First, a follow-up on our post about the George Washington University instructor “on loan from Hebrew University” and sponsored by Mitchell Bard’s American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, who quit in a huff mid-semester after students–Jewish students actually– complained that she was too “pro-Israel” in her course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One of our favorite blogs, The Magnes Zionist, written by an Israeli-American orthodox Jewish studies professor, looked into the case of the instructor Hannah Diskin a little more carefully and discovered that things are not as they seem. (TMZ has a thought-provoking response to the charges that it is unfair to Single Israel out for Moral Opprobrium.) (Editor’s note: I just saw that Tikun Olam also has very interesting original research on the story.)
Now, Lily Galili has penned “A McCarthyite attempt to brand academics” in Ha’aretz, about a new paper, “Our Inner Scourge: The Catastrophe of Israel Academics,” which was written by the “radical right-wing” Ariel Center for Policy Research in cooperation with Israel-Academic Monitor, a group that uses yellow journalism hysteria to write about the infiltration of leftists in Israeli academia and publishes peace petitions signed by academics as a kind of black-listing service. As Galili says:
The catastrophe [in the paper] lies neither in the financial situation of Israeli academia nor in its standards, nor even in the low wages professors receive. It lies in its leftism. A list of people suspected of being leftists or activists appears at the end of the paper.
Like blacklists from other times and regimes, a kind of warning arises from the list, organized according to the universities and academic institutions with which the enemies of the people are affiliated. Among them are leading Israeli intellectuals and Israel Prize laureates.
Actually, judging by the abstract (you have to pay $10 to get the actual paper), the approach would truly do McCarthy proud, who famously waved around a piece of paper on which he claimed was a list of names of 200 card-carrying Communists who had infiltrated the US State Department. (His charges were never substantiated.) According to the authors of this paper, the infiltration of Israeli academia is even worse:
It is estimated that some 20 to 25% of people who teach the Humanities and Social Sciences in Israel’s universities and colleges have expressed extreme anti-Zionist positions, largely, though not exclusively, in regard to Israel’s policies and actions vis-ŕ-vis the Arab Palestinians. In addition to their expression of anti-Zionist, and often outright anti-Semitic attitudes, they have engaged in public demonstrations, prepared and signed petitions addressed to soldiers in the IDF to disobey their commanders’ orders and not serve in Judea and Samaria, and have been active in encouraging academic organizations abroad (particularly in England) to boycott Israel universities and academics. These academic personnel travel abroad and consistently denounce Israel for a series of crimes against Arabs that are as fictitious as are the claims made by the Arabs themselves.
The abstract also states, in case there is any question about how much it owes to McCarthyite thinking:
Not a few of the anti-Zionist academics were lifetime communists and adhere to a Marxist ideology that opposes separate nationalism beyond the international brotherhood of the proletariat. To dismantle Israel is a first step in this direction, despite the fact that other nations oddly enough refuse to follow suit.
Lily Galili finds this all absurd in light of the state of Israeli academia:
Contrary to the name of a small left-wing group, “The Campus Is Not Silent,” the campus is indeed silent. Israeli academia as a body has never taken a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or even on issues with which it is directly connected; for example, when Israel closed the universities in the West Bank for a long period, or on the issue of the checkpoints that prevent students and lecturers from reaching their academic institutions. Now comes the Ariel Center, and every non-opinionated member of Israeli academia becomes Che Guevara without trying.
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