Archives: November 2006

Sat Nov 25, 2006

Debating the Place Of Israeli Academics

BOSTON — Two healthy Christmas trees dominated the lobby of the Copley Marriott Hotel. Snowflakes adorned the glass wall of the revolving door. Eleven oversize dreidels rested atop the doorway apparatus along with a menorah reading "Happy Chanukah."

The d้cor in a major tourist hotel was representative of the now-compulsory and trivial nod to Judaism in America's secular and commercial culture. Inside the hotel, the Middle East Studies Association of North America hosted a panel on the rectitude of a boycott against academic institutions within the Jewish state as part of its annual meeting. The panel, formally titled "Academic Freedom and Academic Boycotts: A Symposium," offered two proponents of such a boycott, Lawrence Davidson of West Chester University and Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian researcher, and two opponents, Joan Scott of the Institute for Advanced Study and Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Nov 25, 06 | 4:39 pm

Fri Nov 24, 2006

Israel: Pitting the West Against Islam

It is tempting to celebrate the creation of Israel as a great triumph, perhaps the greatest in Jewish history. Indeed, the history of Israel has often been read as the heroic saga of a people marked for extinction, who emerged from Nazi death camps – from Auschwitz, Belzec and Treblinka – to establish their own state in 1948, a Jewish haven and a democracy that has prospered even as it has defended itself valiantly against unceasing Arab threats and aggression. Without taking away anything from the sufferings of European Jews, I will insist that this way of thinking about Israel – apart from its mythologizing – has merit only as a partisan narrative. It seeks to insulate Israel against the charge of a devastating colonization by falsifying history, by camouflaging the imperialist dynamics that brought it into existence, and denying the perilous future with which it now confronts the Jews, the West and the Islamic world. More...

Posted by: Shahid Alam on Nov 24, 06 | 11:16 pm

Sat Nov 04, 2006

How to Critique Israel Injustices: A Fable About Palestine

Let's start with a story. Imagine that Africa has become rich and powerful, and that Euroope has become poor, divided and without real independence. Imagine next that, tired of being repeatedly massacred, the Tutsis decide to found a national home elsewhere. Certain of their leaders designate Wallonia, in Belgium, as that new home. Other Africans, to solve what some call the "Tutsi problem", approve of the project. Thus a flood of Tutsis pack up, weapons and all, and begin to settle in that region, while proclaiming that the people already living there have to go somewhere else. With their wealth, their determination and their weapons, the Tutsis rapidly manage to take possession of the farms, forests and towns and chase away most of the natives, either by legal means or by intimidation. A large part of Wallonia becomes a new Tutsi State, which boasts of being particularly well governed and democratic. All of Africa looks on in admiration.

However, to the surprise of the Africans, most of the Walloons are against that arrangement. Bewildered, sometimes supported by other Europeans who are nevertheless divided and whose leaders are weak and indecisive, they engage in several last ditch fights which only allow the Tutsi State to expand. The Africans can't understand why the Belgians and other Europeans are unable to appreciate the superiority of the system introduced onto their continent by the Tutsis. While Tutsis from all over the world are invited to come and settle, it is explained to the inhabitants who are being pushed out that there are other French-speaking States where they can go. All those who, in Europe or elsewhere, denounce that situation risk being called "anti-Tutsi" racists. When, parked on various scraps of ex-Wallonia, completely surrounded by the Tutsi army, a certain number of natives throw themselves into violent and desperate acts, commentators vie with each other to come up with theories on the peculiarities of Walloon culture that push them to such fanaticism. More...

Posted by: Mona Baker on Nov 04, 06 | 8:11 pm