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

Aug. 17 2022

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.

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Read more at Sapir

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

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam