Israel Studies Isn’t Immune from the Academy’s Anti-Israel Mania

Among the reasons for the emergence of Israel studies as a distinct academic field has been the intense hostility toward the Jewish state that dominates so many departments of Middle East studies. Sadly, Ari Blaff writes, the practitioners of the field themselves have hardly proved immune to the malicious currents pervading universities:

At the height of the latest round of conflict between Israel and Gaza last year, some 200 Israel- and Jewish-studies scholars signed an open letter condemning Israel’s conduct. The letter denounced Israel’s “ethnonationalist ideologies” as well as its “settler-colonial paradigm”—fancy language for calling Israelis fascists and insisting that Israelis have no more place in “Palestine” than the British in India or the Dutch and their descendants who imposed apartheid in South Africa.

To add insult to injury, the letter condemned the “unjust, enduring, and unsustainable systems of Jewish supremacy,” a term popularized by the white supremacist David Duke. Bear in mind that this all came amid skyrocketing anti-Semitism that witnessed Jews chased and beaten, taunted and kicked, targeted and vilified across North America and Europe.

The larger fact is that Israel and Jewish studies, like nearly every other academic department, are being swept up and swallowed whole in the powerful ideological tide of modern academia. On most American campuses, Jewish students, academics, and administrators feel enormous pressure to align themselves directly against the interests of the Jewish state and its citizens. This is why Jewish-studies and Israel-studies scholars increasingly adopt a position deeply sympathetic to the uncritically pro-Palestinian position taken by the Middle East Studies Association and seven other regional-specialty university associations affiliated with it. Instead of serving as a bulwark (or at least a shelter) against such thinking, Israel studies is becoming an adjunct to it.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, Jewish studies

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship