Another prize catch at Columbia (Barnard College, to be specific): Meet Bashir Abu-Manneh.
Who is this guy? A radical-leftist himself, and an expert in "postcolonial theory," Abu-Manneh has taught a course called Cultures Of Colonialism: Palestine/Israel: "The significance of colonial encounter, statehood, and dispossession in Palestinian and Israeli cultures from 1948 to the present..."
Abu-Manneh is a frequent contributor to radical Z-Mag -- "The Spirit of Resistance Lives." Here are a few selections:
Liberal Education and Aggressive Nationalism (transcript of a talk around the film Columbia Unbecoming)
...In the War of 1948, the Jewish Haganah forces (which means defense in Hebrew) committed tens of massacres in Palestine, pillaging their way through Palestinian homes, towns, and villages and occupying lands which were not even allocated to them by the UN partition plan of 1947. They exceeded their internationally recognized borders even before the so-called Arab Liberation Army declared war on the Jewish state. For the Jewish forces, the expulsion of around a million Palestinians, the expropriation of their lands, the razing and destruction of their 350 villages, and the active prevention of their return were of course all measures of self-defense. Under the guise of defense, Israel aggressively asserted political sovereignty and supremacy in Palestine, and created what Ben Gurion (the founder of the State of Israel) once approvingly called "the dictatorship of the Jewish people." Wars of aggression have since then become a specialty of the Jewish State. The list is long: the attack (with Britain and France) on Egypt in 1956; the crushing of three Arab armies in 1967 in six days, occupying the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, and the Golan Heights; and, the invasion and occupation of Lebanon in 1982, which resulted in the slaughter of 20,000 civilians. Israel also persists in systematically oppressing and denying the national rights of the Palestinians, both inside and outside of its borders. Its own Palestinian citizens, who lived under a cruel military regime until 1966, continue to this day to be subjected to systematic discrimination and unequal civil and political rights. And the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza continue to suffer the brutality of the longest occupation in modern times...
The excesses of power are clearly in evidence here. Yet Israel continues to present itself as a victim-state and persists in exploiting the deaths of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust (and the sufferings of many more) for its own colonial interests. The more Palestinians it kills, uproots, and dispossess, the more checkpoints it creates, closures it ruthlessly enforces, walls and colonies it builds, property it destroys, homes it demolishes, and lives it reduces, the more it needs to exploit the Holocaust to ward off criticism of its oppressive policies and destructive urges. The opening of the new Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem is yet another step in this direction...
Bombing and Denying: Israel's Strategy
Being in Israel these days is as strange as ever: an Israeli military machine that kills Palestinians daily is wedded to a society that denies their humanity daily. The more Israel punishes Palestinians, destroys their basic infrastructure, eradicates their social institutions, terrorizes them, and forces them to live in fear and despair, the more the Israeli elite and its fourth strongest army in the world obsesses over a primitive Palestinian-made short-range rocket like the "Qassam" (which causes minimal damage and is far from a serious threat to life or property) or a "mastermind of terror" like exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal; breeds doubt over (or, outrightly denies) the Israeli army's killing of scores of families in Gaza; legitimizes the illegal arrest of tens of democratically-elected Palestinian representatives and officials; and presents Palestinians as a nation of terrorists who seek to eradicate Israel.
For Israel, then, to be Palestinian today is to be subhuman. Racism is thus endemic to present Israeli politics and society. The current conception of Israeli nationhood is premised on the notion that Israeli-Jews are superior human beings...
Palestinian Self-determination and the Israeli Occupation
...The Israeli expansion into the remaining 22% of Palestine in 1967 (when the Jewish army destroyed the forces of three Arab countries and occupied the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Desert, and the Golan Heights in a mere six days).
What this brief sampling of facts about the Occupation means is clear. The conclusion is obvious: Israel doesn't want peace and Palestinian bourgeois nationalism has failed to force it to do so...
Occupied Palestine: Prisoners, Colonial Elites, and Fundamentalists
[Insisting on solidarity with Hamas]...In brief, then, the document strongly and unquestionably affirms all Palestinian rights (of self-determination, return, and resistance... [castigating Fatah for becoming "Israel's colonial enforcer":] ...Such archaic logic is clearly a problem, as is the Fatah elite's own abysmal record in politics. Worse than hanging on to fundamentalist doctrines, the Fatah elite seems hardly interested in ending the occupation, let alone in creating a united resistance front with Hamas...
On the recent war:
...Joining me is Professor Bashir Abu-Manneh, a Palestinian from Israel who is just back from Haifa.
Professor, thanks for joining us.
First, give us a sense of what life is like in Haifa right now [Abu-Manneh is a graduate of University of Haifa]?
PROF. BASHIR ABU-MANNEH, BARNARD COLLEGE: ...You cannot, really, to my mind, compare the suffering and the effect that this war has had on the Israelis -- you can't compare it with the devastating effects that it has been having on the Lebanese people in the south, in Beirut, in the north, being besieged, bombarded from the sea, from the air, from the ground. I think a lot of people have been reminded of the 1982 situation and have described it to me, a lot of Lebanese people in Beirut, as again the Israeli-created living hell.
I worry much more, much more about what is happening in Lebanon than what is happening in northern Israel, even though there have been fatalities, the numbers have been very small, the predominantly Lebanese people have been affected by this so-called war...
Take a gander at this petition that Abu-Manneh is a signatory to: STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLES OF LEBANON & PALESTINE
...The short peace that Lebanon enjoyed has come to an end, and a paralyzed country is forced to remember a past it had hoped to forget. The state terror inflicted on Lebanon is being repeated in the Gaza ghetto, while the 'international community' stands by and watches in silence. Meanwhile the rest of Palestine is annexed and dismantled with the direct participation of the United States and the tacit approval of its allies.
We offer our solidarity and support to the victims of this brutality and to those who mount a resistance against it. For our part, we will use all the means at our disposal to expose the complicity of our governments in these crimes. There will be no peace in the Middle East while the occupations of Palestine and Iraq and the bombings of Lebanon continue...
Finally, the ultimate in hypocrisy from a radical professor and graduate of an Israeli University (I wonder what country's passport he has in his pocket?), his signature on a petition in solidarity with the academic boycott of Israeli scholars and universities (on the web site of Mona Baker, she who infamously fired Israelis from the staff of her academic publication): De-Colonization through Academic Engagement?: The Blurred Vision of Al-Quds University's Administration
To conclude, I'd like to turn to the words of Abu-Manneh in the first of his Z-Net essays that I linked to above:
...I'd like to conclude with a warning for the future: Beware when the powerful cry tears of victimhood. Beware when those tears seek to curtail legitimate academic discussion and silence the truth about Israel. And Beware when all of this is done in the name of Academic Freedom. Always ask, with Martin Buber: "What for?"
Why, indeed. Why is it that schools like Columbia must seek so far and wide for scholars like Bashir Abu-Manneh? What is it that they offer, why are they recruited, and why do they draw salaries here? What for?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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