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December 28, 2015 10:05 am

How Anti-Israel Professors Indoctrinate Their Students

avatar by Shoshana Kranish

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Israeli Apartheid Week, which takes place on campuses across the world. Photo: wiki.

In the realm of academia, there’s almost always room for interpretation. History is written with some form of bias, and students and educators alike are expected to recognize this and respond accurately. But when one person’s opinion becomes fact and there is no one to challenge it, everyone suffers — without even knowing it. Such is the situation on many a college campus, including my own.

My college, Syracuse University, is almost notoriously apathetic. The college Republicans and Democrats each have their respective groups on campus, but neither makes much noise. For those interested in the Middle East, there are a number of ways to be involved. However, the three groups that exist on campus are small, their events not well publicized, and their appeal highly limited.

In the classroom, professors are often able to preach their opinions, and since so many students are uninterested — and evidently, uneducated —  in the political aspects of subjects like Middle East Studies and history, seldom do students speak up to challenge the opinions being thrown their way. While some do not speak up because they do not know they are being indoctrinated, many simply do not care. Such is the situation I found myself in this semester.

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The setting was a history course centered around modern pop culture in the Middle East. The professor stood at the front of the class, reciting the same idea over and over again: Israeli society is unequal, with the Ashkenazi majority pitting their white supremacy over the Mizrahi minority. The class sat, taking notes, but never questioning the ideas being put forth. She talked about the ‘occupation’ and the ‘oppression’ that the Israeli government exerts upon the Palestinians, never once mentioning the atrocities of the Palestinian Authority — Palestinians’ own government. She referred to all Zionists as settlers. The list goes on an on. I would sit in my seat, trying to contain my simultaneous laughter and rage.

The arguments are easy to make, but hard to sustain. To the average student, immigrants might be viewed as settlers, but they do not know that the Jews are native to Israel. ‘Occupation’ and ‘oppression’ are terms thrown around with little substantial explanation.  In Israel, there are undoubtedly clashes between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, but there’s another layer to it.

No matter what origin, no matter what color, Israeli Jews are nationalists. It is no secret that Jews have been persecuted in nearly every other nation on earth at some point in time. That the state of Israel exists today is an amazing product that came after centuries of repression, racism, and genocide. While there may be internal political and social divides, many Israelis agree that there is no place they would rather be.

In Israel, they are free to be Jewish and to practice their cultural traditions. In the Arab states surrounding Israel, the idea that Jews could live and practice their religion freely is almost laughable — more than 850,000 Jews were expelled from these Arab lands after Israel was created simply because they were Jewish. In many of these countries, selling your land to a Jew is punishable by death. In Israel, the reality is that the nature of the democracy allows different groups to form within society, but even further, it allows them to coexist. And they do.

Earlier in the semester, when the professor began her tirade of anti-Israel rhetoric, she allowed a student to falsely claim that the Palestinians are victims of asymmetric aggression because they don’t have rockets and the Israelis do. Had the student never heard of Iron Dome? Perhaps she had not, but the professor certainly had. Regardless, the professor allowed the student to blatantly lie to the class, and chastised me when I spoke up saying that the information was incorrect.

When asked about presenting an Israeli perspective of history, she quipped that the man who wrote our textbook was Israeli. In fact, he is. Ilan Pappe was a professor at Haifa University until he called for a boycott of his own university and other Israeli academics and academic institutions. When I mentioned this, the professor told me to “look deeper” into the readings.

The problem here is cyclical: because the students do not seem to care about accuracy, they do not try to understand that the professor is spewing inaccurate information at them, or only presenting one side of the story. Professors are then able to capitalize on this apathy and say whatever they deem appropriate. One is dependent on the other, and until students are willing to care more, and to doubt their professors, the problem will persist.

I can hope that the other students in the class found validity in my arguments against the professor’s highly biased teaching. Maybe some day, apathy will be a thing of the past, and educated opinions will be the new norm. Until that day comes, I’ll use my voice, my knowledge, and the courage of my convictions to bring truth to a classroom that seems to lack it, and I will hope that others will follow my example.

Shoshana Kranish is a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) Fellow. She is a student at Syracuse University and interned at CAMERA’s Boston offices this past summer through the Jewish Vocational Services Emerging Jewish Leaders Summer Internship.

