Friday, January 19th | 3 Shevat 5778

Close

Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

Subscribe
May 22, 2014 7:36 pm

Message Board Shows Modern Language Association Academics Based Israel Boycott on Anti-Semitic Tropes

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Email a copy of "Message Board Shows Modern Language Association Academics Based Israel Boycott on Anti-Semitic Tropes" to a friend

Facebook page of Temple University Professor Alessio Lerro questioning whether 6 million Jews really died in the Holocaust. Photo: Screenshot.

Facebook page of Temple University Professor Alessio Lerro questioning whether 6 million Jews really died in the Holocaust. Photo: Screenshot.

Academics at the Modern Language Association were lambasted on Wednesday in an Op-Ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education after an online message board revealed anti-Semitic tropes used  by proponents to support its anti-Israel boycott resolution.

“There are arguments for and against the resolution. But plenty of Israel haters reveal their antisemitism,” Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon said on Thursday, when he flagged the article by Ursinus College Politics Professor  Jonathan Marks.

In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Marks said, “Need a break from grading? Head on over here, where someone has posted a partial record of Modern Language Association member comments on Resolution 2014-1, urging the ‘United States Department of State to contest Israel’s denials of entry to the West Bank by United States academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.’ It is a spectacle. How often do you get to see scholarly colleagues refer to one another as ‘Zionist attack dogs?'”

In January, the MLA’s Delegate Assembly narrowly passed the controversial resolution at the association’s annual meeting, Marks wrote. In March, the Executive Council moved to send it to the full membership for a vote, which began on April 21 and will close on June 1.

He said the debate over the resolution took place from mid-March to mid-April, at a site open only to MLA members. Marks joked, “Only part of it has been posted at the link above, but the rest I found this morning mysteriously lodged in the jaws of my Labrador retriever, to be known hereafter as my Zionist retrieving dog.”

Alessio Lerro, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Temple University, who was also found to be questioning on Facebook whether 6 million Jews really died in the Holocaust, wrote on the MLA message board:

“It is time that Zionists are asked to finally account for their support to the illegal occupation of Palestine since 1967. This resolution rightly targets only Israel given the humongous influence that Jewish scholars have in the decision making process of Academia in general.”

Elizabeth Jane Ordóñez, Spanish Professor at Metropolitan University Denver, wrote:

“Does anyone remember Edward Said, our beloved late leader? I think he must be turning in his grave to see how far we have regressed since his tenure! What is stiking [sic] here is not that that Resolution 2014-1 is eliciting debate. Rather, what stands out in bold relief is just how intolerant of debate are its detractors. As on the broader political scene, moves to seek justice and opportunity for Palestinians (or to remove obstacles to achieving those goals) are countered by Zionist attack dogs. When the Zionist lobby railroads its way through Congress, universities, and civil society no request is made for equal time for the other side. Only when a counter voice is raised in this tightly controlled wilderness, do the proponents of Israeli exceptionalismn [sic] cry foul. VOTE YES on this simple proposition seeking to facilitate academic freedom and inquiry in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.”

Others on the message board fought back.

Peter C. Herman, English Professor at San Diego State University, wrote on the board: “Elizabeth Jane Ordóñez’s dismissal of everyone who opposes this resolution as ‘Zionist attack dogs’ is insulting, contemptible, and unacceptable.”

Elder of Ziyon said, “Jonathan Marks makes an excellent point: The anti-Semitic tropes in these statements are not subtle. But even if they were, I wonder why the academic left, which is usually so attuned to the subtlety of racism and sexism, puts up such a high bar for anti-Semitism. Suddenly ‘But I said Zionist, not Jew’; or ‘I’m a Jew, so I can’t possibly be in league with haters of Jews’; or ‘Yes, I’m focusing on the Jewish state and no other state, but so what?’; or ‘Sure, I’m echoing standard anti-Semitic tropes, but they’re really applicable here’ are incontrovertible arguments, and it becomes bad form to suggest that anti-Semitism is at work unless someone is screaming anti-Semitic slogans.”

