The Violence and Intimidation at Palestinian Universities Has Little to Do with Israel

June 30 2021

In Western universities in particular, the charge is often made that Israel represses the academic freedoms of Palestinians. This accusation, Eve Garrard notes, is a tactical one that Israel-haters in the academy use to explain their obsession with the Jewish state. But in his recent book Not in Kansas Anymore, Cary Nelson shows that, while the state of academic freedom at Palestinian universities is indeed dismal, it is not so because of Israel. Gerrard writes in her review:

In fact, much of the conflict in Palestinian universities is not focused on Israel at all. There is violent conflict between groups that support Fatah and those that support Hamas, and also between splinter groups within these broader affiliations. Academic freedom for faculty is eroded because they are afraid of being branded by students as collaborators or “normalizers,” which can put their lives in danger. Administrators are too frightened to enforce respect for freedom of expression, and with good reason.

Another locus of academic unfreedom resides in the curriculum: some of the more practical and technical subjects are adequately delivered, but in other cases the curriculum is corrupted by anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic indoctrination. Nelson cites . . . some literature teaching sessions at the Islamic University of Gaza. The tormented forcing of discussion (of a humorous children’s poem about cats!) into anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic conclusions is a quite extraordinary example of indoctrination, one that should cause any teacher of literature to weep with despair at the distortion of education that it represents.

Nelson concludes, persuasively, . . . that the assumption that Palestinian universities are educational institutions just like Western ones is simply false, as is the assertion that their academic freedom is undermined solely, or even primarily, by an aggressively militaristic Israel.

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More about: Academic Boycotts, Freedom of Speech, Palestinians

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia