The Politicization of Middle East Studies Reaches New Heights

Sept. 22 2015

It is hardly news that the field of Middle East studies is highly politicized, or that the dominant politics is of the anti-Israel kind. But this past year, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) went a few steps further by coming out strongly for academic boycotts of the Jewish state. More recently, it harshly condemned the University of California’s attempts to restrain anti-Semitism on campus. Efraim Karsh and Asaf Romirowsky write:

So deep has the rot settled that the association seems totally oblivious of (or rather indifferent to) the fact that its recent endorsement of the anti-Israel delegitimization campaign, and attendant efforts to obstruct the containment of resurgent anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses, have effectively crossed the thin line between “normal” Israel-bashing and classical Jew-baiting. . . .

[Academic boycotts] are an unabashed attempt to single out Israel as a pariah nation, to declare its existence illegitimate. As such, Israeli universities are to be ostracized not for any supposed repression of academic freedom but for their contribution to the creation and prosperity of the Jewish state of Israel, a supposedly racist, colonialist implant in the Middle East [that is] as worthy of extirpation as the formerly apartheid regime of South Africa.

[MESA’s] leaders and luminaries have had no qualms about singling out Jews and Israelis for disproportionate and unique opprobrium and denying them—and them alone—the basic right to national self-determination while allowing it to all other groups and communities, however new and tenuous their claim to nationhood. . . . Past MESA presidents like Rashid Khalidi, Joel Beinin, Juan Cole, among others, have, in one form or another, publicly advocated the destruction of Israel as a state.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israel on campus, Middle East Studies Association, Rashid Khalidi

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan