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

Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security