The Politicization of Middle East Studies Reaches New Heights

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


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria