Middle East studies in the News
Campus Critics on Trial [on David Theo Goldberg and Saree Makdisi]
by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Two venomously anti-Israel professors at the University of California have joined forces to attack those who would criticize them, or their like-minded colleagues, for injecting their hatred of the Jewish State into their teaching and research.
David Theo Goldberg is director of the system-wide University of California Humanities Research Institute and Professor of Comparative Literature and Criminology, Law and Society at UC Irvine. Saree Makdisi is Professor of English Literature specializing in British Romanticism at UCLA. Together, Goldberg and Makdisi have published an article in Tikkun magazine entitled "The Trial of Israel's Campus Critics," in which they assert that there is an insidious Israel Campus Lobby comprising raving right-wing Zionists who will not countenance any scholarly criticism of Israel and think nothing of egregiously violating the academic freedom of faculty. According to the authors, these Zionists engage in tactics that "plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth."
In order to understand just how spurious these charges are, one need only consider the two professors making them. Here are some important and relevant facts about the authors, which they have conveniently forgotten to share with their readers:
David Theo Goldberg:
It is important to note that much of the anti-Israel rhetoric in Goldberg's and Makdisi's publications and talks is anti-Semitic according to the working definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the U.S. Department of State, including rhetoric that 1) denies the Jewish people their right to self-determination, 2) applies a double standard to Israel's behavior not applied to any other democratic nation, and 3) compares Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Goldberg's and Makdisi's "scholarly" criticism of Israel is motivated by a deep animus of the Jewish State and a desire to see its elimination. These criticisms are arguably neither scholarly nor legitimate. By wrapping themselves in the mantle of academic freedom, Goldberg and Makdisi have egregiously abused the freedom that comes from such an action. And by falsely accusing anyone who would criticize them of committing the very offenses they themselves have committed, they take intellectual thuggery to vile new depths.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is a lecturer at UC Santa Cruz.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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