Palestinian Universities Have a Serious Problem That Has Little to Do with Israel

April 12 2021

Those agitating for boycotts of Israeli universities, professors, and students have added to their list of fanciful complaints the accusation that “there is no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation.” But Palestinian universities suffer from a very different threat, as Carey Nelson—a political scientist and stalwart opponent of boycotts of the Jewish state—argues in his new book Not in Kansas Anymore. Jonathan Marks writes in his review:

Palestinian higher education has shown its ability to “provide graduates qualified to fill many necessary medical, technical, administrative, commercial, and service positions.” Individually and collectively, Palestinians depend on higher education, and the intrusion of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict into campuses has caused great harm.

Consider the September 2001 exhibit, mounted in the cafeteria of an-Najah, [a university in the West Bank], celebrating the prior month’s terrorist attack on Jerusalem’s Sbarro pizzeria. That attack killed fifteen Israeli civilians, including seven children, and wounded over 100 more. The exhibit, sponsored by “students supporting Hamas” and serving, Nelson plausibly asserts, as an “indirect recruiting activity,” included “shattered furniture splattered with fake blood and human body parts.”

Nelson’s convincing main argument [is] that Palestinian universities are “fundamentally different kinds of institutions” from their European and American counterparts. More specifically, Nelson for the first time pulls together evidence, scattered in news accounts, academic journals, memoirs, and monographs, of “a culture of campus and campus-related violence that has been sustained for 40 years.” He draws as well on numerous interviews he conducted, including interviews of Palestinian academics, from 2014 to 2019.

At least since the second intifada, which began in 2000, “entering students have received competing glossy brochures and indoctrination kits” from different political factions, the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc among them. Names and photographs of a faction’s martyrs, including suicide bombers, are sometimes part of the sell. . . . Nelson concludes that “most of the trouble in Palestinian universities has little to do with Israel.”

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Academic Boycotts, BDS, Palestinian terror, Palestinians

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela