Posts tagged Polics

Academia and Zionism

In recent years the hotbed of protest on American campuses against Israel’s policy of Zionism and Apartheid has put the universities in a precarious position due to the economic relationships between these institutions and Israel. The academic world has not really dealt very professionally when it comes to voicing dissent against Israel and American policy in the Middle East. Besides the campaign of Alan Dershowitz to sabatoge and end Norm Finkelstein’s career at DePaul University, another case of academic bullying has occurred. This time Joel Kovel, the social scientist, has been suspiciously dropped from his affiliated university, Bard College. Joel Kovel wrote, Overcoming Zionism, a critique of the present day zionist movement and a call for a one state solution. This solution is fervently feared by Zionists because it would mean the end of a ‘Jewish’ state. This is ever more pertinent due to the rise of the Israel political party of Lieberman that wants to eventually expell Arab-Israeli’s from Israel.

The academic world was shaken in the 1950s when professors were required to sign loyalty oaths. Looking back, I am not sure anyone respects that movement. Academic freedom is supposedly one of America’s staples of proving what a ‘free’ society we have. It seems that the likes of the Israel Lobby bullies would like for all professors to sign loyalty oaths to Israel and Zionism! There is a website dedicated to stalking ‘radical’ professors that lie about Israel. There are facebook groups that monitor what they consider anti-semetic and anti-zionist propaganda on campuses. (it should be noted that I believe the two to be wholly differetn) One of the anti-semetic/anti-zionist posters? A simple green sticker reading ‘free palestine.’ Really? That is anti-semetic? It didn’t even say end Israel’s apartheid!

Clearly this is a hot issue right now, and sensitivities are boiling. I think that the larger issue of student activism on campuses is going to work its self out. Both ‘sides’ of the issue practice their freedom of assembly and speech, and while they get flack from the opposing voice, they are both pretty much on agreement that they both have the right to protest. (Even though they repeatedly call the others racist and want to ‘end’ that racism on campus- good luck)

But, when it comes to the firing, or the more diplomatic ways in which they ( the universities) ‘let go’ the blacklisted professors, I find the consequences more dire. It is too reminiscent of Cold War politics and censorship. The politics of tenure are probably ridiculous anyway, but adding  to it the fear of pertient and critical scholarship on one of the biggest trajedies of our time is beyond what I consider to be within the realm of acceptable practices.

The precendent of sabotoging the academic careers of Finkelstein and now Kovel is dangerous to the suppossed academic freedom that we want in our universities. I find it so funny when I read about different groups wanting politics to stay out of lectures! People should know, especially at the college level, that there are inherent politics in everything that you learn. Objectivity is a pipe dream, and essentially meaningless. There ARE politics in academia. Deal with it. And stop trying to silence and bully the scholars that are adding to the important public discourse of international and global affairs!


Here is Kovel speaking about the issue of Zionism and the taboo of honestly discussing the issues surrounding it


And here is Kovel discussing the attack of what he calls the Zionist Apparatus


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