how American Jews will vote in November—the vast majority of them will vote for Hillary Clinton. They will do so for the same reasons they always vote overwhelmingly for Democratic presidential candidates, and also because Donald Trump’s derogatory and inflammatory statements on the campaign trail (against Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, and women) are deeply offensive to the liberal, universalistic values of most American Jews. Ultimately, neither party’s stance on Israel will have any impact on how most American Jews will vote because Israel is not what matters to most American Jewish voters (in surveys, it is ranked well below others issues). The main exceptions to this are Orthodox Jews (about 10% of American Jews), who are much more politically conservative than non-Orthodox Jews, so most of them will likely vote for Trump. If and when non-Orthodox Jews vote for Clinton and Orthodox Jews vote for Trump it will highlight the growing political and cultural divide between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews, a divide that drives much of the current American Jewish conflict over Israel.

2. FMEP: In recent years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been more open about his relationship to the Republican Party. But the 2016 election has been a tumultuous one for the GOP, to say the least. How do you see this affecting Netanyahu’s relationship, and that of Israel more broadly, to both the Democrats and the Republicans?

DW: In the last presidential election in 2012, Netanyahu almost openly supported Mitt Romney, raising suspicions that there was an alliance between him and the Republican Party, both of whom are backed by the billionaire casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson. Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress in March 2015, at the invitation of then GOP House Leader John Boehner, confirmed these suspicions. Netanyahu seemed to be publicly aligning himself with the Republican Party, probably because he believes that Democrats cannot be counted upon to support Israel’s indefinite occupation of the West Bank. This alliance now appears to be threatened by Trump’s takeover of the GOP.

Although Trump was quick to abandon his initial promise to be “neutral” when negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and has since championed his stalwart support for Israel, his election would surely be a risk for Israel. His nationalist, isolationist and xenophobic orientation to American foreign policy endangers all US alliances, even that with Israel, and his recklessness, inexperience and ignorance in foreign affairs is bound to unnerve Netanyahu, who is politically conservative and is always seeking to maintain the status quo. I doubt that Netanyahu really wants a Trump presidency.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is someone that Netanyahu knows well, and he will probably get along much better with her than he has with President Obama. Whereas Obama’s presidency strengthened the Likud-Republican alliance, therefore, a Clinton presidency will likely weaken it, especially if the GOP loses one or both Houses of Congress as well. More broadly, a Clinton victory and a GOP implosion—both of which now look likely—would prove to most Israelis the importance of maintaining bipartisan American support for Israel, which has been jeopardized by Netanyahu’s embrace of the GOP (among other factors).

In the longer term, however, I think that Israel’s relationship with the Democratic Party will become increasingly strained if Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and deny rights to millions of Palestinians. The base of the Democratic Party is strongly opposed to the Occupation, even if the party’s platform refuses to acknowledge it. The longer the Occupation goes on, the harder it will become for Democratic policy-makers to ignore it. Their grassroots supporters will demand that they apply some kind of pressure on Israel to end the Occupation. This puts the Democratic Party on a long-term collision course with Israel, although whether this collision will eventually occur obviously depends on what happens in Israel as well.

3. FMEP: The Obama Administration has, if nothing else, been more open than prior administrations to the messages of domestic peace groups like J Street, Americans for Peace Now, the Foundation for Middle East Peace and other groups that are critical of Israeli policies but firmly supportive of Israel’s security. Many fear that whoever wins this election, the next administration is going to be much less critical of Israeli policies and less committed to Palestinian rights. How do you see the post-Obama terrain for those forces pushing for a just peace and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza?

DW: If elected President, Hillary Clinton will not make attaining a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians a top priority in her foreign policy (which is what Obama did when he first entered office) because the prospects for reaching such an agreement are very slim, and she will have other, more urgent foreign policy challenges to address. Nor is Clinton likely to insist that Israel halt its settlement building. Instead, she will probably try to avoid the conflicts and tensions with Netanyahu that have marred US-Israel relations during the course of the Obama presidency. But, like every president before her, Hillary Clinton will surely find that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be placed on the foreign policy back burner for long. Sooner or later, it forces presidents to deal with it, often after a serious escalation of violence. For this reason, I think that as president, Hillary Clinton, or her foreign secretary, will eventually try to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with the aim of reaching at least a partial agreement, if not a comprehensive one. When this happens, she will probably turn to groups like J Street to help her rally American Jews to support her Administration’s diplomatic efforts.

Besides the White House, if the Democrats succeed in regaining control of the Senate, or even the House of Representatives, that will undoubtedly help J Street and other left-of-center groups pushing for a more active and assertive US role in trying to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. If Congress becomes less willing to give its unconditional backing to whatever Israel does, then the cost for Israel of its occupation of the West Bank might increase, which in turn may increase the domestic pressure in Israel (currently negligible) to withdraw from at least parts of the West Bank.

One final factor worth noting is that if those Democrats in Congress who supported the nuclear agreement with Iran get re-elected in November it will be a serious blow to AIPAC’s once-fearsome reputation, and a major boost for J Street (which supported the nuclear deal).

4. FMEP: Finally, there seems to be a growing divide among anti-occupation groups, particularly over the tactic of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Many leading BDS activists and groups are Jewish. Is this debate a healthy one for the Jewish community, and how do you see this split on the “Jewish left” playing out going forward?

DW: I think debate is healthy for any community. The problem with the American Jewish community today when it comes to BDS is that there isn’t enough debate about it. In fact, in much of the mainstream Jewish community the debate isn’t even allowed to take place. Supporters of BDS (for the record, I’m not one of them) are actively excluded from the organized Jewish community. Jewish Federations won’t partner with any organization that supports BDS for any kind of activity, Jewish Community Centers won’t host speakers who support BDS, and Hillels on college campuses won’t even allow public discussions about it to take place. But as long as the occupation continues, American Jews opposed to it are bound to consider whatever non-violent means is available to break the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate and end the occupation. Support for BDS is, therefore, likely to grow on the Jewish left, and organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, which champion BDS, will continue to gain support, especially among young American Jews.

Nevertheless, many Jews on the left will still be put off from supporting the global BDS movement by its insistence on a Palestinian right of return, its strident anti-Zionism, and especially by the anti-Semitism occasionally expressed by some of its supporters.   While they may become more open to some of the tactics of BDS (particularly divestment from companies profiting from the occupation of the West Bank), they will not endorse the movement as a whole. The problem for leftwing and liberal American Jews who are both opposed to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and opposed to BDS is that, as long as the peace process is moribund, there doesn’t appear to be any suitable strategy for ending the occupation. This is why many Jews on the left are currently in a state of despair.

Dov Waxman is Professor of Political Science, International Affairs, and Israel Studies, and the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University. He is also the co-director of the university’s Middle East Center. An expert on Israel, his research focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli foreign policy, U.S.-Israel relations, and American Jewry’s relationship with Israel.

Originally from London, England, Professor Waxman received his B.A. degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University. He has also held fellowships and visiting appointments at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, the Middle East Technical University, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, the Avraham Harman Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and St. John’s College at the University of Oxford.

Professor Waxman’s most recent book is Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel (Princeton University Press, 2016).

Reprinted, with permission, from the Foundation for Middle East Peace blog.


Mitchell Plitnick is a political analyst and writer. His previous positions include vice president at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, director of the US Office of B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace. His writing has appeared in Ha’aretz, the New Republic, the Jordan Times, Middle East Report, the San Francisco Chronicle, +972 Magazine, Outlook, and other outlets. He was a columnist for Tikkun Magazine, Zeek Magazine and Souciant. He has spoken all over the country on Middle East politics, and has regularly offered commentary in a wide range of radio and television outlets including PBS News Hour, the O’Reilly Factor, i24 (Israel), Pacifica Radio, CNBC Asia and many other outlets, as well as at his own blog, Rethinking Foreign Policy, at You can find him on Twitter @MJPlitnick.


The Boycott Debate: No Longer Taboo in Progressive Pro-Israel Circles

Waxman/Zon- szein: The Boycott Debate

Dov Waxman and Mairav Zonszein ▪ March 29, 2011

TO BOYCOTT or not to boycott? That is the question that growing numbers of American Jews on the left wing of the pro-Israel community have reluctantly and uneasily begun to ask themselves in recent months. After initially categorically rejecting the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (or BDS, as it has become known)—a movement launched in 2005 by a coalition of Palestinian civil society groups that’s now a global campaign—progressive pro-Israel groups and individuals are now starting to reconsider and revise their position. They are not—at least not yet—embracing BDS, but they are for the first time giving it serious consideration and debating it merits.

The clearest sign yet of this new willingness to discuss what was previously off-limits occurred during a recent conference organized by J Street, the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby group. Holding its second annual conference in the cavernous Washington Convention Center (also the site of the yearly conference of AIPAC, J Street’s much larger and richer rival), J Street included a panel session entitled “Who is Afraid of the BDS?” Among the speakers was Rebecca Vilkomerson, the director of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an organization that advocates the boycott of companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and has been labeled by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the top ten anti-Israel groups in the United States. Her inclusion was noteworthy in itself, but what made the panel even more remarkable was the fact that it was conducted in a calm, reasonable manner, free of diatribes and invectives. In other words, it was completely different from the way in which discussions of BDS usually take place in the American-Jewish community. Instead of assailing the legitimacy of BDS in principle, the discussion focused on the efficacy of BDS—can it help promote an end to the Israeli occupation and a two-state solution? The large audience that packed the room (people were even queuing outside to get in) listened calmly and intently and asked the panel earnest questions.

To hold a rational and civil debate on a topic that until now has been hugely inflammatory for American Jews and Israelis is quite an achievement for J Street. Even more commendable is the fact that it took place despite fierce criticism of J Street for including JVP—an organization that is shunned and vilified by the mainstream American-Jewish community— in its program. Contrary to the accusations of its critics, by allowing BDS to be debated at its conference, J Street did not embrace these controversial tactics (it continues to oppose BDS). Rather, J Street has asserted that BDS is a subject that cannot and should not be ignored by the American-Jewish community. By upholding the values of freedom of speech and inclusive dialogue, J Street is insisting that grappling with the pros and cons of BDS does not in itself delegitimize Israel or deem one to be an anti-Zionist. As such, J Street is helping to break the BDS taboo in the American-Jewish community in general and among progressive pro-Israel activists in particular.

THE BDS taboo is only the latest in a long line of Israel-related taboos that have been broken by American Jews. For a long time, negotiating with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and recognizing the right of Palestinian statehood were taboos that only radical left-wing Jewish activists were willing to openly advocate. In 1976, for instance, members of Breira, an organization that called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, met with representatives of the PLO, considered at the time a terrorist organization. Breira was condemned and ostracized by the organized American-Jewish community and forced to disband in 1977. Despite its brief existence and rapid demise, Breira helped pave the way for other Jewish organizations to promote “land for peace” and to insist that Israel end its occupation.

The erosion of the BDS taboo has come about for several reasons. The first is the widespread disillusionment among American Jews with the “Israel right or wrong” approach propagated by the mainstream Jewish establishment. Peter Beinart’s much-discussed article in the New York Review of Books gave powerful voice to this disillusionment. Beinart urged his American-Jewish contemporaries to openly challenge Israeli policies and actions that conflicted with their own liberal beliefs. A similar call for American-Jewish dissent was issued during the Second Intifada in a collection of essays written by American-Jewish writers and intellectuals entitled Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. In their opening essay, the editors stressed the “centuries-old Jewish traditions of lively dispute and rigorous, unapologetic skeptical inquiry.” These are merely two examples over the past decade of growing public opposition to what is regarded as the attempt by the American-Jewish establishment to stifle open Jewish criticism of Israel and silence those who refuse to toe the mainstream line.

The most significant example of this trend is the establishment of J Street itself, as an alternative to AIPAC and as a political home for Americans Jews who do not question Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, but oppose its occupation of Palestinian territories. J Street has tried to redefine the meaning of being “pro-Israel,” and, at least judging by its growing membership—it now boasts nearly 200,000 members—it has succeeded in doing so. With such a large base of support, J Street cannot simply be written off as a marginal movement among American Jews.

The second reason for the lifting of the BDS taboo is the widening gap between the liberal political views and attitudes of American Jews and increasingly illiberal Israeli policies and rhetoric. The Avigdor Lieberman, Eli Yishai, and Bibi Netanyahu trinity in Israel’s government, which encourages further settlement construction, continues to employ rabbis who call on Israeli Jews not to rent or sell property to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and pushes forward anti-democratic bills (such as the loyalty oath and the investigation into NGOs critical of Israel’s occupation), challenges American-Jewish ideals. There is a growing sentiment in the American-Jewish community that Israel is on a downward spiral that endangers its standing in the international community and threatens its democratic character.

Finally, progressive American Jews are frustrated with the paralysis of the peace process and disappointed with the Obama administration’s failure to advance it. After almost two decades of fitful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a resolution to the conflict still does not appear to be in sight. If anything, it seems to be receding further into the distant future, if not disappearing altogether. Few once-ardent American-Jewish supporters of the peace process now hold out much hope for it.

Nor do many progressive American Jews believe any longer that President Obama can deliver a peace agreement. The high hopes that President Obama initially raised about his desire and determination to swiftly resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have now been transformed into bitter criticisms of his administration’s inept handling of the conflict and especially its vacillating treatment of Israel—from confronting the Netanyahu government over its settlement building to capitulating to it. Having dropped its demand that Israel end all settlement construction as a condition for negotiations and vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council that condemned this settlement activity as illegal (which is, after all, the official position of the U.S. government), the Obama administration has so far demonstrated an unwillingness to really pressure the Netanyahu government, especially when Congress opposes such pressure. In fact, the Obama administration has preferred to try to bribe Israel (for example, last September offering it twenty fighter jets worth $3 billion if Israel extended the West Bank settlement freeze for only ninety days), rather than cajole it. But this too has achieved few if any results.

Fading faith in the peace process, in the United States’ ability to act as an honest broker in it, and in Israel’s willingness to compromise in order to make peace (reinforced by the recently leaked “Palestine Papers,” which revealed that major Palestinian concessions were still not enough to satisfy Israeli negotiators) have created a new political space in which once inconceivable ideas are gaining currency. American-Jewish “doves” are considering what other options exist to peacefully end the occupation, bring about a two-state solution, and “save Israel from itself.” For better or for worse, the only option that appears to be available is BDS. These combined tactics promise to gradually raise the economic cost of the occupation for Israel, thereby supposedly making the status quo increasingly intolerable for Israelis.

It is out of a deep sense of anguish and despair that left-wing pro-Israel activists are starting to assess the possibility of BDS as a means of essentially coercing Israel to end its self-defeating, forty-four-year-old occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. While advocates of the global BDS movement praise it as a means of direct, grassroots action and proclaim its nonviolent nature, for most members of the left-wing pro-Israel community these positive attributes do not outweigh the many negative aspects of the BDS campaign. Put simply, BDS is widely regarded as both unfair and unhelpful.

However critical American-Jewish “doves” are of Israeli policies and actions, by and large they do not think it is fair to punish Israeli society as a whole, as BDS seeks to do. Israeli Jews may be politically complacent and apathetic when it comes to the occupation, but for the most part they do not support it—they just don’t believe it can be ended any time soon, at least not without jeopardizing their own security. Most Israelis still favor a two-state solution and a withdrawal to some negotiated version of the 1967 lines, and they are not opposed to a Palestinian state, as long as it doesn’t threaten them. Targeting them with sanctions and boycotting their businesses, therefore, seems fundamentally misplaced and unethical, as it would penalize the innocent along with the guilty.

By appearing to lay the blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exclusively on Israel, BDS is also seen as one-sided by many progressive American Jews. While Israel is by no means blameless, according to this view, neither are the Palestinians, especially Hamas and its supporters. To identify Israel as the aggressor and the sole perpetrator of human rights violations is historically inaccurate and morally simplistic.

Finally, the global BDS movement is believed to be unfair because it singles out Israel for pariah status. Israel is by no means the worst violator of international law and human rights, so why just pick on it? Why not target Sudan, Iran, or any number of other states that repress and brutalize their citizens? Or other countries that occupy the territory of others, such as China in Tibet and Russia in Georgia?

Coupled with these criticisms of BDS as essentially unfair is a more practical assessment of its effectiveness. Most left-wing pro-Israel activists are highly skeptical that BDS will actually work. In fact, they tend to believe that it will be politically counterproductive because it deeply alienates Israelis and feeds into a suspicious and defensive Israeli mentality summed up by the popular Israeli expression, “The whole world is against us.” This only reinforces right-wing Jewish nationalism in Israel and weakens what is left of its peace camp. Even for left-wing American and Israeli Jews, BDS is highly controversial and polarizing. As such, it serves to divide and thus debilitate the one group of people who can steer Israel in a better direction.

Perhaps the single biggest problem that BDS poses for progressive American Jews is that it is widely perceived as being anti-Israel, not just anti-occupation. That is, the BDS movement is seen as aimed at delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish state. Nor is this perception wholly inaccurate. Although the global BDS movement is very broad and diverse, many of the activist groups associated with it openly express hostility to Israel as a Jewish state, and many BDS advocates are “one-staters”—supporters of a single, binational state in Israel/Palestine rather than a two-state solution. More specifically, the BDS movement supports the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel proper—something that is a red line for pro-Israel supporters since they see it as tantamount to the destruction of a Jewish state.

The fact that BDS generally fails to make a clear distinction between Israel and the occupied territories is something that troubles American Jews who support Israel but are against the occupation. For them, it is imperative to distinguish between Israel within the Green Line—which is seen as legitimate—and Israeli rule beyond it—which is deemed illegitimate. By blurring this distinction, intentionally or not, BDS makes a resolution of the conflict harder, not easier, to achieve.

WHAT, THEN, are progressive American Jews to do? If the peace process is a waste of time, and BDS is unfair and unhelpful, is there another alternative? Indeed there is: a selective boycott against settlement products, not Israeli products or people in general. This is already being practiced by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and several Israeli peace organizations, such as Gush Shalom and the Coalition of Women for Peace, both of which actively advocate the boycott of settlement products and companies that profit from operating in the West Bank. Left-wing American-Jewish groups like the New Israel Fund and Meretz USA have also recently expressed support for such a boycott.

A boycott of settlement goods is aimed at anything that is produced in the occupied territories, not just goods actually made in Israeli settlements. This includes a wide variety of agricultural produce (such as fruits and flowers) and manufactured goods (such as plastics, textiles, cosmetics, food, and wine) that are made in factories located in large Israeli industrial zones within the occupied territories. While most of these products are purchased locally by Israelis and Palestinians, some are exported abroad (Israeli wine from the West Bank and Golan Heights and skin-care products from the Dead Sea inside the West Bank, for example, have a large international market). Although it would target only a small fraction of the goods Israel exports—an estimated 2 or 3 percent—a boycott of these goods still has an economic impact. In particular, by penalizing Israeli companies now operating in the territories, a boycott of their goods encourages them to relocate their production inside the Green Line, as some have reportedly already done due to the boycott. In practice, however, it can be difficult to boycott only goods produced in the territories, since they are not clearly labeled and companies operating in the territories are permitted to have marketing addresses within Israel. A labeling campaign, such as the one that has been conducted in Europe in recent years, is one remedy for this.

A more focused and limited boycott of products made in West Bank settlements has many advantages. It combines BDS’ appeal of direct consumer activism with commitment to a two-state solution as the only acceptable outcome to the conflict. It underlines the fact the settlements are not in Israel, and hence that boycotting their products is not the same as boycotting Israeli goods produced inside the Green Line. While it will certainly not hit Israeli pockets in the way that across-the-board BDS intends to do, it will not alienate Israelis in the same way either. It also has a much greater chance of gaining broad support among Americans and Europeans, who are unwilling to boycott and sanction Israel as a state.

Whether growing numbers of progressive American Jews support this “third way,” however, depends on their willingness to reject the hard line against all boycotts taken by Israel and much of the American-Jewish establishment. Major American-Jewish organizations frequently depict any boycott, however limited, as being anti-Israel, if not anti-Semitic. The Knesset recently passed the first reading of a bill to impose a hefty fine on Israeli citizens and a ten-year ban on entering the country against foreign nationals who call for or engage in any type of boycott against Israel, including its settlements in the West Bank. But these pressure tactics are unlikely to succeed if Israel continues its settlement activity and the peace process remains all but dead. As long as Israel’s occupation drags on, boycotts of one form or another are bound to grow.

Dov Waxman is an associate professor of political science at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Mairav Zonszein is an Israeli-American journalist based in Jerusalem and a writer and editor at

SOAS Anti-Semitism Probe


Editorial Note

For many years now, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London has tolerated radical elements within, allowing them to take over.

However, last month, after the court has ordered to reimburse tuition fees to a Jewish student who faced an antisemitic atmosphere, and with the adoption of the Working Definition of Antisemitism by the UK government, SOAS is now willing to deal with its problem. 

SOAS published a statement on 29 December 2020, declaring it “is extremely concerned about any allegations of anti-Semitism at our School. Diversity is key to the SOAS mission and we want all our students to feel welcome and supported in their studies. We have a robust student complaints and appeals process, but we cannot comment on any individual student case or the outcomes of any appeal. However, where we have established an independent panel as part of a complaints process, we would of course consider the findings of such a panel thoroughly and take appropriate action.”

SOAS found itself in the spotlight because it adopted the hegemonic neo-Marxist, critical scholarship in its classrooms.  This type of discourse includes many anti-West, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel elements as hatred sprouts at SOAS for more than two decades. 

For example, SOAS recently enabled Palestinians to call for Israel’s elimination at the SOAS Center for Palestine Studies, in a conference titled “The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194”. For those who are not familiar, the “Right of Return” calls for millions of Palestinians to move to Israel. 

The neo-Marxist, critical scholarship is also embraced by some SOAS staff who are anti-Israel Jewish Israelis. In August 2020, IAM reported that the “SOAS Academic Board Manipulated by Pro-Palestinian Activists” discussing how the Hebrew University program teaching Hebrew to students from SOAS was terminated. Behind this move was Dr. Yair Wallach, the chair of the Jewish Studies at SOAS, and Dr. Tamar Drukker, a Hebrew lector who both succumbed to Palestinian pressure. Wallach tried to conceal his role in the termination, but the Academic Board meetings’ protocols revealed he provided the Board with false information. 

On Saturday, 7 March 2020, several Palestinian activist groups have hosted a workshop at SOAS.  The invitation was worded as a formal SOAS event, adding that “SOAS is a remarkable institution, uniquely combining language, disciplinary expertise and regional focus. We are distinctively positioned to analyze some of the most challenging issues facing the world today.” And it was “a student only event.” The invitation also stated that the workshop was designed to provide university-level students with knowledge on how to deal with the challenges facing student advocacy for Palestine and offer suggestions to overcome them. The workshop comes at one of the “most challenging times for advocacy on Palestine with repeated assaults on the BDS movement, the conflation of anti-semitism with criticism of Israeli governmental policy, the designation of NGOs working for Palestine on the government’s anti-extremism guide, and a number of attempted character assassinations against those prominent in student politics for Palestine.” Session one offered effective advocacy strategies for pro-Palestine activists.  Session two discussed BDS and looked at “why the BDS movement is an important and effective strategy for Palestinian rights campaigns. It also concentrates on different BDS strategies and tactics that can work effectively on campus.” Session Three was about anti-Semitism and looked “at the ‘new anti-semitism’ and how it has affected Palestine advocacy at large.”

Clearly, this conference was not much about Palestinian advocacy but rather about anti-Israel advocacy.

In 2015, “University of London SOAS favors academic boycott of Israel,” announcing that students and staff at SOAS voted for an academic boycott of Israel during a week-long referendum. 

As mentioned before, SOAS often embraces Israeli Jews who defame Israel. For example, a 2013 Ph.D. thesis, submitted by Elian Weizman (who obtained a position as a faculty member at SOAS) in Politics and International Studies, was titled “Hegemony, Law, Resistance: Struggles Against Zionism in the State of Israel.” She wrote: “In their struggles against Zionism, Israeli citizens, both Palestinians and Jews, paradoxically seek to challenge through the law the very laws that institutionalize the hegemony of the state’s ideology.” Weizman focused on “resisting Zionism,” and found people who utilized the law in their struggle to “overturn Zionism.” She examined “the different strategies of resistance to Zionism,” by like-minded Israelis.

As early as 2004, SOAS has held an international conference, “Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Strategies and Principles,” by the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign, orchestrated by Betty Hunter, the general secretary of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK. In her talk, she discussed how “our campaign to isolate Israeli apartheid. Boycott and sanctions campaigning must be a priority for all our solidarity work.” Furthermore, “The Palestinian narrative is becoming known despite all the efforts of the pro Zionist lobby.” She argued that “we confidently assert that campaigning against Israeli policies does not equate with anti-semitism.” She also stated that “This conference is another significant step in making clear to Israel and its banker, the US, that Israel cannot and will not be allowed to continue its illegal occupation. The writing is on the wall, the Apartheid Wall, and the illegal occupation will fall. The boycott and sanctions campaign is an essential element in the movement to achieve this as quickly as possible.”

SOAS has been a hotbed for anti-Israel, anti-Jewish, and anti-West activism. The time has come for SOAS to acknowledge its long record. Hopefully, the new committee would lead the way.
SOAS statement  

29 December 2020

SOAS is extremely concerned about any allegations of anti-Semitism at our School. Diversity is key to the SOAS mission and we want all our students to feel welcome and supported in their studies. We have a robust student complaints and appeals process, but we cannot comment on any individual student case or the outcomes of any appeal. However, where we have established an independent panel as part of a complaints process, we would of course consider the findings of such a panel thoroughly and take appropriate action.

Jewish studies at SOAS

SOAS is the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and its offering in Jewish studies is unique. Our Centre for Jewish Studies brings together a critical mass of scholars and we are also home to the world-renowned Jewish Music Institute.

We offer a wealth of opportunity to learn about Jewish culture and tradition, with more than a dozen modules running next year alone across the institution. We teach Hebrew at undergraduate and Master’s level, and from this year, students will be able to apply for the new pathway in Hebrew in our flagship BA Languages and Cultures, for which we have just recruited a new Lector in Hebrew.

We will be continuing to develop our offering in interdisciplinary Jewish Studies, with new opportunities opening up for collaboration across the institution as we transform our curricula and strengthen our international engagement.

Panel recommends probe into claim of ‘toxic, antisemitic environment’ at Soas

Move comes as university pays out £15k to ex-student who says he was forced to withdraw from degree over atmosphere of Jew-hate
Mathilde Frot December 29, 2020 18:46

The School of Oriental and African Studies has agreed to pay £15,000 to a former student who withdrew from a course after alleging a “toxic, antisemitic environment on campus”. 

Soas reached a settlement with Noah Lewis after the former postgraduate student from Canada claimed a tuition fee refund, according to two charities which offered him legal assistance. 

Mr Lewis said he withdrew from his 2018/2019 master’s degree at the university, allegedly as a result of antisemitism on campus, which contributed to his increased anxiety, according to the UKLFI Charitable Trust and The Lawfare Project.

Mr Lewis appealed against the findings of an earlier investigation into his case, which recommended he be paid £500.

But a fresh panel has now recommended the establishment of a new probe because the first investigation explored specific instances but not Mr Lewis’ more general claims of a “toxic, antisemitic environment” at Soas.

Among various instances described by Mr Lewis were reports of racist daubings on campus and his claim that valid criticisms of Israel “often morph into attacks on the State of Israel and then further progress into blatant attacks on Jews in general.”

Jonathan Turner, executive director of UKLFI Charitable Trust, said: “The panel grasped the nettle and has set a benchmark of best practice which should be followed in other cases where there is prima facie evidence of an antisemitic environment. 

“We congratulate Noah Lewis on pursuing the complaint and hope that other students who experience antisemitism at universities will now be encouraged to object. Organisations such as ours are here to help.”

Brooke Goldstein, executive director of The Lawfare Project, said: “What happened to Noah Lewis should never be considered acceptable at a place of higher learning. 

“The Lawfare Project is glad to see that, with this settlement and continued investigation, Soas is working to right this wrong and ensure that its Jewish students and faculty members can feel safe and welcome on campus.”

A spokesperson for Soas said it was “extremely concerned about any allegations of antisemitism at our School. Diversity is key to the Soas mission and we want all our students to feel welcome and supported in their studies. 

“We have a robust student complaints and appeals process, but we cannot comment on any individual student case or the outcomes of any appeal. However, where we have established an independent panel as part of a complaints process, we would of course consider the findings of such a panel thoroughly and take appropriate action.”

The university features a Centre for Jewish Studies and a Jewish Music Institute, with opportunities to learn Hebrew and more than a dozen modules running next year about Jewish culture and tradition, the spokesperson added.



The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194

IMG - CPS Poster 12 Dec 2020
Various Speakers

Date: 12 December 2020Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 12 December 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar

Register a place

The Centre for Palestine Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Arab-American Educational Foundation Center for Arab Studies, University of Houston and The Institute of Law, Birzeit University Cordially invite you to: The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194

Conference Programme:

Session I: 1:00pm-2:45pm

Opening remarks

  • Nimer Sultany, SOAS 
  • Karma Nabulsi, University of Oxford

Past and Present, Origins and Context

  • Abdel Razzaq Takriti, University of Houston, The Right of Return as Anti-Colonial Liberation 
  • Ussama Makdisi, Rice University, British policy, prevarication, and path to the Nakba
  • Anne Irfan, University of Oxford, Palestinian Refugees and the UNRWA Regime  
  • Moderator: Nimer Sultany, SOAS

Session II: 3:00pm-4:45pm

Between Law and Politics: Return and Continued Displacement

  • Ardi Imseis, Queen’s University, UNGA Resolution 194(III) and the Right of Return in International Law
  • Nimer Sultany, SOAS, Internal Colonialism and Internal Displacement  
  • Sahar Francis, Addameer, Ongoing  Displacement in Jerusalem
  • Gilbert Achcar, SOAS, The Right of Return between Fantasy and Reality  
  • Moderator: Reem Botmeh, The Institute of Law, Birzeit University

Session III: 5:00pm-6:45pm

Activism, Agency, Return

  • Mezna Qato, University of Cambridge, Chalkboard Palestine: Schooling, Education and Return 
  • Mayssoun Sukariah, King’s College London, The Right of Return and the pitfalls of Contrarian Research    
  • Rafeef Ziadah, SOAS, Organizing for the Right of Return
  • Akram Salhab, Migrants Organise (London), Countering the Erasure of the Nakba, Recentering Palestinian Rights
  • Moderator: Dina Matar, SOAS

Closing Remarks  6:45pm-7:00pm


Session 1The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194 – Session 1 

The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194 – Session 1

Session 2The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194 – Session 2 

The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194 – Session 2

Session 3The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194 – Session 3 

The Palestinian Right of Return: The 72nd Anniversary of UNGA Resolution 194 – Session 3


This webinar will take place online. Please register for each session at the links below.

Register here for Session 1

Register here for Session 2

Register here for Session 3

Contact email:


US and Palestine: Shoot to Kill Policies and Transnational Resistance



Date and time: Thursday, September 17, 2020, 6 to 7 pm British Summer Time (UTC+1)

Register here.

Shoot to Kill Policies and Transnational Resistance between the US and Palestine with human rights attorney and Assistant Professor Noura Erakat of Rutgers University and moderated by Dr. Rafeef Ziadah of SOAS University of London

Shoot to kill policies constitute extrajudicial assassinations and, yet, have been so deeply embedded in the structures of racial capitalism in the United States and Palestine/Israel as to be/appear normal today. While the contexts in Palestine and the United States are significantly distinct and cannot be collapsed into crude analogies, the framework of Black Palestinian solidarity helps to illuminate the co-constitutive nature of racism and colonialism. In this discussion, Noura Erakat will examine extrajudicial assassinations from the US to Palestine to help illuminate the anti-racist nature of the Palestinian struggle and the anti-colonial nature of the Black freedom struggle. The lecture will conclude by contextualizing the US law enforcement trainings in Israel within a broader scope of the militarization of US policing.


The Continuing the Conversations event series is designed to engage SOAS alumni but open to all. The event will include a talk for about 20 minutes and then a discussion regarding questions from the audience for about 20 minutes.


Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick Department of Africana Studies. Her research interests include humanitarian law, refugee law, national security law, and critical race theory. Noura is the author of Justice for Some: Law As Politics in the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2019). She is a Co-Founding Editor of Jadaliyya e-zine and an Editorial Committee member of the Journal of Palestine Studies. She has served as Legal Counsel for a Congressional Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, as a Legal Advocate for the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights, and as the national grassroots organizer and legal advocate at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Noura is the coeditor of Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures, an anthology related to the 2011and 2012 Palestine bids for statehood at the UN. More recently, Noura released a pedagogical project on the Gaza Strip and Palestine, which includes a short multimedia documentary, “Gaza In Context,” that rehabilitates Israel’s wars on Gaza within a settler-colonial framework. She is also the producer of the short video, “Black Palestinian Solidarity.” She is a frequent commentator, with recent appearances on CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NPR, among others, and her writings have been widely published in the national media and academic journals.

Dr. Rafeef Ziadah is a lecturer in comparative politics of the Middle East. Her research interests are broadly concerned with the political economy of war and humanitarianism, racism and the security state, with a particular focus on the Middle East. Rafeef’s research has appeared in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space and Race and Class, among other venues. She is currently examining the impact of Gulf Cooperation Council military and commercial interventions following the 2011 Arab uprisings. Prior to joining the department as Lecturer, Rafeef was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the ‘Military Mobilities and Mobilizing Movements in the Middle East’ project with Professor Laleh Khalili. This ESRC funded project explored the politics of infrastructures, ports and transport in the Arabian Peninsula and culminated in the production of the website Sinews of War and Trade. Rafeef holds a Ph.D. in Politics from York University, Canada (2014). Before moving to SOAS, she worked as a researcher and campaign organizer with a number of refugee rights and anti-poverty NGOs.


Once you have registered for the event you will receive a link to access the event closer to the day.

If you would like to pre-submit a question, please email:


SATURDAY, 7 MARCH 2020 FROM 13:00 UTC+02-18:30 UTC+02

Student Workshop: Advocacy for Palestine on Campus

SOAS University of London Details  SOAS University of London   Thornhaugh Street, London, United Kingdom  
  SOAS is a remarkable institution, uniquely combining language, disciplinary expertise and regional focus. We are distinctively positioned to analyse some of the most challenging issues facing the world today.
  SOAS University of London  

  Public · Hosted by EuroPal Forum, ‎KEY48 – مفتاح ٤٨‎ and 2 others  
Saturday, 7 March 2020 from 13:00 UTC+02-18:30 UTC+02 Where: SOAS University, London (room tbc) When: 7 March 2020 – 11:00-16:30 Background: This one-day workshop is designed to provide university-level students with a space in which the challenges facing student advocacy for Palestine, and suggestions to overcome such challenges, are openly discussed and interrogated.Through facilitating a forum in which students are exposed to expert trainers with unique insight on the dynamics of advocacy for Palestine, it is hoped students will be left feeling empowered, encouraged, and enlightened in their solidarity.This workshop is born out of necessity. It comes at one of the most challenging times for advocacy on Palestine with repeated assaults on the BDS movement, the conflation of anti-semitism with criticism of Israeli governmental policy, the designation of NGOs working for Palestine on the government’s anti-extremism guide, and a number of attempted character assassinations against those prominent in student politics for Palestine.These challenges, to name a few, have markedly exacerbated the efficacy of student politics on Palestine. To address some of these challenges and to empower the student movement, this workshop focuses on the following themes:Session One:Requirements for successful advocacy – This segment of the first session looks at the most effective advocacy strategies for pro-Palestine student work – this can include having clear, measurable goals and aims, extensive knowledge of who you are trying to reach, and focused messages and campaigns that connect with your target audience. It will also include things like planning, matching strategy to your target audience, and how to effectively utilise messages that resonate.Knowing your rights – This session is aimed at empowering students with the required knowledge of their rights while advocating for Palestine.Session Two:BDS – This session looks at why the BDS movement is an important and effective strategy for Palestinian rights campaigns. It also concentrates on different BDS strategies and tactics that can work effectively on campus.Session Three:Anti-Semitism – This session looks comprehensively at the ‘new anti-semitism’ and how it has affected Palestine advocacy at large, and what it means for pro-Palestine advocacy moving forwards.


This is a student only event. To gain entry to this workshop, student ID is mandatory. The organiser reserves the right to reserve to refuse entry if it is thought that the ticket holder is either not behaving in an appropriate manner on arrival, or if it is believed the ticket holder is not a student.


EuroPal ForumNon-governmental organisation (NGO)KEY48 – مفتاح ٤٨CommunitySOAS Palestine SocietyCommunity organisation  · College & UniversityWestminster Students For Palestine Society


University of London SOAS favours academic boycott of Israel

28-02-2015 12:34 Source: Press TV

Students and staff at the SOAS school of the University of London have approved an academic boycott of Israel during a week-long referendum.

The vote yesterday, which was open to all students, academics, and management, ended with 73 percent voting for and 27 percent voting against the ‘Yes’ campaign to boycott Israel.

The voters were asked whether they agree with the School of Oriental and African Studies, commonly abbreviated as SOAS, joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to impose an academic boycott on Israel based on the instructions of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

The BDS is a global campaign which uses economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the goals of the movement — the end of Israeli occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

The PACBI says academic boycott of Israel is based on the fact that the academic institutions are massively complicit in Israel’s persistent denial of basic Palestinian rights, including academic freedom and the right to education.

The SOAS Students’ Union has also endorsed the BDS campaign since 2005. The union ratified a motion in October 2014, urging its leaders “to take the BDS campaign to the university” through a referendum.

Proposals for the academic boycott of Israel have been inspired by the historic academic boycotts of the Apartheid regime of South Africa that were an attempt to pressure the regime to end its abuse of the majority black inhabitants.

Suggestions for the boycott of Tel Aviv have also been made by academics and organisations in other countries including South Africa and Australia.

The goal of the boycotts is to isolate Israel in order to force a change in its oppressive and discriminatory policies towards the Palestinians.



Resisting Israeli Apartheid: Strategies and Principles 

An International Conference on Palestine 

London, 5 December 2004

The Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign

Betty Hunter

General Secretary of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK

When the Palestinian people started the second Intifada in September 2000, the world was forced to look again at the sham of the ‘peace process’, a process which had allowed the human rights violations of the illegal occupation and the land grab to increase with impunity.  

International civil society had to ask, how can we support the Palestinian people in their struggle for justice, how can we support their resistance in a non-violent and democratic way? 

How can we challenge the myths perpetuated by the Israelis since 1948, to change the narrative, to inform the public of the facts of the occupation in the face of media bias and government duplicity? 

Solidarity movements across the world need to work to create a popular consciousness that what is happening to the Palestinian people at the hands of the illegal Israeli occupiers is the new apartheid -a new apartheid which must be ended. 

Our task is to isolate Israel and to make it a pariah state, by creating an awareness of the reality of the occupation for the Palestinians. 

This is why the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), with the support of many other organisations and prominent individuals, launched the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign (BIG Campaign) in July 2001. We undertook this campaign on the understanding that we need to work on both boycott and sanctions and at different levels: the grassroots; civil institutions and organisations; the British parliamentary and the European levels. 

However, work at the British parliamentary and European levels will only be effective if we are successful at the grassroots. Politicians move only when electorally necessary and in Britain, apart from some honourable exceptions, we have politicians who are happy to collude and collaborate with the US and Israel in their flouting of international law. Institutions change only when their profits or interests are threatened. 

The popular boycott is the foundation of the boycott and sanctions movement and it is a tool by which we can explain to the public exactly what is happening to the Palestinians, to help rectify the glaring omissions and bias of our media. It gives ordinary people a means to show their disgust with Israeli policies. To simply ask a shop assistant or a manager where the herbs come from and refuse it if it comes from Israel is a political act of solidarity. 

All round Britain there are regular activities asking people to boycott Israeli goods. This is the main criteria for our boycott work – because it enables people in every town, large or small, to decide on the most appropriate focus for their actions.  

Our literature is aimed at both informing the shoppers about the situation in Palestine and how to raise the issue of boycott in their local areas. It is straightforward to explain that Israel has been imposing a boycott of Palestine for years with its military blockade as well as stealing Palestinian land, water and other resources (and all of this in addition to the daily killings, demolitions, closures and checkpoints) 

We protest against the sale of Israeli goods wherever we can; at Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, etc. Some protests are stalls with literature and placards, and some involve re-labelling goods with ‘boycott Israeli apartheid’ stickers. And yet others involve filling up trolleys with Israel goods and then demanding that the managers review their policy –this tactic can create a good platform for telling shoppers why Israeli goods should be boycotted. 

We have approached all the major stores to review their policies at national level but their reply is always ‘it is up to consumers’ –this is a challenge for us -if we can escalate the boycott to the level of the South African example at its height, then we can change store policy. We have also attended the AGMs of several companies in order to question their trade and support of Israel. 

While the immediate purpose of the boycott campaign is to inform public opinion (with which I believe we have had some success in Britain), in the medium term the boycott will have economic consequences. Also the more widespread the awareness and general disgust with Israel becomes, the harder it will become for institutions and governments to support Israel.  

When the general public is talking about boycotting Israeli goods, they begin to ask other questions:

  • Why is our government trading with this regime which ignores human rights and international law?
  • Why are we selling arms to an illegal occupier?
  • Why does Israel have favourable terms with the EU?

We use our postcard campaign aimed at MPs, Tony Blair and Jack Straw to give members of the public a highly visible and simple way to demand sanctions from the government. 

The European Union 

The European Union is Israel’s largest trading partner; it plays a vital role in the economic support of Israel. That is why a European wide campaign is essential and should be a strategic focus in the coming year. 

Israel benefits from the European Trade Association agreement despite the fact that this agreement demands from participants ‘respect for human rights and democracy’ and despite the fact that Israel persists in labelling goods from the illegal settlements as ‘made in Israel’.  

The European Parliament voted in 2002 to suspend this agreement but the European Commission and individual governments refuse to comply, thus breaking the Geneva Convention which states that a High Contracting Party may not facilitate a third-party violation – the violation being that Israel uses Occupied Territories as sovereign territory. We are working with MEPs across Europe to find effective ways of challenging Israeli privilege and that is a priority in the coming year. 

Across Europe the demand for sanctions and boycott is growing. There are different historical and cultural contexts which make the emphasis different from country to country but essentially this campaign is unifying and strengthening. 

From the European Social Forum we had a call to focus our solidarity work on sanctions and boycott. 

Multiplicity of Action 

The boycott campaign is also diversifying. It has been remarkable that ever since the first meetings, people have been inspired to take up the call in whatever way they can. So we have had actions on a cultural level (recently in London a prominent Israeli human rights lawyer called on artists to refrain from going to Israel unless they were at least also going to Palestine), on a sporting level, and of course on the academic level which you will hear about later.  

Much more needs to be done but we have reached the crucial point at which individuals and organisations are no longer intimidated into remaining silent but are looking for ways to actively oppose Israel’s racist policies.  

The Palestinian narrative is becoming known despite all the efforts of the pro Zionist lobby. The pre-conference publicity demonstrates the lengths to which they will go but we can see that this bullying tactic backfires –we confidently assert that campaigning against Israeli policies does not equate with anti-semitism. 

We need to look at ways in which the trade union movement can help, not only with divestment which you will discuss later but in refusing to handle Israeli goods. And students need to be informed and mobilised on this issue. 

In the coming months we will continue to expose the role of Caterpillar, a company which supplies killer bulldozers and other machines to destroy Palestinian lives and homes and which has plants and offices across the world. Caterpillar could become the Barclays Bank of our campaign to isolate Israeli apartheid. 

Boycott and sanctions campaigning must be a priority for all our solidarity work.  

We know that the Israeli government is afraid of sanctions. Financial stability relies on confidence. Financial fragility deters investment. When financial and commercial institutions begin to see that Israel is a bad risk, then they will look for safer havens for their money.  

Israeli economic fragility exists. The massive US bankrolling of £3 billion a year helps keep Israel in business. And even then, the Israeli war economy creates massive internal problems, with high unemployment and high poverty levels for the Israelis. 

This conference is another significant step in making clear to Israel and its banker, the US, that Israel cannot and will not be allowed to continue its illegal occupation. The writing is on the wall, the Apartheid Wall, and the illegal occupation will fall. The boycott and sanctions campaign is an essential element in the movement to achieve this as quickly as possible. And urgency is vital as the Israelis continue to destroy and steal Palestinian lives and land daily in their aim of preventing any possibility of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.  

The public support for this campaign has grown to include the majority of the NGOs in Palestine and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, and many Israeli activists including refusenik pilot Jonathon Shapiro, who at the European Social Forum called on Europe to help Israel by boycotting until the occupation ends and Palestinians have full human and democratic rights. 

Palestinians have the right to self determination –it is our responsibility to help them achieve that by declaring that international civil society will have nothing to do with those who occupy another people’s land and deny them human rights. By boycotting and isolating Israel. 

UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies Becomes an anti-Israel Platform


Editorial Note

UCLA plans to offer a three-part research colloquium next year named “Democracy in Israel: Past, Present and Future.” It is organized by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and co-sponsored by the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History at UCLA. The colloquium brings “together an invited group of scholars from diverse disciplines – History, Law, Political Science, Sociology, and Philosophy – to present and discuss critical topics of democracy in Israel.”

However, the participants come from the like-minded political perception of the organizers.  This is not surprising because the colloquium moderators, Dov Waxman, who directs the Nazarian Center, David Myers, and the coordinator, Liron Lavi, allow their politics to lead their way.  

The Nazarian Center mission statement “is to promote the study of modern Israel at UCLA and beyond… Through our research, teaching and outreach, the Nazarian Center has become an internationally known source of expertise and education about Israel and an intellectually vibrant home for Israel Studies at UCLA.”  The director, Waxman, added an inclusive message: “Through a commitment to academic rigor, interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship, and a dispassionate approach, we seek to promote a broader and deeper understanding of Israel’s history, politics, society, and culture. At a time when discussions about Israel are often heated and becoming increasingly polarized, we also hope to foster a more nuanced and civil discourse about Israel, inside and outside the classroom. Our goal is education—to advance knowledge and academic scholarship about Israel—not advocacy. Nor do we evaluate guest speakers, affiliated faculty members, or students with regard to their political beliefs, affiliations, or positions. We are neither “pro-Israel” nor “anti-Israel.” Instead, we are a place, and an online space, for people to teach and learn about Israel, whatever their politics or backgrounds.”   

By all accounts, the colloquium provides a one-sided and biased picture of Israel, judging by the speakers known for their radical political activism. The organizers and participants are at the same end of the political spectrum where the neo-Marxist, critical scholars congregate.   As a result, the colloquium lacks a wide range of views necessary for academic pursuit.

The participants are Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Dmitry Shumsky, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Liora Halperin, Department of History, University of Washington; Dani Filc, Department of Politics and Government, Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Amal Jamal, School of Political Science, Tel Aviv University; Dahlia Scheindlin, The Century Foundation; Gershon Shafir, Department of Sociology, University of California San Diego; Ameer Fakhoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa; Menachem Mautner, The Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University.

Dov Waxman co-authored, in 2011, an article promoting BDS titled, “The Boycott Debate: No Longer Taboo in Progressive Pro-Israel Circles.” 

David N. Myers published an article “Another way to think about BDS,” promoting the BDS aims. 

Liron Lavi reviewed favorably Judith Butler’s book, Partying Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism.  Butler, a leading critical scholar, has been a bitter critic of Zionism, and her book was attacked for promoting thinly veiled anti-Semitic themes. 

IAM reported in April on Dmitry Shumsky, “HUJ Dmitry Shumsky: The Next Generation of Academic-Political Activists,” that Allan Arkush, professor of Judaic studies and history at Binghamton University reviewed Shumsky’s work, noting Shumsky is “denouncing Israeli policy toward the West Bank, supporting BDS, and calling for an end to Jewish sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem.”

Liora Halperin was quoted in a MESA conference panel denouncing university donors’ “pernicious pressure for pro-Israel advocacy.”

Ameer Fakhoury, co-authored last year, the “Jewish-Arab partnership as an antidote to Jewish supremacism,” which urged readers to redefine the Israeli politics and invoke a “new partnership of Arabs and Jews, working side-by-side to combat Jewish supremacism.” 

Areej Sabbagh-Khoury argued “that the 1948 Nakba was neither the beginning nor the end of a process of settler-colonial expropriation. Instead, I claim that the mid-1930s signaled intensified efforts to expel Palestinian sharecroppers, a practice which culminated in the Nakba.” Where “the Zionist settlers utilized forceful practices, perpetrated in this region,” intending “to vacate the lands of its Palestinian inhabitants.” She focuses on “the pre-1948 colonization practices and their role in the Nakba.” 

Dani Filc has been a life-long political activist masquerading as an academic. Filc revealed in a radio interview, “All is Talking,” hosted by Oded Shachar on Reshet Bet, on 14.10.13, as one of the organizers behind the 2011 protest movement, which, according to him, has only made things worse politically. Filc also stated of the Israeli government’s “fear industry, if we did not have the Iranian threat, they would have had to invent an alien takeover.”

Amal Jamal was quoted two years ago in an Al-Jazeera article, titled “Israel celebrates ‘pyrrhic’ victory as it turns 70,” that “This is more like a pyrrhic victory… Israel has won this round of the battle, but at a price it probably can’t afford in the coming rounds.”  

Gershon Shafir was very critical last year of the publication of a pro-Israel journal affiliated with the Association for Israel Studies titled “Word Crime.” He wrote: “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… 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, 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.”  

Dahlia Scheindlin wrote a 2015 piece, “No, BDS does not unfairly ‘single out’ Israel.” 

Menachem Mautner wrote in 2006 that: “Israel’s definition as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’ does not allow for granting somewhere a space within the definition of Israel’s national identity, to the Arab citizens. This definition excludes the Arab citizens of the state from the national identity of the state.”

Israel Studies has been hijacked by anti-Israel activists before. To recall, in 2002, Prof. Oren Yiftachel was selected to become the first Helen Diller Foundation Visiting Professor at the UC Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies. As reported by Martin Kramer at the time, “Yiftachel was the kind of Israeli that an Edward Said-boosting, Saudi-connected Middle East center could not only tolerate, but embrace.”  

Waxman had a chance to fulfill his promises of producing a balanced discourse on Israel.  However, his pick of panelists indicates that balance and moderation was the last thing on his mind.   This should come as no surprise given the so-called “cancel culture” in the universities, a practice that blocks voices not compatible with the Neo-Marxist, critical hegemony.

Democracy in Israel: Past, Present and Future
A research colloquium organized by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and co-sponsored by The Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History at UCLA.
The colloquium will bring together an invited group of scholars from diverse disciplines – History, Law, Political Science, Sociology, and Philosophy – to present and discuss critical topics of democracy in Israel. The final papers resulting from the research meetings are to be published in an edited volume.
Colloquium Moderators:
Dov Waxman ( and David Myers (
Liron Lavi (
Presented remotely via Zoom

January 14, 2021 – 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Pacific Time)
Presenting Scholars:
1. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
2. Dmitry Shumsky, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University ofJerusalem.
3. Alexander Kaye, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University.
Liora Halperin, Department of History, University of Washington.

March 11, 2021 – 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM (Pacific Time)
Presenting Scholars:
1. Dani Filc, Department of Politics and Government, Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
2. Amal Jamal, School of Political Science, Tel Aviv University.
3. Dahlia Scheindlin, The Century Foundation.
Gershon Shafir, Department of Sociology, University of California San Diego.

May 13, 2021 – 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM (Pacific Time)
Presenting Scholars:
1. Julie Cooper, School of Political Science, Tel Aviv University.
2. Ameer Fakhoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa.
3. Menachem Mautner, The Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University.
Suzanne Stone, Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization.

For questions on the closed colloquium, contact Liron Lavi: (

Radical Activism at the BGU Africa Center


Editorial Note

Something is wrong with the Tamar Golan Africa Center at BGU.  The Center was created in 2009 to address the “decline in African studies in the Israeli universities,” which started in the 1990s.  The paucity of African studies was especially unfortunate because Israel’s relations with African countries have dramatically improved in the past two decades.  In addition to diplomatic relations, Israel has extensive business ties to the continent. 

Africa has also become a popular destination for Israeli backpackers.  Indeed, in August, the Africa Center posted an invitation on the Facebook page of “Mzungu Africa for Travelers – Africa Backpackers Community,” offering studies to young travelers, “Has the Corona shortened your big trip to the African continent? Pondering what to do and if to start studying? Let me present the inter-university program for African studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.”

But, as in the case of the Department of Politics and Government, radical activists have seized on the opportunity to turn the Africa Center into an Israel-bashing venue. Four days ago, the Africa Center hosted an event to promote their studies to students interested in this field. A panel discussion was titled “Racism in the Academia: Voices from Ben Gurion University.” The invitation stated that “After more than a decade in which the Department of African Studies at Ben-Gurion University operates, it is the time, for us, as part of the academic world, to look inside and ask the difficult questions. We invite you to an evening that will deal with racism in academia in its various aspects. From researchers that classes are based on, through lecturers, and to students. The diversity, or the lack of diversity, of various populations in the university.” 

The questions to the panelists were, “African studies for whites only? Lack of diversity of academic staff; Ethiopians as research topics; Personal testimonies of students; The difficulty of being a representative minority.”

The meeting was hosted by Prof. Lynn Schler and featured the panelists: Efrat Yerday, Mazal Bisawer, Aweka Zena, Shoshana Zimro, Yeshi Mengistu. All of them were former students at BGU.  A perusal of their background reveals that they actively promote awareness of the Ethiopian-descent community in Israel.  

Suggesting that Israel is racist is quite surprising given that the Israeli government approved a decision last September to bring two thousand Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. As it happened, a day after the conference, a plane carrying 219 new immigrants from Ethiopia, has landed. One possible explanation is that Efrat Yerday is an activist supported by the New Israel Fund. Her 2016 article “Being black and Jewish: Ethiopians bear the brunt of Israeli state racism,” was published by Middle East Eye, a portal of Middle East news notorious for its hostility to Israel.  She wrote it when she joined Prof. Dani Filc, in 2015-2016, to teach a Social Justice Internship Program, “Black Identity in White Space: The Ethiopian Population in the Israeli Context,” for undergraduate students. The course offered “political specialization” by the Department of Politics and Government to Ethiopian students.  The course stated goal was to train a generation of young leaders to “work for a more just society.” The program aimed to give students “the opportunity to gain experience in social activities in non-governmental organizations.” The internship program required participation in an annual academic course, once every two weeks, and offered six points credit with some 1000 NIS scholarship. According to the syllabus, “The course will examine whether the absorption policy produces the differentiation and segregation of the Ethiopian population from the Israeli society, and we will analyze its impact on various social gaps; Socio-economic, educational, occupational and the like. We will examine the impact of this policy on the sense of belonging or not belonging of Ethiopians to the Israeli society through issues of identity.” 

In August 2020, IAM reported that “King’s College London’s Anti-Israel Group ‘Action Palestine’ Recruits Israelis to Besmirch Israel.” The keynote speaker was Efrat Yerday.  In her talk, Yerday stated: “Ethiopians are sick of being depicted as people who should be grateful to their white ‘saviors.’”  

Moreover, last year, Yerday published an article discussing artists that “are presenting their attitudes towards the ‘white gaze.’ Though constantly subjected to it by the Israeli hegemony.” Yerday draws on postcolonial theory. As a former student of BGU Politics and Government, the use of post-modernist jargon to debunk Israel is not surprising.

Mazal Bisawer, another New Israel Fund associate and Africa Center panelist, recently penned an article debunking the assertion that Israel saved the Ethiopian Jewish community, titled “Really Thank You for not Bringing us in Chains.”

Some of the Africa Center courses are also puzzling: “Africa and Activism” has two goals. The first is to expose the students to a wide range of topics and issues related to community development and social volunteering in Africa and Israel. “We will examine different approaches to community development and the various challenges and dilemmas that have arisen in the past and arise in the present, in attempts to implement each approach. The second goal is to promote the direct activity of students in local organizations in the Negev. Through volunteer work, students will gain personal experience in community work.”

In another course, “The everyday life of state deportation regimes: Immigration enforcement in Israel and the EU,” students address questions “revolving around the theme of global politic, citizens and non-citizens power, and new paradigms for immigration and securitization in the 21st century. This hands-on course offers the students a unique opportunity to observe contemporary immigration enforcement mechanisms from ‘within’. The course advances in two parallel paths: surveying contemporary critical theory in focus on immigration enforcement (2015-today) and exercising day to day bureaucracy and processing by refugees and asylum seekers themselves.”

The Department of Politics and Government was at the center of attention in 2011 when the Council for Higher Education found it to be in excess of community activism and too little core studies. The Africa Center, which works closely with it, is suffering from similar problems.  The Council of Higher Education needs to examine its offering, which has little to do with the Center’s mission statement.  Once again, a taxpayer-supported program has been turned into a venue for Israel bashing.

תקווהישראליתהירשמו ללימודים

אוניברסיטת בן-גוריון בנגבהמחלקה למעורבות חברתיתתקווה ישראלית גזענות באקדמיה: קולות מאוניברסיטת בן-גוריון

גזענות באקדמיה: קולות מאוניברסיטת בן-גוריון

20 דצמ’ 2020   18:00

מרכז אפריקה ע״ש תמר גולן מזמין אתכם.ן לפאנל של בוגרים.ות וסטודנטים.יות

לימודי אפריקה ללבנים בלבד?היעדר מגוון של הסגל האקדמי
יוצאי אתיופיה כנושאי מחקר
עדויות אישיות של סטודנטים.יות
הקושי להיות מיעוט מייצג

משתתפי הפאנל:
אפרת ירדאי, מזל ביסהוור, אווקה זנה, שושנה זימרו, ישי מנגיסטוהנחייה:פרופ׳ לין שלר

קישור למפגש ב-zoom »

מרכז אפריקה ע״ש תמר גולן  באוניברסיטת בן-גוריון בנגב

Lev Luis Grinberg shared a post.

20 h

Shahar Führer

31 m  · מרכז אפריקה ע”ש תמר גולן באוניברסיטת בן גוריון בנגב מזמין אתכם ואתכן לערב שיעסוק בגזענות באקדמיה על היבטיה השונים.החל בחוקרים והחוקרות עליהם מתבססים השיעורים, דרך המרצים והמרצות ועד לסטודנטים והסטודנטיות והמגוון, או היעדר המגוון, של האוכלוסיות השונות באוניברסיטה.נשמח לראות את כולכם וכולכן היום, בשעה 18:00, בזום:


40 people respondedSunday, 20 December 2020 at 18:00 UTC+02Public · Hosted by ‎מרכז אפריקה ע”ש תמר גולן- The Tamar Golan Africa Centre‎Online event
אחרי למעלה מעשור בו המחלקה ללימודי אפריקה בבן גוריון פועלת, הגיע הזמן שלנו, כחלק מהעולם האקדמי, להביט פנימה ולשאול את השאלות הקשות.
אנו מזמינות אתכם ואתכן לערב שיעסוק בגזענות באקדמיה על היבטיה השונים. החל בחוקרים והחוקרות עליהם מתבססים השיעורים, דרך המרצים והמרצות ועד לסטודנטים והסטודנטיות והמגוון, או היעדר המגוון, של האוכלוסיות השונות באוניברסיטה.
נשמח לראות את כולכם וכולכן ביום ראשון, ה20.12 בשעה 18:00


Shahar Führer shared a link.

3 August· הקורונה קיצרה לכם.ן את הטיול הגדול ביבשת אפריקה? מתלבטים מה לעשות ואם להתחיל ללמוד?הרשו לי להציג את התכנית הבין אוניברסיטאית ללימודי אפריקה באוניברסיטת בן גוריון בנגב:ההרשמה בעיצומה – מהרו להירשם ולהבטיח את מקומכם.ן!✨האתר שלנו ללימודי אפריקה –✨לאתר ההרשמה של אוניברסיטת בן-גוריון בנגב –✨מזכירות לימודי אפריקה – 08-6461112✨מייל המחלקה-

ללמוד ולחקור יבשת מרתקת בתוכנית חדשנית ומשולבת                         

התוכנית ללימודי אפריקה כוללת מגוון עשיר של קורסים העוסקים באפריקה מהיבטים שונים, במטרה להעניק לסטודנט/ית ידע להבנת תהליכים היסטוריים, פוליטיים, חברתיים וכלכליים בהקשר של אפריקה ולהקנות לו/ה מיומנויות מחקריות לחקר חברות ותרבויות אפריקאיות.לבוגרי תוכנית זו יוענק התואר: “בוגר בלימודי אפריקה בתוכנית הבין-אוניברסיטאית”.זוהי תכנית חדשנית המאפשרת לסטודנט ללמוד קורסים בנושאי אפריקה הן באוניברסיטת בן-גוריון בנגב והן בשתי האוניברסיטאות האחרות השותפות לתוכנית: אוניברסיטת תל-אביב והאוניברסיטה הפתוחה*. שיתוף הפעולה בין מוסדות הלימוד מרחיב את האפשרויות ומעשיר את תוכנית הלימודים. הלימודים מועשרים על ידי פעילויות שמארגן מרכז אפריקה ע”ש תמר גולן.  



CONTACT: Elisheva Goldberg
917.740.4031 phone

Ethiopian Israeli Activist Efrat Yerday Wins New Israel Fund Gallanter Prize

20 August 2020

The New Israel Fund (NIF) announced today that it will grant the “Guardian of Democracy” Gallanter Prize to Efrat Yerday, the chair of Israel’s Association for Ethiopian Jews and a talented, transformational leader of the progressive movement in Israel. Efrat will be speaking via video at NIF’s virtual gala on September 13th, 2020.

According to NIF, Efrat is receiving this cash prize in recognition of her profound moral vision which is both deeply rooted in her own community and based in the universal principles of freedom, dignity, and human rights for all. In particular, the prize will recognize her contributions fighting institutional racism, combating police violence, and demanding better representation for people of color in Israel’s public sphere.

In an interview with NIF, Efrat said “I see the Ethiopian community’s fight against police brutality and racism as an opportunity — if we can address them in one case, we can address them in all, and help prevent violence from trickling into the rest of Israeli society. I am proud to receive this prize from the New Israel Fund, which seeks justice for Ethiopian Israelis as it does for every member of Israeli society.”

Efrat is a writer as well as an activist. Over the years, she has not only spoken out on behalf of the Ethiopian Israeli community, but she has set up new spaces for discussing Ethiopian Israeli identity and history — blogs, academic courses, and even a publishing house called “Ra’av” (“hunger”), which aims to add writers of color to Israeli bookshelves.

Past winners of the Gallanter Prize include Maisam Jaljuli, a women’s rights and labor activist Dr. Mushira Aboo Dia, the chairwoman of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Mutasim Ali, a central leader of the African asylum seeker community in Israel, and Einat Hurvitz, the Israel Religious Action Center’s former director of legal and public policy.

The New Israel Fund is the leading organization advancing and defending democracy and equality for all Israelis. Widely credited with building progressive Israeli civil society, NIF supports a wide range of Israeli nonprofits and has provided over $300 million to progressive civil society organizations since its inception in 1979.

The Gallanter Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding Israeli activist who has made significant contributions to the field of social justice in Israel. Each years’ winner receives a cash award in support of their work and are invited to address NIF’s Guardian of Democracy Dinner.=====================================================================

אוניברסיטת בן גוריון
הפקולטה למדעי הרוח והחברה
אפריקה ואקטיביזם
סמסטר ב
יום ב׳ 18 16
מרצה: פרופ׳ לין שלר
עוזרת הוראה: שחר ליבנה
לקורס אפריקה ואקטיביזם שתי מטרות מרכזיות. המטרה הראשונה היא לחשוף את הסטודנטיות ים
המשתתפות ים בקורס למגוון רחב של נושאים וסוגיות הקשורים לפיתוח והתנדבות קהילתית באפריקה
בישראל. נבחן גישות שונות של פיתוח קהילתי ואת והאתגרים והדילמות השונים שעלו בעבר ועולים בהווה
בניסיונות ליישם כל אחת מן הגישות המטרה השנייה היא לקדם פעילות ישירה של הסטודנטיות ים
בארגונים מקומיים בנגב. דרך עבודת ההתנדבות, סטודנטים יות ירכשו ניסיון אישי בעבודה קהילתית
דיונים בשיעורים וביקורים בארגונים שונים יאפשרו לנו לקשור בין החלק התיאורטי והפרקטי של הקורס
במהלך הקורס יתקיימו שיעורי מבוא בנושא ההיסטוריה של פיתוח באפריקה ומעורבות של גורמים שונים
בפיתוח קהילתי. לאחר מכן נסייר בארגונים השונים שבהם סטודנטים מתנדבים על מנת לבחון את מגוון
הפרקטיקות והגישות המיושמות בשטח
בקורס ״אפריקה ואקטיביזם״ סטודנטיות ים נדרשים ות ליישם ולהפעיל את הידע שרכשו דרך מעורבות
אישית בסוגים שונים של עשייה חברתית. הסטודנטיות ים יחולקו לפרויקטים ומיזמים שונים בתוך
האוניברסיטה ומחוץ לה. בסוף הקורס יידרשו הסטודנטיות ים להציג את פועלן ם בפני הכיתה ולהגיש דו ח
המסכם את פעילותן ם בארגונים. כמו כן יתקיים מבחן בסוף הקורס. על הסטודנטיות ים המשתתפות ים
בקורס חלה חובת נוכחות בשיעורים ובסיורים, וחובת קריאת המאמרים המופיעים בסילבוס לקראת
השיעורים הרלוונטיים. הציון הסופי בקורס יורכב מהשתתפות פעילה והערכת המרצה, הערכת פעילות
הסטודנט ית בארגון, הצגת הפרויקט בכיתה והעבודה המסכמת ( ומבחן (
שימו לב ההשתתפות בקורס מותנית בנוכחות במפגש אוריינטציה שייתקיים ב 27.10 בשעה 18:00
השימוש בלפטופים וטלפונים בכיתה אסור בהחלט סטודנטים מתבקשים לשים מכשירים בתיקים במהלך
כל השיעור
דרישות הקורס והרכב הציון:
1 . נוכחות חובה היעדרות מעל למכסה המותרת משמעה ציון נכשל בקורס.
2 . מבחן מסכם 50% מכלל הציון לקורס.
3 . פרויקטים 50% מכלל הציון לקורס.
הערכת פעילות הסטודנט ית בארגון
הצגת הפרויקט בכיתה
דו ח מסכם קבוצתי עד 5 עמודים
מהלך הקורס ותוכן המפגשים ייתכנו שינויים :
1.3 מבוא לקורס: הצגת התנדבויות ובחירת עדיפויות על ידי הסטודנטים
8.3 הבניית ידע על אפריקה
לין שלר, ״מבוא״ בתוך השדות באפריקה: חוויות של מחקר והבניית ידע. עורכות: ר. ג׳יניאו, נ. לוי, ול. שלר
פרדס ספרים, חיפה 2016). והפרקים הבאים:
יונתן ניסים גז, ״כתבי הקודש כמתווה להיכרות: זהות יהודית — ישראלית מורכבת במפגש עם נצרות שמרנית
אורית יקותיאלי, ״עבודת שדה בקרב אמני ואמניות פאס במרוקו״
הילה סגל — קליין, ״תרגום ככוח מעצב: דינמיקה של ידע בעבודה עם מתורגמן בקניה״
נהרה פלדמן ,, ״לגלות שאת אישה לבנה :: עבודת שדה במאלי״
15.3 תיאוריות של פיתוח בינלאומי וקהילתי באפריקה
רעות ברק וויקס, ״מבוא: פיתוח בינלאומי באפריקה,״ מתוך י. נ. גז, ר. ברק וייס, מ. כגן (( .. עורכים )) פיתוח
בינלאומי באפריקה: בין הלכה ומעשה. חיפה: פרדס הוצאה לאור 2019 .
22.3 . תיאוריות של פיתוח בינלאומי וקהילתי באפריקה – המשך
Dambisa Moyo,Moyo, DeadDead Aid:Aid: WhyWhy AidAid IsIs NotNot WorkingWorking andand HowHow ThereThere IsIs AnotherAnother WayWay forfor AfricaAfrica PenguinPenguin Books,Books, 2009.2009. ChapterChapter 11–2.2.
Ziai, A.A. (2013)(2013) ‘The’The discoursediscourse ofof ‘development”development’ andand whywhy itit shouldshould bebe abandoned’.abandoned’. DevelopmentDevelopment inin PracticePractice 23(1):23(1): 123‐126.123‐126. (
5.4 משבר הפליטים בישראל ואירופה – סיור ביום חמישי בתל אביב — פרטים בהמשך
12.4 משבר הפליטים בעולם ובישראל: סקירה כללית
גליה צבר “” .. מעובדים זרים למהגרי עבודה. קווים כלליים לתיאור סוגיית הגירת עבודה בעולם
ובישראל ,”,” מתוך: לא באנו להישאר: מהגרי עבודה מאפריקה לישראל ובחזרה (( .. אוניברסיטת תל
אביב 2008).2008). ,, עמודים 44.44.–3535
19.4 עדות אישית של מבקש מקלט מאפריקה בישראל — פרטים בהמשך
26.4 סרט בכיתב: ״זהב שחור״
3.5 סיור לארגון מקומי — פרטים בהמשך
10.5 דילמות, אתגרים והפקת לקחים של סטודנטים מתדבים באפריקה: פאנל של בוגרי המשלחות
ותוכנית התמחות של מרכז אפריקה.
Banerjee, AbhijitAbhijit andand EstherEsther Duflo.Duflo. 2011.2011. PoorPoor Economics:Economics: AA RadicalRadical RethinkingRethinking ofof thethe WayWay toto FightFight GlobalGlobal PovertyPoverty:: PublicPublic Affairs.Affairs. Selections.Selections.
24.5 כנס של מרכז באפריקה – פרטים בהמשך
31.5 הצגת פרוייקטים
7.6 הצגת פרוייקטים
14.6 דיון וסיכום

Course Manual
Course Name
The everyday life of state deportation regimes: Immigration enforcement in Israel and the EU.
Thematic affiliation
Anthropology of the State, Immigration studies
2 ecp
Weekly meetings, 90 minutes each, full day field excursion
Related Theme(s)
Immigration studies, International Comparative Democracy and Comparative Modern Societies, State Bureaucracy
Ilan Amit (AISSR, UvA Department of Anthropology)
Course Content
In this advanced course students address questions revolving around the theme of global politic, citizens and non-citizens power, and new paradigms for immigration and securitization in the 21st century. This hands-on course offers the students a unique opportunity to observe contemporary immigration enforcement mechanisms from ‘within’.
The course advances in two parallel paths: surveying contemporary critical theory in focus on immigration enforcement (2015-today) and exercising day to day bureaucracy and processing by refugees and asylum seekers themselves such as RSD applications.
Learning Outcomes
• The student is conversant with current debates in Immigration studies
• The student is able to draw insights from the field working on the concluding project event
• The student is able to apply research skills and incorporate field experience as well as course readings into a final research paper
Form(s) of Instruction
• Assigned readings
• Open class sessions
• Group projects
• Field day
Main Course Source
• The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement by Nicholas de Genova
• Other course material posted on MODeL
• RSD simulation (pairs) 25%
• Newsflash presentation 25%
• Final paper 50%
Contact Information Teacher
Office hours: XXX
Important deadlines*
*Each day of submission delay deducts 10% of the grade
Content and Instructions Word Limit Weight
RSD simulation (pairs)
Simulating an RSD application in pairs – asylum seeker and inspector. According to RSD application form 25%
Newsflash presentation on immigration enforcement Current Affairs (pairs)
10 min presentation (pairs), summary paper.
1,000 words (10% margin)
Research paper: Current Affairs
Upload on MODeL (pairs)
See assignment guidelines
3,000 words (10% margin)
Weekly Program
Readings and presentations
Deadlines and
Feb. 7
Introduction – Refugees, Asylum Seekers, in Israel and the EU
Base line quiz covering various course materials. Based on prior knowledge. You are requested NOT to google any of the course subjects prior to 1st class.
Class quiz. Please install the Kahoot app on your smartphones before class, create user name and password.
Feb. 14
Deportation regimes
De Genova, N. and Peutz, N. (2010). The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement. Duke University Press. introduction
Feb. 21
Immigration Securitization
Andreas, P. (2009). Border Games: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide. Cornell University Press: Ithaca and London. Introduction and addendum to new addition.
Feb. 28
The spectacle of immigration enforcement
Notes on the difficulty of studying the state – Philip Abrams
Society, Economy, and the State Effect – Timothy Mitchell
5 Mar. 7
External lecture
6 Mar. 14
The deportation continuum
Kalir, B. and Wissink. L. (2016). The deportation continuum: convergences between state agents and NGO workers in the Dutch deportation field. Citizenship Studies 20(1): 34-49.
7 Mar. 21
State abandonment
Kalir, B. (2017). State desertion and “out-of-procedure” asylum seekers in the Netherlands. Focaal 77 (2017): 63–75
8 Mar. 28
Care and Aid
Linda Polman – The Crisis Caravan – introduction
9 Apr. 4
RSD (Refugee Status Determination)
Amit, R. (2011). No Refuge: Flawed Status Determination and the Failures of South Africa’s Refugee System to Provide Protection. International Journal of Refugee Law Vol. 0 No. 0 pp. 1–31.
Class role play – RSD application and interview.
10 Apr. 12
Immigration detention
Performing states of crises: Exploring the implementation surplus of migration detention in Israel and Denmark
Amit and Lindberg – Patterns of Prejudice
11 Apr. 18
Offshore immigration detention and processing: The EU, Australia and the U.S.
Chauka please tell us the time
Film screening
12 Apr. 25
Anti immigratioin activism: Israel and the EU
Duman, Y.H. (2014). Infiltrators go home! Explaining xenophobic mobilization against asylum seekers in Israel. Int. Migration & Integration 16:1231-1254.
Final Paper submission
Field visit
Mandatory attendance


קול קורא לסטודנטים-תכנית התמחות לצדק חברתי

“זהות שחורה במרחב לבן: האוכלוסיה האתיופית בהקשר הישראלי”

נפתחה ההרשמה לסטודנטים לתואר ראשון בפקולטה למדעי הרוח והחברה באוניברסיטת בן גוריון

לקורס התמחות פוליטית לשנת הלימודים האקדמית תשע”ו, 2015-2016

המחלקה לפוליטיקה וממשל שמחה להזמין אתכם להגיש מועמדות לתכנית חדשה של התמחות פוליטית בקרב האוכלוסייה האתיופית לשנת תשע”ו.

התכנית שמה לה למטרה להכשיר דור של מנהיגים צעירים אשר יפעלו למען חברה צודקת יותר. התכנית מעניקה לסטודנטים ולסטודנטיות הזדמנות לרכוש ניסיון בפעילות חברתית בארגונים לא ממשלתיים. תכנית ההתמחות מלווה בקורס אקדמי שנתי אחת לשבועיים. בקורס נבחן באם מדיניות הקליטה מייצרת את הבדלתה והתבדלותה של האוכלוסייה האתיופית מהחברה הישראלית, וננתח את השפעתה על פערים חברתיים שונים; סוציו-אקונמיים, חינוכיים, תעסוקתיים וכדומה. נבחן את השפעתה של מדיניות זו על תחושת השייכות או אי השייכות של יוצאי אתיופיה לחברה הישראלית דרך סוגיות של זהות.  הקורס יינתן על ידי גב’ אפרת ירדאי ופרופ’ דני פילק.בנוסף יתקיימו שני ימי עיון ושני סיורים. הקורס פתוח להרשמה לסטודנטים מכלל המחלקות. הנוכחות בכל המפגשים היא חובה.

התכנית מציעה 6 נק”ז ומלגה של לפחות 1000 ₪.

מקומות במסלול זה: 15 סטודנטים.

שעות התמחות: 120

סטודנטים המעוניינים להגיש מועמדות לתכנית מתבקשים:

א.      למלא את טופס הגשת המועמדות המצורף.

ב.      לשלוח קורות חיים למייל ולציין בנושא המייל את שמכם.

ניתן להגיש מועמדות לכל המאוחר עד ל-25.9.2015.

מועמדים מתאימים יוזמנו לראיון באחד התאריכים הבאים: 7.10.15 או- .8.10.15.

לפרטים נוספים ניתן לפנות לאפרת ירדאי, במייל:


פרופ’ דני פילק

גב’ אפרת ירדאי

University as Income Provider to Radical Academic-Activists


Editorial Note

Palestinian activists have recently launched a campaign to recruit Israelis to promote what they call a “single democratic state”.  Among those who signed up for the campaign are Israeli academics such as Ilan Pappe; Haim Bresheeth; Areej Sabbagh-Khoury; Ronnen Ben-Arie, and Livnat Konopny-Decleve. Not incidentally, they are among the most notorious anti-Israel activists.

Sabbagh-Khoury is a faculty member of the Department of Sociology at the Hebrew University who published an article, “War by Other Means Against the Palestinians in Israel.” Ronnen Ben Arie, University of Haifa, is a proponent of BDS.

Livnat Conopny-Decleve is a Ph.D. candidate whose work analyses the “mechanisms of suppression and repression,” found in the photographs of Zoltan Kluger, a prominent photographer in the two decades leading up to the establishment of the state of Israel. Conopny-Decleve focuses on the “way of understanding the desire for space in the Zionist imagistic propaganda.” 

Her 2015 Master’s thesis at Ben Gurion University, supervised by Prof. Niza Yanay and Dr. Esmail Nashif, is replete with the delegitimization of the founding of the state of Israel, including comparisons to South Africa and how Israel’s founding was based on Christian theology, not Jewish.  She invokes her first supervisor, Yanay, who illustrates, “how nostalgia or longing expressed by Israelis for the empty land, for the ‘authentic’ landscape, for the land as it was before the establishment of the state, is in fact, an empty sign that only distances them from the Palestinian ‘other’, since the past and Palestinian presence on the land were erased and destroyed, and the presence of the Palestinians poses a threat to Israeli control of the land and intensifies the anxiety of losing control.” 

Conopny-Decleve then invoked her second supervisor, Nashif, who “describes the social-historical field that has led to the Zionist way of writing, which he calls a ‘surplus pattern of writing,’ as a consequence, the elimination of Palestinian writing and the creation of Palestinian reading as dependent on the Zionist writing.” For him, “any social-historical form can exist only as a recipient of Zionist content,” because “every phenomenon is classified according to its attitude toward Zionism, and therefore, because of its internal logic, the Zionist regime does not allow forms that are not written according to it.” 

Conopny-Decleve is now involved a conference organized by the anti-Israel group Academia for Equality, known for promoting anti-Semitism and BDS. One of the conference organizers, Revital Madar, is a doctoral student in the Department of Cultural Studies at the Hebrew University. Her study, under the guidance of Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, is “Israel’s Figures of Sovereignty as Constructed in the Face of Acts of Violence.” Prof. Louise Bethlehem, another radical activist, is on her advisory committee.  Madar deals with Israeli sovereignty and seeks to examine the impact of cases of violence by official Israeli agents, recognized by the state, on the sovereign power.  Madar is a political activist who admitted she looking forward for the Zionist regime to be dismantled, as per her video recording.  

The title of their upcoming conference is “First Generation of Higher Education: Critical Perspectives.” The invitation states that the Israeli higher education has a history of “institutionalized exclusion and racism,” and that “Despite the changes in it that have taken place in recent decades, the Israeli Academy still reflects the power relations between groups in society and in particular, the inequality between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi and between Arabs and Jews. In contrast to parallel institutions in the world, in Israel, mechanisms to deal with discrimination and historical exclusion are not implemented, as well as the awareness to fundamental liberal values is low.” 

Even by the low standards of radical academics, this statement is eye popping.  The Israeli higher education has a good record of integrating students from different social-economic classes and ethnic backgrounds.  First generation students, that is, students who come from non-academic background, have faced fewer barriers than in many other countries.   The statement about “parallel [academic] institutions in the world which implement mechanisms to deal with discrimination and historical exclusion” is the type of drivel that permeates radical leftist discourse. The practitioners of this discourse live in a protective bubble which affords them the luxury of disregarding the reality of facts and figures.   

Ironically, it is the Israeli academy that affords them this luxury. The Council of Higher Education had periodically noted that some social science departments skew toward critical, neo-Marxist scholarship, but not much has changed.  A new generation of social justice warriors is holding Israel to the impossible standards of their utopia. 

Palestinians and Israelis call for a Single Democratic State

November 15, 2020

The Palestinian-led One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), comprised of Palestinians from every major community (’48, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the refugee camps and the Diaspora/Exile), together with their critical Israeli Jewish partners, has issued a call for the establishment of a single democratic state including everyone living between the River and the Sea, including Palestinian refugees who choose to return to their homeland.

Over the past three years, the ODSC, founded in Haifa but with working relations throughout the worldwide Palestinian community, has formulated a 10-point political program [] setting out the vision and framework of a shared democracy in which all the inhabitants of historic Palestine would enjoy common citizenship and equality under the law in a new and pluralistic political community. After decades in which the justice of the Palestinian struggle against Zionist colonization has been recognized by the international community, after decades of chasing after the chimera of a “two-state solution,” and after decades of asserting Palestinian rights with no viable political expression, the time for an effective campaign of decolonization and liberation is now, and it is urgent. Every day the Israeli government, aided by the international community, imposes draconian and irreversible “facts on the ground,” locking the country’s majority population, the Palestinians, into tiny, impoverished enclaves, perpetuating as well the exile of half the Palestinian population. A democratic state in historic Palestine is no utopia if we organize around a just political program, organize, strategize and effectively mobilize our forces, the global grassroots, the international civil society — you. We call on you to join our One Democratic State Campaign and help us build it into an effective anti-colonial, liberation movement.

For further information, contact us at <>. Much work still needs to be done to flesh out our program. We understand that we all will not agree on every issue, but our task in this historic moment is clear: armed with a clear and compelling political program, we need to fully enter the political arena. We call on the entire international community, and especially civil society, to support our Call for a democratic state in historic Palestine. The time has come.

It is in this spirit of solidarity, as part of a process of liberation, that we are reaching out to you to join us, beginning by endorsing our program. The struggle goes on.

In solidarity,

Awad Abdel Fattah, Galilee
Haidar Eid, Gaza
Diana Buttu, Haifa, Canada
Mohammad Al Helu, Ramallah
Ilan Pappe, Haifa
Nur Masalha, UK
Rafah Anabtawi, Shefa-ʻAmr
Sari Bashi, Ramallah
Jamil Hilal, Ramallah
Areen Hawari, Nazareth
Munir Nuseibah, Jerusalem
Umar al-Ghubari, Triangle
Areej Sabbagh, Nazareth
Mazin Qumsiyeh, Bethlehem
Ghada Karmi, UK
George Bisharat, USA
Radi Jarai, Ramallah
Issam Odwan, Gaza

Nadia Naser Najab, Ramallah, UK
Jeff Halper, Jerusalem
Samah Sabawi, Australia
Rula Hurdal, Galilee
Sami Miaari, Sakhnin
Ramzi Baroud, USA
Hamada Jaber, Ramallah
Bassem Tamimi, Nabi Salah
Susan Abulhawa, USA
Abdallah Grifat, Galilee, South Africa
Ronnen Ben-Arie, Haifa
Raja Deeb, Yarmouk Camp, Netherlands
Yoav Haifawi, Haifa
Majd Nasrallah, Triangle
Bana Shaghri, Kufr Yaseef
Issa Debi, Haifa, Switzerland
Hatem Kanaaneh, ‘Arrabat al-Battuf
Asaad Abu Sharkh, Gaza, Ireland

Livnat Konopni, Tel Aviv
Leila Farsakh, USA
Mohamed Kabha, Galilee
Jonathan Cook, Nazareth
Saleh Hijazi, Ramallah
Jowan Safadi, Haifa
Naji al-Khatib,France
Johnny Mansour, Haifa
Haim Bresheeth, UK
Amir Kaadan, Galilee
Eitan Bronstein, Brussels
Bilal Yousef, Galilee
Mohamed Noman, Jordan
Wehbi Badarni, Nazareth
Miko Peled, USA
Ramez Eid, Eilabun
Nidal Rafa, Haifa
Shir Hever, Germany===============================================
Registration for the Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities
Paper title: The Desire for Space – Lacanian “Stains” in Zoltan Kluger’s Photography
Authors: Livnat Konopny-Decleve and Niza Yanay
Affiliation: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.
Address: Livnat konopny-Decleve, Alexander Zaid 16, Zichron-Ya’akov, 3094816 Israel.
E-mail Address:
Photographs collected in national archives are a future promise for the preservation of memory. Wherein alongside mechanisms of preservation, mechanisms of suppression
and repression also function on the production of photographs. Thus, when we examine archival photographs, we can not only identify the forces that shape memory
or oblivion, but also uncover the ideas and desires hidden in the image.
This study proposes a Lacanian analysis of photographs taken by one of the most prominent photographers who worked for the Zionist institutions in the two
decades leading up to the establishment of the state of Israel – Zoltan Kluger. The study focuses on the construction of the Zionist space in Kluger’s photographs as a
way of understanding the desire for space in the Zionist imagistic propaganda. Out of the 3,900 of Kluger’s photographs housed in the National Photo Collection of the
Israeli Government Press Office, this paper focuses mainly on photographs that combine human subjects in action within the landscape.
The analysis, activating Lacanian concepts and strategies of art interpretation, suggests that behind the Sisyphean work of men toiling the land stands the “name of
the father” (the Zionist “law”), that comes to signify the Jewish return to history after the fall from divine grace. In contrast, the analysis of female images, either working
or caring for children, mark the female jouissance behind the law, creating “stains” (a surplus) that conceal a Christian (and surprisingly not a Jewish) desire for eternal life.
Although scholarship generally treats the Zionist movement as a “secular religion” that made use of a rhetorical, symbolic, and ritual systems inspired by the Jewish
religion, this paper demonstrates how the imagistic Zionist unconscious was in fact based on Christian views of eternity and redemption. We argue that by submitting
Kluger’s photographs to Lacanian analysis (the law of the father and female jouissance), we can uncover a demand to sacrifice the sons in exchange for an eternal
life and the return to grace.

  קול קורא // הארכה ועדכון // לכנס: דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה: מבטים ביקורתיים [אונ’ ת”א 04/21] דדליין חדש=1.12.20  שימו לב!!

מועד הדדליין הוארך עד 1.12.20

תאריך הכנס השתנה ל- 18-19.4.21

הכנס יציין חמש שנים להווסדה של ׳הסדנה הביקרתית לדור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה׳.

“דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה” (First Generation Students) הוא מונח שנטבע בארה”ב בשנות ה-1960 ומתייחס לראשונים ממשפחתם ללמוד בקולג’. בהקשר האמריקאי מדובר לרוב באוכלוסיות ממעמד סוציו-אקונומי נמוך המגיעות מהשוליים החברתיים, כמו מהגרים ואנשים בעלי זהות אתנית מובחנת (ובפרט People of color). המונח נפוץ במחקר על ניעות חברתית ונגישות להשכלה גבוהה וכן במסמכי חזון של מוסדות להשכלה גבוהה (Mission Statements) המבטאים מחויבות לאחריות חברתית ולמדיניות מגוון (diversity). מטרת מדיניות זו להתגבר על היסטוריה של הדרה וגזענות ממוסדת, ובהקשר זה לקטגוריה של “דור ראשון להשכלה הגבוהה” תפקיד מעשי חשוב.

למרות השינויים שחלו בה בעשורים האחרונים, האקדמיה הישראלית עודה משקפת את יחסי הכוח בין קבוצות בחברה ובולט בה במיוחד אי השוויון בין מזרחים ואשכנזים ובין ערבים ויהודים. בניגוד למוסדות מקבילים בעולם, בישראל לא מיושמים מנגנונים להתמודדות עם אפליה והדרה היסטוריים, וגם המודעות לערכים ליברליים בסיסיים נמוכה. גם הקטגוריה ״דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה״ אינה שגורה בישראל, ולא נעשה בה שימוש במדיניות החינוך הגבוה להתמודדות עם מנגנוני אפליה.

בכנס זה אנו מעוניינות להרחיב את המחשבה על המושג ״דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה״ ולבחון את משמעויותיו השונות. באמצעות המושג נבקש לפתח חשיבה ביקורתית על החברה והאקדמיה בישראל, כמו גם על ריבוי זהויות והצטלבויות בין מיקומים מעמדיים, מגדריים, אתניים, לאומיים, גופניים ומיניים. הכנס יעמיד במרכזו את שאלת האחריות הציבורית של מוסדות האקדמיה בישראל ויעלה על סדר היום את הצורך הדחוף בקידום מדיניות שוויון. נבקש להבין כיצד ניתן להיעזר בקטגוריה דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה לקידום מדיניות כזו ומהם רבדי המשמעות שלה כקטגוריה סוציולוגית, כמושג תיאורטי פילוסופי וכמונח מעשי מתחום מדיניות החינוך. המושג “דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה” התברר כעשיר וכבעל פוטנציאל רחב במיוחד בהקשר הישראלי, על בסיס הניסיון שצברנו בהפעלת הסדנה לדור ראשון, שהכנס יציין חמש שנים לקיומה. הסדנה המתקיימת במרכז מינרבה למדעי הרוח באוניברסיטת תל אביב חותרת לתת מענה לתלמידות ולתלמידי מחקר המעוניינים להשתלב באקדמיה תוך בחינה ביקורתית של השדה האקדמי. במהלך חמשת שנות פעילותה סייעה הסדנה למשתתפות ולמשתתפים בה להתמודד עם מצוקות והתלבטויות המטרידות אותם באמצעות למידה קבוצתית, פיתוח מיומנויות אקדמיות, ליווי וחניכה. במהלך הסדנה אנו מתמודדות עם שאלות הנוגעות לאפשרות ליצור מרחב בטוח של רפלקסיה וסולידריות פוליטית במוסד האקדמי ולחבר בין מי שבאות מרקעים שונים. נורמות וכללים אקדמיים שאינם מדוברים ואמורים להיות ״מובנים מאליהם״ נידונים בצוותא ועומדים במוקד דיון ביקורתי. סוגיות דומות שעולות במהלך העבודה מעוררות גם שאלות תיאורטיות, כמו שאלות העולות סביב המתח הלא פתור בין הצורך במדיניות מגוון לבין פיצול יתר בין קטגוריות של מוצא וזהות; השלכות שליליות שעלולות להיות להעדפה מתקנת, לתיוג ולעבודת מגוון; אתגרים העולים מן היחסים הפרובלמטיים בין המוסד האקדמי וקבוצות שוליות באקדמיה; המחירים האישיים, המשפחתיים והקהילתיים שאותם גובה הניעות החברתית ועוד. סוגיות אלה ואחרות מחייבות אותנו ללמידה בלתי פוסקת מניסיון הקבוצות השונות באקדמיה ומפנות תשומת לב למתח שבין פעולה ממוסדת לבין פעולה חתרנית.

אנו מזמינות אקדמאים ואקדמאיות ״דור ראשון״, וכאלו שלא, חוקרות וחוקרים מדיסציפלינות שונות, אקטיביסטיות, אנשי ונשות חינוך, אמניות ואמנים לחשוב ולשתף בתובנותיהן על סוגיות אלה ואחרות:

– כיצד מוגדר המושג ״דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה״ בעולם ובישראל?

– מה קורה לקטגוריה החברתית ״דור ראשון״ כאשר היא מיובאת מהאקדמיה המערבית לישראל? האם השימוש בקטגוריה ״דור ראשון״ מסייע להשתקת הדיון בשוליותם של מזרחים באקדמיה הישראלית והעדר מגוון בסגל ההוראה, או שיש למושג פוטנציאל לאתגר את השיח?

– באיזו מידה ״דור ראשון״ מאפשר לבטא את מגוון החוויות של קבוצות מודרת באקדמיה ואת מי הוא מדיר?

– מהן החוויות המשותפות לדור ראשון בהקשר הישראלי והאוניברסלי, ואיזו פוליטיקה יכולה לצמוח מההעדר המשותף?

– האם המודל של הסדנה הביקורתית מסייע למאבק נגד אפליה והדרה באקדמיה?

– כיצד יש להבין את שיח ה״מגוון״ ההולך ומתפתח, מהם אופקי המאבק ואתגריו?

– האם המושג ״דור ראשון״ נוכח באופן ישיר או עקיף בתרבות, באמנות, בספרות ובשירה הישראלית?

מארגנות הכנס:

אפרת בן שושן גזית, דוקטורנטית בתוכנית למגדר בבית הספר ללימודי תרבות, אוניברסיטת תל אביב

רוויטל מדר, דוקטורנטית ללימודי תרבות, האוניברסיטה העברית

ועדת ההיגוי: פרופ’ אורלי בנימין (אוניברסיטת בר אילן), אריס בשארה (אוניברסיטת תל אביב), פרופ’ הנרייט דהן-כלב(אוניברסיטת בן גוריון), סוזי בן דורי (אוניברסיטת תל אביב), ד”ר הילה דיין (יוניברסיטי קולג׳ אמסטרדם), ד”ר לין חלוזין-דברת (אוניברסיטת תל אביב), שלומית שמחי-מאברוב (אוניברסיטת תל אביב)

הצעות יש לשלוח לכתובת המייל:

לא יאוחר מה- 15 בנובמבר 2020. 1 בדצמבר 2020

– אפרת בן שושן גזית

מארגנת הכנס =========================================

אקדמיה לשוויון Academia for Equality أكاديميون من أجل ألمساواة

2 December at 14:30  · מתרחבת ההתנגדות להגדרת האנטישמיות של כוח המשימה הבינלאומי להנצחת זכר השואה (IHRA) – הגדרה שאינה מסייעת במיגור האנטישמיות בעולם, מסכנת את חופש הביטוי ואת המרחב הדמוקרטי של יהודים ולא יהודים כאחד, ומנצלת באופן ציני את המאבק באנטישמיות ואת זכר השואה לצורך דיכוי החברה הפלסטינית האזרחית ומאבקה לשחרור ושוויון.ב-29 בנובמבר – יום הסולידריות הבינלאומי עם העם הפלסטיני – פרסמו 122 אקדמאים ואינטלקטואלים ערבים ופלסטינים מסמך המפרט את הבעיות עם ההגדרה הנוכחית ואת העקרונות ההכרחיים לשם מאבק באנטישמיות, שאינו חותר תחת זכויות האדם של קבוצות אחרות.המכתב פורסם בעיתון הגרדיאן הבריטי (קישור בתגובות) וכן בעיתון הארץ (בתמונה).מתוך המכתב:”חייבים לחשוף את האנטישמיות ולהיאבק בה. אין מקום לסובלנות כלשהי כלפי ביטויי שנאה כלפי יהודים באשר הם יהודים בכל מקום בעולם, יהיו אשר יהיו התירוצים שבהם נעשה שימוש להצדקת ביטויים אלה. אנטישמיות מתבטאת בהכללות גורפות ובסטראוטיפים ביחס ליהודים, במיוחד בכל הקשור לכסף ולכוח, בשילוב עם תיאוריות קונספירציה והכחשת השואה. המאבק כנגד גישות כאלה הוא לדעתנו נחוץ ולגיטימי. אנו סבורים גם, כי לקחי מקרים אחרים של השמדת-עם בהיסטוריה המודרנית חייבים להיות חלק מחינוכם של הדורות הבאים ויש לחנכם נגד כל צורות הדעה הקדומה והשנאה הגזעניות.אך המאבק באנטישמיות חייב להתנהל מתוך גישה עקרונית, אחרת יכשיל את מטרתו. ההגדרה של ה-IHRA, באמצעות ה”דוגמאות” הכלולות בה, מזהה יהדות עם ציונות מתוך הנחה, שכל היהודים הינם ציונים וכי מדינת ישראל בצורתה הנוכחית מבטאת את ההגדרה העצמית של כלל היהודים. אנו חולקים עמוקות על כך. אסור שהמאבק נגד אנטישמיות יהפוך לתכסיס לצורך דה-לגיטימציה של המאבק נגד דיכוים של הפלסטינים, שלילת זכויותיהם והכיבוש הנמשך של אדמתם.”

המפלגה הקומוניסטית הישראלית

פעילי אקדמיה לשוויון דנים על משבר הקורונה ועתידה של ההשכלה הגבוהה בישראל

11 במאי 2020

דיון מקוון יוצא דופן בנושא עתיד ההשכלה הגבוהה בישראל נערך בשבוע שעבר (4.5) בהשתתפות שלושה פעילים מרכזיים ב”אקדמיה לשוויון” – התארגנות המרצים מן השמאל באוניברסיטאות ובמכללות. בדיון השתתפו פרופ׳ יצחק (יאני) נבו מאוניברסיטת בן גוריון וד״ר הילה דיין מאמסטרדם יוניברסיטי קולג׳. הוא נערך במסגרת סמינר של מכון כהן להיסטוריה ופילוסופיה של המדעים והרעיונות באוניברסיטת תל אביב. את הסמינר ארגנה והנחתה ד״ר לין חלוזין–דברת, והוא עסק בהשפעת המשבר על עובדי האוניברסיטאות, בהשלכות המעבר להוראה המקוונת ובשאלת עתידן של האוניברסיטאות בישראל.

הפגנת סטודנטים ביום חמישי שעבר מול המועצה להשכלה גבוהה (מל”ג) בירושלים (צילום: התאחדות הסטודנטים)

פרופ’ נבו דן בהשלכות הציבוריות של מעבר האקדמיה למרחבים דיגיטליים בתחומי ההוראה והמנהל. לדבריו, “נסיגת האוניברסיטה למרחב הדיגיטלי היא זמנית, אך יש מקום לתהייה אם כל אמצעי הננקט ‘בשעת חירום’ אכן ייעלם עם סיומה מבלי להותיר אחריו עקבות”.

לדעתו, מעמדה הציבורי של האקדמיה אינו מתמצה בתפקידיה החברתיים המוכרים במחקר והוראה, בייצור ידע ובהכשרת מומחים לשירות החברה. “תפקידים אלה תוחמים את האקדמיה במסגרת החברתית והפוליטית המעוניינת בהם. העסקה משתלמת לכל הצדדים, אך אין בכך כדי למצות את מעמדה הציבורי של האקדמיה. מעמד זה נגזר מתפקידה הנוסף של האקדמיה. ייצור הידע הוא גם בקרת אי–תלותו והבטחת האוטונומיה הנדרשת לבקרה זו, ובכך גם סימון גבולות הכוח הפוליטי כחלק מסימון גבולות הכוח בחברה דמוקרטית. תכונותיו האינהרנטיות של המוצר האקדמי דורשות מרחב ציבורי בו הידע קודם לכוח, ומרחב זה הוא המרחב האקדמי”, אמר. הידע הוא גם כוח, הוסיף פרופ’ נבו, “ומכאן המעמד הציבורי והתפקיד הדמוקרטי של האקדמיה, שאינם מתמצים במחקר והוראה בשירות החברה”.

הקמפוסים מתרוקנים בעקבות הנגיף

נבו הציג ארבע השלכות של מעבר האקדמיה למרחב הדיגיטלי בעקבות הקורונה על השינוי במעמדה הציבורי ובתפקידה הדמוקרטי. הראשונה: היעלמות האקדמיה כקהילה ציבורית עם התרוקנות הקמפוסים. “הקמפוס הפתוח, בו ייתכנו מפגשים בלתי מתווכים, מוחלף באטומיזציה של יחידים – מרצות וסטודנטים – בחדריהם הפרטיים. הקמפוס הפתוח הוא מקום היווצרות התווך בו נקודות ראות שונות ומנוגדות יכולות להיפגש על בסיס שוויוני ולקיים שיח, לעתים אופוזיציוני. עולה השאלה, האם בהיעדר קמפוס פתוח יכולה להתקיים קהילה אקדמית במובן הציבורי של המונח – קהילה המסוגלת להתאגד לצורך שמירה על האוטונומיה שלה”.

המרחב הדיגיטלי, ציין נבו, הוא בלתי דמוקרטי, נתון לשליטת תאגידים מונופוליסטיים וסוכנויות ביון – ואף מרחב של ריגול ומעקב. “מרחב הריגול הדיגיטלי מכונן בעסקה בה אנו, הצרכנים, מקבלים מוצרים ושירותים טכנולוגיים מפתים ורבי עוצמה, שגם מעניקים לנו יכולות לא מבוטלות, ובתמורה מעניקים לתאגידים הטכנולוגיים מידע, הנאסף ללא הרף ונמכר לגורמים מסחריים כפרופילים המאפשרים להם למקד פרסומות, לעצב דעת קהל, לשלוט באינפורמציה ועוד”. המידע מועבר גם לסוכנויות ריגול שלטוניות, העוקבות אחר כלל הציבור ויכולות ליצור פרופילים חברתיים–פוליטיים למטרות שליטה בציבור”.

הקורונה והמעקב אחר האזרחים

“פרוץ מגפת הקורונה העביר אותנו שלב: מריגול–מעקב פאסיביים אחר כלל האזרחים לריגול–מעקב אקטיביים. ספק אם זה ייעצר שם”, הדגיש פרופ’ נבו. כניסת האקדמיה למרחב הזה – מעבר להוראה באמצעות “זום” – פירושו “שבין המרצה לבין התלמידה ניצבים לפתע התאגיד הטכנולוגי המתווך את המגע ביניהם, וסוכנות הביון העוקבת אחר המתרחש, ללא זכות להימחק או להישכח. קשה להעלות על הדעת חופש אקדמי בתנאי מעקב אלה”.

ההשלכה התעסוקתית של השינוי היא הפיכת העובד האקדמי לגורם מיותר. “די ביצירת מערכת קורסים מקוונת, בשליטה תאגידית–ממשלתית, שיוצעו למוסדות האקדמיה במחירים זולים בהרבה מהחזקת חוקרים ומרצים”. ההשלכה הרביעית היא השפעת המרחב הדיגיטלי על עיצוב תודעת הסטודנט. “המרחב הדיגיטלי הוא מרחב המבוסס על היצף. המסך בו שקוע המשתמש משתנה ללא הרף. היצף זה הוא פרי התחרות המסחרית הבלתי פוסקת על תשומת לבו של המשתמש, המהווה היבט מבני של המרחב הדיגיטלי”, הדגיש פרופ’ נבו. בשיחה הבהירה ד”ר דיין, המתגוררת באמסטרדם, כי דבריה הם חלק מעבודה משותפת עם חברה נוספת באקדמיה לשוויון, אפרת בן שושן גזית, שמטרתה להעלות מודעות ל״דור ראשון״ בהשכלה גבוהה כחלק מתרומת “אקדמיה לשוויון” לשיח הציבורי המתפתח בישראל בנושא קידום המגוון באקדמיה.

ד”ר דיין התייחסה לעתידן של אוכלוסיות ״פריפריאליות״, ״לא מסורתיות״ שאינן רווחות באקדמיה. ההגדרה “דור ראשון” מתארת את “ראשוני הסטודנטים במשפחתם לרכוש השכלה גבוהה, שהן בדרך כלל אוכלוסיות ממעמד סוציו–אקונומי נמוך המגיעות מהשוליים החברתיים, כמו מהגרים או אנשים בעלי זהות אתנית מובחנת”. הסטודנטים ב”דור הראשון” מגיעים ברובם אל המוסדות האקדמיים ממערכת חינוך פריפריאלית, נאבקים כלכלית לשרוד באקדמיה ו”נתקלים בחסמים ובקשיים הנובעים מהעדר הביטוס להשכלה גבוהה. הם בדרך כלל מבוגרים יותר מבני מחזורם באוניברסיטה, והם נאלצים לשלב עבודה ופרנסת משפחה עם הלימודים. אחת התופעות הידועות בקרבם היא אחוזי נשירה גבוהים במיוחד”.

זאת, לדברי דיין, כי “האקדמיה היא מבנה כוח חברתי, והיחסים ההיררכיים בה הם קרקע פורייה לניצול תעסוקתי, להתעמרות ולפגיעות מיניות – תופעות נפוצות הרבה יותר ממה שאנו נוטים לשער”. ד”ר דיין הצביעה על האפליה וההדרה במערכת השכלה הגבוהה בישראל כלפי נשים, ועל ההעדר גורף של מזרחים וערבים, ובעיקר נשים מזרחיות וערביות, מהעמדות הבכירות בסגלי האוניברסיטאות והמכללות השונות.

המצב היה גרוע עוד לפני הקורונה

“היינו במצב גרוע עוד לפני משבר הקורונה: מצב של העדר מגוון, של הפרדה בין אוכלוסיות לפי סוגי השכלה ושל תקרת השכלה לאוכלוסיות פריפריאליות בלי אופק לשינוי, וזאת למרות התרחבות מעגלי ההשכלה הגבוהה והצמיחה הדרמטית של אוכלוסיית הסטודנטים”, הדגישה דיין, והוסיפה: “הזינוק במספר הסטודנטים הפריפריאליים נתפס כאינדיקטור של ‘הצלחה ושינוי’. אך המחקר הביקורתי מראה שהכניסה עצמה למערכת ההשכלה הגבוהה לא השפיעה באופן משמעותי על מדדי אי–השוויון, ויש עדיין פערי השכלה משמעותיים בין מזרחים ואשכנזים וגם כמובן בין ערבים ויהודים”.

המצב חמור עוד יותר כי האקדמיה הישראלית מצטיינת באימוץ הנורמות והפרקטיקות הניאו–ליברליות וקיים לחץ ממסדי עצום להפוך את האקדמיה לטכנוקרטית יותר ול״בעלת אימפקט״ שנמדד במדדים שרירותיים. “הלקסיקון של צדק, שוויון ושלטון החוק נזרק לפח והוחלף בהיגיון ובשפה של כמותנות ונראות גלובלית. זה העצים את ההיגיון המריטוקרטי הדומיננטי ושדרג אותו להיפר–מריטוקרטיה שבשמה נדחית כל טענה על אפליה מבנית או הדרה היסטורית של אוכלוסיות ללא נגישות ללימודים גבוהים”. בנוסף, לא מתקיים כלל דיון על נורמות השיפוט לגבי ערכי הקפיטליזם הניאו–ליברלי כמו ״מצוינות״, ״אימפקט״ או ״יעילות״.

כיצד ישפיע משבר הקורונה על האוכלוסיות הפריפריאליות? “מיותר לציין שהתנאים לכניסה לשדה, לפריצת תקרת ההשכלה הגבוהה של אוכלוסיות מודרות מסורתית יהיו מן הסתם גרועים לאין שיעור. עוד לפני המשבר היו חסמים אדירים של פערי השכלה, חסמים גזעניים וחסמים משמעותיים אחרים, ועכשיו יאלצו רבים לוותר על לימודים וחלומות לקריירה אקדמית או לנשור ממסלולים אקדמיים בשל הלחצים הכלכליים”, אמרה ד”ר דיין.

דיין האשימה גם את המרצים עצמם בהשלמה עם המציאות שמכתיבות הנורמות הניאו–ליברליות: “אנחנו מתנהגים במערכת להשכלה גבוהה כמו עדר – כפי שמצופה מאיתנו”. זאת, חרף העובדה שבאקדמיה פועלים מרצות ומרצים בעלי ידע תיאורטי ביקורתי, ורבים מהם דוגלים בשינוי חברתי ואף נכונים לקדמו. אבל במקום מראה שחורה, אני רוצה להתמקד בהזדמנויות שאולי נפתחו דווקא על רקע המשבר״. יש לנו הזדמנות, כוח ואחריות לאפשר את פריצת תקרת ההשכלה באמצעות שימוש בקריטריון המגוון או ‘דור ראשון’ כשיקול מרכזי בקידום סטודנטים ובוועדות מינויים. עלינו האחריות ללמד כאילו כולם ‘דור ראשון’, כלומר לפתח פדגוגיות מכילות לאוכלוסיות מודרות, אחריות להנגיש השכלה גבוהה לציבור רחב יותר, ואחריות לפתוח את התוכניות שלנו ואת הפרסומים שלנו ואת מאגרי הידע”, הוסיפה.

פוטנציאל הלמידה המקוונת

ד”ר דיין סבורה שבצד היבטיו השליליים, משבר הקורונה מזמן הזדמנויות חדשות לשינוי באקדמיה. למשל, בשאלת הדמוקרטיזציה של הידע האקדמי וההנגשה שלו לציבור הרחב. “אני חושבת שהמשבר גרם לכך שניתנה תשובה ספונטנית ומואצת לשאלת הלמידה מרחוק. תופעת הלוואי החיובית של השימוש הנרחב באפליקציית זום בהוראה – אופיה החינמי והפתוח. נחשוב איך למנף את השפע הזה כדי לקדם הכלה ונגישות”.

לדבריה יש לקדם דרישה לפיה הלימודים המקוונים יהיו פתוחים לכל – גם למי שאינם יכולים להירשם ללימודים מלאים ולמי שאינם אזרחים, לרבות פליטים וחסרי מעמד: “עלינו לדרוש שהאוניברסיטה או המכללה תשכיל לשלב אותם”.

בעקבות המשבר ניתן גם לקדם דגם אחר של השכלה גבוהה, “בכיוון ההפוך לגלובליזציה, ואם תהיה האטה במגמה של הפיכת הקמפוסים לחממות של האליטות הבינלאומיות, זו גם התפתחות חיובית. אוכלוסיות ‘דור ראשון’ ילידיות הן בדרך כלל המפסידות מהגלובליזציה וההיפר–מריטוקרטיזציה של האקדמיה”.

בהקשר הישראלי, ציינה, “בראש ובראשונה יש לשאוף לחסל את המערכת המרובדת שיצרה המהפכה הניאו–ליברלית בחינוך ואת ההפרדה הנוקשה בין מערכת מסוג א׳ ומערכת מסוג ב׳ שמשמרת את הנחיתות המבנית של המכללות, ועמן של אוכלוסיות שלמות”. ד”ר דיין הוסיפה שבאקדמיה לשוויון דנים כעת ומפתחים רעיונות בנושא. לדבריה, “הועלו הצעות חדשות ורעננות”.

בסיכום דבריה הדגישה דיין: “המשבר הכי דרמטי הוא משבר מקבלי ההחלטות. השאלה הבוערת היא – מי מחליט? מי מחליט על מדיניות? על תקציבים? מי שולט במשאבים? הרי כולנו מזועזעים ומזועזעות מההומוגניות ומחוסר הייצוג הבוטה בקרב מקבלי ההחלטות. העדר מגוון באקדמיה תורם תרומה סגולית למשבר מקבלי ההחלטות. לכן, צריך להמשיך לייצר ולפתח כלים ומושגים חדשים למאבק שיחייב רפלקציה על האקדמיה כמבנה שמשמר כוח חברתי וכלכלי של קבוצות דומיננטיות. הרשו לי לסיום לפנטז אפילו על סוג של ‘תוכנית מרשל’ לקידום מגוון באוניברסיטאות והשוואת תנאי המכללות באופן שבאמת יאפשר את פתיחת השדה ויסייע לפריצה של כוחות חדשים”.

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הדו”ח לועידה ה-27 של מק”י, 2014
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דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה

צוות דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה מקיים סדנאות לתלמידי ותלמידות מחקר שהן דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה ומספק להן כלים להשתלבות בעולם האקדמי תוך דיון ביקורתי. כמו כן, מקדם הצוות מודעות מוסדית למושג ״דור ראשון״ שמאפשר התבוננות חוצת זהויות ונסיבות על האתגרים שבקידום שוויון באקדמיה ובחברה הישראלית.

מחקרים ומציאות היומיום באקדמיה מראים שלמרות שבכתות נלמדות תיאוריות על שוויון, רב תרבויות, שיח זכויות ונושאים דומים, בפועל האקדמיה משקפת את כל החוליים מהם סובלת החברה הישראלית. היא מדירה את כל אלה שנמצאים בשולים האתניים, לאומיים, מיניים, גופניים וכו׳. בעוד מספרם של הנשים באקדמיה הולך ועולה, הן עדיין מיעוט בעמדות הכוח. תופעות כמו פאנלים אקדמיים בהם דוברים גברים בלבד עדיין נפוצות, שיח מיזוגני משתולל ברשתות החברתיות ובחישוב מסלולי הקביעות יש נחיתות מובנית לנשים ולקבוצות לא הגמוניות. אי השוויון של פלסטינים בקמפוסים בולט מאוד, ויותר קשה לדבר על דיכוי של מזרחים, אתיופים, בעלי מוגבלויות ולהט״בק. כל צורות האי שוויון האלה מצריכות מחקר ויציאה לפעולה. אקדמיה לשוויון מנסה להתמודד עם האתגר הזה באמצעות תמיכה בסדנת דור ראשון שבה אנו משתתפים כמרציםות וחונכיםות ואותה מרכזת חברת הועד הנוכחי אפרת בן שושן גזית.

מטרת הסדנה לתת מענה לקשיי ההשתלבות באקדמיה של בני ובנות דור ראשון להשכלה גבוהה. ציבור זה מצוי בתת ייצוג בתחומי מדעי הרוח והחברה, ובפרט בקרב הסגל האקדמי. האתגרים של בני ובנות הדור הראשון להשכלה הגבוהה נובעים בין היתר מהעדר מודל הורי של השכלה אקדמית, חוסר נגישות למקורות מידע וייעוץ ו/או שפת אם שאינה עברית. קשיים אלה מתבטאים באחוזי נשירה מהלימודים הגבוהים מהממוצע ובחווית ‘זרות’ מתמשכת בזירה האקדמית. אנו רואים חשיבות עליונה לא רק בעבודת המיפוי של האי שוויון ובחיבור בין מאבקים חברתיים שונים ומבוזרים אלא גם בקידום המודעות למושג ״דור ראשון״ שמאפשר התבוננות חוצת זהויות ונסיבות על האתגרים שבקידום שוויון באקדמיה ובחברה הישראלית.

הסדנה משלבת מפגש קבוצתי, דיון בטקסטים ביקורתיים על האקדמיה, ופיתוח מיומנויות של התמקצעות אקדמית בנושאים: קריאה וכתיבה אקדמית (טיעונים, הצעות מחקר, מאמרים), כתיבת קורות חיים ואבסטרקטים, הגשת הצעות לכנסים ולמלגות, הצגה בכנסים, כינון ואתגרים בקשרי הנחייה, פנייה לכתבי עת, העסקה אקדמית וזכויות עובדים, ונטוורקינג אקדמי. בנוסף, כוללת הסדנה תוכנית חונכות ‘ממוקדת משימה’ שמטרתה לתת תמיכה אקדמית למשימות שיש להן חשיבות מרכזית בתהליך ההתמקצעות האקדמית, וכאלו הנמצאות ב”שטחים האפורים” שבין מנחה ומונחה.

השנה מתקיימת הסדנה הרביעית באוניברסיטת תל אביב בהשתתפות כעשרים סטודנטיות.ים בתחילת דרכם במסלול מחקרי לדוקטורט. במקביל לסדנה הזו, מתקיימת זו השנה השלישית בשיתוף פרויקט סאווה של הדקנאט סדנה נוספת לכחמישים סטודנטיות/ים פלסטיניות/ים, מרביתם בסיום תואר ראשון או שני. הסדנה מתקיימת בערבית עם מרצות ומרצים פלסטיניות/ים.
השנה נפתחה סדנה חדשה באוניברסיטת בן גוריון, ובאמצע מרץ תיפתח עוד אחת במכללת תל חי, לתלמידות/ים לקראת סיום תואר ראשון. בהמשך השנה תיפתח גם סדנה לדוקטורנטיות/ים באוניברסיטה העברית, תחת המרכז לרב תרבותיות וגיוון.

בנוסף חברות אקדמיה לשוויון מקדמות מודעות באקדמיה לדור ראשון באמצעות השתתפות בכנסים, מחקרים, ופרסומים במסגרות שונות.

ראשת צוות: אפרת בן שושן גזית, ליצירת קשר:

אקדמיה לשוויון, ארגון חברות וחברים
أكاديمية من اجل المساواة منظمة التي تضم أعضاء

Academia for Equality, Members’ Organization

Registration for the Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities
Paper title: The Desire for Space – Lacanian “Stains” in Zoltan Kluger’s Photography
Authors: Livnat Konopny-Decleve and Niza Yanay
Affiliation: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.
Address: Livnat konopny-Decleve, Alexander Zaid 16, Zichron-Ya’akov, 3094816 Israel.
E-mail Address:
Photographs collected in national archives are a future promise for the preservation of memory. Wherein alongside mechanisms of preservation, mechanisms of suppression
and repression also function on the production of photographs. Thus, when we examine archival photographs, we can not only identify the forces that shape memory
or oblivion, but also uncover the ideas and desires hidden in the image.
This study proposes a Lacanian analysis of photographs taken by one of the most prominent photographers who worked for the Zionist institutions in the two
decades leading up to the establishment of the state of Israel – Zoltan Kluger. The study focuses on the construction of the Zionist space in Kluger’s photographs as a
way of understanding the desire for space in the Zionist imagistic propaganda. Out of the 3,900 of Kluger’s photographs housed in the National Photo Collection of the
Israeli Government Press Office, this paper focuses mainly on photographs that combine human subjects in action within the landscape.
The analysis, activating Lacanian concepts and strategies of art interpretation, suggests that behind the Sisyphean work of men toiling the land stands the “name of
the father” (the Zionist “law”), that comes to signify the Jewish return to history after the fall from divine grace. In contrast, the analysis of female images, either working
or caring for children, mark the female jouissance behind the law, creating “stains” (a surplus) that conceal a Christian (and surprisingly not a Jewish) desire for eternal life.
Although scholarship generally treats the Zionist movement as a “secular religion” that made use of a rhetorical, symbolic, and ritual systems inspired by the Jewish
religion, this paper demonstrates how the imagistic Zionist unconscious was in fact based on Christian views of eternity and redemption. We argue that by submitting
Kluger’s photographs to Lacanian analysis (the law of the father and female jouissance), we can uncover a demand to sacrifice the sons in exchange for an eternal
life and the return to grace.

תחושה או אפליה? | “בקצב הנוכחי, ייקח למזרחים 99 שנה להגיע לשוויון מוחלט”
דור חדש של מזרחים מתעורר בימים אלה ומנסה לפקוח את עיני הישראלים למציאות שאפליה וקיפוח הם חלק בלתי נפרד ממנה ■ הם צעירים משכילים ומצליחים, שבמבט לאחור מבינים שהתגברו על מכשולים שלא עמדו בפני חבריהם האשכנזים
TheMarker ענת ג’ורג’יפורסם ב-25.03.13
 שום דבר בהיסטוריה של רויטל מדר לא יכול להעיד על קיפוח מכל סוג שהוא. היא נולדה בתל אביב לפני 31 שנה, למשפחה שנהנתה משנים של רווחה יחסית; סיימה תיכון במגמת קולנוע; ולומדת כיום לתואר שני בפילוסופיה באוניברסיטת תל אביב. ובכל זאת, היא מרגישה שהקיפוח היה שם תמיד – תחושה מטרידה שבפניה עומדות פחות אפשרויות מאשר חבריה, מכיוון שהיא מזרחית – בת להורים יוצאי תוניסיה.
“אני יכולה להגיד את זה היום, בדיעבד, אחרי שבמשך שנים היה איזה נסיון מצדי שלא להכיר במזרחיות שלי בתור פקטור”, היא אומרת. “היום אני יודעת שאי אפשר היה שלא לשים לב לזה שאני לומדת בבלפור או בעירוני א’ והכסף נמצא במקום מסוים מאוד. למדתי במגמת קולנוע, ואפשר היה לספור על יד אחת כמה מזרחים היינו. כולם מדברים על אפליית הפריפריה, אבל אני יכולה לומר שגם בתוך תל אביב, התנאים הראשוניים הם שונים. יש הון תרבותי שהוא חזק יותר מכל הון פיננסי. קחי לדוגמה את כל ה’ילדים של’. הסיכוי שלך להיות ילד של פוליטיקאי או אמן מוערך גדול יותר אם אתה אשכנזי, והדבר הזה ניכר. הוא ניכר גם ברמה של הדברים שנחשפים אליהם בתור ילדים. לדברים שאליהם נחשפתי בבית לא היה ערך”.
אולי הבעיה היתה בבית, שלא שם דגש על תרבות ורוח?
“זה לא שבבית שלי לא היתה תרבות. הבעיה היא שהתרבות שהיתה בבית שלי לא נחשבת תרבות. הערכים שאמא שלי יכולה לתת לתרבות ההגמונית הם אוכל, חום ופתיחות, וחוץ מזה כלום. לאף אחד מהדברים שאפיינו את התרבות שלנו לא היה ערך. למשל, ההורים שלי, כמו תוניסאים רבים, היו צורפים. האם אי פעם דובר על התרבות העניפה של הצורפים של יהדות תוניס? כשיש תרבות מסוימת מאוד ששולטת, אז לכאורה את לא נחשפת לאחרת. הרגשתי את זה גם באקדמיה. את מתנהלת במרחב שבו אין לך שום ייצוג של עצמך. זה כמובן נוגע גם לתקשורת. אנחנו לא נחשפות לייצוג מזרחי על כל הסקאלה. מזרחי אינטלקטואל – זה לא משהו שאנחנו רואות אותו. ככל שאת מתקדמת את רואה באופן ברור יותר שאת לבד”.

מדר היא חלק מקבוצה הולכת וגדלה של בני הדור השני והשלישי ליוצאי יהדות המזרח, שמרגישים שהקיפוח העדתי לא נגמר בדור הראשון של העולים ששוכנו במעברות ונשלחו לפריפריה הרחוקה, אלא ממשיך גם כיום, עם בניהם ונכדיהם. מבחינתם הגיע הזמן לחולל מהפכה שתמחק את ההגמוניה הבלעדית של האשכנזים בישראל ותפתח את מוקדי הכוח לעוד ועוד מזרחים.

סוכני המהפכה הזאת לא נשארו מאחור. להיפך, הם דווקא הצליחו בחיים: התברגו לעמדות בכירות, התערו בחברה, חלקם אפילו התחתנו עם אשכנזים. ועדיין הם בטוחים שהאפליה קיימת, שהמזרחים מקופחים וממודרים מכל מוקדי הכוח. חמושים בנתונים מדאיגים הם דורשים צדק חברתי ושוויון הזדמנויות – לא כקורבנות קיפוח, אלא כשווים בין שווים.
עברו לתצוגת גלריהמימין: רויטל מדר, יפעת ביטון ומירב אלוש־לברון. “המזרחים לא פיתחו הגדרה עצמית נפרדת”צילום: אייל טואג
“כאשר בוחנים את הנתונים שמודדים את הפערים בתחומים שונים, אפשר לזהות באופן כללי שיפור במעמד של מזרחים, כמו גם במיצוב החברתי והכלכלי של קבוצות אחרות בחברה הישראלית”, אומרת ד”ר מירב אלוש־לברון, חוקרת תרבות ופעילה חברתית, חברת מועצת הרשות השנייה לטלויזיה וחברה חדשה בהנהלת האגודה לזכויות האזרח. ואולם, היא מוסיפה, “השוואה בין המעמד של מזרחים למעמדם של אשכנזים מעלה שבכל המדדים של מוביליות חברתית, מזרחים עדיין מופלים. במבחן התוצאה האפליה היא גלויה, אף שהיא מוכחשת כל הזמן. היא נראית לעין ומגובה במחקרים ובבדיקות סטטיסטיות.
אם למשל אנחנו יודעים שלאשכנזים סיכוי גבוה יותר למצוא תעסוקה מלמזרחים – ואגב, נעשה מחקר בנושא הזה, אז השיטות של האפליה פה אולי מוסוות, אבל התוצאה שלהן גלויה ובוטה. האפליה מוסווית במובן הזה שהיא לא תמיד מופעלת באופן ישיר על מזרחי שמגיע לראיון עבודה, אבל היא מתקיימת מעצם השליטה הכמעט מוחלטת של אשכנזים במרכזי הכוח, בהנהלות של מוסדות ציבוריים וכלכליים, באקדמיה, במשפט, בתקשורת ובמוסדות התרבות. הנתונים על הפערים מוכיחים שהאליטה האשכנזית נוהגת לשמר את הכוח שלה ואת הדומיננטיות שלה, מקרבת אליה את מי שדומה לה ושייך לשבט שלה, ונוהגת להרחיק את מי שלא. אין דרך אחרת להסביר את הפער המתמשך”.

זה מחלחל לדור שני ושלישי?
“כל הנתונים מראים שהפער בין האשכנזים למזרחים נשמר גם בדור השני והשלישי, כמו ההבדלים בשיעור מקבלי תעודות הבגרות. עם זאת, הסוגיה מורכבת, כי אין לנו אפשרות לבדוק את כל הנתונים הכלכליים־חברתיים באמצעות באמצעות הגדרה של ארץ מוצא. הלשכה המרכזית לסטטיסטיקה כבר לא מספקת נתונים כאלה. ואולם הרבה מהסקרים שמתפרסמים היום כוללים אזור מגורים. אנחנו יודעים שכ–80% מאוכלוסיית ערי הפיתוח הם מזרחים, ולכן קל יחסית להסיק מהמחקרים על אזורי המגורים”-
אי אפשר לקבל נתונים לפי פילוג עדתי?
“לא, וזאת חלק מהבעיה. דרשנו למשל מהוועדה למינוי שופטים נתונים על עדתיות, ונענינו בסירוב”.
“אין קיפוח, צאו מזה”
בניגוד לעמדות הנחרצות שמציגים נציגי המהפכה החדשה, לא מעט ילדים של בני עדות המזרח, ובהם כותבת שורות אלה, מרגישים שהשיח על הקיפוח העדתי שייך לעבר.
ואני לא לבד. בשנים האחרונות פרצו רבים מבני הדור השני לעדות המזרח את גבולות הפריפריה והעדתיות ונהפכו לחלק אינטגרלי מהחברה הישראלית. חלקם אף הצליחו להתברג לעמדות בכירות בשוק ההון, בפוליטיקה העירונית והארצית, באקדמיה ובתקשורת. הם רכשו השכלה, התקדמו בסולם הקריירה והשתלבו היטב בתרבות הישראלית. “מי שרצה להצליח, מי שהתחנך על ערכים של חריצות, יוזמה וביטחון עצמי ולא שמע בבית שדפקו אותו, לא מרגיש ככה”, אומרת נורית ‏(שם בדוי‏), בת לאם ואב ילידי מרוקו. “מעולם לא נחשפתי לאמירות גזעניות. אני נשואה לבן דור שני ליוצאי פולין, מרגישה ישראלית וכך גם ילדי, יש לי שני תארים והקריירה שלי בנסיקה”.
“אני יכול להבין את תחושת הקיפוח של אנשי הפריפריה”, אומר יוסי ‏(שם בדוי‏), בן להורים יוצאי עיראק ולבנון. “אבל באופן אישי לא הרגשתי מעולם קיפוח על בסיס עדתי, הן כילד והן כבוגר. הסוגיה העדתית לא היתה אישיו. אמנם גדלתי בחולון ובראשון לציון ולא בפריפריה הרחוקה, אבל לאורך הדרך הרגשתי שהיו לי בדיוק אותן הזדמנויות כמו לחברי האשכנזים. הקיפוח אולי קיים במקומות מסוימים, אבל תחושת הקיפוח מועברת בין הדורות. אם ההורה מתחפר בתחושת הקיפוח, מעביר אותה לילדיו ולא עושה דבר כדי להוציא אותם מהמצב הזה, אז הקיפוח עובר הלאה, לדור הבא. אם אתה עושה דברים שיקדמו אותך, תוכל לפרוץ קדימה. זה נכון במיוחד בישראל, שכן בצבא אין משמעות למוצא”.
יהיה מי שיגיד שאתה מדבר כך כי התערית בתרבות האשכנזית השלטת ואימצת אותה: אתה נראה אשכנזי והתחתנת עם אשכנזייה.
“אני מרגיש שהתעריתי בתרבות הישראלית, הצברית. למוצא של אשתי לא היתה משמעות בבחירתה. עד שהתחתנתי יצאתי עם נשים מעדות רבות. ולא מדובר רק בי. יש לי חברים רבים שמוצאם מזרחי, עם שמות כמו אלפסי וסויסה, וכולם הצליחו להתברג לעמדות בכירות. אני מאמין שמי שרוצה להצליח ומתאמץ בשביל זה, יצליח. אז צאו מזה”.
על כך עונה אלוש־לברון: “גם אם יש כאלה שהגיעו לעמדות בכירות, עדיין, אחרי כל כך הרבה שנים, אין שוויון בהזדמנויות. יש תחושה שכשאתה מצליח, אתה צריך להתנצל על זה. אין לי ריב עם מזרחים שמרגישים שהם לא חוו אפליה ואני גם לא רוצה להיכנס לוויכוח על התת־מודע. אני כן נוטה לראות בזה אסטרטגיה של הישרדות, ובתוך האפליה המבנית שקיימת אני אפילו יכולה להבין ולקבל את זה עד לרמה מסוימת.
“אני מפסיקה לקבל את זה כאשר אותם מזרחים שטוענים להיעדר אפליה לא מתמודדים עם הנתונים הקשים על פערים בין מזרחים לאשכנזים בכל המדדים. הם הרי לא סבורים שמזרחים מוכשרים פחות מבחינה גנטית, או שההורים שלהם לא רוצים בהצלחת ילדיהם, נכון? שהרי אז הם ייפלו בעצמם למלכודת השיח הגזעני. אז מהו ההסבר שלהם לממצאים החד־משמעיים בדבר תת־הייצוג, ההדרה ממרכזי כוח, הפערים בהכנסות ובהישגים בחינוך או האפליה על רקע אתני בכניסה למועדונים, שכבר הגיעה לבית המשפט? חוויות סובייקטיביות אינן מבטלות את הרלוונטיות של טיעון האפליה או את ההכרה במזרחים כקבוצה.
“מזרחים תמיד הוכלו בתוך האתוס הלאומי, אבל באותו זמן גם הודרו ממנו וסומנו כאחרים. המצב הזה, של הכלה והדרה בו זמנית מן התרבות, מן הנרטיב המכונן, החוויה של להיות גם שייך וגם לא לגמרי שייך, אחראי לפיצול בזהות המזרחית. התגובה הפופולרית ביותר לחוויה של הפיצול הזה היא הצורה של הכחשה עצמית, שמביאה לניסיון קדחתני ואובססיבי להיטמע בכל מחיר, להתערבב באופן כזה שלא יזהו אף סימן היכר מזרחי או פריפריאלי שלך ואז גם להכריז שכולנו ישראלים”.
באופן אישי, הרגשת אפליה כמזרחית?
“לאורך השנים הפנמתי היטב את הנרטיב ההגמוני: כולנו עם אחד, שבתוכו יש האדרה של קבוצות מיעוט מסוימות באוכלוסייה היהודית. כך נקבע מי בפנים ומי בחוץ. המזרחים מאמצים את הנרטיב של האשכנזים ומתערים בהם, אבל הרבה פעמים מזכירים להם את זה. במבט לאחור, לא נהניתי משוויון הזדמנויות באף תחום שלקחתי בו חלק בחיים הבוגרים שלי. הייתי צריכה להשלים פערים גדולים בגלל האפליה במשאבים בחינוך במקום שממנו הגעתי. באשקלון, שם למדתי, גם אם תקחי את הכיתה הכי טובה, לא תוכלי להשוות את כמות הידע ואיכות ההוראה לאלה שקיבלו החברים האשכנזים שלי במרכז הארץ.
“ולא רק זה, למי שבא מהפריפריה אין רשתות חברתיות. אין לך למי להתקשר כדי לבקש עזרה. את לא יכולה להתקשר לחבר של אבא. בנוסף, פעמים רבות הרגשתי שאני מסומנת. כשהגעתי לצמתים חדשים, כחלק מהתפתחות המקצועית שלי, חשתי שאני מוצגת כאחרת. השאלות האופייניות: ‘מה זה אלוש’, ‘את לא נראית’, או ‘מה ההורים עושים?’ חשבתי תמיד מה אני צריכה לשדרג או להסתיר בעברי.
“גם כיום, בתור חברת מועצת הרשות השנייה, אני יכולה להעיד מי האנשים שמאיישים את כל המועצות התרבותיות למיניהן. תרבות היא משמעותית מאוד, וחשוב לבדוק מי המנהלים והמנכ”לים של המוזיאונים והתיאטראות בישראל. לא תמצאי שם מזרחים”.
את מרגישה שזה עלול לעבור לילדייך?
“אני חולקת את חיי עם בן זוג אשכנזי, ובשלב זה של חייהם ילדי חווים את המזרחיות שלהם בעיקר באמצעות המעורבות הציבורית והאקדמית שלי. הם כבר רגישים מאוד לכל עוולה חברתית ולכל שיח גזעני או סטריאוטיפי שהם נתקלים בו. ברור שהם לא יחושו הדרה ולא יסומנו כאחרים, משתי סיבות עיקריות: אחת, הם בעלי חזות אשכנזית לחלוטין, ובחברה הישראלית הגזענית, לצבע יש השפעה בסימון של האחר. סיבה שנייה ומהותית היא שהם חיים במציאות חברתית וכלכלית אחרת, ונהנים מפריווילגיות שבני ובנות גילם בפריפריה יכולים רק לחלום עליהן. אבל חשוב להדגיש שהנישואין הבין־עדתיים לא צמצמו את הפער בין מזרחים ואשכנזים, בעיקר מאחר שהם מתרחשים בדרך כלל בין בני זוג ממעמד חברתי דומה”.
לטענות דומות לאלה של יוסי, עונה ד”ר יפעת ביטון, מומחית לשוויון מהמכללה למינהל ויו”ר מרכז תמורה למניעת אפליה, כי “נדמה שאין תקדים לתחום שבו יש הכחשה של הפליה על בסיס טענות אנטי־מדעיות וסובייקטיביות כמו ‘אני לא הרגשתי את זה’ או ‘אני לא מאמין בזה’. הנתונים הקיימים, המתעדים את האפליה כמעט בכל רובד של מוביליות חברתית, אחרי עשורים של היעדר נתונים, הם הנתון המדעי החשוב היחיד. נתונים אלה מעידים על נחיתות שיטתית, ולכן אי אפשר לפטור אותם בטענות כמו ‘זה הכל חינוך מבית’, שמהן משתמעת התפישה הגזענית שלמזרחים לא חשוב החינוך”.
לדברי ביטון, בתחומים שבהם אין נתונים, הוכחת טענת האפליה קשה במיוחד. “כך זה בעולם שממנו אני באה, עולם המשפט. בעולם הזה לאפליה פנים רבות, שדרשו חקירה עצמאית וצלילה אל תוך המספרים המדכאים: שופט מזרחי אחד בבית המשפט העליון, מעט יותר במחוזי ועוד קצת יותר בשלום; רשימות מועמדים לשפיטה שבאופן שיטתי לא זיהינו בהם יותר מ–20% ממוצא מזרחי; בתי כלא המלאים ברוב מכריע של אחינו ואחיותינו; סגל הוראה למשפטים עם ייצוג מגוחך של 6% ועוד נתונים מובהקים מעין אלה ש מעולם לא נחקרו באופן שיטתי, ונחשבים בלתי רלוונטיים לשאלת הלגיטימיות של המשפט. המשפט גם מסרב באופן כמעט מוחלט לעסוק בסוגייה – לא בתכני הלימוד, לא בתכני פסקי הדין ולא בוועדה למינוי שופטים”.
ביטון מוסיפה עוד כי הסיבות להכחשה רבות, והבולטת שבהן היא היכולת להידמות לקבוצה ההגמונית. ככל שמזרחי יכול להתנהל בהתאם לקודים של “ישראליות”, כלומר קודים של מה שמוכר כ”השתכנזות”, כך הוא יסבול פחות ממאפייני האפליה.
“רוצים שנסתום
את הפה”
התחושות שעליהן מדברות מדר ואלוש־לברון מקבלות ביטוי גם בנתונים שנאספו לאורך השנים על הפערים בין מזרחים ואשכנזים. על פי נתונים של מרכז אדוה, למשל, ייצוגם של המזרחים בשוק העבודה הניהולי־אקדמי מסתכם ב–29% בלבד, לעומת 54% לאשכנזים. בשוק עבודות הצווארון הכחול, לעומת זאת, 38% הם מזרחים לעומת 21% אשכנזים ‏(ב–2007–2009‏). עוד עולה מנתונים שנאספו במרכז כי שיעור העוני אצל מזרחים גדול כמעט פי שלושה לעומת אשכנזים.
ניסוי על אפליה בשוק העבודה בישראל על רקע מוצא אתני ומגדר, שערכה דורית ששון ב–2006, גילה כי לאשכנזים סיכוי גדול יותר ב–34% לקבל זימון לראיון עבודה מאשר למזרחים. על פי מרכז אדוה, בקרב המובטלים בישראל בולט ייצוג יתר למזרחים ‏(7.5% מהם מובטלים‏) – פי חמישה מייצוגם של אשכנזים ‏(רק 1.5% מהם מובטלים‏).
גם ד”ר הני זובידה מהחוג למדעי מדינה במכללה האקדמית עמק יזרעאל, עורך הבלוג “ביקורת ולא בהכרח בונה”, מרגיש מקופח. אלא שאצלו, לדבריו, זה בעיקר בגלל שהוא מתעקש לדבר על זה. באחד הפוסטים שלו כתב: “אם רק הייתי סותם את הפה החיים שלי היו הרבה יותר קלים. אם רק הייתי סותם את הפה הייתי מקבל מלא כיבודים… אבל אני הני זובידה ‏(בעצם: זבדה‏), יליד בגדד, שעדיין לא מבין איך כולם מסתכלים על המצב אבל לא רואים… הרוב לא מוכן לראות את הדיכוי, הגזענות והשנאה כשזה מגיע לחלק מהקבוצות כאן, בעיקר למזרחים. כי חלק נרחב מאתנו נהנה לקרוא למזרחים ‘ברברים, ערסים ופרחות’, כמו גם ‘פשיסטים וגזענים’. וכשאתם מזמינים אותנו להרצות בפניכם ואנו אומרים את אשר על לבנו, זה מרתיח אתכם… ואתם מצקצקים בלשון ‘‏(אוי‏) – כל השנים הוא קיבל כל כך הרבה כיבודים והוא עדיין מרגיש מקופח’. כי אתם רוצים שנסתום את הפה”.
במה מתבטא הקיפוח שאתה מדבר עליו?
“קחי למשל את הייצוג הסימבולי. מתי ראית מזרחי מנחה את המשדר המרכזי של החדשות? גל גבאי ורינה מצליח נמצאות שם, אבל הפנים הם של יונית לוי. בכנסת, יש שלושה שרים מזרחים בסך הכל. רוצה עוד? כמה מרצים מזרחים יש באוניברסיטאות הציבוריות תל אביב, בן גוריון, בר אילן, העברית והטכניון? 6.2% מכלל המרצים. מה זה אומר? או שהמזרחים מפגרים וארבעה דורות לא הספיקו לנו בשביל להכניס אנשים למערכת האקדמית, או שהמערכת לא מאפשרת לנו להכניס דור שלישי או רביעי אפילו.
“לא רק זה, נעשו בדיקות בנוגע לקצב סגירת הפערים בחינוך בין מזרחים ואשכנזים. גילו שאמנם הקצב גדל, אבל שבקצב הנוכחי של סגירת הפערים, נכון ל–2009, ייקח למזרחים 99 שנה להגיע לשוויון מוחלט. את מבינה מה המשמעות? הסבים של הילדים האלה, שיקבלו חינוך זהה לזה של האשכנזים ויגיעו לאותם הישגים – עדיין לא נולדו. ולעומת זאת, לכי לבתי הכלא ותראי ש–90% מהאסירים שם הם מזרחים. או שיש לנו גן מיוחד שהופך אותנו לעבריינים, או שמשהו במערכת דפוק”.
למזרחים אין חלק בזה? הם לא תרמו לתחושת הקיפוח? הבחירה בש”ס כמפלגה המזרחית המייצגת היא לא בעייתית?
“זאת שאלת מיליון הדולר: האם המזרחים אשמים. תסתכלי על מערכת החינוך הגרועה שבפריפריה, תסתכלי על כל תוכניות המשטרה שבהן העבריינים הם תמיד מזרחים, פרסומות שבהן רואים משפחה בלונדינית שמחה. לגבי ש”ס, היא לא מייצגת אותי. אני חילוני, וחוץ מזה הפכו את השיח שלנו ללא רלוונטי.
“במחקר שערכה אשתי, החוקרת אביבה זלצר־זובידה, היא בדקה את צמצום הפערים בקרב עולים שונים וגילתה שהעולים מחבר העמים הצליחו להדביק בתוך עשור וחצי את המזרחים – שנמצאים בארץ מאז שנות ה–50. הם הצליחו לשפר משמעותית את מצבם האובייקטיבי והסובייקטיבי, והשתוו למזרחים”.
אוהד זובידה, בנו בן ה–15 של זובידה, פחות מרגיש את הקיפוח. “כשרק רואים אותי בטוחים שאני ערס בגלל צבע העור שלי, אבל כשאני מתחיל לדבר רואים שיש פה מישהו חכם שיודע על מה הוא מדבר”, הוא אומר.
אך בניגוד לאוהד, חשים לא מעט בני הדור השלישי והרביעי למזרחים שהם מופלים לרעה, וכי אין להם ייצוג במוקדי הכוח. כך עולה גם מעבודת הדוקטורט של ד”ר יפעת בן חי שגב, שבדקה את האופן שבו מתייחס הדור השני והשלישי של יוצאי עדות המזרח לייצוגם בטלוויזיה. העבודה, שבוצעה ב–2009, מעלה תמונה עגומה בהיבט החברתי ומראה שתחושות הקיפוח עברו מהדור הראשון לזה שאחריו. “הסיבה לכך שחילקתי את העבודה שלי לפי דורות היא כי חשבתי שבני הדור השני או השלישי להגירה אינם חווים אותן תחושות זעם וקיפוח שחוו ההורים שלהם”, אומרת בן חי. “אך ממצאי המחקר, שנערך בפתח תקוה, מראים שכל המזרחים, בלי קשר לדור, התייחסו למדיה כאתר של שליטה, כמכשיר בידי ההגמוניה האשכנזית, שנועד לבסס את השליטה שלה במדיום הפוליטי, הכלכלי והחברתי. המדיה מבחינתם היא הממסד, שכמובן נשלט על ידי אשכנזים”.
לא נמצא כל הבדל בין דור ראשון ושלישי למשל?
“היו הבדלים קלים מבחינת השיח. הדור הראשון, שכולו נולד באסיה ואפריקה, גילה ניכור מוחלט למוסדות המדינה בכללותם וגם לתקשורת. הם העלו תחושות עמוקות של זעם ועלבון קשה מאוד. לדור הזה, לפי תפישתי, אין מזור. אין שום דרך לשנות את התחושות הללו. הדור השני והשלישי אופיין יותר באמביוולנטיות. בני הדורות האלה, כך נראה, מרגישים קרועים. מצד אחד הם רוצים להשתלב בבון־טון האשכנזי המוביל ובהתאם גם סיגלו לעצמם מנהגים אשכנזיים, אבל גם מרגישים שהם רוצים לתת מקום למורשת המזרחית שלהם”.
סוכני השינוי
האם השינוי נראה בפתח, בעקבות המחאה החברתית וההתעוררות הכללית בעקבותיה? לא בטוח. מחאת הפנתרים השחורים, למשל, רק העמיקה את תחושת הזרות בין העדות, ועל ש”ס נאמר לא פעם שהיא מקבעת את אי השוויון ואת תחושות הקיפוח והקורבנות יותר מאשר פועלת לצמצומם.
יש גם נתונים מעודדים: לפני כחודשיים התפרסם דו”ח אדוה על מעמד הביניים הישראלי שגילה כי הפערים העדתיים בכל הנוגע לרמות הכנסה הצטמצמו משמעותית בשנים האחרונות. על פי הדו”ח, ב–2010 השתייכו 45.3% מהמזרחים בני הדור השני בישראל לרובד הגבוה של ההכנסה בישראל ‏(לעומת 25% ב–1992‏), בעוד ש–54.7% מהאשכנזים השתייכו לו.
עם זאת, בדו”ח צוין כי “בדיקה של רכוש לפי מוצא עשויה להצביע על פער גדול יותר בין אשכנזים דור שני למזרחים דור שני, בשל הפער הגדול מאוד בין קבוצות המוצא בדור הראשון – ייצוג יתר למזרחים ברובד הנמוך וריכוז של אשכנזים ברובד הגבוה”.
“סוכני השינוי הם הדור השני והשלישי של המזרחים”, אומרת אלוש־לברון. “הם לא רק הצליחו בקנה מידה כזה או אחר, אלא הגיעו ממקום ביקורתי ויש להם מה להגיד על הממסד. הם מאיימים על השיח שלפיו כולנו עם אחד. הדור החדש של מזרחים ומזרחיות פועל בתוך החברה האזרחית עם תודעה ביקורתית מפותחת ביחס למבני הכוח בה, למקורות שלהם ולמלאכה החברתית והפוליטית שצריך לקדם. דבר אחד ברור: תהיה תוכנית לשיפור הייצוג של מזרחים, כיוון שזה קריטי לצמצום הפער וגם חיוני לריפוי של המתח האתני במדינה הזו”.
למה זה לא נעשה עד היום?
“היתה הכחשה גדולה של הקונפליקט. המזרחים לא פיתחו הגדרה עצמית נפרדת”.
הגדרת הבעיה תביא את הפתרון?
“לא. במקביל, חייב לבוא שינוי בגבולות המוניציפליים של מדינת ישראל. אי אפשר להסתפק בדיון על חלוקת הכנסות מחודשת כפי שמציע למשל ההסכם הקואליציוני עם מפלגת יש עתיד תחת הסעיף פריפריה, שזה לכשלעצמו עורר בי צחוק יובשני. הנהגה מזרחית חדשה, זו שמגיעה מן המטרופולין וזו שתבוא מהפריפריה, לא תתייחס אל עיירות הפיתוח כסרח עודף של הסכם קואליציוני ולא תמקם אותן אי שם תחת סעיף קטן בהסכם. הפריפריה היא מרכז ההוויה הפוליטית שלנו ולא משנה בכלל היכן אנחנו מתגוררים כיום.
“מה זאת אומרת שהממשלה תבחן את הנושא? בוחנים כבר שנים רבות ושום דבר לא יצא עד עכשיו מהבחינות הללו. חוץ מזה, לקרקע יש משמעות שהיא מעבר להנאה מארנונה. החלוקה הגיאוגרפית הזו היא אחד המקורות ההיסטוריים המרכזיים לעוול שנעשה כלפי הפריפריה וצריך יהיה להתמודד אתה באומץ וביושר, ולא להתרגש מכל מיני ריפמנים למיניהם שמסתובבים במרחב הישראלי המשותף לכולנו כבעלי הבית של קרקעות המדינה” ‏(הכוונה לשמוליק ריפמן, ראש המועצה האזורית רמת הנגב, שתקף את שר הרווחה החדש מאיר כהן, שהציע לשנות את חלוקת רווחי הארנונה בנגב‏).
“אין ספק שהקיפוח עדיין כאן”, מוסיפה מדר. “בשבוע שעבר הושבעה ממשלה ויש בה שלושה שרים מזרחים בלבד, פחות אפילו ממספר הנשים. יש עוד הרבה עבודה כדי לשנות את המצב. צריך להתחיל בהכרה שאין שוויון. השיח המזרחי, בדומה לשיח הפמיניסטי, נדחק הצדה בביטול ברוב המקרים. אחר כך האשכנזים ייאלצו לפנות את הכיסא. זה לא יקרה מהר, אבל זה בלתי נמנע.
“כל דור שהוא דור שנאבק עושה שינוי. להגיד לך שאני אופטימית? לא. השנאה והפחד מהערבי הם משהו שאי אפשר לנתק אותו מהסיפור הזה. אני ערבייה יהודייה, ולהרבה אנשים קשה עם היכולת לחבר בין ערביות ויהדות. לא מזמן אמרה לי מישהי שהפחד הגדול של האשכנזים הוא שבמדינה דו־לאומית, התרבות הערבית תהיה שלטת”.
ביטון מאמינה כי קיימים כלים שונים לתיקון האפליה, והמשפט הוא אחד החשובים שבהם: “איסורים ברורים על אפליה על רקע מוצא עדתי במסגרות שונות הם דבר פשוט ומינימלי, שלא נעשה עד כה. מסגרות להעדפה מתקנת, כמו אלה שנקבעו לקבוצות מוחלשות אחרות כנשים וכערבים, מתבקשות אף הן כדי לבצע שיקום חברתי של הפערים האמורים. למשפט יכול להיות גם כוח רב בחלוקה מחדש צודקת, שוויונית והוגנת של משאבים לאומיים כמו קרקעות ושטחי שיפוט. המשפט מתמהמה ללא כל הצדקה בהפעלת כלים לטובת יצירת חברה שוויונית יותר שתיטיב עם כולנו. ייתכן שרק קבוצה פוליטית עם עמדה ברורה בדבר מטרה שכזו תצליח להביא לשינוי המשפטי והחברתי המיוחל”, היא מסכמת.


January 28, 2011

BDS is Working: A Letter from Israel

Filed under: Boycott Israel — Naomi Foyle @ 6:05 pm
Tags: BDSboycottBoycott from Within!IsraelPalestine

Boycott from Within! is a group of Israeli citizens – Jews and Palestinians – working together to support the PACBI BDS call. BWISP thanks them for this tremendous letter of support for our own solidarity efforts.

In the eyes of the world, the question is what can be done when the relevant institutions do not succeed in enforcing international law?
Tanya Reinhart May 5, 2005 [1]

January 25, 2011

Dear British Writers in Support of Palestine (BWISP)

We are members of BOYCOTT! [2] – a group of Jews and Palestinians, citizens and residents of Israel, who are struggling to end the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians. We are writing to reassure you that here, in Israel, your attempts to bring about a change in the Middle East will not fall on deaf ears. There is increasing evidence showing that the boycott movement, inspired by the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel [3] may eventually affect Israel’s policies. Indeed the loss of Israel’s legitimacy, caused by the state’s war crimes and violation of international law, is affecting the Israeli public, its opinion shapers, as well as policy makers.

• For instance, in September 2009, Col. Gabriel Siboni portrayed the BDS movement as “The third threat” [4] aiming to destroy Israel’s legitimacy as a political entity. Later on, in November, mainstream journalist, Sever Plocker, [5] admitted that “Israel’s image has hit a nadir; it is isolated, unwanted, and perceived as bad. The world is telling us that should we continue along the same contemptible path, we will lose our legitimacy”. In February 2010, another mainstream journalist, Ari Shavit, described Israel’s distress over the delegitimization “assault”. [6]
• This loss of Israel’s international status has evoked different voices inside mainstream academics as well. In May 2010, Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States and former Tel Aviv University President, said, during a symposium on “The Delegitimization of Israel as a Strategic Threat” at Tel Aviv University that “to regain Israel’s legitimacy, Israel’s policies will have to be geared towards establishing real peace”. [7]
• Recently 180 Israeli academics – university and college faculty members – signed a petition calling for an academic boycott of the Ariel University Center. [8]
• This move was preceded by mainstream Israeli artists who announced that they are boycotting Ariel, a settlement/city in the occupied territory, and urged Israeli artists not to perform there. [9]
• The BDS movement has already affected government members as well. For instance, Minister Fuad Ben Eliezer acknowledged that Israel’s “legitimacy is fragile and only a real attempt to reach an agreement with the Palestinians will repair it. [10] When meeting with non-violent resistance activists in Palestine in November 2010, the British Foreign Minister, William Hague, stated that “when negotiations seem like a timeless promise that is never fulfilled due to Israel’s unwillingness [to offer a] fair solution, popular resistance to the occupation is the only remaining possible alternative for the Palestinians to achieve their rights and avoid armed struggle.” [11]

The ball is rolling. Now EU is preparing the basis for sanctions against Israel; [12] South African states and Latin America states [13] recognize Palestinian independence. [14]

Israelis are no longer deluded. They realize that when there is an activist “sitting in front of the computer screen, there is no marine soldier that can eliminate him”; “Zahal [Israel “Defense” Forces] is not the answer”. [15-17]

These are just instances reassuring you that your contribution to the international effort to bring non-violent measures to bear against Israel’s illegitimate policies will not be in vain. We support your struggle and its continuance as urged by the Palestinian call, until Israel recognizes the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and until it fully complies with international law by ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and by dismantling the Wall; by recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and by respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.


Reuven Abergel (Israeli black panthers) Ofra Ben Artzi Ronnen Ben-Arie Yoav Beirach Joseph Dana Kelvin Bland RIBA Prof. Dr, Uri Davis Naama Farjoun Prof. Rachel Giora Neta Golan Shir Hever Yael Kahn Yossef Lubovsky Rela Mazali Dr. Anat Matar Dr. Dorothy Naor Ofer Neiman Eyal Sivan Kerstin Sodergren Sonya Soloviov Jonatan Stanczak Sahar Vardi Elian Weizman

On behalf of
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within

[15]Channel 10, 25.8.10

The Palestinian Definition of anti-Semitism


Editorial Note

In the last decade, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the West has been on the rise. Swastika painted on walls, members of the Jewish community harassed, cemeteries desecrated, synagogues set on fire, and more. A 2019 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), tabulated the number of 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents throughout the United States: 1,127 were cases of harassment, 919 were cases of vandalism, 61 incidents of antisemitic assault involving 95 victims that led to five deaths. In Britain, as recorded in 2016 by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which publishes the National Antisemitic Crime Audit, there were 1078 anti-Semitic crimes against Jews.

To battle this surge, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) formulated a Definition of anti-Semitism, which many institutions and states adopted, as IAM previously reported.

Last week, a group of 122 Palestinian intellectuals published a letter in the Guardian newspaper in Britain, expressing their concern over adopting the widely accepted Definition.  Among the signatories were several Israeli Arab professors such as Asad Ghanem Professor of Political Science, Haifa University; Khaled Furani Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, Tel-Aviv University; Bashir Bashir Associate Professor of Political Theory, Open University of Israel; Ahmad Sa’adi Professor, Haifa; Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian Lawrence D Biele Chair in Law, Hebrew University; Raef Zreik Minerva Humanities Centre, Tel-Aviv University.  Their letter was circulated widely. 

The group acknowledged that “Antisemitism must be debunked and combated… no expression of hatred for Jews as Jews should be tolerated anywhere in the world.” They also declared that “Antisemitism manifests itself in sweeping generalizations and stereotypes about Jews, regarding power and money in particular, along with conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial.”  They stated that it is legitimate and necessary to the fight against anti-Semitism and that “the lessons of the Holocaust as well as those of other genocides of modern times must be part of the education of new generations against all forms of racial prejudice and hatred.” 

However, the letter postulates that the fight against antisemitism is being “instrumentalized” by the Israeli government and its supporters to “delegitimize the Palestinian cause and silence defenders of Palestinian rights… As it currently exists, the state of Israel is based on uprooting the vast majority of the natives – what Palestinians and Arabs refer to as the Nakba – and on subjugating those natives who still live on the territory of historical Palestine as either second-class citizens or people under occupation, denying them their right to self-determination.”

The group is upset because of the Definition’s stand on BDS.   Portraying BDS as antisemitic is “a gross distortion of what is fundamentally a legitimate non-violent means of struggle for Palestinian rights.” The Definition “does not bother to recognize that under international law, the current state of Israel has been an occupying power for over half a century… the right to create a Jewish majority by way of ethnic cleansing and whether it should be balanced against the rights of the Palestinian people.”

According to the letter, the Definition potentially discards as antisemitic all non-Zionist visions of the future of the Israeli state, such as the advocacy of a binational state or a secular democratic one that represents all its citizens equally, that “people’s right to self-determination cannot exclude the Palestinian nation, nor any other.”

The group believes that “justice requires the full support of Palestinians’ right to self-determination, including the demand to end the internationally acknowledged occupation of their territories and the statelessness and deprivation of Palestinian refugees.” The group argued that Palestinian demands for their right of return to the land from which they were expelled could not be construed as antisemitic, since it is a right recognized by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948.  

These claims are highly disingenuous since conditions have radically changed since 1948.  To recall, during the Oslo peace process, Yasser Arafat gave up Resolution 194. In exchange for the Israeli withdrawal from virtually all of the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state, Arafat conceded to a very small number of refugees returning to Israel proper.  Although Camp David II failed, it has been widely understood that Israel cannot accept millions of returning Palestinians.  Indeed, the Arab Peace Plan and all other international peace initiatives did not include Resolution 194 as the basis of negotiations.     

The authors of the letter are trying to muddy the waters by equating the right of Palestinians with Resolution 194.  It should be noted that such a maximalist (and unrealistic) expectation has made settling the Palestinian-Israeli conflict impossible.  The Palestinian academics and intellectuals could have exerted their energies more profitably by finding ways to solve the conflict.  Instead, they have climbed the high pole of Resolution 194.  Their claim that the fight against anti-Semitism must be deployed within the frame of international law and human rights and that it should be part of the fight against any form of racism and xenophobia, “including Islamophobia, and anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian racism,” is equally specious.  The Definition aims to make sure that Jews and Israelis would not be subjected to anti-Semitic abuse and persecution, and NOT to “guarantee freedom and emancipation for all oppressed groups,” as the letter states. 

Arguably, there is more than a whiff of hypocrisy in the attitude of the signatories of the letter.  None of them is on record condemning any case of blatant anti-Semitic attack anywhere in the world.   To the extent that when they mention the Holocaust, it is mostly to create the Holocaust-Nakba equivalence, something that can be perceived as Holocaust denial. They also charge that Israel is a racist country, where there “is actual institutional and constitutional discrimination.”  This is especially egregious coming from Israeli Arab scholars who are employed in well-paid positions in Israeli universities.  In what is probably the ultimate irony, they have used their academic positions to accuse Israel of racism and discrimination.
Palestinian rights and the IHRA definition of antisemitism


A group of 122 Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals express their concerns about the IHRA definition

Sun 29 Nov 2020 18.05 GMT

We, the undersigned Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals are hereby stating our views regarding the definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and the way this definition has been applied, interpreted and deployed in several countries of Europe and North America.

In recent years, the fight against antisemitism has been increasingly instrumentalised by the Israeli government and its supporters in an effort to delegitimise the Palestinian cause and silence defenders of Palestinian rights. Diverting the necessary struggle against antisemitism to serve such an agenda threatens to debase this struggle and hence to discredit and weaken it.

Antisemitism must be debunked and combated. Regardless of pretence, no expression of hatred for Jews as Jews should be tolerated anywhere in the world. Antisemitism manifests itself in sweeping generalisations and stereotypes about Jews, regarding power and money in particular, along with conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial. We regard as legitimate and necessary the fight against such attitudes. We also believe that the lessons of the Holocaust as well as those of other genocides of modern times must be part of the education of new generations against all forms of racial prejudice and hatred.

The fight against antisemitism must, however, be approached in a principled manner, lest it defeat its purpose. Through “examples” that it provides, the IHRA definition conflates Judaism with Zionism in assuming that all Jews are Zionists, and that the state of Israel in its current reality embodies the self-determination of all Jews. We profoundly disagree with this. The fight against antisemitism should not be turned into a stratagem to delegitimise the fight against the oppression of the Palestinians, the denial of their rights and the continued occupation of their land. We regard the following principles as crucial in that regard:

1. The fight against antisemitism must be deployed within the frame of international law and human rights. It should be part and parcel of the fight against all forms of racism and xenophobia, including Islamophobia, and anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian racism. The aim of this struggle is to guarantee freedom and emancipation for all oppressed groups. It is deeply distorted when geared towards the defence of an oppressive and predatory state.

2. There is a huge difference between a condition where Jews are singled out, oppressed and suppressed as a minority by antisemitic regimes or groups, and a condition where the self-determination of a Jewish population in Palestine/Israel has been implemented in the form of an ethnic exclusivist and territorially expansionist state. As it currently exists, the state of Israel is based on uprooting the vast majority of the natives – what Palestinians and Arabs refer to as the Nakba – and on subjugating those natives who still live on the territory of historical Palestine as either second-class citizens or people under occupation, denying them their right to self-determination.

3. The IHRA definition of antisemitism and the related legal measures adopted in several countries have been deployed mostly against leftwing and human rights groups supporting Palestinian rights and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, sidelining the very real threat to Jews coming from rightwing white nationalist movements in Europe and the US. The portrayal of the BDS campaign as antisemitic is a gross distortion of what is fundamentally a legitimate non-violent means of struggle for Palestinian rights.

4. The IHRA definition’s statement that an example of antisemitism is “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour” is quite odd. It does not bother to recognise that under international law, the current state of Israel has been an occupying power for over half a century, as recognised by the governments of countries where the IHRA definition is being upheld. It does not bother to consider whether this right includes the right to create a Jewish majority by way of ethnic cleansing and whether it should be balanced against the rights of the Palestinian people. Furthermore, the IHRA definition potentially discards as antisemitic all non-Zionist visions of the future of the Israeli state, such as the advocacy of a binational state or a secular democratic one that represents all its citizens equally. Genuine support for the principle of a people’s right to self-determination cannot exclude the Palestinian nation, nor any other.

5. We believe that no right to self-determination should include the right to uproot another people and prevent them from returning to their land, or any other means of securing a demographic majority within the state. The demand by Palestinians for their right of return to the land from which they themselves, their parents and grandparents were expelled cannot be construed as antisemitic. The fact that such a demand creates anxieties among Israelis does not prove that it is unjust, nor that it is antisemitic. It is a right recognised by international law as represented in United Nations general assembly resolution 194 of 1948.

6. To level the charge of antisemitism against anyone who regards the existing state of Israel as racist, notwithstanding the actual institutional and constitutional discrimination upon which it is based, amounts to granting Israel absolute impunity. Israel can thus deport its Palestinian citizens, or revoke their citizenship or deny them the right to vote, and still be immune from the accusation of racism. The IHRA definition and the way it has been deployed prohibit any discussion of the Israeli state as based on ethno-religious discrimination. It thus contravenes elementary justice and basic norms of human rights and international law.

7. We believe that justice requires the full support of Palestinians’ right to self-determination, including the demand to end the internationally acknowledged occupation of their territories and the statelessness and deprivation of Palestinian refugees. The suppression of Palestinian rights in the IHRA definition betrays an attitude upholding Jewish privilege in Palestine instead of Jewish rights, and Jewish supremacy over Palestinians instead of Jewish safety. We believe that human values and rights are indivisible and that the fight against antisemitism should go hand in hand with the struggle on behalf of all oppressed peoples and groups for dignity, equality and emancipation.

Samir Abdallah Filmmaker, Paris, France Nadia Abu El-Haj Ann Olin Whitney Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, USA Lila Abu-Lughod Joseph L Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, Columbia University, USA Bashir Abu-Manneh Reader in Postcolonial Literature, University of Kent, UK Gilbert Achcar Professor of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK Nadia Leila Aissaoui Sociologist and Writer on feminist issues, Paris, France Mamdouh Aker Board of Trustees, Birzeit University, Palestine Mohamed Alyahyai Writer and novelist, Oman Suad Amiry Writer and Architect, Ramallah, Palestine Sinan Antoon Associate Professor, New York University, Iraq-US Talal Asad Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Graduate Center, CUNY, USA Hanan Ashrawi Former Professor of Comparative Literature, Birzeit University, Palestine Aziz Al-Azmeh University Professor Emeritus, Central European University, Vienna, Austria Abdullah Baabood Academic and Researcher in Gulf studies, Oman Nadia Al-Bagdadi Professor of History, Central European University, Vienna Sam Bahour Writer, Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine Zainab Bahrani Edith Porada Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University, USA Rana Barakat Assistant Professor of History, Birzeit University, Palestine Bashir Bashir Associate Professor of Political Theory, Open University of Israel, Raanana, State of Israel Taysir Batniji Artist-Painter, Gaza, Palestine and Paris, France Tahar Ben Jelloun Writer, Paris, France Mohammed Bennis Poet, Mohammedia, Morocco Mohammed Berrada Writer and Literary Critic, Rabat, Morocco Omar Berrada Writer and Curator, New York, USA Amahl Bishara Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, Tufts University, USA Anouar Brahem Musician and Composer, Tunisia Salem Brahimi Filmaker, Algeria-France Aboubakr Chraïbi Professor, Arabic Studies Department, INALCO, Paris, France Selma Dabbagh Writer, London, UK Izzat Darwazeh Professor of Communications Engineering, University College London, UK Marwan Darweish Associate Professor, Coventry University, UK Beshara Doumani Mahmoud Darwish Professor of Palestinian Studies and of History, Brown University, USA Haidar Eid Associate Professor of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza, Palestine Ziad Elmarsafy Professor of Comparative Literature, King’s College London, UK Noura Erakat Assistant Professor, Africana Studies and Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, USA Samera Esmeir Associate Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley, USA Khaled Fahmy FBA, Professor of Modern Arabic Studies, University of Cambridge, UK Ali Fakhrou Academic and writer, Bahrain Randa Farah Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Western University, Canada Leila Farsakh Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA Khaled Furani Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, Tel-Aviv University, State of Israel Burhan Ghalioun Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Sorbonne 3, Paris, France Asad Ghanem Professor of Political science, Haifa University, State of Israel Honaida Ghanim General Director of the Palestinian forum for Israeli Studies Madar, Ramallah, Palestine George Giacaman Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Birzeit University, Palestine Rita Giacaman Professor, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, Palestine Amel Grami Professor of Gender Studies, Tunisian University, Tunis Subhi Hadidi Literary Critic, Syria-France Ghassan Hage Professor of Anthropology and Social theory, University of Melbourne, Australia Samira Haj Emeritus Professor of History, CSI/Graduate Center, CUNY, USA Yassin Al-Haj Saleh Writer, Syria Dyala Hamzah Associate Professor of Arab History, Université de Montréal, Canada Rema Hammami Associate Professor of Anthropology, Birzeit University, Palestine Sari Hanafi Professor of Sociology, American University of Beirut, Lebanon Adam Hanieh Reader in Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK Kadhim Jihad Hassan Writer and translator, Professor at INALCO-Sorbonne, Paris, France Nadia Hijab Author and human rights advocate, London, UK Jamil Hilal Writer, Ramallah, Palestine Serene Hleihleh Cultural Activist, Jordan-Palestine Bensalim Himmich Academic, novelist and writer, Morocco Khaled Hroub Professor in Residence of Middle Eastern Studies, Northwestern University, Qatar Mahmoud Hussein Writer, Paris, France Lakhdar Ibrahimi Paris School of International Affairs, Institut d’Etudes Politiques, France Annemarie Jacir Filmmaker, Palestine Islah Jad Associate Professor of Political Science, Birzeit University, Palestine Lamia Joreige Visual Artist and Filmaker, Beirut, Lebanon Amal Al-Jubouri Writer, Iraq Mudar Kassis Associate Professor of Philosophy, Birzeit University, Palestine Nabeel Kassis Former Professor of Physics and Former President, Birzeit University, Palestine Muhammad Ali Khalidi Presidential Professor of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center, USA Rashid Khalidi Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University, USA Michel Khleifi Filmmaker, Palestine-Belgium Elias Khoury Writer, Beirut, Lebanon Nadim Khoury Associate Professor of International Studies, Lillehammer University College, Norway Rachid Koreichi Artist-Painter, Paris, France Adila Laïdi-Hanieh Director General, The Palestinian Museum, Palestine Rabah Loucini Professor of History, Oran University, Algeria Rabab El-Mahdi Associate Professor of Political Science, The American University in Cairo, Egypt Ziad Majed Associate Professor of Middle East Studies and IR, American University of Paris, France Jumana Manna Artist, Berlin, Germany Farouk Mardam Bey Publisher, Paris, France Mai Masri Palestinian filmmaker, Lebanon Mazen Masri Senior Lecturer in Law, City University of London, UK Dina Matar Reader in Political Communication and Arab Media, SOAS, University of London, UK Hisham Matar Writer, Professor at Barnard College, Columbia University, USA Khaled Mattawa Poet, William Wilhartz Professor of English Literature, University of Michigan, USA Karma Nabulsi Professor of Politics and IR, University of Oxford, UK Hassan Nafaa Emeritus Professor of Political science, Cairo University, Egypt Nadine Naber Professor, Deptartment of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA Issam Nassar Professor, Illinois State University, USA Sari Nusseibeh Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Al-Quds University, Palestine Najwa Al-Qattan Emeritus Professor of History, Loyola Marymount University, USA Omar Al-Qattan Filmmaker, Chair of The Palestinian Museum & the A.M.Qattan Foundation, UK Nadim N Rouhana Professor of International Affairs, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, USA Ahmad Sa’adi Professor, Haifa, State of Israel Rasha Salti Independent Curator, Writer, Researcher of Art and Film, Germany-Lebanon Elias Sanbar Writer, Paris, France Farès Sassine Professor of Philosophy and Literary Critic, Beirut, Lebanon Sherene Seikaly Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA Samah Selim Associate Professor, A, ME & SA Languages & Literatures, Rutgers University, USA Leila Shahid Writer, Beirut, Lebanon Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian Lawrence D Biele Chair in Law, Hebrew University, State of Israel Anton Shammas Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA Yara Sharif Senior Lecturer, Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster, UK Hanan Al-Shaykh Writer, London, UK Raja Shehadeh Lawyer and Writer, Ramallah, Palestine Gilbert Sinoué Writer, Paris, France Ahdaf Soueif Writer, Egypt/UK Mayssoun Sukarieh Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, King’s College London, UK Elia Suleiman Filmmaker, Palestine-France Nimer Sultany Reader in Public Law, SOAS, University of London, UK Jad Tabet Architect and Writer, Beirut, Lebanon Jihan El-Tahri Filmmaker, Egypt Salim Tamari Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Birzeit University, Palestine Wassyla Tamzali Writer, Contemporary Art Producer, Algeria Fawwaz Traboulsi Writer, Beirut Lebanon Dominique Vidal Historian and Journalist, Palestine-France Haytham El-Wardany Writer, Egypt-Germany Said Zeedani Emeritus Associate Professor of Philosophy, Al-Quds University, Palestine Rafeef Ziadah Lecturer in Comparative Politics of the Middle East, SOAS, University of London, UK Raef Zreik Minerva Humanities Centre, Tel-Aviv University, State of Israel Elia Zureik Professor meritus, Queen’s University, Canada

אקדמיה לשוויון Academia for Equality أكاديميون من أجل ألمساواة

2 December at 14:30  · מתרחבת ההתנגדות להגדרת האנטישמיות של כוח המשימה הבינלאומי להנצחת זכר השואה (IHRA) – הגדרה שאינה מסייעת במיגור האנטישמיות בעולם, מסכנת את חופש הביטוי ואת המרחב הדמוקרטי של יהודים ולא יהודים כאחד, ומנצלת באופן ציני את המאבק באנטישמיות ואת זכר השואה לצורך דיכוי החברה הפלסטינית האזרחית ומאבקה לשחרור ושוויון.ב-29 בנובמבר – יום הסולידריות הבינלאומי עם העם הפלסטיני – פרסמו 122 אקדמאים ואינטלקטואלים ערבים ופלסטינים מסמך המפרט את הבעיות עם ההגדרה הנוכחית ואת העקרונות ההכרחיים לשם מאבק באנטישמיות, שאינו חותר תחת זכויות האדם של קבוצות אחרות.המכתב פורסם בעיתון הגרדיאן הבריטי (קישור בתגובות) וכן בעיתון הארץ (בתמונה).מתוך המכתב:”חייבים לחשוף את האנטישמיות ולהיאבק בה. אין מקום לסובלנות כלשהי כלפי ביטויי שנאה כלפי יהודים באשר הם יהודים בכל מקום בעולם, יהיו אשר יהיו התירוצים שבהם נעשה שימוש להצדקת ביטויים אלה. אנטישמיות מתבטאת בהכללות גורפות ובסטראוטיפים ביחס ליהודים, במיוחד בכל הקשור לכסף ולכוח, בשילוב עם תיאוריות קונספירציה והכחשת השואה. המאבק כנגד גישות כאלה הוא לדעתנו נחוץ ולגיטימי. אנו סבורים גם, כי לקחי מקרים אחרים של השמדת-עם בהיסטוריה המודרנית חייבים להיות חלק מחינוכם של הדורות הבאים ויש לחנכם נגד כל צורות הדעה הקדומה והשנאה הגזעניות.אך המאבק באנטישמיות חייב להתנהל מתוך גישה עקרונית, אחרת יכשיל את מטרתו. ההגדרה של ה-IHRA, באמצעות ה”דוגמאות” הכלולות בה, מזהה יהדות עם ציונות מתוך הנחה, שכל היהודים הינם ציונים וכי מדינת ישראל בצורתה הנוכחית מבטאת את ההגדרה העצמית של כלל היהודים. אנו חולקים עמוקות על כך. אסור שהמאבק נגד אנטישמיות יהפוך לתכסיס לצורך דה-לגיטימציה של המאבק נגד דיכוים של הפלסטינים, שלילת זכויותיהם והכיבוש הנמשך של אדמתם.”

Political Controversies and Holocaust Commemoration Research


Editorial Note

The latest uproar of scholars, experts on Holocaust Studies, concerns the appointment of Effie Eitam as the chairman of Yad Vashem.

Eitam is a right-wing politician and a Brigadier General in the IDF.

Quite naturally, the nomination has triggered a storm of opposition. Prominent Holocaust scholars such as Deborah Lipstadt and directors of numerous Holocaust and Jewish museums had added their voices of condemnation.  Some 750 signatories, among them researchers of the Holocaust, wrote an open letter protesting the appointment.  It also included Prof. Moshe Zimmermann; Prof. Amos Goldberg; Prof. Daniel Blatman; Prof. Adi Ophir, who are known experts in Holocaust Studies and radical political activists. The open letter states that “Eitam’s hateful rhetoric towards Israeli Arabs and Palestinians stands in opposition to the stated mission of Yad Vashem.”  Dr. Anat Matar, the BDS activist, also signed this petition.    

Last week, the Israeli National Academy of Sciences published a press release expressing its position regarding the candidate. The author is Prof. Israel Bartal, a member of the National Academy and the chairman of the Committee for the Examination of the Status of Holocaust Research and its Teaching in Israeli Universities. Bartal called to “seriously consider a suitable candidate for the chairmanship of Yad Vashem, to promote Yad Vashem’s status in the academic research sphere in Israel and around the world and its vital contribution to commemorating the Holocaust in the national and international collective memory, as well as to understanding the circumstances and results of this unprecedented event in the history of the Jewish people and human history.” 

In June, IAM discussed the National Academy report titled “Decline of Israeli Contribution to Holocaust Studies,” which showed a decline in the quality of Holocaust research. The report listed some 218 Holocaust-related courses were taught to students at all levels while only 53 courses have dealt directly with the Holocaust. Others focused on Holocaust commemoration and representation, as well as general historical context. The explanation given was that such scholarships often addressed “softer” aspects of the discourse and have postmodernist influences.  The report also warned of the politicization of Holocaust research.  The report was a veiled criticism of some radical Holocaust researchers who push the Holocaust-Nakba equivalence.   

In particular, IAM discussed several Holocaust experts such as Amos Goldberg, one of the Holocaust-Nakba equivalence architects, who is “Protecting Holocaust Denial for Political Gains.”   In a co-authored article with Alon Confino, they wrote, “To understand Zionism, we must listen to the voices of its victims.” Because “the contemporary discourse on antisemitism ignores the colonial aspects of Israel and Zionism.”  The authors cite a claim that “a renewed Arab antisemitism was little more than Zionist propaganda.”   According to them, “Israel is a powerful state, a wrongdoer, and an occupier. Jews, like all human beings, can be both victims and victimizers.” Therefore, it bestows on Jews “a double responsibility: to fight antisemitism worldwide while, as Israelis, to bear responsibility for crimes against the Palestinians.”

Political controversy regarding the commemoration and research of the Holocaust t is nothing new.  It recently reached Yad Vashem itself. In 2018 visitors noted that a picture which depicted the meeting of Adolf Hitler and the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini has been removed.  After questioning, it became apparent that it was not coincidental.  As well known, al-Husseini travelled to Berlin to urge Hitler to build extermination camps in Palestine to complete the Final Solution project.  Critics argued that the picture was taken down because Dorit Novak, President of Yad Vashem, is the mother of Yuli Novak, the executive director of the radical group Breaking the Silence. 

Worth noting that Novak is not an expert in Holocaust Studies. Before moving to work in Yad Vashem, Novak was the Director of the Wisconsin Plan in the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor. 

Clearly, Bartal is right, Yad Vashem would be better served if prestigious scholars of Holocaust Studies are appointed. Yet, the political controversies should not be ignored.

Israel’s Pick to Head Holocaust Memorial Stirs International Uproar

Critics are protesting the nomination of Effie Eitam, a retired general and far-right politician, to lead Yad Vashem, a hallowed Israeli institution.

The Hall of Names, bearing names and pictures of Jewish Holocaust victims, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem.Credit…Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
By Isabel Kershner

Nov. 28, 2020

JERUSALEM — For years, his name was synonymous with intolerance and right-wing extremism.

So when Israel’s conservative-led government nominated Effie Eitam to be chairman of Yad Vashem, the country’s official Holocaust memorial and one its most hallowed institutions, it prompted an uproar.

Mr. Eitam, a 68-year-old retired brigadier general and former minister, has spent the last decade in the private sector. But his provocative statements from the early 2000s advocating the mass expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and barring Israel’s Arab citizens from politics linger on the public record.

The appointment could have “devastating consequences,” said Israel Bartal, a professor of modern Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who said he would be forced to cut all contacts with Yad Vashem’s research institute after years of cooperation. “An institute headed by a person with such extreme opinions and controversial human values will never be taken seriously within the global academic community,” Mr. Bartal said.

Holocaust survivors, Jewish organizations and an international array of historians have denounced the appointing of such a contentious figure to head Yad Vashem. They say that in addition to recognizing the Nazi genocide of six million Jews as a unique event, the institution is also responsible for upholding universal moral values and educating people about anti-Semitism and racism.

Yet despite the pushback, a government appointments committee vetted and approved Mr. Eitam’s candidacy in mid-November. Only a cabinet vote now stands between him and the post.

“This is more than a colossal mistake — it’s a tragedy,” said Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta who has written several books on the subject. “Appointing Eitam to this position would be a blot on Yad Vashem’s reputation and Yad Vashem’s record.”

Mr. Eitam and Yad Vashem declined to comment on the appointment.

But Mr. Eitam’s defenders say he is the victim of a kneejerk left-wing campaign purely because he is right-wing and religious. They view him as a war hero and an experienced manager who could steer Yad Vashem out of a severe financial crisis that has been compounded by government budget cuts and a drop-off in donations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The upshot is that Yad Vashem, an almost sacred institution that world leaders are expected to visit while in Jerusalem, has gotten caught up in the political and culture wars of a polarized country where the dominant right-wing battles the liberal left and is increasingly at odds with the more liberal streams among world Jewry.

Worse, experts say, it comes at a time when anti-Semitism is resurgent and far-right forces in other parts of the world are promoting Holocaust denial.

“You don’t play politics with the Shoah, and this is playing politics with the Shoah,” Professor Lipstadt said, using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

She is one of 750 historians, Jewish studies experts and cultural figures who signed a petition protesting the appointment, which was submitted to Yad Vashem’s board of trustees and Israel’s Parliament this month.

Yad Vashem’s current chairman, Avner Shalev, 81, is a respected, apolitical figurehead. He announced in June that he was stepping down after a 27-year tenure.

Zeev Elkin, the minister with responsibility for Yad Vashem from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, chose Mr. Eitam with Mr. Netanyahu’s full support.

Still, government approval may not be imminent. Because of coalition infighting, all senior appointments are frozen, and Benny Gantz, who leads the centrist Blue and White party in Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition, is likely to block Mr. Eitam’s advancement by denying him a majority if it comes to a cabinet vote.

But Mr. Elkin and Mr. Netanyahu insist that he is still their sole candidate.

Mr. Eitam, a resident of a settlement in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, grew up as a secular Jew and became observant after the 1973 Middle East war.

He was decorated for his role in one of the war’s most desperate battles and later took part in a raid to free mainly Israeli hostages in Entebbe, Uganda. Mr. Netanyahu’s older brother, Yonatan, a legendary figure in Israel, was killed while leading the raid.

But Mr. Eitam once compared Israel’s Arab citizens to a cancer and a “ticking bomb” and said Israel would ultimately have to expel most Palestinians from the West Bank.

During the first Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s, when he was a brigade commander, some of his soldiers were prosecuted for beating a Palestinian man to death. The soldiers said they had beat him on the commander’s orders.

Ultimately, Mr. Eitam received a severe reprimand, and his promotion to the rank of brigadier general was long stalled. Yet his military career spanned nearly three decades.

Mr. Elkin, the minister responsible for Yad Vashem, denounced what he called an “ugly” and “hypocritical” campaign spearheaded by political forces who never objected to appointments from the left wing of the political spectrum.

“True, he made a few unsuccessful remarks,” Mr. Elkin said of Mr. Eitam in a telephone interview, “but that was 15 or 20 years ago.” Mr. Elkin also said that some of those statements had been taken out of context.

Mr. Elkin cited as a reference point Joseph “Tommy” Lapid, a Holocaust survivor and acerbic leader of a liberal, secular, centrist party who went on to become chairman of Yad Vashem’s advisory council. Mr. Lapid once said that Palestinians “might begin to think” of the effects if 10 car bombs were to go off in 10 Palestinian cities and kill 500 Palestinians.

“That’s a more shocking statement to my mind,” Mr. Elkin said, “and nobody opposed his appointment.”

One leader of the campaign against the appointment is Colette Avital, a former Israeli diplomat and Labor party lawmaker who now chairs the Center Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, an umbrella group for 58 Holocaust organizations. She said she had suggested alternative candidates to Mr. Elkin from the political right.

“There are people who don’t represent the left but can project an image of tolerance, understanding and moderation,” she said. Regarding the claims against Mr. Lapid, she said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Other apolitical bodies have criticized Mr. Eitam’s nomination, including the Anti-Defamation League and some Yad Vashem donors.

“Yad Vashem should stay above Israeli politics and keep its irreproachable record and moral high ground,” Joel Herzog of the Swiss Friends of Yad Vashem wrote in an email.

Critics are baffled as to why Mr. Elkin settled on Mr. Eitam. But it might signal a desired shift that would bring the institution more in line with the government after some recent run-ins.

In 2018, Yad Vashem issued a stinging critique of a joint statement by the prime ministers of Israel and Poland that was meant to resolve a rift between the countries over a Polish law criminalizing some statements on the Holocaust. Complicating matters, Yad Vashem’s chief historian, Prof. Dina Porat, was involved in drafting the joint statement, apparently in a private capacity.

Supporters of Mr. Eitam said that he could project a more muscular, Jewish and Zionist-centric image from Yad Vashem for Israel’s battle against anti-Semitism. Mr. Elkin said Mr. Eitam’s whole army career had been devoted to the lesson of the Holocaust summed up by the phrase “Never again.”

“That is something fundamental in his character, the essence of his character,” Mr. Elkin said.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

750 Jewish and Holocaust scholars sign petition against Yad Vashem head

Eitam’s critics say he is unfit to lead because he called for most Palestinians in the West Bank to be expelled and for Arab Israelis to be excluded from the country’s political system.

By BEN SALES/JTA   NOVEMBER 20, 2020 06:43

A broad coalition of Jewish studies scholars and directors of Jewish and Holocaust museums has signed a petition opposing the proposed appointment of Effi Eitam, a far-right Israeli politician, to chair Israel’s Holocaust museum.

The petition, which has 750 signers, is the latest protest against Eitam. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies advanced Eitam’s candidacy earlier this year to be the next chairman of Yad Vashem, which serves as a Holocaust museum, memorial and research center. Eitam is a former decorated general in the Israel Defense Forces and was a government minister who led a right-wing religious Zionist party.
His critics say he is unfit to lead the institution because he called for most Palestinians in the West Bank to be expelled and for Arab Israelis to be excluded from the country’s political system. Eitam also was reprimanded by the IDF’s chief of staff because soldiers under his command beat a Palestinian to death. His supporters point to his experience as a general and political leader.
Israeli politicians, Holocaust survivors and the Anti-Defamation League have called for his name to be withdrawn. Now they have been joined by the hundreds of scholars, including Susannah Heschel and Deborah Lipstadt. The list also includes the current or former directors of the Buchenwald memorial and Jewish museums in Budapest, Warsaw, Munich and elsewhere.
“Eitam’s hateful rhetoric towards Israeli Arabs and Palestinians stands in opposition to the stated mission of Yad Vashem,” the petition reads. “Appointing Effi Eitam as Chair of Yad Vashem would turn an internationally respected institution devoted to the documentation of crimes against humanity and the pursuit of human rights into a mockery and a disgrace.”  


עמדת הוועדה לבדיקת מצב מחקר השואה והוראתה באוניברסיטאות בישראל של האקדמיה הלאומית הישראלית למדעים בנושא איתור מועמד ליו”ר הנהלת יד ושם

פרופ’ ישראל ברטל, חבר האקדמיה הלאומית הישראלית למדעים ויו”ר הוועדה לבדיקת מצב מחקר השואה והוראתה באוניברסיטאות בישראל, שלח בתחילת השבוע בשם הוועדה ועל דעת מועצת האקדמיה מכתב הנוגע למינוי יו”ר הנהלת יד ושם. המכתב נשלח לראש הממשלה ח”כ בנימין נתניהו, לראש הממשלה החליפי ח”כ בני גנץ ולשר להשכלה גבוהה ומשלימה ח”כ זאב אלקין.
במכתב קורא פרופ’ ברטל “לשקול בכובד ראש איתור מועמד מתאים ליו”ר הנהלת יד ושם שיקדם את מקומו של יד ושם במערכות המחקריות האקדמיות בארץ ובעולם כולו ואת תרומתו החיונית להנצחת השואה בזיכרון הקיבוצי הלאומי והבינלאומי, כמו גם להבנת שורשיו, נסיבותיו ותוצאותיו של אירוע חסר תקדים זה בתולדות העם היהודי ובהיסטוריה האנושית.”
דוח הוועדה, דוח מצב תחום לימודי השואה באוניברסיטאות המחקר ובמכללות בישראל 2020, פורסם באביב 2020, והצביע על ירידה של ממש במעמד הבינלאומי של מחקר השואה המדעי בישראל. חברי הוועדה, כולם חוקרים מן המעלה הראשונה, התריעו על ליקויים הטעונים תיקון. הם הציעו שורת המלצות שנועדו להבטיח את המשכו של מחקר מדעי ברמה גבוהה בתחום, הן מבחינת התכנים, הן מבחינת המתודולוגיה, ולקדם הוראה אקדמית מעמיקה של התחום.

בין היתר, ציינה הוועדה לשבח את הפעילות המחקרית העניפה הנערכת במוסד יד ושם בשיתוף פעולה הדוק ועתיר השגים עם מוסדות מחקר בינלאומיים חשובים בעולם ותוך קשר הדוק ומפרה עם קהילת החוקרים והחוקרות בארץ.

הוועדה, שמסקנותיה אושרו על ידי מועצת האקדמיה הלאומית הישראלית למדעים, המליצה לחזק ולהעצים את מחקר השואה בישראל, זאת, במיוחד, על ידי “תמיכה בפעולות המחקר של המכון הבין-לאומי לחקר השואה ביד ושם, בשימור מלא של עצמאותו האקדמית והמקצועית, וחיזוק שיתוף הפעולה המדעי שלו עם האוניברסיטאות”.

לקריאת דוח הוועדה


For many years the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, its archives and research departments, has been one of the most important partners of our work, wherever we are situated, whether Jewish or non-Jewish scholars of Holocaust, Antisemitism and Jewish studies, active in museums, archives, education or research.

Yad Vashem, the Israeli state ‘Memorial to the Martyrs and Heroes of the State of Israel in the Holocaust’ commemorates the Nazi extermination of the Jews. Its declared goal is not only documentation, research and education but also prevention – of barbarity and future acts of genocide. The International School for Holocaust Studies, which is part of the memorial, aims at combatting anti-Semitism, racism and exclusion within society at large.

This urgent mission – to encourage civil society to actively watch, involve and intervene wherever racism and hatred threaten religious, ethnic or other groups and communities – is now at risk of being handed over to the outspoken right-wing extremist and historically illiterate politician Effi Eitam.

We are shocked by this outrageous proposal and protest against it in the strongest possible terms. Eitam’s hateful rhetoric towards Israeli Arabs and Palestinians stands in opposition to the stated mission of Yad Vashem.

We add our voices to the protests of many notable Holocaust survivors in Israel who have spoken out against this proposed appointment. Appointing Effi Eitam as Chair of Yad Vashem would turn an internationally respected institution devoted to the documentation of crimes against humanity and the pursuit of human rights into a mockery and a disgrace. 

Report on the State of Holocaust Studies in Research Universities and Colleges in Israel 

Approved by the Council of the Israel Academy on December 10, 2019 Published 2020 

(Click here to download the report in Hebrew


The report on the State of Holocaust Studies in Research Universities and Colleges in Israel, published in 2020, summarizes the work of the Committee to Assess the Field of Holocaust Studies in Israel established by the Council of the Israel Academy, which commenced its work in 2017.

The committee’s members were: Academy Member Prof. Israel Bartal (Chair), Academy Member Prof. Shlomo Avineri, Academy Member Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Prof. Havi Ben-Sasson Dreifuss of Tel Aviv University, Academy Member Prof. Shulamit Volkov, and Prof. Dina Porat of Tel Aviv University.

  1. A review of the field of Holocaust studies and instruction shows this to be a major subject in Israel’s academic institutions, featuring directly and indirectly in various frameworks and areas of activity. This broad range of activities and topics of study pointed to the need for a clear definition of the field and a mapping of the areas it includes. The Holocaust was an unprecedented event in which Nazi Germany and its collaborators tried to destroy the Jewish people and wipe out its intellectual and spiritual legacy and world of values. These actions stemmed from the anti-Semitic Nazi ideology, which viewed the Jews as an existential danger to Germany and a visceral threat to Europe and to all of humanity, but they were also rooted in European history and in the realities of nation-states in the twentieth century.

    The committee mapped activities in this field in Israel’s research and instructional institutions on the basis of information collected on three levels:

    A. Holocaust research – the study of the persecution and murder of Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators in the years 1933-1945, and the intensive effort in those years to annihilate Jewish intellectual and spiritual assets and obliterate the influences of Jewish culture from the surrounding societies.

    B. The historical and ideological contexts that must be known and understood for the sake of engaging in Holocaust research: Nazism, racism, anti-Semitism, Europe in the twentieth century, World War II, genocides, and relevant pre- and post-Holocaust events.

    C. Shaping the memory of the Holocaust – commemorative and educational activities pertaining to the retrospective molding of the events of the Holocaust, and study of the representation of the events, contexts and commemorations of the Holocaust in the media and in various other areas. 
  2. Some of the material submitted to the committee reflects a fundamental disagreement in the Israel research community – between those who see the Holocaust as a unique and unprecedented event that should be studied as a separate field, and those who argue for incorporating into the broader field of genocide studies. The committee studied the question of how (if at all) Holocaust research and instruction reflect the scholarly conflicts over emphasizing the subject’s Zionist-national or its universal-general aspects, and between the claim that the Holocaust was unprecedented and its portrayal as one of a series of genocides. A mapping of courses conducted in 2018 in Israel does not provide an unequivocal answer to how these disagreements among researchers are reflected in academic instruction, the committee concluded. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ostensibly aspires to teach about the Holocaust in the framework of genocides and mass violence, but there, too, the courses focus mainly on the Holocaust itself. In other institutions, the course offerings do no indicate any attempt to place the Holocaust in a broader context, and the overwhelming majority of courses focus on the Jewish aspects. However, it should be emphasized that course titles are not necessarily indicative of their content. It may be that the lessons are more varied and oscillate between the two perspectives. 
  3. The committee found that academia in Israel has engaged extensively in the study and teaching of the Holocaust in recent years. Nonetheless, the report notes the tendency of young researchers to focus more on questions of remembrance and commemoration than on the core subjects of Holocaust research. Likewise, there is only sporadic study of the historical contexts. Research activity at the various Holocaust research institutes, both within and outside the universities, balances this tendency somewhat. The information examined by the committee indicated that most researchers in this field – whether their focus is on remembrance or on the core subjects of the Holocaust – tend to concentrate on rather limited and conventional topics. They refrain from addressing wider questions or theoretical and methodological issues. While the research focus on Jews is understandable, other questions, such as those relating to the perpetrators or to Holocaust victims from different population groups, have been relegated to the margins. 
  1. As noted, the extensive research activity in the field is neither balanced nor deep-reaching. The committee expressed concern that this lack of balance threatens the continued existence of a vibrant academic community of high international standing. For years, Israeli academia was at the forefront of Holocaust research. However, the contribution of Israeli researchers to international academic discourse in the field has significantly diminished in recent years. The reasons for this include the general decline of the humanities in Israeli universities, the particular challenges that Holocaust research poses to Israeli students, such as learning languages, analyzing archival sources, and their lack of exposure to a multiplicity of views and of familiarity with the event’s broader contexts. The impact of a salient trend in contemporary research should also be noted – that of prioritizing study of the representation of historical events over probing “what really happened.” This trend has shaped the ways in which students acquire their research tools and prepare the methodological underpinnings for their research, resulting in the situation described in the previous paragraph, of decreasing focus on the core subject and its historical and ideological contexts, which would demand mastery of languages and study of archival documents, coupled with increasing inquiry into the various aspects of the Holocaust’s commemoration and representation. This development is contrary to research trends elsewhere in the world, which set the Holocaust and what happened in the course of it at the center. Researchers outside of Israel today focus, more than in the past, on studying Jewish life during the Holocaust period. Israeli academia has lost its leading role even in this central focus in the study of Holocaust history.
  2. The committee received information on over 250 academic courses on the Holocaust; of these, 218 courses, at 19 institutions, were relevant to the committee’s mandate. A mapping of Holocaust education by subjects indicates that 53 courses were devoted to the Holocaust itself and 40 to the historical contexts of the period, while 125 dealt with questions of commemoration and representation. Thus, the committee found that study of the core subjects received less emphasis than that of the representation of the Holocaust and its contexts. Some of the courses included in the material examined by the committee were intended for undergraduate students, some for graduate students, and some were open to all students. It is difficult to determine the extent of the continuity offered by these courses from one degree to the next within each institution (with reference to the universities, since the colleges offer only undergraduate degrees). However, it is clear that the range of subjects studied in Israeli institutions does not provide the future scholar with a comprehensive and systematic perspective on the Holocaust, nor does it give the students a broad and comprehensive picture of the field. Instruction tends to concentrate on only a few specific content-related, geographical or chronological areas. There is almost no effort to convey a coherent geographical and historical continuum relating to this period of history. In other words, there is not even one academic institution in Israel where it is possible to acquire a thorough and in-depth specialization in Holocaust studies. 
  1. Despite the extensive attention devoted to the commemoration and representations of the Holocaust, the committee did not find significant current instruction or research devoted explicitly to examining the Holocaust’s impact on Israeli society. This subject is only partly reflected in the curricula described in the material examined by the committee – for example, the Holocaust’s impact on Israeli jurisprudence. However, there is a whole bibliography of books and articles published in Israel and abroad focusing on the Holocaust’s impact on Israeli society. The committee has no explanation for the gap between its findings and the wealth of research publications on this topic. The question arises of whether Israel has scholars who are capable of teaching and mentoring research on this subject. The bibliographical material discloses the names of several sociologists, legal experts, and specialists in Holocaust-related art and music who might be called upon to help address this deficiency in the current situation, at least in part. 
  2. An effort is needed to rectify the weaknesses identified by the committee in Holocaust studies and instruction in academic institutions in Israel. We recommend implementing activities aimed at fostering scholarly research on a high level, from the point of view of both content and method, along with in-depth academic teaching in the field. These activities should include:

    A. Imparting the skills, tools and methods – disciplinary, linguistic, regional expertise, etc. – that future Holocaust researchers will need to contend with the complex challenges of the subject at the highest level; and strengthening the infrastructure required for research and instruction in fields essential to Holocaust studies.

    B. Establishing an advisory system for students planning to engage in Holocaust research, so as to offer them a structured program of specialization (including suitable courses in different departments, language training in Israel and abroad, etc.); and allocating the requisite resources.

    C. Establishing an inter-university program to enable research students to take advantage of the various strengths (in programs, methodologies and geographical specializations) of the different academic institutions; and establishing a national forum for research students (for which The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities would be an appropriate venue).

    D. Adding staff positions at the research universities that currently have none for Holocaust researchers or that have reduced the number of such positions in the past three decades.

    E. Leveraging agreements between The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and academies around the world for exchanges of students, researchers and lecturers in the field; and mobilizing research institutes – first and foremost Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research (while maintaining its complete academic independence) – that host leading scholars from overseas, with the goal of exposing the academic community to a range of opinions and to the latest research methods.

    F. Supporting the research activity of Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research and the preservation of its complete academic and professional independence, and strengthening its scholarly collaboration with the universities.

    G. The committee expressed its hope that Israeli scholars and research institutes in Israel will take care to avoid lending a hand to tendentious historical distortions promoted by governments, governmental agencies and quasi-governmental organizations in the world that aim to diminish the direct or indirect responsibility of states or peoples for the Holocaust. 


מערכת JDN

  • י״ז בסיון תשע״ח – 31.05.18
  • 18:38

האם מוזיאון ‘יד ושם’ הסיר את תמונת המפגש בין המופתי חאג’ אמין אל חוסיני להיטלר ימ”ש, ואיך לטענת אנשי הימין קשור ארגון שוברים שתיקה לסיפור? במקביל: ב’יד ושם’ הסירו את הכיתוב “אנשי המשטרה הפולנית” מתצלום מגטו לודג’ לבקשת הממשלה הפולניתמאת: שמואל בן צבי, ‘יום ליום’

“יד ושם, רשות הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה, מופקד על תיעוד תולדותיו של העם היהודי בתקופת השואה, הנצחת סיפור חייהם וזכרם של כל אחד מששת מיליוני הנספים והנחלת מורשת השואה לדורות הבאים באמצעות הארכיונים, הספרייה, בית הספר המרכזי להוראת השואה, המכון הבין-לאומי לחקר השואה והמוזיאונים ועל ידי הכרה בחסידי אומות העולם”. כך מגדיר ‘יד ושם’ את ייעודו באתר הרשמי של הארגון.

אלא שמתלונות שהועלו בימים האחרונים וחלק מהן הגיעו לידי ‘יום ליום’ עולה שאלה סביב הגדרה זו ומעוררת תמיהה רבתי.

התמונה של המופתי עם היטלר

כידוע, המופתי של ירושלים בתקופת השואה, חאג’ אמין אל חוסיני, שיתף פעולה עם הצורר הנאצי אדלוף היטלר ימ”ש. הוא נודע באנטישמיות שלו ובהתנגדותו הגורפת לציונות והיה אחראי לפרעות ולמתקפות על היישוב היהודי בארץ ישראל ובארצות ערב. הוא היה מנהיג ערביי ארץ ישראל בזמן מלחמת העצמאות והנכבה. הוא השפיע יותר מכל מנהיג אחר על עיצובה של האידיאולוגיה השוללת את זכותה של המדינה היהודית להתקיים, ובין השאר נפגש המופתי עם היטלר ימ”ש בברלין.

על פי העדויות שהגיעו כאמור בחלק מהן לידי ‘יום ליום’, בעוד בעבר תמונה מהמפגש נתלתה בתצוגה של מוזיאון יד ושם כדי להוכיח את הקשר בין המופתי לגרמניה הנאצית. כיום התמונה הזאת כבר לא בתצוגה של המוזיאון ולטענת ‘יד ושם’ ל’יום ליום’, התמונה מעולם לא הוצגה.פגישתם של היטלר והמופתי, חאג’ אמין אל חוסייני

מי שעורר את העניין היה חיים יואבי רבינוביץ, שהלך לחפש את התמונה הידועה וכתב על כך פוסט שאותו פרסם ברשתות החברתיות: “לאחרונה פרסמתי, שהתמונה המפורסמת של פגישת חאג’ אמין אל חוסיני עם היטלר, הוסרה מהתצוגה ביד ושם. את המידע קיבלתי מעיתונאי מסוים. בעקבות פרסומי, פנו ליד ושם העיתונאי מנחם רהט וערוץ 20, ובתגובה ‘יד ושם’ דיווח, שיש בתצוגה שתי תמונות של המופתי, מבלי לגלות במפורש שהתמונה של המופתי עם היטלר, אכן הוסרה מהתצוגה”.

“נסעתי למוזיאון ‘יד ושם’ לראות את התמונה, שאותה אני זוכר שראיתי במוזיאון ‘יד ושם’ יותר מפעם אחת”, כותב רבינוביץ. “ואני יכול להכריז בכאב, התמונה של פגישת המופתי עם היטלר, אינה מוצגת עוד ביד ושם. ואיני יודע מתי היא הוסרה.

“שעתיים הסתובבתי ביד ושם, ולא מצאתי את התמונות, שדובר יד ושם התגאה בהן. המדריכים של יד ושם שהסתובבו בשטח, לא הצליחו לעזור לי, לבסוף, מדריך חיצוני הוביל אותי אל התמונות המדוברות”.

“מסתבר”, כותב רבינוביץ, כי “במקום נידח, מוצגות שתי תמונות קטנות (קצת יותר גדולות מגלויה) ואף אחת מהן אינה זאת עם היטלר. מי שיחפש בגוגל, ימצא עשרות תמונות של המופתי עם היטלר, עם הימלר, עם קצינים נאצים נוספים. בתמונה אחת שמוצגת, מופיע המופתי סוקר משמר כבוד של מוסלמים, כנראה בבוסניה. ובתמונה השנייה הוא מצולם עם שלושה אנשים, שלא הצלחתי לזהותם. קשה לזהות בתמונות אלה, קשר מובהק של המופתי עם השואה”.

מתחת התמונות מופיע כיתוב קטן, “נזקקתי למשקפי קריאה”, אומר רבינוביץ, ובו נכתב כדלקמן: “חאג’ אמין אל חוסייני, המופתי של ירושלים, הסית את ערביי ארץ־ישראל נגד הבריטים והיהודים. כבר ב־1933 הביע תמיכה במשטר הנאצי. באוקטובר 1939 נמלט חוסייני לעירק, שם נטל חלק מרכזי בארגון המרד הפרו־נאצי באפריל 1941. לאחר דיכוי המרד גלה לגרמניה ושירת את מדינות הציר במלחמתם בבעלות הברית. חוסייני ניהל תעמולה ארסית נגד היהודים וניסה להשפיע על כוחות הציר להרחיב את תוכניות ההשמדה גם למזרח התיכון ולצפון אפריקה. באביב 1943 גייס וארגן יחידות מוסלמיות בוסניות בקרואטיה, שלחמו במסגרת הס”ס בבוסניה ובהונגריה”.

התמונות שתולות כיום

‘יד ושם’ בשירות ‘שוברים שתיקה’

בשיחה ל’יום ליום’ אומר רבינוביץ כי ראה בוודאות את התמונה של המופתי עם היטלר מוצגת בעבר במוזיאון, אך לא זוכר האם זה היה במוזיאון הישן לפני 13 שנה או גם במוזיאון החדש.

לעומת זאת גורמי ימין אחראים טוענים בתוקף כי התמונה הוצגה במוזיאון החדש והוסרה בסביבות שנת 2013. ולטענתם יש לכך קשר לזה שלתפקיד מנכ”לית ‘יד ושם’ מונתה הגב’ דורית נובק, אמה של יולי נובק, לשעבר מנכ”לית בארגון השמאל הקיצוני ‘שוברים שתיקה’, ורצונם הוא להסתיר את שיתוף הפעולה בין הפלסטינים לנאצים ימ”ש.

לדברי רבינוביץ ל’יום ליום’, גם בעת שהתמונה הייתה תלויה, הכיתוב בסמוך המעיט בחלקו של המופתי בשואה: “התלוננתי על כך שהתמונה אינה משקפת את כל מה שהיה שם, מהתמונה התרשמתי שזה היה ביקור חד פעמי של המופתי אצל היטלר. הסתבר לי אחר כך שהוא ישב שם ארבע שנים וישב לאייכמן ולהימלר על הווריד שלא יוותרו. בעיקר לקראת תום המלחמה, כשהיה ברור שהנאצים מפסידים. הוא ישב להם על הווריד. וכל הדברים האלה לא באים לידי ביטוי, כבר אז התלוננתי שזה לא בא לידי ביטוי”.

על התמונות שתלויות כיום במוזיאון אומר רבינוביץ: “אין קשר בין היטלר לבין המופתי, אתה רואה שם את המופתי סוקר איזה משמר של המוסלמים ואתה לא מקשר בין אחד לשני, גם במלל הדל והפשוט לא מספרים את גודל האסון שם. הרי התוכנית שלו הייתה להקים בעמק דותן מחנה השמדה לכל ארצות המזרח”.

פולין דרשה ו’יד ושם’ נענתה

כאילו כל זה לא מספיק, ב’יד ושם’ הסירו לאחרונה את המילים: “אנשי המשטרה הפולנית” מכיתוב תצלום מגטו לודג’, בעקבות מחאה חריגה שהגיש משרד החוץ הפולני. לדברי המוסד, ההתייחסות למשטרה הפולנית הושמטה בגלל שבגטו הזה, בניגוד לגטאות ולמחנות אחרים, לא פעלו שוטרים פולנים. אנדז’יי פבלוש’ק, מזכירו של ראש ממשלת פולין, שביקר השבוע ב”יד ושם” עם סגן ראש הממשלה הפולני ירוסלב גובין, צייץ בחשבון הטוויטר שלו: “סוף סוף הטקסט שונה”.

בתמונה נראים יהודים בגטו לודג’ ולצדם לובש מדים נאצי עם צלב קרס על מדיו. ברקע נראה שלט אזהרה בגרמנית שעליו כתוב: “אזור מגורים של יהודים. הכניסה אסורה”. בכיתוב התמונה המקורי נכתב: “שער הכניסה לגטו לודג’. חיילים גרמניים ואנשי המשטרה הפולנית שמרו עליו כל שעות היום והלילה”. כעת הכיתוב מתייחס ל”כוחות שיטור גרמניים” בלבד.

תגובת ‘יד ושם’

מ’יד ושם’ נמסר בתגובה ל’יום ליום’ כי בניגוד לפרסומים, לא חל שום שינוי בתצוגת התצלומים של המופתי במוזיאון לתולדות השואה ביד ושם מעולם:

אנחנו דוחים בשאט נפש את האמירות חסרות הבסיס כאילו יד ושם שוקל שיקולים פוליטיים בהחלטותיו לגבי התצוגה במוזיאון או לגבי כל פעולה אחרת שבתחום אחריותו.

במוזיאון לתולדות השואה ביד ושם מופיעים שני תצלומים של המופתי. התצלומים מציגים את פעילותו של המופתי בהקשר של רצח יהודי יוגוסלביה, שבו היה למופתי חלק פעיל.

התצלומים שמוצגים כיום במוזיאון לתולדות השואה ואשר מוצגים בו מיום פתיחתו בשנת 2005 הם: התצלום של המופתי בפגישה עם הימלר ותצלום מביקורו ביחידת המוסלמים הבוסניים בשירות הנאצים.

תצלומים אלה, הם אותם התצלומים שהופיעו גם במוזיאון ההיסטורי הקודם ביד ושם.

הבחירה שבהם נבעה מהרצון להציג את המופתי בהקשר של השותפות הפעילה שלו עם המרצחים הגרמנים הנאצים. (זאת בעוד על פי המחקר לפגישה עם היטלר לא היו השפעות מעשיות על המדיניות הנאצית).

להלן הטקסט המופיע במוזיאון מתחת לתצלומים: חאג’ אמין אל חוסייני, המופתי של ירושלים, הסית את ערביי ארץ ישראל נגד הבריטים והיהודים. כבר ב־1933 הביע תמיכה במשטר הנאצי. באוקטובר 1939 נמלט חוסייני לעיראק, שם נטל חלק מרכזי בארגון המרד הפרו־נאצי באפריל 1941. לאחר דיכוי המרד גלה לגרמניה ושירת את מדינות הציר במלחמתם בבעלות הברית. חוסייני ניהל תעמולה ארסית נגד היהודים וניסה להשפיע על כוחות הציר להרחיב את תוכניות ההשמדה גם למזרח התיכון ולצפון אפריקה. באביב 1943 גייס וארגן יחידות מוסלמיות בוסניות בקרואטיה, שלחמו במסגרת הס”ס בבוסניה ובהונגריה. הטקסט הזה מופיע גם באנגלית.

מיום היווסדו של יד ושם ועד היום לא הוצגה בשום מוזיאון היסטורי של יד ושם התמונה של פגישת המופתי והיטלר. ביד ושם היה מוזיאון היסטורי שנפתח ב-1973 ונסגר ב-2005 ובו לא הוצגה התמונה הזו. במוזיאון לתולדות השואה שנפתח ב-2005, לא מוצגת התמונה הזו ולא הוצגה מעולם. יד ושם, רשות הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה, לא קיימה מוזיאון היסטורי עד 1973.

באתר האינטרנט של יד ושם מאמרים, ערכי אנציקלופדיה ודפי תוכן המזכירים את חאג’ אמין אל חוסייני ובין היתר מוצגים בו תצלומו של חאג’ אמין אל חוסייני בעת סקירת יחידה של מוסלמים בשירות הנאצים וכן תצלום פגישתם של המופתי והיטלר:

בכתב העת המחקרי “יד ושם: קובץ מחקרים” ל”ה: 1 שיצא לאור בשנת 2007 פרסמנו מאמר על האיינזצקומנדו שהיה אמור להיכנס לארץ ישראל ולרצוח את היהודים בשיתוף פעולה עם הערבים המקומיים. המאמר דן בהרחבה גם במופתי ובערביי הארץ.

כמו כן, בימים אלה (אביב 2018) מפרסם מכון המחקר של יד ושם חוברת בסדרת “עיון וחקר” שבה מאמר פרי מחקרו של פרופ’ דן מיכמן שעוסק בנושא המופתי בשואה.

באשר לתיקון הכיתוב במוזיאון על השוטרים הפולנים אומרים ביד ושם ל’יום ליום’ כי בכיתוב שהופיע במוזיאון באזור שמציג את גטו לודז’ נכתב כי משטרה פולנית שמרה על גטו לודז’. אלא שבפועל משטרה זו פעלה באותם ימים, אם כי לא שם אלא באזורים אחרים. הכיתוב המעודכן מדייק ואומר: “כוחות שיטור גרמניים” (שבהם שירתו גם אחרים בנוסף לגרמנים).

בניגוד לרושם שמנסים ליצור, לא הופעל שום לחץ על ידי איש. הגיעה פנייה בנושא, היא נבדקה על ידי ההיסטוריונים של יד ושם ובעקבות המלצתם תוקן הכיתוב כאמור. יד ושם גאה להיות גוף החורט על דגלו דיוק היסטורי ושאינו פועל ממניעים פוליטיים.

Junior Lecturers in Public Colleges Influenced by Radical Political Activists


Editorial Note

Like virtually everywhere in the West, the Israeli higher education system is based on an academic hierarchy.  At the top are tenured faculty, followed by non-tenured junior faculty.  In general, junior academics are hired with the rank of lecturer and are given six years before they can get tenured and promoted to senior lecturer position.  This probation period enables the university to decide whether or not to offer the candidate a tenured position.  The criteria for promotion are very strict. The candidate has to prove his/her ability to teach, do research and publish in reputable peer-review journals.   As tenure track positions have become scarce in liberal arts because of a shrinking demand from students who prefer more marketable degrees in science and business, some colleges employ adjunct lecturers who work on contract.  For example, in the United States, where public universities have suffered from budget cuts, the number of contract scholars has vastly increased.  In Europe, where public tertiary education is in crisis because of decreasing state budgets, junior faculty and adjunct feel the brunt.

The Israeli Communist Party (Hadash), which has an active outreach to the faculty, has tried to work against the economic environment in which colleges and universities operate.  Members with an academic background have taken the lead.

For instance, Hadash MK Dr. Offer Cassif, a former lecturer, secured the chairmanship of the Knesset Higher Education Subcommittee. The Subcommittee shall deal with, among others, improving the employment conditions of lecturers (with an emphasis on non-tenured lecturers). 

Cassif is not alone. IAM reported in 2015 of Dr. Efraim Davidi, another political activist in the Communist Party, who is an untenured lecturer at both Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University. He teaches Marx, Communism, and similar topics.

In recent weeks Davidi has encouraged his non-tenured colleagues from public colleges, who have been on strike since the beginning of the academic year.  In an email to the academic community, Davidi wrote, on November 14, 2020, that, “Striking junior faculty lecturers in public colleges will demonstrate in Tel Aviv: The junior faculty lecturers from 11 public colleges, who are on strike, will demonstrate this coming Monday at noon at the Azrieli Junction in Tel Aviv. Their strike will commence tomorrow (Sunday) its fourth week. In preparation for the demonstration, the lecturers, who are unionized with Koach Laovdim, said: “The heads of the colleges’ committee, the Council for Higher Education, the Ministry of Finance – it is time to wake up because the semester is in danger!”  Not surprisingly, the academics behind the strike, as posted on Facebook, are two political activists.  

On November 8, 2020, Hadash published a call on their website concerning the strike, declaring that, “Thousands of junior lecturers are on strike to eliminate once and for all the abusive employment mechanism, the one that harms thousands of lecturers, tens of thousands of students, and the higher education system in the periphery. As reported by Koach Laovdim, which unionizes the junior faculty lecturers in public colleges in the periphery. According to the Union of Workers in the Public Colleges: “The heads of the colleges, the fate of the semester is in your hands. You can no longer stand aside when the treasury demands back a salary you have approved. You can no longer stand aside when we are the only staff in the higher education system whose income has not adjusted for six years.  You cannot stand aside when the semester’s fate is in jeopardy due to the thuggery of the treasury and your indifference! It is in your hands! You are out of touch! Wake up.”

The Koach Laovdim and its affiliation with the Communist Party has met with criticism before and was described as the back-door to radicalism. Nevertheless, even some in the mainstream media consider the system of junior faculty as abusive.  A media report stressed that “A key aspect of the junior faculty struggle is the demand to discontinue the abusive employment method in which lecturers who have no tenure at the end of each semester or year are fired and forced to take unemployment benefits until the next employment period. But it is precisely on this issue that there is agreement. The Ministry of Finance, the Council for Higher Education, and the colleges agree to move to continuous employment. Henceforth, the lecturers’ status will be defined as ‘associate lecturer’ to eliminate the terms ‘subordinate faculty’ or ‘external lecturer.’ They will also be eligible for a study fund and will participate in the colleges’ academic committees.” The report ends by stating that “Once an agreement is reached, this will undoubtedly be an important breakthrough in reducing one of the most abusive employment methods in Israel.” 

The media report also informed that the negotiations between the Ministry of Finance and the junior staff representatives are taking place already for two and a half years.

As is well known, strikes and demonstrations have been the modus operandi of the Communist Party since its inception. Industrial action is particularly unstable for academic institutions that are based on merit.  Junior faculty and tenured academics are both a reflection of the merit system, and the colleges cannot be isolated from the economic reality in which they operate.
Monday, 16 November 2020 from 12:00 UTC+02-14:00 UTC+02נפגשים בקרית הממשלה, ליד מגדלי עזריאלי (דרך מנחם בגין 125, ת”א),Public · Hosted by ‎איגוד הסגל האקדמי במכללות הציבוריות‎ and Helly Buzhish Sasson
הגיע הזמן להתעורר! ור”מ האוצר מל”ג הסמסטר בסכנה! חמישה שבועות של שביתה ב-12 מכללות עשרות אלפי סטודנטיות וסטודנטים לא לומדים הסטודנטים/יות והמרצים/ות במכללות הציבוריות לא שווים פחות! שבוע חמישי לשביתת המרצים הזמניים במכללות הציבורים (יש מי שקורא להם זוטר או מורים החוץ -אנחנו לא חושבים שיש משהו ארעי בעבודה מסורה לאורך שנים). עוד שבוע שבו במשרד האוצר מציבים בפני המרצים את הברירה בלתי אפשרית- או שתמשיכו לעבוד בתנאי ההעסקה פוגעניים (פיטורים מדי סמסטר, היעדר משמעות לוותק, פערים בתנאים מול עמיתיהם באוניברסיטאות) או שתחתמו על הסכם הכולל קנסות על עבודה. לטענת האוצר, עבודה שביצעו המרצים מעבר לסיום הסמסטר, בגלוי כמובן ובתשלום מן המכללות – מהווה חריגת שכר.  המרצים ה”זוטרים” ששכרם לא עודכן שש שנים; שמצויים בתחתית סולם ההשתכרות בהשכלה הגבוה, הם סובלים מ”חריגות שכר”. וראשי המכללות? להם זה לא נוגע. מעסיקיהם של המרצות והמרצים טוענים כי הם רק “מתווכים” בין האוצר לבין המרצים. חוסר אחריות מקומם כלפי ציבור המרצים שלהם; חוסר אחריות משווע כלפי הסטודנטים ביום שני 16.11.20 בשעה 12:00 יפגינו מרצי המכללות הציבוריות מול משרדי הממשלה בצומת עזריאלי (פינת הרחובות קפלן ובגין) בקריאה להתעוררות האוצר וראשי המכללות שתפו! והגיעו! לפרטים: מירית בראשי 0545541019 חלי בוזחיש-ששון 0546894

שביתת סגל ההוראה במכללות הציבוריות נכנסה לשבוע הרביעי
8 בנובמבר 2020

שביתת סגל ההוראה במכללות הציבוריות נכנסה הבוקר (ראשון) לשבוע הרביעי. אלפי מרצים מהסגל הזוטר שובתים כדי לחסל אחת ולתמיד את מנגנון ההעסקה הפוגעני, זה שפוגע באלפי מרצים, בעשרות אלפי סטודנטים, ובמערכת ההשכלה הגבוהה בפריפריה. כך נמסר מכוח לעובדים המאגד את מרצי הסגל הזוטר במכללות הציבוריות.

לדברי איגוד העובדים במכללות הציבוריות: “ראשי המכללות, גורל הסמסטר בידיכם. אתם לא יכולים יותר לעמוד מהצד כאשר האוצר דורש לגזול שכר שאתם אישרתם. אתם לא יכולים לעמוד מהצד כאשר אנחנו נותרנו הסגל היחיד בהשכלה הגבוהה ששכרו לא עודכן כבר שש שנים. אתם לא יכולים לעמוד מהצד כאשר גורל הסמסטר בסכנה בשל בריונות האוצר ובשל אדישותכם! זה בידיים שלכם! מנותקים, תתעוררו”.

על הסגל הזוטר והמאבקים בהשכלה הגבוהה, בגיליון השבוע של “זו הדרך” (עמ’ 1 ו-7):

עוד על הסולידריות עם מאבק הסגל הזוטר, בגיליון 42 של “זו הדרך” (עמ’ 5):

על המאבקים במוסדות להשכלה גבוהה, בגיליון 41 של “זו הדרך” (עמ’ 7):

עוד על מאבק הסגל הזוטר, בגיליון “זו הדרך” 39 (עמ’ 10):
למה לאוצר לא בוער לסיים את השביתה במכללות הציבוריות
מרצי הסגל הזוטר ב־11 מכללות שובתים מתחילת שנת הלימודים. טענות משרד האוצר כי קיבלו חריגות שכר ועליהם להחזיר את הכסף מונעות את סיום השביתה, אף שיש הסכמה על הפסקת פיטורי המרצים בסוף כל שנה. 38 אלף סטודנטים תלויים באוויר
שחר אילן 06:0504.11.20

שביתת הסגל הזוטר ב־11 מכללות ציבוריות שבהן כ־38 אלף תלמידים נמשכת כבר שבועיים וחצי. המשמעות היא שהתלמידים במכללות אלו, רובם בפריפריה, מקבלים רק כ־40% מההרצאות. השביתה מקיפה 3,000 מרצים מהסגל הזוטר. 
אתמול בבוקר הפגינו חברים בסגל הזוטר מול ביתו של שר האוצר ישראל כץ בכפר אחים ואחד מהם נעצר כשניסה לפרוץ אל הבית.
על משרד האוצר נמתחת ביקורת חריפה לפיה הוא מנהל את המשא ומתן לסיום השביתה עם נציגי הסגל הזוטר בעצלתיים. עד כה התקיימו רק ארבע ישיבות קצרות. במונחי שביתה זה נחשב לצאת ידי חובה. באוצר לעומת זאת טוענים שעמדות הסגל הזוטר מכניסות את המשא ומתן למבוי סתום.
מערכת ההשכלה הגבוהה חזרה לפעול ב־18 באוקטובר, כלומר לפני שבועיים וחצי, כשהלימודים מתבצעים כולם בלמידה מרחוק. אולם המשא ומתן בין נציגי הסגל הזוטר לבין האוצר נמשך כבר שנתיים וחצי.
היבט מרכזי במאבק הסגל הזוטר הוא הדרישה להפסקת שיטת ההעסקה הפוגענית שבמסגרתה מפוטרים מרצים שאין להם קביעות בסוף כל סמסטר או שנה ונאלצים לקחת דמי אבטלה עד תקופת ההעסקה הבאה. אבל דווקא בנושא הזה יש הסכמה. האוצר, המועצה להשכלה גבוהה והמכללות מסכימים לעבור להעסקה רצופה. מעמד המרצים יוגדר מעתה כ”מרצה עמית” כדי לבטל את המונחים “סגל זוטר” או “מרצה מן החוץ”. הם יהיו זכאים גם לקרן השתלמות וישתתפו בוועדות האקדמיות במכללות. כשיושג הסכם, זו ללא ספק תהיה פריצת דרך חשובה לצמצום אחת משיטות ההעסקה הפוגעניות ביותר בישראל.
הפריפריה נפגעת יותר
המחלוקת היא על טענות האוצר שהתגלו חריגות שכר משמעותיות במכללות רבות. האוצר רוצה להגיע להסדרת הנושא בהסכם. המשמעות היא לבטל את ההטבות החריגות, לפחות בחלקן ואף להביא להשבת כסף. המרצים וארגון כוח לעובדים המייצג אותם דורשים הסדר שיתעלם משאלת החריגות, ולהשאיר את המחלוקת האם מדובר בחריגות שכר לדיון משפטי. האוצר מוכן, אך דורש אז שהמרצים שלכאורה בחריגה לא יקבלו את תוספות השכר החדשות. המרצים מסרבים והמשא ומתן תקוע.
ראשי המכללות עם המדינה
יו”ר התאחדות הסטודנטים הארצית שלומי יחיאב מזהיר ממצב של גלישה לסמסטר אבוד במכללות השובתות. “צריך לסיים את השביתה היום”, אמר יחיאב. יו”ר אגודת הסטודנטים של מכללת ספיר יורי לוין תוקף את הפגיעה הכפולה בסטודנטים . “אנחנו בין הפטיש לסדן. סטודנטים שמצאו עבודה מוותרים עליה בשביל הרצאות שלא מתקיימות. צריך להגיע להסכם”.
בישיבה של ועדת החינוך של הכנסת בנושא השביתה שנערכה שלשום תקף יו”ר הוועדה רם שפע את הקצב האיטי של המשא ומתן ודרש לקיים שיבות מרתוניות. הוא גם ביקר בחריפות את העובדה שוועד ראשי המכללות בוחר לתמוך בעמדות המדינה במקום בסגל.

יו”ר ארגון הסגל הזוטר במכון הטכנולוגי חולון רועי צורף אמר ש”מה שהאוצר מציע זה הסכם שיפגע בחלק מהמרצים ויגרום להפחתת שכר והשבת כספים”. הוא הבהיר שהסגל הזוטר נחוש להמשיך שביתה “עד הסוף”.
איתי סבירסקי מארגון כוח לעובדים, שמיצג את הסגל הזוטר, אמר ש”הסטודנטים סובלים אבל משחקים איתנו משחקים טקטיים. צריך לדרוש מהם (מנציגי האוצר — ש”א) להקדיש זמן למשא ומתן. מספרים לנו שמרצה שמשתכר 5,000 שקל בחודש נמצא בחריגת שכר. החריגות האלו הן נורמה במכללות אז איך הן חריגה?”.
רפרנט השכלה גבוהה באגף הממונה על השכר באוצר, נתן נהוראי, אמר שהמרצים הזוטרים הם ה”גוף היחיד שמתנהל איתו משא ומתן על הסכם מסגרת במהלך משבר הקורונה”. לדבריו, יש הסכמה בנושא ההעסקה הרציפה שהיא הנושא שמטריד ביותר את המרצים.
“את הכסף צריך להחזיר”
נהוראי הוסיף כי “יש חריגות של יותר מ־10% מעלות השכר במערכת. מי שמקבל כסף שלא כדין צריך להחזירו”. לדבריו, זה יאפשר להגיע להסדרה שבה רוב המרצים יקבלו תוספות.
יו”ר ועד ראשי המכללות פרופ’ שמעון גפשטיין קרא להסכמה ולפי רוב המרצים יקבלו תוספות שכר ואילו מי שמקבלים יותר, משכורתם תוקפא.  
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Julia Chaitin <>
Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2020 at 2:27 PM
‪Subject: [Academia-IL-Bashaar] כבר עברנו את השבוע החמישי של השביתה של מרצים ללא מינוי במכללות הציבוריות‬
To: Academia Network <>

שלום לכולן ולכולםזהו. שבוע חמישי של שביתה של המרצים ללא מינוי ב – 11 מכללות ציבוריות מאחורינו.והשביתה ממשיכה
אלפי מרצים לא מלמדים וכ – 30000 סטודנטים לומדים מערכת חלקית ביותר.
כפי הנראה, האוצר, הור”מ והות”ת חושבים שאחרי שלוש שנים של מו”מ ונסיונות להשיג תעסוקה לא פוגענית, יאני – הוגנת – זה בסדר לפטר מרצים ללא מינוי אחרי כל סמסטר, למנוע מהם המשכיות בצבירת פנסיה, לא להעניק להם ותק על כל העבודה שהם עושים וכמובן לא לתת דברים כמו קרן השתלמות. ויש מרצים שמלמדים בתנאים כאלו 5 שנים ו 10 . יש כאלו שכבר הגיעו ל 20 שנים בהסדר הזה. מלמדים מלא ומפוטרים מלא בסוף כל סמסטר. 
וזה בלי לדבר על הפערים בשכר שקיימים בין הוראה במכללה והוראה באוניברסיטה. [אבל בגלל הקורונה, צוות המו”מ של ארגון המכללות ירד מזה בינתיים]חמישי שבועותולא נראה טוב לגבי השבוע השישישבת שלום לכולם!! לחיי האקדמיה המכללתית!

Julia Chaitin, PhDSchool of Social WorkSapir Collegecell: +972-54-7976090Skype name: live:.cid.f6981724877ba1c7 


———- Forwarded message ———
From: davidief <>
Date: Sat, Nov 14, 2020 at 5:53 PM
‪Subject: [Academia-IL-Bashaar] מרצי הסגל הזוטר במכללות הציבוריות השובתים יפגינו בת”א‬
To: Academia network IL <>

מרצי הסגל הזוטר במכללות הציבוריות השובתים יפגינו בת”א

מרצי הסגל הזוטר השובתים ב-11 מכללות ציבוריות יפגינו ביום שני הקרוב בשעה 12:00 בצומת עזריאלי בתל-אביב. שביתתם תכנס מחר (ראשון) לשבוע הרביעי. לקראת ההפגנה מסרו המרצים, המאוגדים בכוח לעובדים: “ועד ראשי המכללות, המועצה להשכלה גבוהה, משרד האוצר – הגיע הזמן להתעורר כי הסמסטר בסכנה!”.

הפגנה מרצי הסגל הזוטר בתל-אביב בפייסבוק:

ד”ר אפרים דוידי,

אוניברסיטת בן גוריון בנגב

אוניברסיטת תל-אביב

שביתת הסגל הזוטר במכללות נכנסה לשבוע השלישי; נמשכים העיצומים באוניברסיטאות

1 בנובמבר 2020

שביתת חברי הסגל הזוטר במכללות הציבוריות נכנסה היום (ראשון) לשבוע השלישי. השביתה החלה לפני כשבועיים, והבוקר הצטרפו אליה גם חברי הסגל הזוטר במכללת סמינר הקיבוצים. בכך עלה מספר המכללות שבהן חברי הסגל הזוטר שובתים ל–11. כמו כן, הסגל הזוטר בארבע אוניברסיטאות נוקט בצעדים ארגוניים.

המכללות בהן שובתים חברי הסגל הזוטר הן המכללה האקדמית ת”א–יפו, שנקר, המכון הטכנולוגי חולון, המכללה האקדמית כנרת, המרכז האקדמי רופין, המכללה האקדמית אשקלון, המכללה האקדמית הדסה בירושלים, עזריאלי – מכללה אקדמית להנדסה, מורי האנגלית במכללת עמק יזרעאל, מכללת ספיר, מכללת אחווה וסמינר הקיבוצים. חברי הסגל הזוטר במכללות הציבוריות אחראים על רוב שעות ההוראה בהן, כך שמתקיימים שיבושים כבדים במכללות, שמסתמכות בשבועות האחרונים על הוראת הסגל הבכיר בלבד באמצעות למידה מרחוק.

איגוד הסגל האקדמי במכללות השובתות מאוגד בכוח לעובדים “האוצר מנסה לכפות פגיעה באלפי מרצים ומוביל לביטול הסמסטר”. חברי הסגל הזוטר במכללות אלה מוחים על התמשכות המשא ומתן להסדרת עבודתם ותנאי שכרם, שמתנהל כבר יותר משנתיים וחצי. זאת, לאחר שלפני כשנתיים וחצי חתמו ארגוני הסגל הזוטר בחלק מהמכללות על הסכמי שכר, והיתר לא חתמו עליהם. חברי הסגל הזוטר במכללות דורשים להסדיר את הביטחון התעסוקתי שלהם, מאחר שכיום הם מפוטרים לאחר כל סמסטר או בסוף השנה האקדמית, וכן להסדיר את מנגנון הקידום והשכר שלהם. מאיגוד הסגל הזוטר במכללות נמסר עוד: “לצערנו, ראשי המכללות עומדים לצד משרד האוצר ולא מוכנים להמשיך את הדיונים עד שהאוצר יקבל את מבוקשו. מיום ליום מסתבר שלציניות של ראשי המערכת אין גבולות. יואילו ראשי המערכת להתבונן במראה, שם הם ימצאו את מלוא האחריות על השביתה במכללות הציבוריות”.

יצוין שביום שני שעבר הכריזו חברי הסגל הבכיר בכל האוניברסיטאות על סכסוך עבודה במחאה על תנאי עבודתם במהלך משבר הקורונה – והם רשאים לפתוח בשביתה בעוד כשבוע. סכסוך העבודה מתמקד בהפסקת המימון לקשרי מדע בתקופת הקורונה, בהוראת משרד האוצר תוך הפרה חד–צדדית של ההסכם הקיבוצי.

על הסולידריות עם הסגל הזוטרבגיליון השבוע של זו הדרך (עמ’ 5):

על המאבקים במוסדות להשכלה גבוההבגיליון 41 של זו הדרך (עמ’ 7):

עוד על מאבק הסגל הזוטרבגיליון 40 של זו הדרך” (עמ’ 10): בנובמבר 2020 ב-עובדים, חברה וכלכלה.========================================================================

שביתת הסגל הזוטר במכללות: “להחזיר כסף שכבר קיבלנו? זה שוד”
סיון חילאי פורסם: 17.11.20 , 16:50
עובדי הסגל הזוטר במכללות האקדמיות הציבוריות הפגינו מחוץ לביתו של השר אלקין בעקבות הקיפאון במו”מ עם משרד האוצר. המפגינים זעמו על הדרישה להחזיר שכר שקיבלו כחלק מדרישת המדינה: “מדובר בעשרות אלפי שקלים, אין מאיפה להחזיר את זה”. באוצר טוענים: “קיימות חריגות שכר בהיקפים רחבים”
עשרות מרצות ומרצים הפגינו הבוקר (שלישי) מול ביתו של השר להשכלה גבוהה זאב אלקין בגבעת זאב, כחלק ממחאת הסגל הזוטר במכללות האקדמיות הציבוריות, ששובתים זה השבוע החמישי ברציפות.   המשא ומתן עם משרד האוצר וראשי המכללות שהחל לפני כשלוש שנים עדיין רחוק מלהסתיים. המפגינים קראו לשר אלקין להתערב במשבר במשא ומתן בין איגוד הסגל האקדמי, משרד האוצר וראשי המכללות, שבגללו לא נפתחה שנת הלימודים האקדמית ב-11 מכללות ציבוריות.
כ-3,000 חברי הסגל הזוטר, המיוצגים על ידי ארגון כוח לעובדים, שובתים במחאה על תנאי העסקה שהם מגדירים כפוגעניים, הכוללים פיטורים מדי סמסטר ופערים משמעותיים בין שכרם לזה של עמיתיהם באוניברסיטאות. המפגינים טענו ש”הגיעו לתחתית” ואין להם כוונה להפסיק את השביתה עד אשר יימצא פתרון הולם למצבם.
מירית בראשי, מרצה במכללת ספיר במחלקה ללימודי תרבות, סיפרה על חוסר הביטחון התעסוקתי. “אני מפוטרת אחת לסמסטר, אין לי יכולת לצבור ותק או תנאים, אין לי אופק תעסוקתי ולכן אין לי ברירה אלא לעבוד בכמה עבודות – גם כמרצה, גם כעורכת לשונית וגם עורכת תזות”, סיפרה.
המרצים זועמים שמשרד האוצר דורש כי מרצה שקיבל שכר על יותר מ-13 שבועות בסמסטר יידרש להחזיר את הכסף שנים אחורה. באוצר טוענים כי בחלק מהמכללות נתגלו חריגות שכר משמעותיות, ותובעים מחלק מהמרצים להחזיר למדינה 17 אלף שקל בממוצע על כל שנת עבודה.
“במכללת ספיר משלמים על 16 שבועות כי המרצים מגיעים בתקופות מבחנים, עושים עבודות הכנה ועבודה פרטנית עם הסטודנטים שלנו”, אמרה בראשי. “לפי האיומים של משרד האוצר אני אצטרך להחזיר עשרות אלפי שקלים שאין לי מאיפה להחזיר אותם. הנחת היסוד שמרצה לא אמור להיות מתוגמל על עבודה מעבר לשעות שהוא בכיתה היא הזויה. הוראה היא הרבה מעבר לשעה וחצי שאני מלמדת. אני מלמדת את הסטודנטים שלי לעזור לחלש ולהיות אנשים טובים, ואני עושה את זה בידיעה שאני עובדת מוחלשת. זה דיסוננס מאוד גדול שקשה מאוד להתמודד איתו”.
היום התקיים הדיון ראשון בוועדת המשנה להשכלה הגבוהה בעניין המשבר במכללות הציבוריות. יו”ר הוועדה, ח”כ עופר כסיף (הרשימה המשותפת), אמר בפתח הדיון כי המשא ומתן עם משרד האוצר תקוע בשל הדרישה מהמרצים להחזיר כסף שכבר קיבלו.
“במשך שנים מפלים את המרצים הללו, ועכשיו רוצים גם לדרוש מהם את חריגות השכר. זה לעג לרש. אנחנו מדברים על שישה מיליון שקלים שמשרד האוצר לא מוכן לספוג בשביל המרצים. על זה מתווכחים? על זה מונעים מהסטודנטים ללמוד? על תנאים בסיסיים שצריכים להיות למרצים האלה?”, תהה כסיף. “הם אפילו הסכימו לרדת בשכר שלהם, ולזה לא מוצאים פתרון? רק אתמול פורסם שניתנה תוכנית סיוע לסטודנטים בסך 800 מיליון שקלים, אבל שישה מיליון לטובת המרצים לא יכולים לתת? הפגיעה במרצים זו פגיעה באקדמיה, וסיום השביתה שלהם צריך להיות אינטרס של כל המערכת”.
רועי צורף, שמרצה במכון הטכנולוגי בחולון, סיפר בהפגנה על המאבק של המרצים לתנאי העסקה הולמים שנערך יותר משלוש שנים. “זו סיטואציה מצערת כלפי המרצים והסטודנטים כאחד, אבל אנחנו נמצאים במצב שלא נותרה לנו דרך אחרת. מספיק, יש קורונה, יש אי יציבות פוליטית, כמה זמן נחכה להסכם הזה?”.
לטענתו, הדרישה של האוצר להחזיר את חריגות השכר במכללות תביא לפגיעה במרצים רבים. “אני לא מכיר מכללה אחת שמשלמת על 13 שבועות. זה יגרום לכך שהשכר של המרצים ירד ב-30%. במקום לשפר את התנאים שלנו במשא ומתן הזה – הם פוגעים בהם”. עוד אמר כי הגורמים הפוליטיים חייבים להתערב: “הפגנו מול הבית של אלקין והוא לא יצא לדבר איתנו, ראשי המוסדות גם יושבים בשקט ולא עוזרים וכמובן משרד האוצר, שהוא הגוף הכי חזק במדינה, לא עוזר. מישהו פה חייב להציל את המרצים”.
יוליה שבצ’נקו, דוקטורנטית לסוציולוגיה ואנתרופולוגיה ומרצה בעשור האחרון במכללת ספיר, סיפרה על הקושי הכלכלי שהיא חווה. “כל הזמן אני צריכה לדאוג איך א אוכל הביתה, מתי יעסיקו אותי ואיך יעסיקו אותי. יש לי בית, יש לי חשבונות שאני צריכה לשלם, ואין לי מאיפה להביא את המשכורת”.
על תנאי המשא ומתן שהציב משרד האוצר בפני המרצים אמרה שבצ’נקו כי “הם קוראים לזה החזרה של חריגות השכר, אבל אני רואה את זה כאילו האוצר החליט לגזור עלינו קנסות. להחזיר כסף שכבר קיבלנו? זה שוד! השכר הממוצע של מרצה עומד על שכר מינימום של 5,600 בחודש ומזה רוצים שנחזיר שכר, זה הגיוני? האוצר מצפה שאחזיר עשרות אלפי שקלים שאין לי. כבר חמישה חודשים שלא נכנס לי שקל בבנק מהמכללות, כי ארבעה חודשים לא קיבלנו משכורת, ואחר כך שבתנו במשך חודש. זאת החלטה קשה מאוד לשבות בתקופת הקורונה כשבני ובנות הזוג שלנו נכנסים לחל”תים במקרה הטוב ומפוטרים במקרה הרע, אבל אין ברירה”.
ד”ר שגיא מעין, גם הוא ממכללת ספיר וחבר בהנהגת איגוד הסגל האקדמי, אמר כי הדרישה להחזר כספים מצד המרצים הגיעה אחרי תהליך ארוך של משא ומתן מול משרד האוצר. “באוצר נזכרו שיש חריגות שכר אחרי שהכרזנו על סכסוך עבודה, והם החליטו שאנחנו מקבלים זימון לשימוע בנושא הזה. להגיד שהשכר הנמוך של המרצה הוא חורג? זו בושה”. לדבריו, מדובר בשעות הכרחיות שהמרצה עובד בהן ואין סיבה שלא יקבל עליהן שכר. “אלה שעות של הדרכה, של פגישות אישיות ושל סיוע בכתיבת סמינריונים. מדובר בפגיעה משמעותית בשכר המרצה. לא נוכל להסכים להסכם כזה שפוגע בכל כך הרבה מרצים”, אמר.
ממשרד האוצר נמסר: “במסגרת הסדרת מעמדם של חברי הסגל הזוטר במכללות והעברתם למעמד של חברי סגל מן המניין, עלה כי בחלק מהמוסדות קיימות חריגות שכר בהיקפים רחבים, זאת בניגוד לחוק ועל חשבון תקציבי המכללות והסטודנטים. על מנת לאפשר לכלל חברי הסגל לשפר את מעמדם ותנאי העסקתם באופן מיידי נדרשת הסדרת הנושא. אנו מצרים על כך שארגון כוח לעובדים מונע את ההסדרה ופוגע בסטודנטים דווקא בתקופה זו ומקווים כי יגיעו להבנות בהקדם”. ==============================================

כוח לעובדים – הדלת האחורית של הרדיקלים בישראל

דוד מרחב

מדובר בארגון אשר בסופו של דבר יעביר עוד ועוד קולות למפלגה הקומוניסטית בבחירות הקרבות. למעשה, הקומוניסטים בארץ – שמפלגתם שורדת כבר 91 שנה – הם הכוח היחיד בישראל היום שמתעצם ומתגבש בהתמדה


הצטרפות סגל האוניברסיטה הפתוחה לארגון “כוח לעובדים” היא עוד אזהרה על הנעשה בשוליים הרדיקליים של החברה הישראלית▪  ▪  ▪השבוע נחלה ההסתדרות את אחת התבוסות הקשות שלה: הנהלת האוניברסיטה הפתוחה הודיעה להסתדרות כי הארגון היציג של עובדי האוניברסיטה הוא ‘כוח לעובדים’. לפי נתוני האוניברסיטה, לאנשי ‘כוח לעובדים’ יש 676 חברי סגל אקדמי, בעוד שמספר חברי הסגל אשר רשום בהסתדרות הכללית עומד על 384 עובדים בלבד. לאור הנתונים, כבר חתמה הנהלת האוניברסיטה הסכם קיבוצי בראשי תיבות עם אנשי ‘כוח לעובדים’.
החדשות הללו עלולות להיראות לקורא כעוד מאבק משמים בין אנשי איגוד מקצועי, מאבק על אינטרסים, כספים המגיעים מדמי חבר ויוקרה. אולם יש בכך הרבה יותר מזה: ‘כוח לעובדים’ הוקם על-ידי אנשי שמאל, חלקם הגדול תומכי ופעילי המפלגה הקומוניסטית הישראלית (מק”י) וסיעתה בכנסת, חד”ש (חלק תומכים בגלוי, אחרים מוסווים). הרעיון שבבסיס הקמת הארגון היה האכזבה מההסתדרות הכללית והרצון להקים איגוד מקצועי שייצג את העובדים “באמת”. בשורה התחתונה, מדובר בארגון חזית קומוניסטי לכל דבר ועניין. המטרה היא ברורה: רדיקליזציה של העובדים המאורגנים במסגרת ‘כוח העובדים’ כשלב ראשון. השלב השני הוא ברור: חיזוק שורותיה של מק”י והגדלת כוחה.
‘כוח לעובדים’ איננו אזוטריה מרקסיסטית: הוא מייצג חלק ניכר מפועלי מפעל ‘אקרשטיין’ בירוחם, הוא השיג הסכם קיבוצי לעובדי הסינמטק בירושלים, הוא הוביל את מאבק עובדי מכון ויצמן למדע ברחובות, ועוד. באופן אירוני, מדובר במה שהגדיר לנין “אולטרא-שמאלנות”. מנהיגה הראשון של ברית המועצות תבע מהקומוניסטים לפעול באיגודים המקצועיים עצמם ולא לייסד איגודים “עצמאיים”. אולם הקומוניסטים בישראל, הפועלים לפי האקסיומה הסטליניסטית שלפיה הסוציאל-דמוקרטיה היא בעצם סוציאל-פשיזם, החליטו לשבור את הכוח של השריד היחיד של הסוציאליזם הישראלי, והוא האיגוד המקצועי.
לאט אך בבטחה מתארגן חיל המצב של המפלגה הקומוניסטית בארץ. זה לא משנה אם ב’כוח לעובדים’ חברים אנשים המזוהים עם כת טרוצקיסטית מסוימת, איזו סיעה שמאלנית במפלגת העבודה או גופים אקדמיים כאלה או אחרים; בשורה התחתונה, מדובר בארגון אשר בסופו של דבר יעביר עוד ועוד קולות למפלגה הקומוניסטית בבחירות הקרבות. למעשה, הקומוניסטים בארץ – שמפלגתם שורדת כבר 91 שנה – הם הכוח היחיד בישראל היום שמתעצם ומתגבש בהתמדה. אין עוד מפלגה שיכולה להוציא לרחובות אלפי אנשים כמו שמק”י עושה באחד במאי. ואין עוד מפלגה שאוספת תומכים ומצביעים דרך ארגון חזית שלה המהווה איגוד מקצועי חדש לכל דבר ועניין.
מעוררת דאגה העובדה שהשלטונות בישראל נרדמים בשמירה כשמתחת לאפם הקומוניסטים וסוכניהם עושים ככל העולה על רוחם. על חברי, פעילי ותומכי ‘הקרן החדשה לישראל’ וארגוניה – הרוח החיה מאחורי ועדת גולדסטון – נמנים קומוניסטים גלויים ומוסווים. אם בין פעילי ‘הקרן’ ייעשה סקר בחירות, חד”ש תקבל ככל הנראה 90 אחוז מהקולות. השאר יתחלקו בין בל”ד לבין מרצ. בישראל רוחשת היום מחתרת קומוניסטית פעילה אשר ידה בכל והכול תחת ידה. עכשיו גם ההסתדרות צריכה לדאוג; היא לא תוכל לסמוך לעד על בית הדין לעבודה שיסיר את האיום הבולשביקי, כפי שעשה כאשר ניסו אנשי ‘כוח העובדים’ להפוך לארגון היציג של פועלי מפעל ‘אקרשטיין’ ונכשלו, לפחות פורמלית.
בתנאים ההולמים, הרחש הרדיקאלי יוכל להתבטא לא רק במה שקורה בארגונים חוץ-ממשלתיים אלא גם בכנסת. הקומוניסטים מבינים היום שהמסגרת ההיסטורית שהם נתונים בה היא המכשול המרכזי להרחבת השפעתם הפרלמנטארית. מפלגה חדשה עם קרביים קומוניסטיים וחזות מהפכנית רעננה וצעירה, עם מוחמד ברכה בספסל האחורי ודב חנין בראש, יכולה להגיע בבחירות הקרובות ל-7-8 מנדטים. כבר עתה לחד”ש יש 4 מנדטים בכנסת. די בזליגת כמה מנדטים משאריות מרצ ושרידי מפלגת העבודה אל הקומוניסטים על-מנת שאלה יכפילו את כוחם. הישרא-קומוניזם עוד עלול להגיע ישר לשולחן הממשלה, בסיטואציה המתאימה.
לכן, פרשת ‘כוח לעובדים’ היא עוד אזהרה על הנעשה בשוליים הרדיקליים של החברה הישראלית, שמתקרבים יותר ויותר אל ליבה של החברה. כמו כל מחלה סופנית, כשהקומוניזם המוסווה כבר יגיע לאזורים החשובים באמת, סיכויי ההחלמה יהיו פחותים בהרבה.

How Neve Gordon Identifies with Hamas


Editorial Note

Next week a Zoom lecture will be taking place with Prof. Neve Gordon, formerly of Ben Gurion University, now at Queen Mary University of London. Gordon, who published a call for the boycott of Israel on the Los Angeles Times pages in 2009, has recently published a book, together with Dr. Nicola Perugini, from the University of Edinburgh, titled Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire. Hence, the book is the topic of the Webinar.

The book begins with chapters dealing with human shields in the American Civil War, Franco-German War, South Africa, World War I, Sino-Japanese War, Italo-Ethiopian War, Nazis, Geneva Conventions, Vietnamese War, Environmental Human Shields.  

Chapter 11, titled “Resistance,” discusses human shields in Palestine.  It tells the story of Tom Hurdnall, who traveled to the “occupied Palestinian territories” amid the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000, “against Israel’s military occupation.” Hurdnall joined the International Solidarity Movement to provide “assistance to the besieged Palestinian population through nonviolent protests and direct action such as voluntary shielding.” From the West Bank he traveled to Rafah in the Gaza Strip, trying to stop the demolition of houses along with other activists. In January 2004, “when a group of Palestinians came under heavy fire, Hurdnall noticed that three children were trapped in an area under attack. He picked up one little boy and brought him to safety. When he went back to shield the remaining two, he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.”

According to Gordon and Perugini, “Hurdnall was not the only human shield who was killed by the Israeli military.” A few months earlier, Rachel Corrie, a young American activist who had also joined the International Solidarity Movement, was run over in Rafah by an armored military bulldozer while shielding a Palestinian home demolition. Corrie had gone to demolition sites for weeks, “standing between the bulldozer and the Palestinian houses while wearing a fluorescent orange jacket and using a megaphone to call the bulldozer operator to stop his work. On March 16, 2003, she was crushed to death. The driver later insisted that he had not seen her.”

Chapter 15 discusses hospitals and the use of medical facilities as shields in Sri Lanka, Italians in Ethiopia, Libya, World War l, Britain, World War ll, America, and Vietnam. 

Then, “the 2014 Gaza War,” when “Israeli strikes destroyed or damaged seventeen hospitals, fifty-six primary healthcare facilities, and forty-five ambulances. To defend these attacks, Israel accused Hamas of using hospitals to store weapons and hide armed militants.”

Gordon and Perugini continue, “In an effort to legitimize its bombing of Palestinian medical facilities following the 2014 war on Gaza, Israel invoked both exceptions in a legal report. It accused ‘Hamas and other terrorist organizations’ of exploiting ‘hospitals and ambulances to conduct military operations, despite the special protection afforded these units and transports under customary international law.” According to Gordon and Perugini, Israel “claimed that hospitals were used both as ‘command and control centers, gunfire and missile launching sites, and covers for combat tunnels’ and also as proximate shields for Hamas militants who fired ‘multiple rockets and mortars within 25 meters of hospitals and health clinics.’ Sometimes Israel would call the hospital in advance, warning the staff that it was about to bomb their facility. This allowed the Israeli government to claim that it had provided due warning and reasonable time to evacuate the buildings before it launched a strike, and therefore had not violated international humanitarian law articles requiring belligerents to warn medical units before bombing them.”

In aprevious article on this issue in 2015, when Gordon and Perugini analyzed the wars between Hamas and Israel, they rejected Western war analysis concurring that while “Palestinian human shields are civilians, even though Israel has killed them, Israel is not responsible for their deaths.” For Gordon and Perugini, Hamas is blamed unfairly. It is wrong to accuse Hamas as if it “shoulders a double responsibility: for attacking Israeli civilians and for the deaths of Palestinian civilians it uses as shields.” For Gordon and Perugini, this “enables as well as justifies a higher degree of violence and ‘collateral’ damage during warfare… that shields the strong from potential accusations of having committed war crimes.” In other words, it is Israel, not Hamas, as the belligerent that attacks civilians.

Gordon is known for supporting the Palestinian agenda who views Israel as an apartheid state which wantonly kills Palestinians.  However, charging Israel in the human shield context is particularly egregious.   It is well known that Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad follow the tactics of “radical embedding” among civilian populations to shield their military assets and fighters.  For instance, Hezbollah stores weapons, ammunition, and command centers in many of the houses in the Shiite villages, as well as in public spaces like schools, mosques, and health clinics.  Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have followed the same tactics, with weapons being stored in public as well as private spaces.   It is well documented that the jihadist central command is located in the basement of the al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. These are not “Israeli accusations.” After the 2006 Second Lebanon war, the United Nations Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs chastised Hezbollah for hiding among civilians and causing women and children’s death, something that Gordon and Perugini fail to acknowledge. According to Gordon and Perugini, “accusations that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups had used human shields served as one of Israel’s key arguments for deflecting accusations of having committed war crimes.”

It is regrettable that Gordon, a full-time propagandist for Palestinian causes, has used his position first at BGU and now at Queen Mary University of London, to spread anti-Israel messages disguised as academic research.

Refugees as Human Shields: In Conversation with Neve Gordon

23 Nov Time:17:30 to 18:30 Speaker: Prof Neve Gordon (Professor of International Law and Human Rights, Queen Mary University of London)

From Hungary to the US-Mexico border all the way back to the Czech Republic, women-and-children seeking asylum have been cast as ‘human shields’. In this webinar, Neve Gordon will be talking with Anne Irfan about the history of human shielding, whilst highlighting the gendered and racial dimension of ‘refugee shielding.’ Why, Gordon will ask, has the figure of the human shield become so prominent in contemporary war zones throughout the Middle East? Why are asylum-seeking refugees suddenly cast as shields? And what does this figure tell us about the broader global history of political violence?

Neve Gordon teaches in the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London. Focusing on international humanitarian law, human rights, the ethics of violence, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gordon first book, Israel’s Occupation (2008), provided a structural history of Israel’s mechanisms of control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while his second book, The Human Right to Dominate (2015, with Nicola Perugini) examines how human rights, which are generally conceived as tools for advancing emancipation, can also be used to enhance subjugation and dispossession. In Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire (2020 also with Perugini), Gordon follows the marginal and controversial figure of the human shield over a period of 150 years in order to interrogate the laws of war and how the ethics of humane violence is produced. Gordon has also edited two volumes, one on torture (with Ruchama Marton) and the other on marginalized perspectives on human rights. Over the years he has published scores of academic articles and book chapters and is currently working on a project that examines how new warfare technologies challenge the underlying framework of the laws of war. Gordon has been a member at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Brown University, the University of Michigan, and SOAS, and is currently a board member of the International State Crime Initiative.Oxford Department of International DevelopmentQueen Elizabeth House3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TBtel: +44 (0)1865 (2)81800



11. Resistance


Voluntary shields faced a completely different destiny in another area in the Middle East. One member of the Human Shield Action group, Tom Hurdnall, left Iraq at the end of the war but instead of returning home to Britain, he traveled to the occupied Palestinian territories. It was the midst of the second Palestinian uprising against Israel’s military occupation, which erupted in September 2000, and Hurdnall joined the International Solidarity Movement, created by Palestinians, Israelis, and foreigners to provide assistance to the besieged Palestinian population through nonviolent protests and direct action such as voluntary shielding. After a brief period in the West Bank, he travelled to Rafah, a city on the southern tip of the Gaza Strip, where he and other activists tried to stop the demolition of houses.

In an interview, Hurdnall described how the Israelis “continually fired one- to two-second bursts from what I could see was a Bradley fighting vehicle. . . . It was strange that as we approached and the guns were firing, it sent shivers down my spine, but nothing more than that. We walked down the middle of the street, wearing bright orange, and one of us shouted through a loudspeaker, ‘We are international volunteers. Don’t shoot!’ That was followed by another volley of fire, though I can’t be sure where from.”

In January 2004, when a group of Palestinians came under heavy fire, Hurdnall noticed that three children were trapped in an area under attack. He picked up one little boy and brought him to safety. When he went back to shield the remaining two, he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.

Hurdnall was not the only human shield who was killed by the Israeli military. A few months earlier, Rachel Corrie, a twenty-three-year-old American activist who had also joined the International Solidarity Movement, was run over in Rafah by an armored military bulldozer while shielding a Palestinian home from demolition. For several weeks, Corrie had gone to the demolition site, standing between the bulldozer and the Palestinian houses while wearing an orange fluorescent jacket and using a megaphone to call to the bulldozer operator to stop his work (figure 17). On March 16, 2003, she was crushed to death. The driver later insisted that he had not seen her.

Like the activists of the Human Shields Action group, Corrie felt that participating in protests at home was not enough. In order to express her solidarity with the Palestinians resisting Israeli colonialism she also travelled to Rafah. She characterized her activity in the Gaza Strip as a form of “patriotic dissent.” “I am asking people who care about me—or just have some passing interest in me—to use my presence in occupied Palestine as a reason to actively search for information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of course particularly about the role of the United States in perpetuating it,” she wrote in her diary just a few days before being killed. Corrie was well aware of her “white-skin privilege” and noted that she was using it to protect nonwhite civilians and civilian infrastructures. But unlike the shields in Iraq, white privilege did not render her immune from lethal violence.

The proceedings of the civil suit initiated by Corrie’s family reveal the peculiar way in which the Israeli lawyers defending the military framed the presence of foreign human shields who had travelled to support the Palestinian struggle for liberation. In a sense, the defense lawyers became prosecutors and transformed the civil suit into a trial against Corrie and the shielding practices adopted by the International Solidarity Movement. In the defense they wrote:

It was proven beyond reasonable doubt, that the ISM, among whose ranks was the deceased and the plaintiff’s witnesses, is an anti-Israeli organization that carries out violent illegal acts, including barricading themselves in terrorist homes to prevent their demolition, harboring terrorists and terror activists, taking part in confrontations with IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers, and even standing as human shields for “wanted people” or houses of Palestinians. The organization’s activists, under the organization’s umbrella, are aware of the many risks that exist in the places they are active, but they are willing to endanger their lives for the agenda they wish to advance.

The lawyers claimed that Corrie and other International Solidarity Movement activists were protecting legitimate military targets rather than civilians. In another passage, the lawyers depicted Corrie as “suicidal,” since she and her fellow activists directly confronted “war machinery” and “went to firing zones where life-threatening live ammunition is fired.” Within the Israeli context—particularly during the second Palestinian uprising, known as the Second Intifada, when suicide bombers killed civilians in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other Israeli cities—the lawyers’ decision to characterize Corrie as a person who was carrying out a suicidal act was not coincidental. She, the lawyers intimated, was not really different from those who explode themselves in public buses and restaurants. The fact that Corrie was committed to nonviolent protection as a form of resistance rather than attack was beside the point. The rhetoric of the war on terror could transform any civilian into a terrorist, even a privileged one who had decided to embrace an active form of internationalist citizenship in solidarity with oppressed civilians.

In 2012, the Haifa district court accepted the Israeli military’s interpretation of Corrie’s actions and dismissed the civil lawsuit brought by Corrie’s family. Her death, the judges ruled, was an “accident.” Three years later, after the family filed an appeal, Israel’s High Court of Justice upheld the Haifa verdict and reiterated the claim that the state is not responsible to compensate civilians injured or killed in a combat zone.31 In this way the court effectively shielded the state and its executive arm from any charges filed by either international or local activists who shield Palestinian civilians. Unlike US courts, Israel’s courts consider nonviolent direct action aimed at protecting civilians from a military occupation as part of combat.

16. Proximity

Israeli citizens in Tel Aviv are not classified as shields when Hamas launches rockets towards the Israel Defense Forces military command headquarters located in the city center. By sharp contrast, Palestinian civilians are cast as human shields when Israel bombs Hamas command centers and military infrastructures in Gaza. In other words, if Hamas kills Israeli civilians, it is to blame, and if Israel kills Palestinian civilians, then Hamas is also to blame, since, at least ostensibly, it is Hamas that has deployed these civilians as shields. This kind of comparison reveals how the irregular continues to pose a threat to the international legal order.
Notwithstanding the common assumption that decolonization has led to the creation of a universal humanity in which all people are acknowledged as humans who are entitled to equal rights, proximate shielding reveals that assumptions about who is considered an equal human being retains traces of the colonial past. In the cases of the 2016 operation to recapture Mosul and Israel’s wars in Gaza—in which the human shield argument was mobilized against entire populations—the figures of the colonized subject and of the civilian transformed into a proximate human shield coincide.33 Whereas it would be difficult to imagine entire populations being transformed into proximate shields in Western cities—unless perhaps they are racialized minorities—from Mosul to Gaza, we see how the colonial subject is still very much alive.

17. Info-War

IN JULY 2014, AROUND THE SAME TIME that ISIS first captured Mosul from the hands of the Iraqi army, Israel launched its third war on the Gaza Strip in six years, dubbing the campaign Operation Protective Edge.1 Not unlike the previous campaigns, Protective Edge produced extensive damage to this densely populated swath of Palestinian land. Ten days before Israel withdrew its ground forces, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution accusing Israel of collective punishment and urging all parties to respect the law. “The deliberate targeting of civilians and other protected persons and the perpetration of systematic, flagrant and widespread violations of applicable international humanitarian law and international human rights law in situations of armed conflict constitute grave breaches and a threat to international peace and security,” the resolution declared.2

Correspondingly, accusations that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups had used human shields served as one of Israel’s key arguments for deflecting accusations of having committed war crimes. During an appearance at the United Nations General Assembly not long after Protective Edge, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exhibited a picture of children playing in the vicinity of a rocket launcher (figure 22). “Hamas,” he averred, “deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children live and play.”3 Explaining that Israel was facing an enemy who constantly weaponizes vulnerable human bodies, Netanyahu concluded his address by claiming that the United Nations Human Rights Council was a “Terrorist Rights Council” that grants legitimacy to the mobilization and deployment of human shields.4

17. Info-War

A few months later, Israel released a report providing legal defense of the 2014 Gaza invasion.5 The report analyzes a variety of materials as it accuses the different Palestinian resistance groups of having drawn “the fighting into the urban terrain,” where they “unlawfully intertwined their military operations with the civilian environment.”6 Adopting language strikingly similar to the arguments used by the Italian government during the 1935–36 war in Ethiopia and by the American administration during the Vietnam War, the document blames Palestinians for using tactics that violate the customary prohibition against perfidy under international humanitarian law. The report concludes that Hamas deployed defenseless Palestinian civilians as human shields and resorted to other unlawful practices—such as the use of combatants disguised as civilians—with the hope of obfuscating the distinction between civilians and combatants and “deliberately distort[ing] assessments of the legality of Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) activity in the Gaza Strip.”7

The narrative and key arguments for the governmental report were developed by the IDF on its social media sites during the fight itself. In fact, while it was attacking the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military waged another kind of war, this one on social media with the aim of defending the military campaign by legitimizing the killing of Palestinian civilians. It produced a series of sophisticated YouTube videos and infographics in which the legal figure of the human shield was mobilized to justify lethal force and disseminated them widely through its Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts.8

By introducing human shielding to these social media platforms, the IDF helped popularize the figure of the human shield while transforming the cyberworld into a site of semiotic warfare.9 The goal was to shape the visual perception of the battlespace by portraying the Palestinians as morally inferior and Israel as the humane actor.10 Indeed, one should understand the dissemination of images of human shielding on social media as part of an info-war: a media campaign whose role is to provide ethical legitimacy to the deployment of lethal violence against civilians.


According to data gathered by the United Nations, at least 2,251 Palestinians were killed during Operation Protective Edge. Of the verified cases, 1,462 were believed to be civilians. Many of these fatalities involved multiple family members, with at least 142 Palestinian families having three or more relatives killed in the same incident, for a total of 739 deaths. In addition, approximately 18,000 housing units were either destroyed or severely damaged, leaving approximately 108,000 people homeless. On the Israeli side, 73 people were killed during the war: 67 combatants and 6 civilians.11 The discrepancy with respect to the number and proportion of civilian deaths—65 percent of all those killed by Israel were civilians compared to the 8 percent of civilians killed by Palestinians—created a legal problem, since according to these figures it appears that in its assault on Gaza, Israel did indeed commit egregious war crimes.

It is precisely in this context that one needs to understand Israel’s extensive use of social media during and after the 2014 Gaza War to defend the level of violence it wielded against Palestinians. One of the first images the IDF circulated sets the stage for the Gaza War by portraying Israel’s assault as an attempt to defend the very essence of liberalism. It shows rockets with bloody smoke heading towards the Statue of Liberty, one of liberal democracy’s icons, and asks the Western public, “What would you do?” (figure 23). In this way, Israel both positioned itself as a liberal democracy and drew an analogy between the Gaza War and America’s post-9/11 concerns about terrorist attacks against the United States. The war on Gaza was, according to the infographic, part of the war on terror.

Most of the infographics produced during Protective Edge were, however, dedicated to human shielding. One of the themes of Israel’s claims about the Palestinians’ use of human shields is the depiction of the asymmetric context in which the Gaza War took place as if it were symmetric. “Some bomb shelters shelter people. Some shelter bombs” (figure 24) is just one of numerous infographics where the radically disproportionate power differential and spatial disparity between a besieged population confined to an enclave (Palestinians) and its besiegers (Israelis) are depicted as if the two were equal. The assumption of equality not only elides the reality on the ground but is necessary for Israel to be able to justify—through the human shielding argument—its destruction of Gaza.

17. Info-War

In this and several other infographics Israel accuses the Palestinians of illegally using civilian spaces for shielding purposes. By depicting Palestinians as hiding rockets in their homes, the IDF intimates that a single function (hiding weapons) overrides existing functions (home, shelter, intimacy, etc.) so that the meaning usually associated with homes, including their attribute as a space of protection, is compromised. Legally speaking, this is the “dual-use” doctrine, whereby an object serves both civilian and military purposes.

While dual use is not explicitly part of international humanitarian law,12 Marco Sassòli from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights stresses that “an attack on a dual-use object is in any event unlawful if the effect on the civilian aspect is intended,” but he adds that “respect of that particular rule is impossible to assess in the heat of the battle.”13 Therefore, in instances where a house that shelters civilians is simultaneously used as an arms depot or a militant hideout, which is illegal, belligerents can legitimately attack it and claim that its military function was a threat, and consequently the attack was necessary.14 Accordingly, legal experts have noted that the dual-use doctrine ultimately enables “extraordinarily permissive” use of lethal force, allowing belligerents to sway the proportionality between civilian immunity and military necessity in their favor.15

In such circumstances, a house can no longer be a refuge, even when the majority of the people in the targeted area are, in fact, refugees, as in Gaza.16 The space’s resignification from a space of life to a space of death is crucial, since it allows the IDF to transform the meaning ascribed to the people within this space and to the violence that it deploys. Put differently, Israel’s “moral cartography,” to borrow political geographer Derek Gregory’s phrase describing how morally acceptable violence relates to space, is acutely apparent here: the way a place is defined can facilitate the killing of civilians without it being a crime.17 The inevitable overlapping of civilian and military functions in urban warfare creates new challenges for international law and the articulation of the ethics of violence. In its info-war, Israel tried to turn that challenge into a legal argument in its favor and portrayed Palestinian homes as well as the people inhabiting them as part of Hamas’s military defense system.18

In the same infographic, Israel also accuses Palestinians of perfidy, which in customary international law is defined as “acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law.”19 The charge is that Palestinians are deceptive, using civilian spaces for military purposes, thereby legitimating attacks on those homes.

It is, nonetheless, highly unlikely that Palestinians were shielding weapons in all eighteen thousand homes that, according to the United Nations, were either destroyed or severely damaged during the war. Hence, one of the objectives of categorizing civilian homes as shields is to help conceal the fact that Israel’s “pinpoint strikes” and “surgical capabilities” were often not precise and could neither predict nor guarantee discrimination between civilian sites and military targets. Another objective was to help Israel justify the high percentage of civilian deaths and the destruction of civilian spaces in Gaza.


This mobilization of dual use and perfidy in the Israeli info-war on Gaza is not an isolated case but reflects a major discussion in international humanitarian law on the principle of distinction between combatants and civilians. In addition to changing the traditional meaning of civilian spaces and criticizing Palestinians for not distinguishing between combatants and civilians, the Israeli infographics also accuse Hamas of transforming civilians into weapons, as shown in the IDF ad “Human Shields Are Hamas’ Strategy” (figure 25). This infographic includes a photograph of Palestinians standing on top of a building, and underneath is a drawing of a home with warheads in it and people standing on the roof. The caption reads: “Hamas uses civilians to protect its weapons & its terrorists,” while the image presents Hamas as transforming the civilian population into threshold beings—half human, half weapon.

17. Info-War

The infographic portrays human shields as simultaneously both protected persons and nonprotected persons—a condition of in-betweenness that anthropologist Victor Turner defines as liminality.20 For Turner the liminal figure occupies a temporal in-betweenness while transitioning from one social or political category to another; however, the human shield does not pass from the status of civilian to combatant but remains trapped in its liminal status. Precisely because the human shield is neither combatant nor noncombatant, he or she loses the traditional protections offered to civilians. Hence, Israel’s mobilization of the figure of the human shield on social media is manipulative, since it avows the civilian status of these civilians while using the legal figure of the shield to justify why so many Palestinian civilians were killed.


The IDF’s info-war suggests that the struggle over the interpretation of violence can be as important as the violence itself. States and militaries invest considerable resources in framing acts of war for public consumption in order to demonstrate that violence was deployed in accordance with the law; in the wake of the new millennium, many of these resources focus on social media. States and militaries know that the morality of the event is determined in the public arena often through the circulation of images and that most people access images through their cell phones, tablets, and computers.

The info-war ultimately aims to frame the enemy as the guilty actor,21 as in a video clip released by the IDF during the 2012 Operation Pillar of Cloud that depicts an incident when the Israeli military “tapped” on the roof of a Palestinian apartment building. Tapping is used by the IDF to alert civilian populations that it has marked a building as a target and intends to destroy it within minutes. In the clip, one sees an aerial image of an apartment building in Gaza. The moment the roof is “tapped” by a small bomb—a warning technology that does not kill—civilians are shown running outside the building. Suddenly some civilians change course and run back inside, climbing onto the roof. By so doing they blur the threshold between civilian and combatant and position themselves as human shields. The clip’s message is straightforward: while the IDF wants to observe the principle of distinction by allowing time for civilians to leave a designated military target, Palestinians violate that distinction by refusing to leave the building.

The clip underscores that the principle of distinction is not merely a descriptive force differentiating among numerous actors who are already in the field; it also has a capacity to produce different legal figures.22 It is the tapping that turns these Palestinians into figures who occupy the threshold between civilian and combatant, while it is the law that gives them the status of human shields; the naming—“they are human shields”—confers on these civilians a new legal and political reality.23 The irony of this clip is that while the tapping is meant to ensure the distinction between civilian and combatant, it is at least partially responsible for producing a legal figure that represents the blurring of that distinction.

In fact, the clip can also lend itself to a very different interpretation than the one intended by the Israeli military. After all, when the camera first focuses on the apartment building, there are no human shields inside. Only when the apartment building is designated as a target through the act of tapping do the civilians who remain within the building, climbing up to its roof, become human shields. The tapping dictates a course of action, and those who refuse to follow its fiat—namely, flee the building—become human shields and thus abdicate their status as civilians. Distinction, as the tapping example reveals, can at times be a force used to undermine distinction itself.

In the clip, which was disseminated widely by the Israeli military as a visual weapon, the pilot decides to abort the attack—a decision that assumes a humanitarian motive precisely because the Palestinians who were spared have been framed as human shields rather than civilians. According to this legal-military frame, the Palestinians intentionally blurred the distinction between combatants and civilians, while the Israeli military reveals its ethical superiority by upholding the distinction. Even though human shields are legally killable, the pilot decided to show mercy, reiterating yet again the ethical incommensurability between Israel and the colonized Palestinians.  22. Protest

Many progressive organizers around the world are acutely familiar with this paradox. The Palestinian popular committees that for over a decade organized weekly protests in West Bank villages such as Bil’in and Nabi Saleh invited both international and Israeli activists to join them, recognizing that the presence of white Westerners might lower the levels of violence exerted by the Israeli military forces confronting them. The non-Palestinians were asked to join the protests and, if need be, serve as shields, on the condition that they follow their hosts’ instructions. Frequently, whole villages would take part in the protests, with Israeli and foreign activists serving as human shields.


Unlike the Native Americans in Standing Rock and Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip cannot invite foreign citizens to join their weekly demonstrations because Israel keeps the Strip under a state of siege that restricts the entry of non-Gazans into the area. Moreover, in Gaza, no one has enough privilege to serve as a shield. Even so, the figure of the human shield is often invoked by the Israeli military to frame demonstrators taking part in civil protests.

In March 2018, thousands of Palestinian civilians began marching every Friday towards the militarized fence surrounding the Gaza Strip. They called the protests the Great March of Return, alluding to their right to return to the lands from which their families were expelled in 1948; simultaneously, they were protesting their incarceration in the world’s largest open-air prison.29 Week in and week out, they marched towards the fence in the hope that people around the world would heed their call and exhibit solidarity.

As thousands strode towards the fence in what became a weekly ritual, Israeli snipers ended up killing hundreds and wounding thousands of unarmed protestors. On numerous occasions, not long after the week’s protest, the military spokesperson unit disseminated images and videos depicting young children intermingling with the demonstrators through its Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. Similar to the info-war waged during its 2014 war on Gaza, this time the Israeli military also blamed the Palestinians for deploying human shields, even though the accusation came in a context of civil protest. The goal was to stir moral indignation against Palestinians while also providing a legal defense for the snipers lined up at the border.

One short video clip plays a lullaby interspersed with the sound of gunfire and rhetorically asks, “Where are the children of Gaza today?” After showing children amid the protestors, it then displays the word “HERE” in large letters across the screen (figure 36). Such montages are used as proof that Palestinians are using children as human shields.30 Morally, the charge intimates that the Palestinians are savages, that they have no problem sending their young sons and daughters to the front lines. As with the infographics that were disseminated during the Gaza War, the subtext is that civilized people protect their children whereas Palestinians sacrifice them.

22. Protest

This is precisely the message Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, conveyed in a letter he sent to the Security Council. “Hamas is committing grave violations of international law” during the weekly protests, he declared, adding that “their terrorists continue to hide behind innocent children to ensure their own survival.”31 By portraying the protestors as Hamas terrorists hiding behind shields, Danon, in effect, categorizes any Palestinian from Gaza who participates in civil protests as a terrorist who is consequently killable.

The fact that Israel has employed the same accusation of human shielding in order to justify its indiscriminate killing of civilians both in situations of war, such as the 2014 aggression, and in civil protests, such as the Great March of Return, suggests that in Israel’s eyes, the notion of civilianhood for Palestinians has disappeared.32


The framing of the Palestinian civilians taking part in the protests as human shields intimates that all of the protestors are legitimate targets; therefore, the Israeli military cannot be accused of perpetrating crimes against civilians for the simple reason that there are no civilians among the protestors in Gaza.33 This is the argument Israel has constructed to justify the deployment of lethal violence against Gaza’s civilian population. Like in many colonies of old, in which colonial armies disregarded the distinction between combatants and noncombatants, Israel refuses to differentiate between the military and civil spheres in the Gaza Strip.

However, in this case the way Israel invokes the figure of the human shield also exposes an inherent relationship between civilianhood and citizenship. For the stateless Palestinians trapped in Gaza, the right to enjoy the protections offered to civilians by international law is intertwined with the right to liberate themselves from colonial occupation and achieve the status of citizens within a state of their own. In Gaza, the protections offered by international law and the right to self-determination and citizenship are simultaneously denied.

Arguably, in many ways the situation in Palestine may also very well be predicting our future. Israel’s treatment of Gaza’s civilian population is undoubtedly extreme, but the logic driving Israel’s security forces is not that different from the logic informing security forces in other areas of the world that cast their own citizenry, especially marginalized groups, as security threats, as the protests from Standing Rock to Kashmir and back to Ferguson reveal. The threat of using lethal violence against demonstrators is dangerous not only because of the harm it inflicts, but also because it frames civil protestors as enemies who can be confronted with military force.34 It is precisely in this sense that Gaza becomes a terrifying prophecy, exposing how the denial of civilian protections in war zones is informing attacks on citizens participating in protests from the Americas to Europe and the Middle East and all the way to Asia and Australia. The almost complete erosion of the civilian in Gaza is an omen, a sign of the increasing precarity of citizenship and the protections that it promises.


Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire (New Texts Out Now)

By : Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon

Oct 6, 2020  

Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini, Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire (University of California Press, 2020).

Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?

Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini (NG & NP): While working on our previous book, The Human Right to Dominate, we repeatedly encountered Israel’s accusation that Palestinians use human shields as a warfare strategy in the Gaza Strip. Israel’s argument was straightforward: Since Palestinian armed groups deploy civilians as human shields, placing them in front of legitimate military targets, Israel is not responsible for civilian casualties. We also realized that this line of reasoning was common in other theaters of political violence, from the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq, to the wars in Yemen and Syria. The fact that hundreds of thousands of civilians across the globe were suddenly being cast as human shields seemed odd and prompted us to ask a series of questions: Why has the figure of the human shield become so prominent in contemporary war zones throughout the Middle East? What does this figure tell us about the broader global history of political violence? And why are some people used as human shields while others are not? 

We quickly understood that the human shield is a peculiar figure that is simultaneously both a human and a weapon, and as such it destabilizes fundamental legal and ethical categories and assumptions. Indeed, as we began reading about the history of human shielding, from the American Civil War until today, we were intrigued by how a relatively marginal and controversial figure produces a series of moral and legal quandaries and how these quandaries provide insight into who is considered fully human, how the laws of war operate, and how the ethics of violence have developed over time. We thought that grappling with these issues would be fascinating, and so we decided to write a second book.

J: We noticed that the book adopts an uncommon style and format. Can you say a few words about how you wrote it?

NG & NP: Shortly after we began working on the book, we made the decision to abandon the standard format of academic writing, with ten-thousand-word chapters that are often written for an expert audience. We were convinced that an analysis of human shielding sheds light on a number of urgent issues, and we thus wanted to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. We then adopted a number of general guidelines. We would begin each chapter with a vignette of human shielding, refrain from using jargon, and limit the length of each chapter to about 3,500 words. Our goal was that the chapters would read almost like magazine articles. Overall, the book has twenty-two chapters, covering over 150 years of wars, environmental struggles, political protests, and even computer games. 

J: What particular topics, issues, and literatures does the book address?

NG & NP: Human shielding is essentially a politics of vulnerability, where human frailty is weaponized and then used to achieve a range of political, military, and legal goals. Yet, deterrence is successful only when the attacking party values the shield’s humanity and feels morally compelled to stop the attack in order not to harm the person who is serving as a shield. Therefore, the story of human shields is also the story of those who have been included as well as those who have been excluded from the fold of humanity, revealing that humanity is politically variable rather than a universal and neutral category. We noticed, for instance, that “women-and-children” could not serve as shields during the American Civil War but have over time become the primary protagonists in shielding accusations, especially since the Vietnam War. In a similar vein, non-white people also could not serve as human shields in colonial wars, but are currently cast as shields in numerous Middle East conflicts. A different kind of puzzle emerged when we began examining eco-shielding. We found, for example, that environmental activists who use their bodies to protect whales or stop nuclear testing have been more effective than human shields in war zones. 

In order to make sense of these and other historical changes, while also trying to understand their significance, we naturally read the work of our colleagues working on colonialism and post-colonialism as well as those who have contributed to critical race, legal, and war studies. But we were also interested in other literatures. For the chapter on shielding during the Italian attempt to colonize Ethiopia in the mid-1930s, we read, for example, the memoir of Benito Mussolini’s son, Vittorio, who served as a pilot during the war. His memoir helped us better understand how the Italian fascists rationalized and justified the bombing of civilian sites in Ethiopia. Reading pamphlets and sermons written in the 1920s and 1930s by Maude Royden, the first female preacher in the United Kingdom and a leading pacifist activist, helped us trace the emergence of voluntary shielding as a strategy to prevent war. Along similar lines, we read Mao Tse-tung and the Vietnamese General Giap, alongside military policymakers in the United States, to understand why and how the latter framed people’s wars waged by the Viet Cong as a form of terrorist use of human shields. We read the diaries of members from the 2003 Iraq Human Shield Action group and Rachel Corrie in order to understand how they conceived the deployment of their privilege in the midst of war. It was an exhausting but extremely fascinating process.

J: How does this book connect to and/or depart from your previous work?

NG & NP: Without The Human Right to Dominate it is difficult to imagine Human Shields. In our first book, we showed and analyzed how the discourse of human rights, which is commonly perceived as emancipatory, is frequently used to enhance domination. Focusing on Israel’s settler colonial project, we outlined how acts of domination and dispossession are often framed by Israel and its international allies as protecting the human rights of Jews who had been subjected to egregious abuse in Europe. In Human Shields we engage with another paradox, this time related to what we refer to as the ethics of humane violence. We interrogate how international law, specifically the laws of war that aim to protect civilians during armed conflict and military occupation, are being used to justify the deployment of violence against civilian populations and how this violence gets cast as humane. 

Israel-Palestine remained important for Human Shields, and the 2014 Gaza war was a revelatory moment for both of us. But in this book, we zoom out and dramatically expand our purview both historically and geographically. As mentioned, we begin the book with the American Civil War and we end it in Gaza, 2020. This is a 150-year history. We examine several other conflict zones in the Middle East and beyond, chronicling the role human shields have come to play in numerous conflicts. We were also interested in the way activists have adopted human shielding as a form of resistance and were intrigued by the ways they differ from human rights practitioners, not least because they willingly use their own body to protect the lives of others. 

As the research advanced, we increasingly felt that the figure of the human shield allowed us to grapple with a broader set of questions than the ones we examined in The Human Right to DominateHuman Shields is in this sense more ambitious methodologically, theoretically, historically, and geographically. 

J: Who do you hope will read this book, and what sort of impact would you like it to have?

NG & NP: Niels Hooper, our editor at the University of California Press, thinks everybody should read this book! Given the different lines of investigation and the stories that emerge, people interested in political violence and resistance, ethics, the laws of war, military studies and, more generally, in global histories will, we hope, find the book interesting. We also believe that policy-oriented think-tanks, military officers, and everyone working for international humanitarian and human rights organizations will find it useful. Since we tried to “de-academicize” the book, we really hope it reaches as broad an audience as possible. 

As to impact, we are a bit suspicious of the term not least due to the way it is currently used in certain academic circles. We obviously hope that we have written a rigorous and compelling history. And good history is always also a history of the present. It is, however, important to keep in mind that even though human shields are the book’s main protagonists, the production of humane violence is its plot. So, broadly speaking, if people interested in the different ways violence has been produced as humane in numerous historical events, as well as in a variety of contemporary sites—from the “war on terror” and Black Lives Matter protests to computer games—find this book useful, then we will be extremely pleased! 

J: What other projects are you working on now? 

NG & NP: We are both taking our time to think carefully about future projects.

Excerpt from the book (from Chapter 11, pp. 109-113)


Antimilitary Activism in Iraq and Palestine 

[…] Following the First Gulf War, the United Nations Security Council imposed a series of harsh economic sanctions on Iraq with the aim of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The measures remained in place for over a decade, and, in spite of numerous claims that the sanctions did not affect key humanitarian supplies, a leading medical journal characterized them as a “weapon of mass destruction” that caused the death of about 1.5 million people. In 2002, the United States finally admitted that the sanctions had not undermined Saddam Hussein’s regime and decided to launch a new military campaign. The attack was justified as part of the war on terror by highlighting Iraq’s presumed links with the 9/11 terrorist attacks alongside the accusation that the regime was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

Concerned about the terrible humanitarian and political repercussions such a war would likely have for the entire region, citizens across the globe organized popular protests in an attempt to prevent the imminent invasion of a country already devastated by years of economic sanctions. Moreover, as it became clear that the United States intended to attack without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council, international solidarity activists concluded that any attempt to resist the war on terror necessitated direct action rather than traditional forms of democratic mobilization.

At the end of 2002, US military veteran Kenneth O’Keefe implored various activist groups to join forces in an effort to stop the war through pacifist intervention “from below.” Scores of people heeded his call and formed the Human Shield Action group. They bought three double-decker buses in London and drove across Europe and through Turkey and Syria all the way to Baghdad. Meanwhile, groups ready to join the movement and serve as voluntary human shields in Iraq began mushrooming in Australia, India, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, New Zealand, Korea, and Japan. At its peak, the movement numbered five hundred activists.

Among those who reached Iraq was the former director of Greenpeace Turkey, who in her memoir recounts that the volunteers came from different walks of life and included Buddhists, Islamists, Christian socialists, anarchists, social democrats, monarchists, and conscientious objectors. Their commitment to human life united them, as well as their willingness to act in solidarity with those who were being put in danger’s way. Ultimately, they believed that risking their lives was the best way to prevent the Western aerial bombing campaign and predictable civilian deaths. Thus, resistance through human shielding became the glue uniting activists from radically different political, ideological, and spiritual backgrounds.

Humanitarian shielding action

Determined to reach the battlefield, the Human Shield Action group coordinated their entry into Iraq with Saddam Hussein’s government—they had no other option if they wanted to enter the country—while simultaneously trying to preserve their political autonomy. Although they did not want to be manipulated by the Iraqi regime, they followed this route because they believed that their action could actually have a tangible impact on the impending war.

On the eve of the US attack, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released a report entitled Putting Noncombatants at Risk: Saddam’s Use of “Human Shields,” which denounced Saddam Hussein’s use of involuntary shields—Iraqi and foreign civilians, as well as prisoners of war—to protect strategic installations during the 1990–1991 First Gulf War. The CIA then went on to analyze the current crisis, claiming that “Baghdad is encouraging international peace groups to send members to Iraq to serve as voluntary human shields, and the Iraqi military continues its longstanding policy of placing military assets near civilian facilities and in densely populated areas.” Two months later, General Richard B. Meyers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that all forms of shielding of military targets are illegal, even when civilians “volunteer for this purpose.” Legally speaking, there was, in his eyes, no difference between involuntary and voluntary shields.

Things on the ground were, however, more complicated than the CIA and General Meyers claimed. The shields repeatedly stressed their independence from Saddam Hussein’s regime both in their press releases and in official exchanges with the Iraqi government. Donna Mulhearn—an Australian human shield in charge of media relations—explained the group’s position in a journal entry from Baghdad: “The human shields value life, all life. We opposed the Iraqi regime and its crimes before it was trendy to do so. . . . To say that opponents to war are automatically Hussein supporters is just childish and implicates millions of people around the world who have expressed their opposition.” 

In a letter to President George W. Bush, the activists further reiterated their autonomy from the Iraqi government and underscored that the locations they had selected for shielding were not military targets. “You,” they wrote the president, “should be aware that each of these human shields has voluntarily installed him or herself on these sites in an effort to deter the aerial bombing of vital infrastructure without which normal civilian life cannot exist.”

Since their action was prompted by a nonviolent ethic of care by civilians for civilians, their aim was not to protect Iraqi military installations; they situated themselves, instead, at power plants, water treatment stations, and food silos that sustained millions of civilians, as well as in oil refineries located close to civilian areas, hospitals, and communication centers. Their intervention represented a specific form of nongovernmental solidarity that could be characterized as a humanitarian shielding action—a form of human shielding driven by a sense of humanity and compassion for vulnerable civilians trapped in a war zone. 

This type of direct action differs, however, from classical forms of humanitarian aid. Both humanitarian aid and humanitarian shielding actions are responses to real or potential humanitarian crises affecting civilian populations, yet humanitarian aid organizations like Oxfam or CARE rely on sophisticated bureaucratic mechanisms that aim to alleviate suffering while, at least ostensibly, excluding politics and political activists. By contrast, humanitarian shielding is political through and through and sets out to prevent the horrors of war rather than mitigate its devastating effects. If humanitarian organizations aspire to ease and relieve the suffering caused by war, humanitarian shields attempt to avert or stop it altogether.

Just as important, guaranteeing the staff’s protection within the conflict zone is a key imperative that informs the way humanitarian aid organizations operate, while, for humanitarian shields, risk is the essential means for averting a humanitarian catastrophe. They understand that resisting violence and shielding innocent lives might entail taking the ultimate risk, the risk of dying.

Active civilians

Contrary to their hopes, the Human Shield Action group did not manage to stop the war. Nonetheless, they did demonstrate that civilians willing to risk their lives in an effort to protect other civilians trapped in a war zone can, in fact, create a peaceful obstacle against the use of lethal violence. Significantly, none of the sites they occupied were hit by aerial strikes, except for a telecommunication building that was bombed the day after the human shields had abandoned it. Those in the United States who supported the invasion argued that this clearly demonstrated the surgical and proportionate nature of the military’s use of force and that the troops had never intended to target civilian sites. From another perspective, this observation suggests that the shielding had actually worked. Precisely because human shielding altered the military and legal calculations in the battlefield, it served as a successful form of deterrence and resistance.

Irrespective of the reasons why the civilian sites were not bombed, the voluntary human shields in Iraq did present a legal challenge to the attacking forces. This became obvious when the US government decided to charge citizens who had served as human shields after they returned home. The activists were sued for up to $1 million on the grounds that their travel to Iraq was “unauthorized” and that their shielding actions comprised an “exportation of services” that violated the sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein’s regime. They were also accused of “shielding a Government of Iraq (GOI) infrastructure from possible U.S. military action.” 

The courts, however, were unable to convict the citizens because the locations they stayed in were not legitimate military targets. While military and legal experts have continued to frame voluntary human shielding as a form of direct participation in hostilities—which means that civilians who serve as shields lose the protections bestowed upon them by international law—civilian sites tend to be illegitimate targets. Therefore, it is difficult legally to characterize people protecting them as human shields and thus as participants in hostilities. 

Simultaneously, the voluntary shields challenged the laws of armed conflict because the legal articles dealing with human shielding are restricted to situations where civilians or prisoners of war are forced to become shields and do not, as one report stated, “cover an event where individuals acted knowingly and on their own initiative.” This, as we have seen, is due to the way international law construes civilians as passive actors. Thus, when civilians become active in a nonviolent and protective way, they challenge existing legal assumptions. Precisely because voluntary human shields in the case of Iraq were active civilians protecting civilian sites, the question of how to treat them remained unresolved. Accordingly, such shielding activities elude the law…

  Human Shields: The Weapon of the Strong  

by Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini

October 22, 2015In a series of interventions, Adil Ahmad Haque and Charlie Dunlap have debated the Defense Department Law of War Manual’s position on human shields (herehere, and here). Claiming that the manual does not draw a distinction between voluntary and involuntary human shields, Haque maintains that it ignores the principle of proportionality, thus permitting the killing of defenseless civilians who are used as involuntary shields. Dunlap, however, insists that the manual includes all the necessary precautions for protecting civilians used as shields by enemy combatants, and argues that the adoption of Haque’s approach would actually encourage the enemy to increase the deployment of involuntary human shields. The two scholars clearly disagree on a number of legal issues, and yet they both treat human shielding as an ahistorical phenomenon and therefore fail to address a much more fundamental question: Why does the Law of War Manual suddenly include clauses dealing with human shields? Why in 2015 and not before?

At first glance, this might seem like an irrelevant question. However, if one considers that human shields were neither mentioned in the 1956 Department of the Army Field Manual, which preceded the new manual, nor in much more recent manuals published by the DOD (such as the 2009 US Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, where human shields are extremely relevant), it becomes clear that the introduction of human shields clauses in the new manual has great legal and political significance.

This is not to say that DOD has never mentioned the use of human shields in its manuals. In the 2005 Law of War Handbook, one clause is dedicated to human shields, but it is significantly different from the clauses in the new manual. It reads: “Civilians may not be used as ‘human shields’ in an attempt to immunize an otherwise lawful military objective. However, violation of this rule by a party to the conflict does not relieve the opponent of the obligation to do everything feasible to implement the concept of distinction.” But, other than that, DOD has not weighed in on the use of human shields until its latest manual.

This becomes even more striking once one takes into account that human shielding is not a new phenomenon and, at least theoretically, could have appeared in all the previous manuals. Already by 1867, immediately after the Civil War, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman explained the advantage of using human shields on the battlefield. He wrote:

[I]f torpedoes [land mines] are found in the possession of an enemy to our rear, you may cause them to be put on the ground, and tested by wagon loads of prisoners, or if need be, by citizens implicated in their use. In like manner, if a [land mine] is suspected on any part of the road, order the point to be tested by a car-load of prisoners, or citizens implicated, drawn by a long rope. Of course an enemy cannot complain of his own traps.

During World War II, the Allies bombed Nazi trains carrying ammunition even though they were aware that civilian prisoners were being used to shield the trains from aerial attacks. Indeed, immediately following the war, at the Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, German armed forces were accused of human shielding. In Vietnam, the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians spurred international legal debates (on the eve of the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions) about the status of civilian populations in wartime and their use as shields. And, in the 1990s, Saddam Hussein’s and Slobodan Milosevic’s use of human shields garnered considerable media attention.

Given this long history, the question of why human shields suddenly appeared in the 2015 Law of War Manual urgently needs to be addressed. Our counterintuitive hypothesis is that human shields are not only being deployed as a weapon of the weak against high tech states (the underlying assumption of both Haque and Dunlap), but that the legal phrase “human shield” has also been mobilized by strong states to legitimize the increasing deaths of civilians on the battlefield. This has become especially true following the so-called “War on Terror” and new US military occupations.

To better understand our claim, it is crucial to acknowledge the exponential increase in civilian casualties in warfare, which is due both to the development of modern weaponry and to the fact that, following decolonization, non-whites have acquired the previously denied status of civilians; therefore, their deaths have also begun to be counted. The increasing civilian death toll has, in turn, led to the emergence of firmer protections through various international conventions, all of which categorize wanton civilian deaths as a war crime. Despite these legal innovations, the arenas of war continue to expand, while more and more civilians are being killed, including by liberal western armies. And it is precisely in this postcolonial legal and political setting that the US and other western governments want to preserve a position of moral superiority.

This, we suggest, is the reason why the category of human shield has acquired such an important role. The manual states:

5.5.4 [I]n some cases, a party to a conflict may attempt to use the presence or movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to shield military objectives from seizure or attack. When enemy persons engage in such behavior, commanders should continue to seek to discriminate in conducting attacks and to take feasible precautions to reduce the risk of harm to the civilian population and civilian objects. However, the ability to discriminate and to reduce the risk of harm to the civilian population likely will be diminished by such enemy conduct. In addition, such conduct by the adversary does not increase the legal obligations of the attacking party to discriminate in conducting attacks against the enemy.

Insofar as human shielding limits the ability to discriminate, it legitimizes the increase of harm to civilians. Therefore, even if the manual would have explicitly stated that the killing of civilians framed as human shields should be subjected to the principle of proportionality (Haque’s suggestion), the main problem would not have been resolved because when a person on a battlefield is defined as a human shield — a vulnerable civilian body that willingly or even unwillingly becomes a technology of warfare whose function is to render a military target immune — he or she irreversibly loses some of the protections traditionally assigned to civilians by international humanitarian law (IHL). Once IHL draws a distinction between civilians and human shields (whether voluntary or not), this distinction can easily be marshaled to relax the test of excessive injury to civilians — meaning that the principle of proportionality works differently when civilians are framed as shields.

Several liberal commenters and even prominent humanitarian institutions believe that a distinction between civilians and human shields is important. Legal scholar Yoram Dinstein writes that the “appraisal of whether civilian casualties are excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated must make allowances for the fact that—if an attempt is made to shield military objectives with civilians—civilian casualties will be higher than usual.” Even the International Committee of the Red Cross claims, in a manual entitled Fight it Right, that the “attacking commander is required to do his best to protect [human shields] but he is entitled to take the defending commander’s actions into account when considering the rule of proportionality.” Killing human shields is, in other words, not the same as killing civilians.

A slightly different line of argument, whose consequences also underscore the implication of framing civilians as human shields, has been voiced by several just war theorists from Michael Walzer to Asa Kasher. Analyzing Israel’s recent wars in Gaza, Walzer and Kasher concur that Palestinian human shields are indeed civilians, but they maintain that even though Israel killed them, the country is not responsible for their deaths. Hamas, these just war theorists aver, shoulders a double responsibility: for attacking Israeli civilians and for the deaths of Palestinian civilians it uses as shields.

In this context, it is not surprising that the new Law of War Manual introduced human shielding clauses. The manual provides the US military with a new tool, allowing it to construe enemy civilians as human shields. Irrespective of the question of proportionality and its case-by-case interpretation, the manual enables as well as justifies a higher degree of violence and “collateral” damage during warfare. From this point of view, the introduction of the human shield clauses should be understood as the introduction of a legal technology that shields the strong from potential accusations of having committed war crimes.