Marks, author of ‘Perfection and Disharmony in the Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau,’ has also contributed Op-Eds to The Chronicle of Higher Education about the American Studies Association vote to boycott Israeli universities, asking, tongue-in-cheek, if they knew their association had been hacked, and in Inside Higher Ed,  where he questioned the validity of a unanimous boycott vote by the Asian-American Studies Association, when it was publicly known that many of its members opposed the measure.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Dr.Otero

    Seldom considered is the fact of the expulsion of 875,000 Jews from Muslim lands from 1941 to 1967 where most had lived before Mohammed, their confiscated lands are three or four times the size of Israel. Today, more than half of Israel’s Jewry are those refugees and their descendants. This has been acknowleged by the US Congress, the UK and UN.

  • Ben Stark

    If Alessio Lerro, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Temple University, who was found to be questioning on Facebook whether 6 million Jews really died in the Holocaust, he has a lot more to study, especially history, to become a real Professor, and more important to become a decent human being.
    (From a Holocaust survivor)

  • Otto Schiff

    I am a former German Jew who has escaped the Nazis alive.
    I am of the opinion that the current crop of anti semites
    would do well to have their heads examined.

  • Marta Mikey Frid

    The language of these modern anti-Semites reflects the putrid and sterile state of their psyches.

  • Wallace Edward Brand, JD Harvard, 1957

    “Alessio Lerro, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Temple University, who was also found to be questioning on Facebook whether 6 million Jews really died in the Holocaust, wrote on the MLA message board:

    “It is time that Zionists are asked to finally account for their support to the illegal occupation of Palestine since 1967. This resolution rightly targets only Israel given the humongous influence that Jewish scholars have in the decision making process of Academia in general.”

    Here is the account you seek: SSRN.com/abstract=2404738 SSRN.com/abstract=2385304

  • Cynthia Gage

    I’m not a published scholar, nor do i sport a degree from any fancy University or College, but:I find it interesting that people are always so easy to accept the fodder that is fed to them via academia without research or at the very least thought. If you take a people, and keep their faces in the ground while espousing to them repeatedly that you are their savior, they will become a people easy to control and sway. So now you come 35 years into our future and you see the results, an entire generation who thinks that they are owed a Nation. Now far be it from me to point something out about these people who are not so fortunate to be looking for a homeland, but, these same people are always looking, have always been looking. They have been looking for centuries, and every time one was given to them with hospitality and loving kindness, they have spit on it and thrown it away stating that they cannot and will not live in this place or that. They are nomads, always have been and because of those in their lead always will be forever more. They need to replace their leaders and come into this century and see that they have indeed been their OWN worst enemy. Such is the plight of the Nomadic tribes that make up the current Palistinian people. There is no such people…. Thank you for listening to my thoughts.

  • David

    The BDS movement is a form of warfare, so one expects strong propaganda, even from some one’s own people, ala Lord Haw Haw in WW2. Read “A State Beyond the Pale” by Robin Shepherd, in which he comprehensively debunks the arguments used by anti-Israel jews. To say one can’t be anti-semitic because one is jewish is nonsense. Sad to say, but some of the worst anti-semites throughout history were jews.

  • Bernard Ross

    there is nothing special about academics

    • Eli L

      It seems to me that the public tends to give academics much more credit than what they deserve. An academic (I am one too) can be an expert in the narrow field of his or her studt, but ignorant in other areas. I question the scientific quality ofthose anti Israel, pro BDS academic as their arguments have no factual basis.

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    Let me put on my best Capt. Renault shocked face. Shocked, shocked I am.

  • Jonathan Marks

    Thank you for drawing attention to my work. Small thing: Elder of Ziyon is the one who said “There are arguments for and against the resolution. But plenty of Israel haters reveal their anti-Semitism.”

    • Joshua Levitt

      Thank you. Corrected on 5/23/2014.

Algemeiner.com