A New Academic Institute for Promoting Delusional Conspiracies about Zionists

In a rare bit of good news from the academy, New York University (NYU) and the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) both decided not to allow the newly formed Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism (ICSZ) to hold its inaugural conference on their campuses. This organization, as Cary Nelson and his colleagues explain, went to new lengths of anti-Israel fanaticism, even as it championed itself as defending academic freedom from the supposed threat posed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism:

Politically one-sided academic conferences are not uncommon. But the organizers initially went one step further. They demanded a pledge of allegiance to anti-Zionism: “We ask that all who attend confirm their agreement with the points of unity before registering.” All those who would enter were required to pass a political litmus test, swearing to what amounts to an anti-Zionist loyalty oath.

Faced with rapid public denunciation, along with some likely internal blowback at UCSC and NYU, the organizers deleted the loyalty-oath demand. At the same time, however, they closed the event to additional presentations. The move represented strategic cynicism, since all the accepted presenters would have already dutifully signed the pledge.

And then there is the ICSZ’s website, which stresses the vastness of the evils that the critical study of Zionism aims to uncover. “Behind the clotted academic jargon,” Nelson et al. observe, “is the allegation of a vast Zionist conspiracy.” This includes “linkages” and “ties” between Zionism and “homonationalism,” “the destruction of Indigenous agriculture in Guatemala,” and American North Korea policy, as well as “Zionist surveillance technology deployed at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Israel’s power and influence, [in the institute’s view], extend everywhere. We are in the presence here of the insidious, anti-Semitic trope of the worldwide conspiratorial Jewish octopus so often depicted by the Nazis. Part of what is insidious about the ICSZ’s conspiratorial menu is that it mounts a project based on guilt by association. . . . Certainly, the suggestion that Israel’s hostile relations with North Korea are responsible for Western condemnations of North Korea’s human-rights violations belongs in the latter category. Christine Hong of UCSC, one of the ICSZ’s founders, has been condemning human-rights complaints against North Korea for at least a decade.

ICSZ is . . . founded on the rock of anti-Zionist animus. It has no other mission or reason for existence. Its formal recognition by UCSC or NYU could well lead a few other institutions to create departments or programs of anti-Zionism. But for many Jewish students and faculty they would in fact function as departments of anti-Semitism.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus

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