Middle East studies in the News
Collaborators in the Campus War against Israel and the Jews: Mark LeVine
by Steven Plaut
Over the past decade the University of California at Irvine has become a center of Israel hatred and Jew bashing. It hosts countless radical Islamist events, many openly supportive of terror and jihad. Its chapter of the Muslim Student Union may be the most openly jihadi and pro-terror in the country. Its anti-Israel and anti-Jewish events have included a conference on the "Holocaust," the one its organizers claim Israel is perpetrating against Palestinians. UCI holds regular events in which anti-Semitic speakers call for Israel's annihilation. Moslem students walk about campus with signs that read: "Death to Infidels. Death to Israel." Faculty and students attend UCI rallies that openly support the Hamas. Anti-Semitism at UCI has been so blatant that it was the subject of an official investigation by the US Office for Civil Rights. The atmosphere at UCI is so rancid that few eyebrows were raised when an impersonator of a Holocaust Survivor brought in to bash Israel.
And right in the center of all this is UCI Professor Mark LeVine, who claims to be an expert in Middle East history. In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I myself taught at UCI for a while in the late 1990s. Back then UCI was a calm apolitical campus consisting of students, with a large percentage of Asian-Americans, mainly interested in advancing their careers. But in the years since, UCI has become a den of Islamist extremism, a development in which LeVine has been deeply implicated.
Mark LeVine was made full professor by UCI in record time, in an unprecedented rush after he finished his PhD at NYU in 1999 and then did a post-doc at Cornel. He was hired in large part on the basis of publications that would not be considered bona fide research at many institutions. Some of his writings about the Middle East should be shelved in the library's fiction section. Others are just plain wacky, like his book and articles claiming that Heavy Metal rock and roll music is in the process of converting Moslem civilization into peace loving societies.1
LeVine's "academic record" consists largely of churning out Bash-Israel books and articles, together with numerous Bash-America and Bash-Capitalism diatribes. Many of these have been mocked savagely by serious Middle East scholars. Martin Kramer dismisses LeVine as little more than a fringe figure.
While hardly the only Israel-hating extremist at UCI, LeVine has built an academic career on it in a way that others have not. There are few anti-Israel or pro-jihad events at UCI in which he is not somehow involved. LeVine regularly addresses the anti-Semitic Hate Rallies at UCI organized by the student supporters of Hezb'Allah and al-Qaeda, in which Jews are denounced as "Zio-nazis." LeVine rationalizes and defends the UCI intifada, and blames violence and tensions at the UCI campus on the malevolent Zionist Lobby. The local Orange County Register cites his view that "The only thing that would satisfy the critics now would be if they expelled every Muslim student and painted stars of David on all the buildings." '
For LeVine Israel is entirely to blame for ALL of the violence in the Middle East conflict. Israel also constitutes a "belligerent," "autocratic," and "violent" regime that should receive no support at all from the West. LeVine is a leading voice in the call for a so-called "One State Solution," in which Israel will cease to exist altogether and will be enfolded within a larger Arab Islamic Palestinian state. LeVine has not only led the movement to boycott and divest from Israel, but has insisted that it does not go far enough. Unsurprisingly, LeVine insists that he takes his positions for Israel's own good.
When not turning out anti-Israel propaganda, misrepresented as academic research, LeVine plays his electric guitar He named his own home web page (and we are not making this up!) www.culturejamming.org. Years ago he rearranged his family name, Levine, into the pseudo-French "LeVine," evidently because he is ashamed at being a descendent of the Biblical tribe of Levi. His "scholarly" writings include all the fringe venues that combine 60s hippy nonsense with far-left politics, and so they range from Mother Jones to ZNET to Tikkun Magazine He has published in the "Journal of Palestine Studies," which is a propaganda magazine controlled by the PLO. In his bio he claims that he "lived next door to Hamas mosques, stood against bulldozers, dodged terrorist bombs, and uncovered damning files in dusty archives. He knows the history, politics, religions and most important, the peoples of the region as a friend, but with a highly critical eye."
LeVine is a proud groupie of Edward Said and Noam Chomsky. Scholar Robert Spencer describes him as being "guilty of the very crime that his revered Said leveled so devastatingly against the genuine scholars he smeared as racist "Orientalists": he sees America and the West as the only real actor on the world stage, and discounts or overlooks altogether (even as he chats with them in their native tongues) what the indigenous peoples are saying — except insofar as it confirms the Leftist caricature of America victimizing the world for its economic benefit." LeVine's sources in his "research" consist in large part of citations from other anti-Israel hate propagandists, including radical anti-Israel academics from Israel, whom LeVine routinely celebrates. This is a bit like doing research on United States history and politics that consists entirely of citations from Ward Churchill and Michael Moore.
LeVine routinely organizes anti-Israel "scholarly conferences" at UCI, which are little more than anti-Israel indoctrination camps. No dissident pro-Israel opinion may be expressed in them. The standard LeVine format is to include Arab haters of Israel alongside Israeli far-leftist anti-Israel radicals, and then present the invariable bashing of Israel as the consensus position of both Jews and Arabs seeking peace. Among the Israelis who have been included in LeVine "panels" have been Oren Yiftachel, a geographer and fanatic anti-Zionist from Ben Gurion University, best known for his endless rants against Israeli "apartheid," and Yoav Peled, a hard-core Stalinist Israeli professor of Political Science from Tel Aviv University.
For LeVine, Israel is a vicious fascist monstrosity that randomly beats and murders people, and not just Palestinians. He writes, "Not just Palestinian activists, but foreign peace activists and even Israelis are routinely beaten, arrested, deported, or even killed by the IDF, with little fear that the Government of Israel would pay a political price for crushing non-violent resistance with violent means."
LeVine compares Israel's military defense of its civilians from Palestinian rockets to the German demolition of the Warsaw Ghetto. LeVine has even discovered concentration camps in the Middle East run by Israel. He writes in Aljazeera: "The Gaza ghetto is a 'concentration camp' – as Cardinal Renato Martino, the Vatican's justice and peace minister, termed it – intended to force Palestinians to accept a rump state with a few trappings of sovereignty, bisected by huge Jewish settlement blocs, severed from East Jerusalem, and without hope for returning anything but a miniscule percentage of refugees to their homeland." He claims that Israel conducts a "slave trade" and one of his graduate students (Vanessa Zuabi) composed an entire dissertation devoted to that theme under LeVine's careful direction.
Not surprisingly, Levine's books have been mocked savagely by serious Middle East scholars. Writing in the Middle East Quarterly, Prof. Fred M. Gottheil says that LeVine got just about everything wrong in his book, "Overthrowing Geography." He adds: "LeVine, … believes that Arab peasants in 1920s Palestine had it good until the Zionists sneaked in, bringing with them modern technology and loads of cash. The end result was the destruction of Arab economic well-being. LeVine does not mince words: In the setting of Jaffa and Tel-Aviv, Zionists 'pulverized' the Arabs with 'the power of penetrating modernity.' The founding of Tel Aviv, he claims, 'erased' numerous surrounding villages. He provides maps, tables, figures, posters, poems, drawings, and archival excerpts to make the point. Except that he fails to make his point. The maps he offers, in fact, undermine his contention."
In his pseudo-history of Tel Aviv written for Aljazeera.net, LeVine writes, "Despite its image of diversity and vibrancy, Tel Aviv has long been a site of significant intercommunal violence. The first major Jewish-Palestinian riots erupted along the border between the two towns in 1921, as did the Arab Revolt of 1936-39." Leave it to LeVine to obfuscate about the fact that those riots were Arab pogroms against Jews, and not Jewish violence against Arabs. Elsewhere, LeVine describes the 1929 pogroms against Jews as "riots" caused by the racist evil of Jews, who dared to pray at the Western Wall: "An attempt by Jewish worshippers to change religious protocol at the Western or Wailing Wall was the spark for the 'riots' of 1929. The underlying cause for the conflict was, however, the increasing competition for land between the burgeoning Zionist population and Palestinian peasants."
Dozens of LeVine diatribes against Israel and against the United States have been published on the pro-jihad pro-terror Aljazeera.net web sit. In one, LeVine calls for an international indictment of President Bush before the International Criminal Court alongside Sudan's genocidal president. In others he denounces the United States for an endless list of "war crimes" and human rights abuses In LeVine's words:
It is not surprising that LeVine is a charter member of Iraq Occupation Watch. In the Huffington Post he let readers know what he thinks about Americans in his review of the Borat movie: "It's that he reveals to Americans just how brutish and ugly we can be underneath our veneer of civility and hospitality. Of course, Iraqis have already discovered this the hard way, while the rest of the world has looked on in disgust. Let's hope Americans get the message." In yet another recent "cultural" diatribe, LeVine attacks the Toronto Film Festival in which films about Tel Aviv were screened. Evidently LeVine considers Tel Aviv to be occupied Palestinian territory, and so its very existence is a war crime against Arabs, unworthy of being celebrated in Toronto. He writes, "The festival narrative of Tel Aviv will make it harder for attendees to begin the much-needed conversations – within themselves as much as with others – about why Israel is rushing headlong into a future of full-blown apartheid that other former settler colonial societies have worked hard to escape." Naturally, he routinely refers to Israel's security barrier, built to keep Palestinian suicide bombers and other mass murderers away from Israeli civilians, as Israel's "Apartheid Wall." Intifada violence and terrorism are "symbolic" and little more than a muscular form of protest in LeVine's view.
LeVine defends his own Marxism-in-the-classroom thus: "As for teaching Marx, I've been known to do it on occasion, but so do most business schools." He is addicted to infantile theories about cabals of capitalists plotting to control the world: "War and occupation are wonderful opportunities for corporations to make billions of dollars in profits, unchecked by the laws and regulations that hamper their profitability in peace time." As Tzvi Kahn pointed out in Frontpage Magazine: "Not surprisingly, in many of his writings, LeVine deliberately places "war on terrorism" in quotation marks – the evil of airplanes destroying skyscrapers can hardly compare with the evil of capitalism destroying, well, communism."
Soon after 9-11, LeVine's expressed his real concern that the attacks might lead the United States to defend rather than blame itself. He wrote on the ultra-Marxist ZNET that he feared that "Americans would never face the causes of the extreme violence perpetrated against us by those whose oppression we have supported and even enforced, and engage in the honest introspection of what our role has been in generating the kind of hatred that turns commuter jets into cruise missiles."
LeVine's Muslims justly despise America because it is a criminal nation, but at the same time they do not dislike the Christian West or the United States at all, according his book Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil published by the obscure Oneworld Publications. There he argues that Muslims mainly don't like globalization, just as he himself does not. Remember those subway train bombing in London? They were protests against globalization also, insists LeVine. He adds:
"Most Americans have never experienced globalization physically, materially, and spiritually, in the way that the majority of citizens of the developing–and especially Muslim–world have felt its effects. Globalization's consequences for Muslims–massive politically and economically motivated population migrations, economic marginalization of the Muslim world, and intense cultural penetration and even military occupation by the forces of globalization in their home countries–all have created a potentially poisonous brew of alienation and rootlessness that groups like Al Qaeda expertly exploit to recruit new followers."
Moreover, in bombing London al-Qaeda was just adopting and copying what large corporations do: "As a brand with its own 'lifestyle' and image attached to it, Al Qaeda is using the strategy developed by many of the biggest corporations in the global era. While in the 20th century, major industrial corporations such as General Motors or General Electric actually made the products they sold in their own factories, today, global corporations such as Nike or Microsoft are primarily brand-producers, engaging in research and development of products that are manufactured by others (mostly subcontractors in the developing world)."
In 2003, LeVine called for the United States to end its "war" against radical Islamofascism: "It is time for the United States to declare a truce with the Muslim world, and radical Islam in particular." He frequently denounces the United States as a "criminal nation."
LeVine is a supporter of the pro-terror "International Solidarity Movement" or ISM, which openly advocates Palestinian "armed resistance." Writing in the far-left anti-Israel "Jewish" magazine Tikkun, he joined the lobby of disinformation after ISM terrorist-supporter Rachel Corrie committed suicide by diving in front of an Israeli bulldozer destroying terrorist smuggling tunnels: "She and the other human shields, like their colleagues in Iraq, are true soldiers of peace." LeVine has endorsed the shallow wacky "Politics of Meaning" invented by Tikkun's pseudo-rabbi editor Michael Lerner.
For LeVine, Hamas is simply misunderstood and its leaders are actually interested only in peace: "The claim that Hamas will never accept the existence of Israel has proved equally misinformed, as Hamas leaders explicitly announce their intention to do just that in the pages of the Los Angeles Times or to any international leader or journalist who will meet with them."
For this "scholar," the enemy of his enemies (Israel and the U.S.) is always a friend.
Articles in Frontpage's Collaborators series: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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