Middle East Scholars Complain of Being Stifled, While Promoting Boycotts of Israel

A recent survey of 513 university scholars who study the Middle East found that more than half of them oppose holding or attending academic conferences and workshops in Israel. Miriam Elman comments:

The survey findings show that the vast majority of these Middle East scholars support holding academic workshops in the UAE (65 percent), Qatar (80 percent), and Turkey (80 percent). The latter result is particularly striking, given the Erdogan government’s unconscionable attacks on higher education and large-scale purges of academics in recent years, which have basically morphed the country’s university system into an arm of the state.

There is no movement among Middle East scholars to boycott Turkey. By contrast, an overwhelming majority of them—91 percent—harbor such an intense hostility toward Israel that they support boycotts targeting it, although a third claim that they oppose boycotting Israeli academic institutions.

It is ironic that Middle East scholars who so strongly favor boycotting Israel also complain bitterly about the silencing of their own speech, even as they work hard to stifle the voices and curtail the academic freedom of Israeli academics. According to the new survey, nearly 60 percent of Middle East scholars report “treading carefully” when speaking out about the region. But when it comes to discussing Israel, it is hard to take this grievance seriously.

There are no professional risks for faculty who passionately advocate against Israel—especially when their senior colleagues are doing so. . . . The reality is that today it is Jewish faculty who increasingly feel a need to self-censor and to hide their attachments to Israel in order to avoid professional costs.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Academic Boycotts, Israel on campus, Middle East Studies Association

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security