Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Demonization of Israel (and America) on US Campuses

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

Anti-Israel demonstration at UC-Irvine

The Israeli incursion into Gaza last December-January unleashed a wave of anti-Israel protests across North America and Europe instigated by pro-Palestinian elements in Western societies. In the US, some of the protests were on the streets of cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ft Lauderdale and Toronto. Other protests took place on college campuses. In addition, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian activists organized several “seminars” on college campuses across the US ostensibly to “discuss” the Israel-Palestinian conflict. They were anything but balanced. In essence, they represented nothing more than an attempt to give the prestige of the university and so-called “scholarship” to defame the state of Israel, accuse it of war crimes and call for its dismantling in favor on a one-state solution under Palestinian rule. In addition, this organized campaign also involved-and involves to this day- a huge amount of America-bashing as Israel’s ally. This represents nothing less than a concerted effort in our universities to stigmatize the Israeli nation and our own country as well.

The first question that should be addressed is who is carrying out this “academic program” to tear apart Israel? It mostly consists of an unholy alliance of Middle Eastern professors who teach in our universities and traditional left-wing radical professors who have taken up the Palestinian cause since it fits like a glove into their own anti-American agenda. These are largely the 1960s reprobates, who grew up on Viet Nam and Watergate and to this day, believe that America is a deeply flawed nation in need of a top to bottom overhaul. Into this mix has been added another element, the 150 or so Muslim Student Associations in universities across the US who organize many of the anti-Israel events on their campuses. These events feature a series of speakers who not only demonize Israel, but the US as well. Some speakers even go so far as to attack Jews. In fact, what we are witnessing across North America, Europe and even parts of Latin America is a resurgence of anti-Semitism fueled by the Israel-Palestinian conflict and featuring aspects of modern anti-Jewish feeling that feed off the typical Jewish stereotypes.

There are few universities in the US whose humanities departments are not stocked with a solid majority of liberals-many of whom can only be described as solid leftists. They dominate most universities to the point that conservative voices are drowned out or simply non-existent. This carries over into the Middle East issue where many professors have joined the Palestinian cause as part and parcel of their leftist ideology.

Let me take a few examples: At UC Santa Barbara, sociology professor William Robinson recently sent e-mails to his students comparing the Israeli military to Nazis carrying out the Holocaust. This caused some students to complain to the university. Another UCSB professor , Richard Falk of the Dept of Global and International Studies, also regularly attacks Israel, and according to Campus Watch, has stated that “America and Israel are most addicted to reliance on moral superiority. They practice genocidal geopolitics.” ( Leftist professor Lisa Hajjar, formerly of UC Santa Barbara, now at UCLA is a regular basher of Israel and the US. During the Gaza conflict, she participated in a “seminar” at UCLA in which she told a Jewish questioner who took an opposing stand (Eric Golub) that “that Zionist hat on your head is screwed on way too tight”. (The hat was actually a fedora.)

Of course, there are others at UCLA like Gabriel Piterberg and Saree Makdisi who travel the college circuit attacking Israel. At Stanford, there is Joel Beinin, professor of history, who regularly not only denounces Israel, but “US imperialism” as well. At MIT, there is the noted linguist Noam Chomsky, who also writes and speaks regularly on how bad the US and Israel are. Columbia has both Joseph Massad and Rashid Khalidi, both controversial Palestinian advocates. The above represent only a tiny sampling. The list goes on and on all over the United States and Canada.

Without putting each and every professor into each and every ideological box, there are common threads that can be found when looking at them in general. Their mostly common message is that Israel is imperialist, racist, not a legitimate state, is conducting deliberate genocide against the Palestinian people and deliberately targeting civilians. They mostly believe that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state. One of their side issues is that American universities should divest themselves of Israeli financial interests.

Most also preach the message that the US is imperialist and guilty of complicity in Israel’s “crimes against humanity”. Many will also tell you that the US is a “racist” nation. They will tell you that our war against terror is at best misguided and at worst a war against Muslim people worldwide.

In addition, many are Marxist in their political outlook. They do not respect our form of democracy and hate capitalism with a fervor.

In many cases, academic leftists, many with roots in the Middle East, have joined with traditional American leftists, anarchists and radical Islamists in order to bring an anti-Israel, anti-America, anti-Jew message to college campuses to the point where many Jews do not feel comfortable asserting their Jewish identity on campus. On many campuses, including where I teach at UC-Irvine, Jews have occasionally been accosted, insulted or shoved by pro-Palestinian students during MSU-sponsored events that attack Israel. In addition, MSU-sponsored speakers at UCI have glorified suicide bombers (Amir Abdel Malik Ali) and stated that “Jews are low-life ghetto-dwellers” or “You can take a Jew out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the Jew”. (Mohammed al-Asi). This type of hate speech gets a pass from UCI administrators because it is “free speech”. It should be noted that speakers such as the above, while condemning Israel in one breath, will condemn the US in the next breath. And here, I speak as a first-hand witness.

Attend virtually any public “seminar” on the Israel-Palestinian problem on a university campus and you will see a hall packed full of Palestinian supporters where any defenders of Israel are jeered, shouted down or ridiculed by the speakers when they dare to challenge his or her point of view. Here again, I speak from first-hand experience. Watch this video taken May 21, 2009 at UCI when I asked British politician and Palestinian supporter George Galloway about incidents of anti-Semitism on the part of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in the US.

Was Mr Galloway not aware of the numerous incidents that had taken place in December and January at protests in Ft Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto and other places where pro-Palestinians yelled things like, “Jews back to the ovens”, “Long live Hitler”, “Hitler didn’t finish the job”? He made a fool out of himself by calling me a liar because everything I quoted was documented on YouTube.

Interestingly, many of the figures of whom I write are of Jewish descent themselves. One prime example is Norman Finklestein, late of DePaul University, an acid-tongued character who seemingly hates Israel and his own country equally if you follow his invective-laced rhetoric. Tony Judt at NYU uses his position to launch countless attacks against Israel even though his area of expertise is European history. There are many others who lend their Jewish background to the anti-Israel cause, and thus, give “credibility” to those who want to drive every last Jew out of the Middle East. In addition, there are organizations that masquerade as Jewish advocacy groups, such as J Street that are really dedicated to bringing about an end to the Jewish state.

So this is the side show that these people are bringing to universities across the nation. Whether in the classrooms or in seminar halls, they teach our young that Israel and its ally, America are rotten entities. They bring no balance or real intellectual discussion to their cause. Opposition voices on campus are to be derided or simply shut down. These people, even with their PHDs, are academic frauds who have taken over higher education in America and made it a joke. Sadly, they are enabled by weak-kneed college administrators who have allowed this situation to fester and grow like a cancer over the last four decades.

Reasonable people can agree to disagree on the Israel-Palestinian issue. However, American students are not getting a balanced presentation of the issue. This is antithetical to what universities are supposed to be-places where students are exposed to all sides of an issue. In addition, honest disagreement over this issue is no excuse to bring about a resurgence in anti-Semitism.

I don’t know the solution to this problem other than to expose it for what it is and help educate the public as to how their tax or tuition dollars are being spent. Eventually, it is up to the public to demand reform. And reform is the key word here. This is not education. This is indoctrination.

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