Middle East studies in the News
Anti-Israel Campus Bullies Demand Freedom From Criticism [incl. Steven Salaita]
by William A. Jacobson
This is really rich.
The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is extremely aggressive on campus, something we have documented hundreds of times.
That aggressiveness is carried out on the streets and campus areas by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), whose aggressive actions are meant to and do intimidate other students.
Here is how SJP acted at Cornell when pro-Israel students silently held pro-Israel signs:
(added) Here's how pro-Israel speakers are treated in European campuses:
Just scroll through the BDS Tag and you will find many more examples.
But the aggressiveness isn't just physical bullying by students, it includes academic bullying by anti-Israel faculty, who seek to slam the doors of academia in the faces of Israelis as part of the academic boycott movement. That academic boycott movement violates the academic freedom not just of Israelis, but of Americans who want to interact with Israeli academic institutions and scholars.
SJP members and their faculty supporters hurl the worst invective against Israel, meant to portray Israel as a gross caricature, and to demonize and dehumanize Israeli Jews and American Jews who support Israel. Words like "genocide," "ethnic cleansing" and "Apartheid" are repeated endlessly even though not applicable, and decades of blatant anti-Semitic propaganda and violence are blamed on Israel:
I have written many times that the first instinct of these anti-Israel bullies when pro-Israel and pro-academic freedom groups push back is to scream that the boycotters are being boycotted.
They invent a mythical lack of free speech. Anyone who spends any time on campus knows that being anti-Israel is a de facto job requirement in the Humanities and Social Sciences. World-renowned scholar of academic freedom Cary Nelson has written a monumental article documenting how pro-Palestinian sympathies have entered into the academic hiring process, Steven Salaita's Scholarly Record and the Problem of His Appointment.
What did they expect? That they could purvey their hatred and attempt to destroy our campuses and our academic freedom without criticism?
You also need to understand that the attempt to portray anti-Israel groups on campus as grassroots and underfunded is false. There are highly organized, well-funded groups supporting the supposedly grassroots students and faculty.
One of the groups, Palestine Legal, released a report in which it screams that pro-Palestinian voices are silenced, when in fact virtually all the evidence they point to is that people have criticized anti-Israel activists for outrageous conduct. So what Palestine Legal really is saying is that anti-Israel voices should be free from criticism — that is the real Palestine Exception to Free Speech.
They even mention Legal Insurrection in their polished report because we challenged the tax-exempt status of the American Studies Association after it adopted the academic boycott of Israel, and documented the rejection of that boycott by over 250 university presidents and many academic associations.
How is that bullying? We laid out our legal basis, and it is sound — all we sought to do is hold the ASA to the applicable statutes and regulations governing educational tax exemptions. Why should ASA have a tax-exemption to which it is not entitled?
Seriously, this is silencing your speech?
Al-Jazeera covered the report release almost immediately, and had a relevant quote from the leader of Stand With Us, a pro-Israel advocay group:
Palestine Legal also released a professionally-produced video featuring, among others, leaders of the academic boycott movement include former American Studies Association President NYU professor Lisa Duggan (who uses her faculty status for anti-Israel activism), the controversial professor Steven Salaita (who is in litigation over his failure to obtain a tenured position at U. Illinois), and Corey Robin of Brooklyn College.
As you watch this video, remember that Salaita and Duggan devote their lives to destroying academic freedom for others. You can read about Duggan here, and about some of Salaita's tweets here. Sarah Schulman is the person who invented the vile "pinkwashing" claim against Israel, which perversely seeks to condemn Israel because it has LGBT-friendly policies. I don't know the students in this film, but keep in mind the mountain of evidence of intimidating physical conduct by SJP — which is the reason administrators in charge of campus safety tread carefully when SJP is involved.
This is complete nonsense, just the whining of people who started a fight they are not prepared to finish.
I have stated many times that I wish they didn't start it, that they believed in peaceful cooperation and understanding, that they chose dialogue over demonization — but they didn't and that was their choice. It's my choice and the choice of others to lawfully oppose them and to criticize them vigorously.
Almost simultaneously, the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace released a similar report, Stifling Dissent:
Seriously, JVP is accusing people of making false accusations? That is what JVP does all day long, as we demonstrated exhaustively – Jewish Voice for Peace "Jew Washing" the anti-Israel movement.
I think this all is a good sign.
The American people overwhelmingly support Israel.
SJP, Palestine Legal and JVP live in campus bubbles of anti-Israel sentiment. The bubbles are bursting. And the sound you hear is whining.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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