Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Islam in the Academy

 There is a troika of movements that’s coalescing into one ugly phenomenon, a phenomenon that may rival what the world witnessed in the 1930’s in Germany. They are a virulent anti-Semitism promoted by the Progressives and the left, its appearance on college campuses and in university classrooms, and the assault on freedom of speech in the guise of being combating “Islamophobia.”

A Jihad Watch article of May 23rd, “Campus Watch: Legitimizing Censorship – ‘Islamophobia Studies’ at Berkeley,” by Cinnamon Stillwell and Rima Greene, details the pitiful and organizationally inept efforts of the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project to pass itself off as a major mover and shaker in the fight against Islamophobia.

“Islamophobia studies” is the latest addition to the academic pantheon of politicized, esoteric, and divisive “studies” whose purpose is to censor criticism of differing views by stigmatizing critics as racist or clinically insane. The University of California, Berkeley’s recent Sixth Annual International Islamophobia Conference—organized by the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project (IRDP)—was titled, “The State of the Islamophobia Studies Field.” The fact that this “field” doesn’t yet formally exist in the U.S. may explain why speakers the first day of the conference barely mentioned it. As in years past, the conference featured victimology, academic jargon, and anti-Western rhetoric.

The audience, including a number of women in hijabs (headscarves), ranged from twenty to fifty students and faculty members. Because the conference was preempted by another event, it had to shift between two venues. Adding to the confusion, the schedule was made available online only days before. While IRDP director and Near Eastern studies lecturer Hatem Bazian bragged at the outset that the conference livestream had garnered “seven thousand” viewers in 2014, this year, visual and audio problems often rendered it unwatchable.

The spurious audience estimate of between twenty to fifty attendees is a telltale indication that Hatem Bazian was preaching to a miniscule choir, or to a hollow papered hall in which the body count wasn’t large enough to absorb the echoes of his words.

In his introduction, Bazian apologized for these mishaps before launching into a glowing report about the alleged state of “Islamophobia studies,” which, according to the IRDP website, “has witnessed rapid expansion in the past fifteen years.” He claimed that the field had “come of age” in that there is “no longer . . . a debate over whether we should use the term or not” or if “it is real or not,” except for “those who really don’t want to confront Islamophobia” or “don’t want to deal with the reality of what has taken place.”

In fact, there is no consensus on the existence of “Islamophobia” in the U.S., particularly in light of FBI statistics showing Jews experiencing the highest number of religiously-motivated hate crimes, with Muslims a distant second. Conflating legitimate criticism of Islam and the myriad human rights abuses occurring in its name all over the world with an irrational fear or prejudice towards all Muslims further obfuscates the matter.

Bazian claimed that his sparsely attended conference was part of an international series of conferences (but not the OIC, or the Organization of Islam Conferences? How déclassé!), spanning the globe from Paris to Switzerland. Stillwell and Greene report, however, that “at this juncture, a search yields no evidence of IRDP-connected conferences this year.”

Stillwell and Green then introduce

Munir Jiwa, founding director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Islamic Studies and assistant professor of Islamic studies at the Graduate Theological [Madrassa?] Union, followed with the talk, “Frames and Scripts of Islamophobia.” Jiwa maintained that the U.S. and the U.K. view Islam through the “frames” of the September 11, 2001 and July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks, respectively, and lamented that, “This forgets the long history of Muslims in the West” and “Muslim contributions to Western civilization.” Referring to the alleged shortcomings of the latter—including, ludicrously, the Enlightenment—he made the ahistorical assertion:

Much like Colonial and Enlightenment ways of dividing the world: us and them. It’s as if the West just came up with all these great ideas on its own.

Jiwa complained that Americans see terrorism as “barbaric,” “out of the blue,” and “related to Islam, rather than the most warring nation in the world”—i.e., America.

Yes, the U.S. and the U.K. view Islam not only through the “frames” of 9/11 and 7/7, but also through the “frames” of the nearly 26,000 acts of terror worldwide since 9/11 and 7/7. Stillwell and Greene note that Jiwa “never mentioned ISIS’s atrocities, only ‘our responsibility’ in creating the context for that violence.”

It’s always the victim’s fault for creating all those “frames” and “contexts.” As soon as we fit them onto a Muslim, he goes ballistic and commits violence, almost as though by auto-suggestion. He’s just a pre-programmed automaton, a kind of Pavlovian cum Mahometan dog “conditioned” to respond to certain stimuli, such as depictions of Mohammad, or critical or satirical portrayals of Islam. What conditioned him? The anti-mind, anti-reason, anti-life ideology of Islam.

After discussing the Marxist blathering of two other speakers at Bazian’s conference, Stillwell and Greene end their article with:

While this year’s conference may have failed to usher in the dawn of an officially recognized “Islamophobia studies,” it wasn’t for lack of effort. Soon after, IRDP announced the latest edition of its politicized bi-annual publication, the Islamophobia Studies Journal. Perhaps following UC Berkeley’s lead, Georgetown University recently launched the Bridges Initiative, a project of the Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding devoted to “protecting pluralism – ending Islamophobia.”

The subject is all the rage in the field of Middle East studies and throughout academe, which is doing its utmost to silence critics of the Islamic supremacism, systemic social problems, and total chaos plaguing the region. If and when “Islamophobia studies” becomes a reality, we can’t claim we didn’t see it coming.

It is interesting to note in passing some of the actual funding for “Islamophobia” studies and similar pseudo-academic endeavors. Mike Ciandella wrote in his February 4th, 2014 article for Media Research Center, “$5.6 Million from Soros Aids Universities That Boycott Israel,” that:  

The American Studies Association is asking its member universities to join the growing academic boycott of Israel. Eight out of the 14 member universities of the ASA’s National Council that approved the boycott have received more than $5.6 million from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations since 2000. The ASA has also been working closely with anti-Israeli organizations to promote this movement.

Promoting anti-Israeli and liberal propaganda, Soros has poured more than $400 million into colleges and universities around the world, including money to most prominent institutions in the United States. According to a May 2012 article in The New York Times, Soros gave $500,000 a year to J Street, a “two-state solution” organization whose co-founder, Daniel Levy, called the creation of Israel in 1948 “an act that was wrong.” Some of the $23.8 million that Soros has given to Bard College in New York has gone to a Palestinian youth group, and Bard also offers joint degree programs at a Palestinian school in Jerusalem, and partners closely with Al-Quds University.

According to the ASA, this boycott is part of the larger BDS, or “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement. BDS promotes the work of Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as arguing for a “one-state solution” to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which would involve Palestinians having equal right of return status in Israel with Israelis.

I always chuckle when I read that Soros’s “Open Society” machine is involved in one or another program to “transform” America into a “more tolerant democracy.” It’s a risible misnomer, when what Soros and his winged monkeys have in mind in the end is a “closed society” – closed to freedom of thought and to freedom of speech.

The official BDS site encourages the academic boycott of Israel:

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was one of the founding entities in 2005 of the Palestinian Civil Society BDS Campaign and remains a key part of the Palestinian-led, global BDS movement.

PACBI was launched in Ramallah in April 2004 by a group of Palestinian academics and intellectuals to join the growing international boycott movement. The Campaign built on the Palestinian call for a comprehensive economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel issued in August 2002 and a statement made by Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the occupied territories and in the Diaspora calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in October 2003….

The PACBI Call states:
“We, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid, by applying the following:

  1. Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;
  2. Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;
  3. Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;
  4. Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;
  5. Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.”

In academia – on the physical campuses, in the ivy that clings to their walls but which is infested with the black widow spiders of Marxism, and in the suffocating, light-dimming canopies of culturally diverse kudzu – this agenda will manifest itself into active anti-Semitism of the violent kind. Boycotting Israeli goods and thinkers and speakers and associations translates into anti-Semitism. There isn’t any other meaning possible.

 Being an Israeli is synonymous with being Jewish, even though one may be an atheist or a Christian or an Arab-Israeli Muslim, you’re still “Jewish” and can be “boycotted” or bashed in the face or beaten up or even murdered.  You’re still an “occupier” of Palestinian land and a racist and a colonizer over the bodies the Palestinian children and a ruthless oppressor of Palestinian workers. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement against Israel means business, and isn’t limited to a tenured professor flapping his gums about the outrages committed by Israelis, or to half-witted slobs sporting keffryahs and niqabs carrying signs and shouting themselves hoarse, “Brains dead! Don’t shoot!”

While the BDS crowd keeps boasting of how it helped to end apartheid in South Africa, it equates that with trying to end “apartheid” in Israel. I’ve seen no recent calls by that crowd to protest oppression, exploitation, and discrimination in Saudi Arabia, Red China, Zimbabwe, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and other sundry dictatorships and authoritarian countries. It’s only against tiny Israel, the freest and most prosperous country in the Middle East.

The American Studies Association has been recruiting universities to join in BDS and to become signatories of the BDS Resolution of December 2013 to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The ASA, founded in 1951 and purportedly ”the oldest scholarly organization devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,” has been captured by the Left and is now apparently devoted to imposing a politically correct discipline. The Jerusalem Post of January 1st, 2014, reported, however, that ninety-two universities rejected the academic boycott of Israel.

More than 90 American universities have so far released statements rejecting the American Studies Association decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and several have cut ties with the organization in protest.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations expressed appreciation to university presidents and chancellors who “stood up against this discriminatory and unjustified measure and rejected the ASA boycott of Israel.”

But not all is well with the university and education heads. Many of them belong to what Salman Rushdie, who still lives with an Iranian fatwa on his head, might have called the “But…Brigade” when it came to endorsing freedom of speech. “We’re for freedom of speech, but….” Or perhaps these hypersensitive folk should be called “Butt-Heads.”

Molly Corbett, president of the American Council on Education – an umbrella group that covers 1,800 institutions and claims to be the “most visible and influential higher education association” in the US – issued a statement on Sunday that “such actions are misguided and greatly troubling, as they strike at the heart of academic freedom….

We hope the leadership of these organizations [who support the boycott] soon reconsiders their actions and trust that other scholarly organizations will see the troubling implications of such boycotts and avoid [a] similar vote….” [brackets mine]

Misguided? But BDS is nothing if not clear and on-target about its means and ends. To call the ends of BDS – one of which is the economic submission and eventual destruction of Israel – “misguided” is like calling an armed hold-up a “misguided” attempt to augment one’s income.

Princeton president Christopher L. Eisgruber dubbed the boycott “misguided,” adding that singling Israel out was “indefensible.”

But while Eisgruber noted that his “personal support for scholarly engagement with Israel is enthusiastic and unequivocal,” he said he did not intend to denounce the ASA or cut Princeton’s institutional ties with the organization.

“My hope is that the ASA ’s more thoughtful and reasonable members will eventually bring the organization to its senses – here, too, engagement may be better than a boycott,” he wrote.

But the central method of BDS is to bypass thought and reason and to rely on emotion and a virulent strain of anti-Semitism to accomplish its ends. There are no “thoughtful and reasonable” members in BDS. The only “engagement” they’re interested in is violence and force and censorship.

A May 4th article by Ruth Wisse in Mosaic Magazine, “Anti-Semitism Goes to School,” reveals the depth of the anti-Israel sentiment and of the anti-Semitism.

In February, a Jewish college student was hospitalized after being punched in the face at a pro-Palestinian demonstration on a campus in upstate New York. His family has insisted on maintaining the boy’s privacy, but other such incidents, some caught on camera, include a male student punched in the face at Temple University, a female student at Ohio University harassed for defending Israel, and a male student at Cornell threatened physically for protesting anti-Israel propaganda. On three successive days last summer, the Boston police had to protect a student rally for Israel from pro-Palestinian mobs shouting “Jews back to Birkenau!” At the University of California-Irvine, this year’s Israel Independence Day festivities were blocked and shouted down by anti-Israel demonstrators. Every year, some 200 campuses now host a multiday hate-the-Jews fest, its malignancy encapsulated in its title: “Israel Apartheid Week….”

Nor are students the only targets. At Connecticut College, to cite but the most recent example, a quietly pro-Israel professor of philosophy has been maliciously singled out and hounded as a “racist” in a campaign instigated by Palestinian activists, endorsed by numerous faculty members, and at least tacitly complied with by the college administration and the campus Hillel organization. At the annual meetings of prestigious academic associations, boycott resolutions against Israel and Israeli academic institutions are routinely aired and often passed.

Wisse’s article is long and detailed in her examination of the anti-Israel phenomenon in this country, and is worth reading in its entirety. Some highlights are:

As one of its first acts in December 1945, the Arab League called on all Arab institutions and individuals to refuse to deal in, distribute, or consume Jewish and Zionist products or manufactured goods. Seventy years later, calls for boycott of Israel, under the acronym BDS—boycott, divestment, and sanctions—have become a staple of American university agendas, extending not only to Israeli companies like SodaStream but to Israeli scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Last year, a petition by “anthropologists for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions” garnered the signatures of the relevant department chairs at (among others) Harvard, Wesleyan, and San Francisco State. The American Studies Association attracted the “largest number of participants in the organization’s history” for a vote endorsing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Keep in mind that the briefly described incidents here did not occur in Nazi Germany:

….Which is not to say that grounds are lacking for larger concern. In addition to the catalog of academic offenses I’ve briefly summarized here, a growing number of anti-Jewish incidents—from a swastika-desecrated Jewish cemetery in New Jersey to fatal shootings at a Kansas City Jewish community center—has been registered by agencies like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. At the government level, more ominously, and perhaps for the first time in recent American history, it is the White House, rather than the once notoriously Arabist State Department, that has taken the lead in threatening to isolate the Jewish state. President Obama’s frankly contemptuous treatment of Israel’s prime minister smacks more of the university than of the Senate in which he once served, but he is the president, and his words and actions give license to others.

The linkages between the assault on American values and on Jews is not so complex that it needs lengthy explication. To wit:

Contrary to the claims of administrators like the chancellor of UCLA, prosecuting the war against the Jews is not an issue of free speech, “sacrosanct to any university campus.” Had UCLA’s chancellor and president faced a campaign to reinstate segregation, recriminalize homosexuality, or bar women from the faculty club, they would have reacted with more than “concern.” Yet behind the banner of free speech, they tolerate, however squeamishly, campaigns to undo the Jewish homeland and to demonize the already most mythified people on earth. Anti-Jewish politics are no more innocent when pursued by left-wing American SOCCs and SOOPs than when they were prosecuted by right-wing European blackshirts [sic]….

Indeed, institutions that enforce “sensitivity training” to insure toleration for gays, blacks, and other minorities may inadvertently be bringing some of these groups together in common hostility to Jews as the only campus minority against whom hostility is condoned. On almost every campus in the land, the norms of political correctness are rigorously enforced; punitive speech codes proliferate; a phalanx of administrative functionaries labors so that nothing said, or read, will ever offend the sensibilities of any student—with one licensed exception. Multiculturalism has found its apotheosis in a multicultural coalition of anti-Zionists: a uniquely constituted political phenomenon with its own functions, strategies, and goals. 

I have a hypothesis about anti-Semitism and Jew hatred on or off campus. It is probably not even an original hypothesis. It is based on nothing more disgusting and damning than envy. When you recall all the accomplishments of Jewish men and women over the centuries – in scholarship, in science, in finance, in business, in the arts – what is it that Jews are most resented and hated for?  What they’ve done in the face of persecution, genocide, and pointed discrimination when they were not being persecuted, punished, or murdered.

Writing as an atheist who is beholden to no religion, I am naturally confounded by the attraction to or loyalty to Judaism. I could poke holes in it as easily as I can poke holes in Islam and Catholicism or in any other species of Christianity or faith. What I see, however, in the BDS movement and in the poison ivy-covered halls and walls of academe is racism – even among those self-hating Jews who lend their hands to BDS and to all manner of anti-Israel causes. The latter really need to book themselves some time on a therapist’s couch to thrash out that self-hatred. It’s a unique pathology; I haven’t read about self-hating Episcopalians calling for the dismemberment and downfall of the Anglican Church.  

Is Judaism a “race”? I think not. Neither is Islam. I wouldn’t know a Jew on the street unless he was wearing a sandwich board or a kippa.

BDS and anti-Semitism are birds of the same diseased feather. What is perhaps most important is that BDS and anti-Semitism in the schools is simply that their horrendous maledictions against Israel and Jews enable Islam to insert itself into the phenomena and eventually reach a terms-setting ascendency. That is already happening in an incremental, stealthy progression in American education at all levels, and bodes no good for freedom of speech.

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