Middle East studies in the News
Pluto Press, Outlet for Anti-Israel Academics, Scrapped by the University of Michigan [incl. Joel Kovel, "Overcoming Zionism," Edward Said]
by Lee Kaplan
The impact on university systems by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been greater than most people who pay their taxes to support such institutions will ever know. Since universities are places that are supposed to promote the concept of new ideas, academic freedom and freedom of speech, they are also the perfect locales for indoctrination by presenting false information that would normally be proven false by scholarly research of the facts. Such false information today, however, is given equal weight against the facts as opinions and agendas replace serious scholasticism and research in educational materials such as books and by professors with an agenda. In turn, that false information gets disseminated over and over again later by graduates who know no better (or don't want to know better) and move into future teaching positions until the false information replaces facts for the following generations to come. This system serves to not just misinform future generations in general, but to also indoctrinate students of certain faculty members in a mindset of those who wish to indoctrinate rather than just educate their pupils.
A case in point is the late Edward Said, who is one of Pluto Press's published writers. Said encouraged people in the Palestinian movement to "Write your own history" and that "Facts don't matter, only emotions matter." When history becomes a fabrication to support an opinion or agenda, then true academic scholarship is lost. Sadly, this is happening in the American university and college system due to indirect payoffs to administrators and department heads of Arab oil money. European and Israeli universities tend to try and emulate what happens in America, so the same tendency follows (Unfortunately, the Israeli system doesn't get Arab oil money as a side benefit, only some professors do indirectly through the European Union).
Founded in 1969 by members of the Workers World Party, another name for the international communist movement, Pluto Press's owners nevertheless by 1979 decided that capitalism was desirable for them while spreading communism to the rest of the world, so became independent. But the publishing house continued in the same radical socialist vein, publishing books by authors prominent in communist and anarchist movements and philosophy, from Karl Marx to Noam Chomsky. Of course, the communist platform from Stalin on being against Israel, Pluto Press also became a clearinghouse for anti-Israel (euphemistically dubbed anti-Zionist) academic works also attacking the United States as Israel's protector.
Exclusive contracts with a major university assured that Pluto Press's books would be given the image of scholarly works, when in fact many of them were not researched or subject to peer review like serious scholarly works. This is in particular how things are done in the universities of the Arab world.
Pluto Press lost its American source of distribution through the prestigious University of Michigan Press due to poor scholasticism and a pattern of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish books said to counter "Zionism" (a.k.a. Jews). StandwithUS, a Jewish and Israel advocacy group, showed U. Michigan that material that was not scholastically accurate was being disseminated by U. Michigan Press as scholastically accurate material and included downright polemical tomes against Israel that were not even subject to peer review before dissemination as with other books. This was damaging the University's academic prestige.
At the heart of the matter was a book by Joe Kovel, Undermining Zionism, that was really just a rehash of Arab propaganda to suggest that a Jewish national homeland was not desirable in the interests of universal human rights. The Arabs have learned that in order to dominate Israel under Islamic sharia law and pan-Arab rule, they must deceive the West into thinking they are egalitarians and that a Jewish state is racist, when in fact it is merely deception by the Arabs to gain western sympathies to move in for the final kill. Undermining Zionism should have been titled Undermining Israel, the real polemic behind the book, another diatribe about Zionism as racism when Israel is really a pluralistic society surrounded by exclusively racist Muslim/Arab states vowed to its destruction.
A 2004 agreement had established UM Press as the exclusive American distributor of Pluto publications, which included anti- Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic books that were not subject to any kind of academic peer review for being scholastically sound. All of Pluto's books were anti-Israel, portraying the Jewish state as committing atrocities against the Arabs, the same ploy the Arabs use in their own press. It is telling that the University of Michigan took such action, especially since one of the largest concentrations of Palestinians who support Hamas and Hizballah lives in the vicinity of the University.
Sadly, there are enough communists of Jewish heritage who will use their heritage to pose as Jewish spokespeople for such a publishing house because destroying Israel is part of the publisher's platform to indoctrinate rather than educate. Secular Jews who resent the religious ones for their beliefs also provide a source for writings to smash the "Zionist state." These authors provide a perfect cover of Jews showing the rationality of destroying the Jewish state.
Pluto Press's list of available authors included only these "Jewish" or "Israeli academics who helped to serve the publisher's purpose of denigrating the Jewish state. The average person seeking information on the Middle East might read Kovel's book or similar ones put out by Pluto Press and fall for the faulty scholarship and outright lies within.
Among Pluto Press's Israeli academics or writers who are distributed by the publishing house are Efraim Nimni, Daniel Dor, Michel Warschawski, John Rose, Israel Shahak Nur Masalha, Marc H. Ellis, Noam Chomsky, Jeff Halper, Uri Avnery, Ghada Karmi, and Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, among others.
Never heard of most or some of them? You're not alone. Most readers of books put out by the University of Michigan trust the University's name that as scholastic works these books are factually researched and not just an opinion with an agenda behind them. But in the spirit of Edward Said, if enough emotions are tweaked with false information, facts no longer matter. That is the reason the University of Michigan finally decided to remove Pluto Press from its exclusive list of publishers.
To give you some idea of just who the Israeli and Jewish academics were on Pluto Press's play list, below are some of the better known ones with some history behind their "research."
Efraim Nimmi. A senior lecturer in Politics and International Relations at The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, continually describes the terrorist Palestinians and their government as an organization of "pragmatism and willingness to compromise" while he accuses the Israeli government of being guilty of "extremist intransigence." Nimmi is completely delusional and has the situation in reverse since it was Israel that helped the Palestinians create a separate government and state. Few people know that 70% of the funds for the Palestinian Authority come from Israel and not the USA or EU. As for intransigence, can anyone with even a modicum of sense after Israel has been bombarded with 4,000 rockets since deporting the Jewish population from Gaza even remotely think that Israel is guilty of intransigence? Nimmi, safely tucked away in New Zealand would not be subject to another Holocaust of Jews by the Arabs if it stopped its "intransigence" by willing to lie down and be overrun by the Arabs who do not have peace or the best interests of everyone involved in their warmongering against the Jews. Yet some laymen might read Nimmi and assume he knows what he is talking about, if those readers have no other knowledge from which to draw in reading his books.
Daniel Dor. A lecturer in media studies at the University of Tel Aviv, Dor objected to the reporting by Israeli media during Operation Defensive Shield because allegedly it wasn't objective enough in presenting the Arab side. One can imagine him during the Second World War writing about how Jews describing the gas chambers were not objective enough in explaining why the Germans felt they had to gas them.. Operation Defensive Shield happened after hundreds of Israelis were murdered on buses, cafes and in public places by the Arabs, and after Israel withdrew from the West Bank fourteen times after terror attacks to try and get the peace process back on track. Dor, of course, doesn't consider that each time the Israelis withdrew from the West Bank more Israelis were killed and still no terrorists arrested by the Palestinian Authority. . Israel had the right of hot pursuit per the Oslo Accords if the PA did not arrest terrorists. It finally took the Passover Massacre and killing of 31 Israelis, many of them Holocaust survivors for
Defensive Shield to be used. And you know what? It was perfectly legal per the Oslo Accords that specified Israel's right to hot pursuit of terrorists if the PA refused to control them per "international law" like the Arabs like to cite. The Arabs have a controlled media and press, the Israelis do not need to show a sympathetic view of their murderers or listen to their excuses like Dor would have them do.
Michel Waschawski, is a former director of the Alternative Information Center which is the forerunner of the International Solidarity Movement. He openly works with the most virulent Arab groups rubber stamping their nonsense against Israel. He describes Hamas as "pragmatic" (read the Hamas Charter to see how pragmatic they are about murdering Jews). Waschewski, one of those Jewish communists, founded an Israeli communist party in the government, Matzpen. In 1987 he was arrested for "providing services for illegal (Palestinian) organizations" and sentenced in 1989 to thirty months prison, for publishing articles written by alleged PFLP members about prison conditions and interrogation techniques. He is husband to Leah Tsemel who represents terrorists and ISM activists for entry against the Israeli government. He is employed by the Alternative Information Center which is the precursor of the ISM, which is "Palestinian-led" per its own leadership and calls for the complete dismantling of Israel as a Jewish state.
John Rose is a prime example of a Jewish communist whose Judaism is purely by ancestry, but who will gladly serve as a "Jew" against Jewish self-determination and Zionism. He is a leading member of the revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (communist party in the UK) who teaches sociology at Southwark College and London Metropolitan University and is best known as a speaker on Israel and Palestine and, in particular, as a critic of Israel and Zionism. As he puts it, "Israel's policies towards the Palestinians are barbaric." He is the author of numerous books and articles including Israel: The Hijack State - America's Watchdog In The Middle East and The Myths of Zionism . Like any good communist who practices groupthink, he is against America and, by extension, Israel as America's ally. He even suggests Israel hijacked its state from the Arabs on behalf of America when history shows us the US was not overly friendly to Israel in 1948, putting an arms embargo on the Jews. Also like a good communist he is anti-Zionist, claiming Jewish self-determination is based on "myths" from the Bible. He recounts a false history of Zionism, first accusing the Jews of machinations with the British to promote imperialism to control the trade routes to India (he fails to point out the British set up many more Arab colonies in the region that became Arabs states as mortal enemies of what became the Jewish state of Israel) and implies that what the UN finally declared a Jewish state had a majority Arab population when the majority was Jewish. He completely ignores how the British screwed the Jews by giving Jordan, originally designated part of Israel, to the Hashemite family that was feuding over Saudi Arabia with the House of Saud. He mentions nothing of Arab pogroms against Jews in the Middle East many times before the establishment of Israel and blames Israel for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in Lebanon while ignoring the Palestinian's massacre of Christian Arabs at Damour only the week before, somehow implying that Zionism is connected to the Arabs who killed other Arabs for "looking on" rather than getting involved and risking the lives of Israeli soldiers.
For Rose, history is one big ellipse, using partial quotes from Zionist leaders to present them as conniving miscreants against the poor disadvantaged Arabs. His history is sloppy, but fits right in with the communist agenda against Zionism and, by extension, Jewish determination in the Holy Land.
Israel Shahak. Now deceased, Shahak was a former Israeli Professor of Chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an outspoken critic of the Israeli government and of Israeli society in general. Shahak's writings on Judaism have been the source of considerable controversy since he fabricated certain events in order to smear Judaism to a radical leftist world (such as Pluto Press panders to) and showed support for the cutthroats of the PLO. Shahak theorized that ancient persecutions of Jews were not the result of anti-Semitism, but because Jews lived in closed societies (apparently he ignored they were forced to do so because they were Jews) and lived under the patronage of non-Jewish nobles who exploited a feudal class. As such, the Jews were attacked when all feudal agents were attacked.
Shakah wa just plain weird and crazy and received accolades for his theories from some of the greatest anti-Semites around including Edward Said and Noam Chomsky and even Alexander Cockburn who runs the neo-Nazi, proto-communist website Counterpunch. Shahak tried to claim that Zionism was an attempt to once e again create a closed Jewish communitiy to exploit non-Jews when the simple truth is Zionism was a final result of Jewish-sought self-dtermination that grew out of the Holocaust, a Holocaust that Shahak himself was affected by.
"Although the struggle against antisemitism (and of all other forms of racism) should never cease, the struggle against Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism, which must include a critique of classical Judaism, is now of equal or greater importance."
Shahaks words ring false since Israel had many different recognized religions and languages by law, and Judaism is not exclusivist. Israel today is in fact another concentration camp for world Jewry, only this time the inmates are armed. They allow others to live there peacefully and with the same civil rights unlike their totalitarian Arab or Muslim neighbors who call for the Jewish state's destrcution.
Shahak almost presents a mentally ill person's passion for being against the Jewish state. He fabricated a tale of an Orthodox Jew who refused to call an ambulance on Shabat for an injured gentile, an event that Shahak claimed he had seen. He later claimed an IDF rabbi said it was good for IDF soldirs to kill civilians and claimed that "there are Nazi-like tendencies in Judaism." Such fabrications and vitriol earned him a lucrative place on the PLO talk circuit while he was alive. He was also featured and praised repeatedly by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs journal that is a front for Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Like Noam Chomsky, who praised his work, Shahak never met an enemy of the Jews he could not find the willingness to work for.
Nur Masalha is described on a Palestinian website that advocates the dismantling of Israel as being born in 1957 in "occupied Palestine" (note in this instance it means all of Israel). He studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the University of London and is a Senior Lecturer in History at St. Mary's College (in England). In addition to publishing several books, Nur Masala is also Director of Holy Land Research Project, and Associate Editor of Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal.
Masalha's books tell the tale of a bellicose colonial Israel that displaced innocent Arabs from their homes in 1948, and from then on prevented peace by provoking and murdering Palestinians. In short, he publishes the Palestinian propaganda narrative. What makes this man's books troubling is they have creeped not only into the University of Michigan's publications through Pluto Press but are being read in grades K-12 in the United States. Masalha writes of Jews attempts to transfer the Arabs from their homes as a rite of dispossession despite the ten times increase in the Arab population inside Israel since 1948. He equally ignores the forced transfer of 810,000 Mizrahi Jews from Middle East Arab countries at the same time. His books are intellectually dishonest since they do not give enough information on the attack by the five surrounding Arab states to wipe Israel off the map in 1948. One wonders if Masalha's scenario were reversed and the Jews driven into the sea in 1948, if the Arabs would be crying about their plight and offering to allow them back into the Holy Land to gain alleged property holdings of deceased relatives.
