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December 15, 2014 5:37 pm

Scholars for Undermining Israel

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

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Anti-Israel Protestors. Photo: WikiMedia Commons.

An array of academics, self-identified as Scholars for Israel and Palestine (SIP), have signed and circulated a statement proclaiming their “Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-Peace” agenda. Familiar names abound: Michael Walzer (Princeton); Todd Gitlin (Columbia); Michael Kazin (Georgetown); Steven Zipperstein (Stanford); Alan Wolfe (Boston College). They are bolstered by another twenty lesser known colleagues from the provinces. Collectively, they comprise the adult version of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), dedicated to “the struggle for the liberation of Palestine” by maligning the Jewish State.

Their statement opens with the bedrock trite trope of the Left: “A central obstacle to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians is the continuing occupation of the West Bank.” Really? Why was there was no “just peace” during the nineteen years of Jewish statehood preceding the “occupation” that followed the declaration of war against Israel by Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June 1967? To say nothing of whether Israel is “occupying” Judea and Samaria (formerly Jordan’s West Bank), which just happens to be the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. There,  in Hebron and Jerusalem, Jews established their first national commonwealths more than two thousand years ago.

But it gets worse. The SIPsters hallucinate that UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted in the wake of Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War, required an end to Israeli “occupation.” Hardly. It called for Israeli withdrawal from “territories” – not “the territories” or “all the territories” – won by Israel in its defensive war for survival. But it also required “acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State” (including Israel) by its sworn Arab enemies, who preferred to launch yet another attempt to annihilate the Jewish state six years later, on Yom Kippur. Are you listening: Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah?

SIP recommends the imposition of personal sanctions on a cohort of Israeli “political leaders and public figures” whose policies fail to meet its moral standards. Instead, they “plainly violate international law” and “prevent the kind of negotiated peace settlement,” also known as surrender, that the signees favor. Leftist clichés abound: “occupied territories”; “creeping annexation”; “violation of international law.” But to demonstrate how fair-minded and liberal they are, the signees concede that campaigns for boycotts and blacklists of Israeli “academia,” that “indiscriminately target Israeli society and institutions,” are “unjust and politically counterproductive.” If they were politically productive, perhaps the SIP signees would approve.

Humane and thoughtful as they proclaim themselves to be, they would confine draconian sanctions to “political actors engaged in . . . sabotage” of their sacred principles. They identify four targets: Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home Party, who had the temerity to previously serve as director of Yesha, the council of Jewish settlements; Uri Ariel, Bennett’s Jewish Home Party colleague and Minister of Construction and Housing, and Zeev Hever, secretary of the Amana settlement movement, who (gasp!) advocates accelerated settlement construction; and Moshe Feiglin, a Likud Knesset member who stands for “undisguised extremism” (e.g. strolling on the Temple Mount).

Anyone beguiled by the moral preening of  “Scholars for Israel and Palestine” might reasonably anticipate a word or two about Palestinian obligations toward promoting a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Or  the role of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to say nothing of Hamas, in promoting “peace.” No such luck. That would constitute an astonishing display of intellectual integrity, objectivity, and other obsolete virtues from the liberal credo that are conspicuously missing from SIP rhetoric.

One would need to return to the 1920s to find a similarly self-deluded cohort of academic celebrities prepared to jettison Zionism to preserve their own moral purity. The luminaries of Brit Shalom, including philosopher Martin Buber, Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholem, and historian Hans Kohn were joined by Albert Einstein and Henrietta Szold. Standing outside the group, while avidly promoting its efforts, was Judah Magnes, first Chancellor of the fledgling Hebrew University. Their advocacy of bi-nationalism consigned Zionism to oblivion. But their dismal failure to persuade anyone beyond their tiny circle set a low bar for the moral preening of SIP.

To be sure, SIP signatories exude moral purity when compared with some Israeli academics on the far Left who, in any other country, might be labeled traitors. The fictionalized history of Professor Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University has enabled him to flee “tribal Judeocentrism.” Professor Oren Yiftachel, a political geographer at Ben-Gurion University, identifies Israel as an undemocratic “ethnocracy.” Hebrew University sociologist Baruch Kimmerling explored the “colonialist” origins of Zionism.

Whether or not intentionally, SIP signees have exposed themselves as collaborators in the world-wide campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner

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  • debra

    Why is Israel’s legitimacy being debated when Jews have been there for more than three thousand years.
    Where does it state anywhere that this land belongs to ANY ONE else besides Jews…Israelis, Hebrews…
    These ridiculous bouts of anti Semitism, or what now is en vogue to call it… anti Zionism, comes around and around like a horse on a merry go round.
    I don’t suppose this debate will ever end. God gave that land to His people. and in 1948 when Israel was ‘legitimized’ the arabs living there were asked if they wanted a state of their own. They didn’t want a state, they wanted the entire area…and to this day they want the entire area. This area means more to Jews and Christians than to anyone else in the world.
    Jerusalem doesn’t appear but maybe once in the Koran so how can this little city be important to them? They only want it, so the Jews cant have it…It is our holiest city… what if someone decided to grab mecca as their own.. someone who didn’t give two……. about it. that the world would surely go crazy about.
    It is some of the most disgusting displays of events and hatred once again in a world where the concentration are still standing.
    amazing, just amazing.

  • Michael Chenkin

    United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 guarantees Israel “secure and recognized boundaries.” When the United States and other nations were endeavoring to determine what would constitute the secure and recognized boundaries Israel was guaranteed in Resolution 242, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff determined that Israel would need to retain approximately 60% of the territory between the 1949 Armistice Lines and the Jordan River (Memorandum to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara signed by Earl Wheeler, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dated June 29, 1967.) If anything, the advancement of terrorist armies and irregular warfare has made it even more necessary for Israel to retain this territory.

  • Al Cohen

    To correct an error by the author of this article when he wrote, “(To say nothing of whether Israel is “occupying” Judea and Samaria (formerly Jordan’s West Bank)”. The West Bank was never a part of Jordan. The International Boundary Line on maps clearly shows that the bulge in the center of the map is “WEST” of the Jordan river, i.e. to the West of Jordan! The line drawn on maps around this “bulge” (Judea & Samaria),is clearly marked only as the “Armistice” Demarcation Line, which shows where the Jordan Arab Legion agreed to halt their aggression into land that was “NOT EVER” theirs in the first place. It seems unfortunately,that even with the best of intentions, the Arab re-writing of history has its Insideous effect!

  • Tony Treton

    The ME conflict is being used as a focal point for the Islamic agenda to maintain the Jihadist focus internationally. for the Muslim goal of an Islam only world without infidels

    Infidels would be given 3. Choices;

    1.Convert to Islam.

    2. Become slaves to Muslims.

    3. Be beheaded.

  • jo

    I am so tired of these anti Israel groups. Perhaps they should stick with what they know best and stay out of the business of maligning Israel. Many of us in the United States stand with Israel.

  • Pinchas Baram

    two can play this game. there should be a no holds barred frontline group called Scholars FOR Israel who will target key persona for malice aforethought, defamation and treason: Oppenheimer of Peace Now, Gal-On of Meretz, Zoabi of Balad, Naomi Chazan of New Israel Fund, the machshefa (witch) named tzipi livni. the list could easily be extended, to include homegrown predators like Chomsky and Finkelstein. and the premise should always be: offense is the best defense.

    as for civility, avoiding lashon hara, the dreamy desire for Jewish unity– forget it; israel’s back is against the wall, the enemy wants blood and is not interested in “agreeing to disagree.” ergo, we fight back, or cave in– one or the other. I hope Auerbach and Algemeiner in general agrees. Chanukah (the few against the many…) is the right time to IGNITE this kind of effort! count me in.

  • BuckDePublick

    Leftist lunatic self-haters, one and all–too bad they couldn’t have been aborted before they could hatch!

  • judithg

    this is not about Israel. this is about a bunch of old Jews who want to remain relevant and still get invited to social events and other acadeemish type crap. it’s about these zombies climbing out of their graves and moving on instinct, something academics are noted for being able to do. even when they can do nothing else.

  • NCS

    great article…we can count on Mr. Auerbach to be candid and truthful

  • Michael Garfinkel

    “Whether or not intentionally, SIP signees have exposed themselves as collaborators in the world-wide campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel.”

    Mr. Auerbach, there is no question that these signees are intentionally undermining the Jewish state.

  • Mickey Segal

    Have “Scholars for Israel and Palestine” updated their views to reflect events in Syria? If post-1967 Syria splits up into several countries (Alawite, Sunni and Kurdish), do any of these entities have a claim on the Golan Heights, or by the same logic does that become Jewish?

    Now that Israel has withdrawn from all land claimed by Egypt, Syria is disintegrating, and Jordan has given up its right to the West Bank, it is hard to tell what Resolution 242 means anymore.