Middle East studies in the News
In The Wall Street Journal, Michael Oren is Right: Israel's Enemies Seek Its Delegitimization
Snapshots (Blog of CAMERA)
In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed ("What Happened to Israel's Reputation?" May 15, 2012), Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren describes a glowing article about Israel published in Life magazine in 1973 and asks, "Would a mainstream magazine depict the Jewish state like this today?"
As CAMERA's work attests every day, the answer is clearly "No."
Oren then asks, "Why has Israel's image deteriorated? After all, Israel today is more democratic and -- despite all the threats it faces -- even more committed to peace." Oren recounts both the dangers Israel confronts and the sacrifices the Jewish state has made for peace, to little avail. But Oren lands on the root cause of negative perceptions of Israel when he notes:
Since Israel's enemies have failed to defeat the Jewish state in numerous wars they have launched against her and since their armed infiltrations and terrorist attacks have also failed, they have initiated a war of ideas aimed at undermining the global consensus on Israel's very right to exist.
In October of 2010, CAMERA convened a conference, "War by Other Means: The Global Campaign to Delegitimize Israel." The conference highlighted the various venues used by Israel's enemies to undermine her legitimacy: college campuses, non-governmental organizations, churches, inter-governmental organizations such as the United Nations, and the media. Through these, even people of goodwill are misinformed and misled by those who seek to destroy Israel.
And, as Mark Steyn, who spoke at the conference, correctly stated, "Israel is not primarily a Jewish concern. It's a Western concern. Israel is on the front line of the battle the West will be fighting. It's important that Israel survive and it's important to expose hypocrisy about it."
Whether it's conferences at Harvard or the University of Pennsylvania or other universities, the campaign to delegitimize Israel has found fertile ground in academia. Professors have been known to spout hatred and anti-Israel invective at rallies, public meetings, and even in the classroom. As analyst Jonathan Schanzer writes:
Much of the funding for Middle East Studies programs comes from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated $20 million to Harvard University and another $20 million to Georgetown.
Groups led by anti-Israel students and professional agitators have organized protests and marches which promote the false arguments of the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement. So-called "Israel Apartheid" myths are frequently disseminated, attempting to align Israel with the racist South African regime.
Biased anti-Israel campus activity sometimes spreads to the wider community. Harvard'sMiddle East Outreach Center has disseminated skewed curricular materials that potentially mislead young students at both private and public schools about Israel's legitimacy.
In theory, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are non-profit groups that promote universal moral values such as human rights, democracy and other social interests. In practice, they frequently ignore these very values, instead directing biased attacks on the only open, liberal democracy in the Middle East, Israel.
Even the founder of Human Rights Watch, Robert Bernstein, condemned the very organization which he founded in The New York Times:
Again, a lot can be gleaned from looking at the funding of these groups. According to NGO Monitor:
A number of churches including the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, the United Church of Canada and others have a troubling record on Israel. While the overwhelming majority of Christians support Israel wholeheartedly, some are manipulated by false claims.
For example, the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center has promoted an anti-Israel narrative in mainline Protestant churches. Sabeel holds Israel, Jews, and Judaism to unique standards of behavior while subjecting Israel's foes to virtually no scrutiny at all.
In December 2009, a document written by Palestinian Christian leaders was published. It has come to be called the Kairos Palestine Document and CAMERA Christian Media Analyst Dexter Van Zile describes the document thusly:
This false narrative has been promoted in the Christian community by Israel's enemies and even embraced by some church leaders.
Thankfully, despite efforts to mislead them through various means including conferences such as the recent "Christ at the Checkpoint," the vast majority of Christians in North America strongly support Israel. When "60 Minutes" recently broadcast a highly-flawed report mischaracterizing the circumstances of Palestinian Christians, CBS received nearly 30,000 complaints from members of Christians United for Israel.
Israel receives particular scrutiny from inter-governmental organizations, most notably the various elements of the United Nations. From the Security Council to the General Assembly to UNESCO, Israel features all too prominently in their "work."
All refugees from all conflicts in the world come under the auspices of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Only Palestinian refugees are served by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). And so are their children and grandchildren. Even when they become citizens of other states, in other parts of the world, they do not lose their refugee status or the right to UNRWA services. This is not the case for any other group of refugees.
Until 2006, the United Nations Human Rights Commission was tasked with addressing human rights abuses around the world. Due to criticism that the Commission was composed of some of the worst human rights abusers and overly focused on condemnation of Israel, it was disbanded and replaced with the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).
Currently sitting on the HRC are, among others, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Libya, China, Cuba, Sudan, Iran and Congo. In other words, the Council, like its predecessor, is also composed of some of the worst human rights abusers.
And they are still overly focused on condemnation of Israel. In 2007, the UNHRC made Israel a permanent agenda item, namely "Item Number 7." Of all the UN member states, Israel alone rates its own agenda item. This item is discussed at every HRC session, regardless of what may be occurring anywhere else in the world.
In March, the HRC considered a resolution on "human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan," at which time the representative of the Assad regime accused Israel of committing "serious human rights violations" against the inhabitants of the Golan Heights. Keep in mind that this is the very Syrian regime that is in the midst of a campaign of violence against its own citizens, slaughtering thousands.
The American Ambassador to the HRC, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe recently criticized the workings of the HRC, stating, "The effectiveness and legitimacy of this council can never be complete as long as one country is unfairly and uniquely singled out for its own agenda item."
And what practical effect does the UN's fixation on Israel have? It leads the organization to turn a blind eye to real suffering elsewhere. Former Sudanese slave Simon Deng describes it best:
In the November/December 2011 issue of The Journal of Applied Business Research, Henry Silverman, Chair of the Information Systems, Accounting, Finance and Real Estate Department of Heller College of Business at Roosevelt University in Chicago, published a paper entitled, "Reuters: Principles Of Trust Or Propaganda?" This study examined articles related to the Middle East conflict published on Reuters Web sites over athree month period. Silverman concluded:
Note that Silverman's research finds not only systematic bias in the coverage, but also that this flawed reporting is able to influence the audience's feelings and even to motivate action.
Such coverage of the Middle East is, of course,the reason CAMERA exists and engages in continuous monitoring, exposing and countering of false and slanted reporting in The New York Times, National Public Radio, CBS, The Washington Post and many other news outlets.
There can be no doubt, as CAMERA's daily blogs and articles demonstrate, that in the war of ideas against Israel, the media battleground is paramount. For us to be effective soldiers, we must utilize our most powerful weapons -- our words. If "the pen is mightier than the sword," then the keyboard is a howitzer. Fire away!Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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