Mark H. Ellis. A profile reads that "Marc H. Ellis is Director of the Center for American and Jewish Studies at Baylor University, a Baptist university in Waco, Texas. Of Jewish heritage, Ellis is honored and widely cited as an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel authority by Holocaust deniers such as the recently deported Canadian Nazi, Ernst Zundel. Though Ellis has never formally endorsed Holocaust denial himself, he has hosted Holocaust denier Norman Finkelstein on numerous occasions, such as at the 2nd Dallas Palestinian Film Festival (sponsored by United for Peace and Justice, the renamed US communist party) Ellis and Finkelstein sit together on the boards of a number of anti-Israel groups such as the Deir Yassin Remembered organization, which also includes among its members PLO spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi and the convicted Israeli spy Mordecai Vanunu who sold Israel's nuclear secrets to a British tabloid.
Ellis holds a Ph.D. from Marquette University in Milwaukee. His first position after graduation was at the Maryknoll School of Theology in New York, a Jesuit institution that is not accredited as a research university but is a center of "liberation theology" (Marxist Christianity). In 1998 Ellis became a full professor at Baylor University, where today he is the lone faculty member in the American and Jewish Studies program whose website lists endorsements by a "Christian feminist theologian," but not by a single Jewish scholar. A former Jew, now communist, Ellis fits the classic example of the communist of Jewish descent supplying services to the anti-Israel crowd. He is frequently sought as a speaker at International Solidarity Movement events, hardly an independent scholar who relies on empirical research.
Noam Chomsky. Probably the biggest star among anti-Semitic, pro-communist Jews who support the goals of Arab irredentists and hate the USA, Chomsky recently visited Hasan Nasrallah and praised Hizballh's actions against Israel (that include dropping missiles on teenage girls). Chomsky gladly praised Hizballah's goal (destroying Israel and addng it to the Muslim umma) right after Nasrallah was quoted as saying he wished all the world's Jews would move to Israel so he could kill them in one place. Chomsky, a tenured professor at MIT in linguistics has grown very rich off of books endorsing both dictators opposed to the United States such as Pol Pot and that show his support for terrorist groups.
Jeff Halper. A Minnesotan with Israeli citizenship, Jeff Halper is a former professor of Anthropology at Ben Gurion University who started a one man NGO called the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICHAD). Halper's NGO is funded chiefly by the European Union but also receives money indirectly from Saudi Arabia. For example, Halper's writings and diatribes against Israel are frequently shown on the website of the Washington Report of Middle East Affairs that is funded by Saudi Arabia and Gulf Sheiks and he is a frequent speaker at International Solidarity Movement events. Halper works closely with the ISM and adheres to their groupthink of any falsehood being justified if it serves to harm Israel. A profile states, "Halper became an activist whose special cause is attacking Israel's house demolitions no matter why they are done -- whether because the Palestinian owner did not get proper building permits, or because the houses were used for military purposes such as building bombs or to camouflage arms smuggling tunnels, or because they were the homes of suicide bombers" and that he believes Israel has no right to exist. Like the other anti-Israel Israeli academics and writers published by Pluto Press, Halper fabricates commentaries about Israeli laws that do not exist to portray the pluralistic country as racist. For example, he has claimed, "by law, ‘non-Jews' are forbidden to buy, rent, lease or live on 'state lands' -- 75% of the country," which is not true. In fact, the Palestinian Authority has a law decreeing a death sentence for selling any land to a Jew and has enforced it retroactively.
Uri Avnery. Avnery is one of the most quoted anti-Israel Israelis by the ISM who has a passion against Israel that holds no bounds. Although at one time he served in the fledgling IDF, Avnery started an anti-establishment tabloid in Israel in the late 50's and 60's as an alternative press, growing more and more against Israel over the years to a point almost bearing mental illness. Avnery actually served as a human shield in the Mukata for Yasser Arafat when the PA headquarters were surrounded by the IDF in response to a suicide bomber carrying out the Passover Massacre that murdered 31 elderly Holocaust survivors who were celebrating Passover in Netanya. Arafat himself had approved and funded the attack. Avnery's passion for promoting verbally and in writing the Palestinian cause and attacks on Jews even alienated his own mother, who cut him out of her will before her death and declared him a traitor. Avnery is the sole survivor of the little-known "Canaanite movement" in Israel and is a fanatic anti-Zionist and anti-Semite whose Israel bashing pro-Hamas articles appear everywhere one can find anti-Semitism, from radical communist to neo-Nazi websites. He is a regular columnist on the neo-Stalinist pro-terror Counterpunch website. Avnery, who immigrated from Germany to Israel in 1933, was, incredibly, an admirer of Nazism. Today, he adheres to the communist groupthink that Israel should become a secular society of Arabs and Jews living together but his thinking is so distorted as to be beyond any reality, his believing that there should be an end to Judaism altogether. His diatribes against Israel lack and scholastic realism.
Ghada Kharmi. Ghada Karmi is a Palestinian academic at the University of Exeter, Britain, and the author of Married to another man: Israel's dilemma in Palestine. Her writings are merely polemics without history or facts to back them up. For example, she claims that Israel has never made a peace offer to the Palestinains! She states standard Palestinian propaganda and buzz words as facts (i.e. Israel violates "international law" when it does not)and she encourages war by proxy, such as her writing in support of the British boycott of Israeli academics. And what's her intellectual solution to the conflict that she also says is the reason for al Qaeda? She says Israel must become one state called Palestine, must withdraw to the 1949 borders, give the Palestinians half of Jerusalem and then allow seven million Palestinians to move inside Israel and dominate the Jewish population. As for terrorism, she glosses over it as the desperate actions of some extremists who are fighting "colonialism." Her writings hardly reflect anything in the way of solid research or intellecual balance.
Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi is an Israeli psychology professor at Tel Aviv Univeristy, an expert on cults, who claims Judaism is not a religion and cannot legitimately claim to be a nation while apparently the Arabs can do so. He says that Zionism, Jewish self-determination, is a master race ideology and makes references to Jews as Nazis. His "research" is clearly agenda driven and cult-like in its support of the Palestinian Arabs against the Jewish state that he considers part of worldwide imperialism.
These are more anti-Israel Israeli academics in Pluto Press's repertoire. Such "academics," including Joe Kovel, being a part of the University of Michigan Press was giving legitimacy as scholastic works to their propaganda and indoctrination when all held one central theme without facts to back things up: Israel must be dismantled. It is actually remarkable that the Univiersity of Michigan finally relented to remove the Pluto Press titles. This was the major university that invited the likes of Juan Cole and Neve Gordon to teach there. Juan Cole, who was once the President of the Middle East Studies Association, teaches assorted conspiracy theories that America is controlled by Israel and Jews. He makes statements such as "much of the Arab world has made a peace treaty with Israel" when it is not so. For example, Saudi Arabia, the lead Arab state in the peace negotiations process with the Road Map, is still in a state of declared war with Israel since 1948. Cole's writings and teaching again reflect a polemic against Israel's existence, less on scholarship than political agenda.
Saving the worst for last, we have Neve Gordon, a political science lecturer with a PhD from Notre Dame who has been brought to U Michigan to lecture students there. Gordon's writings are so openly anti-Semitic that some have been carried on neo-Nazi web sites, including one run by Ernst Zundel, the neo-Nazi Holocaust denier deported from Canada and now in prison in Germany.
The University of Michigan did not relinquish Pluto Press's lineup so easily. An attempt in 2006 to have such texts removed from their publishing arm was rejected by the University. The University of Michigan at Dearborn has one of the largest Palestinian and Muslim American populations in the country and Michigan was the venue for the largest Palestinian lobbying organization ever created. In the past the University of Michigan actually serves as a venue for an early ISM national divestment conference against Israel, where the theme was to train radicals to work to destroy Israel by any means possible in America's university system. Arab-American students in attendance at that conference were heard to scream in Arabic to slaughter the Jews. Apparently Pluto Press and the number of self-hating Israel bashing Israeli academics it publishes were even too anti-Semitic for a long established Israel hating school like the University of Michigan. Finally, the University saw fit to divorce itself from so many ill-researched and polemical articles that lacked scholarly peer review and normal academic standards and could only hurt the University of Michigan's good name.
Perhaps it was the chickens coming home to roost that the administration at the University of Michigan saw a pattern of the University sinking into the cesspool of the educational institutions of the totalitarian world. The fact that U Michigan administrators finally figured out Pluto Press's books were little more than anti-Israel propaganda and opinions usually not backed up with facts persuaded the university to take such praiseworthy action as demanding peer review. We can only hope more universities in America will do so, but the threat of Arab oil money playing a part behind the scenes always looms and the plethora of anti-Israel Israeli and Jewish academics who seek fame or fortune as part of the mantra of false scholarship calling for the demise of Israel can be certain to march on.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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