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  • David

    A fact that needs to be made if you are going to bring up the Mizrahi cleansings since Israel’s founding is that for years or decades before Israel even existed, Jews were stripped of rights and even citizenship in some of these Arab states. Before the Holocaust even began, Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were best sellers throughout the Middle East, and support for Hitler and the Nazis was the norm. Of course, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem incited massacres of Jews from Jerusalem to Baghdad, raised 3 Muslim battalions for Hitler, and asked Hitler to help him implement the Holocaust in the Middle East. Massacres and oppression of Jews in the Middle East were also hardly confined to the 20th century. Also, the professor should have checked the facts when discussing the “Mizrahi minority” considering the majority of Israel’s Jews are Mizrahi.

  • Vern

    Ilan Pappe’s textbooks have no business in a university in the first place.

    It didn’t help that CAMERA never gave Pappe more than a wrist slap over “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.”

    In reality, the book uses fake footnotes, anti-Semitic slurs, and even negates mega-events such as the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel…in addition to the fake Ben Gurion quote and invented massacre.

    Enough!!

    Someone needs to make these profs defend the evidence against Pappe (shockingly shown here) with a straight face:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1_dc2wuteg

    PS And the assumption that Pappe is a truth-teller simply because he’s Israeli is racist.

  • Greg

    So sorry for this experience Shoshana. When I was at Syracuse, I had many Jewish professors and I remember one among them fondly, a professor who was teaching a course in Judaism. What I most remember was that he allowed a student to stand up in class and tell everyone why Jews should convert to Christianity. While most of our class raged but politely listened, the professor did as well. He let this student speak, and when he sat down, the professor apologized to the entire class and left it at that. He still allowed this guy to speak, however. Perhaps this professor, who I met once again in Florida, should meet your professor sometime and enlighten her, not just about her hate speech, but about how to be a professor.

    • len

      My question to you Greg is why should the Professor have apologized to a Syracuse University class about Christians desire for Jews to convert? He should have asked if anyone would like to comment and allow discussion on what was said. If there was no retort to the original comment then leave it at that, If College students have to be protected and coddled then America is in deep trouble. If Jews on campus cant defend their faith from others or their Zionism then Judaism and Israel is in trouble. Its time to learn how to deal with the real world and get out of the Ivory Tower. As an old Jewish comic used to say about growing up in his old neighborhood ,he didn’t realize that Jew Bastard was actually two words until he reached his Bar Mitzvah.

  • jakob wasi

    How does it feel when the shoe pinches. It was alright to demean Palestinians, but when it comes to the Zionists, suddenly it’s taboo. They have sown the seeds of their own whirlwind.

    • len

      Jakob how does it feel to have a pinched brain, if anybody has sown their seeds of their whirlwind as you say its the Palestinians. Its people such as yourself who support them in their irresponsible actions that make them think they are getting somewhere but are getting nowhere. Only serious direct talks with Israel will give them a future of prosperity not an international demonization of Israel, because after all the world is one hypocritical stink hole that has no business judging Israel.

  • Yale

    I’d like to suggest to Shoshanna that she recruit two or three friends in class and develop a signal to start laughing when the professor says something outrageous. If she and her friends have the facts at their fingertips, it won’t take long to ridicule and then shame this professor and this should lead to her avoiding these stupid claims.

  • hay que dejar de ser miedosos, se debe enfrentar al provocador, hace unos meses me dirigia a una oficina de gobierno y fui insultado por una persona,por usar Kipa me devolvi lo enfrente, y se acobardo, penso que me quedaria humillado, se equivoco, la gente que observaba, sonrieron sepamos defendernos

  • David ROYTENBERG

    Please name the professor. Also please provide a link to the course web site. I am using this article to illustrate anti-Israel bias on campus, but people are asking for more details.

    • Vern

      The word “bias” needs to be retired. We are talking about “lies”, as in anti-Semitism of old.

      If you think the word unjustified, please see this video on textbook author Ilan Pappe, whom Shoshana’s professor upholds:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1_dc2wuteg

  • Linda Maislin

    Good for her for speaking up. We must all do our share, however small it may seem. It is our duty as Jews to tell the truth about our people and our homeland. If even one person learns something from us, that person will one day tell others and so on. Our words are never wasted.

  • Jackie

    Stop signing up for this instructor’s classes. Take classes with another instructor if possible. If not, transfer to another school.

  • Myron Slater

    Why not name the professor? I know about Syracuse University since my wife is from Syracuse. One professors opinion should be challenged in class, that’s what learning is about! It seems that the professor doesn’t want any other opinion to challenge his untrue facts!

  • Francis Figliola

    Islam’s DNA is jam packed with apartheid dogma! Yet they point their dirty fingers at Israel, the only true Democracy in the Middle East! “1984” in 2015-16.

  • Lee Smith

    Syracuse has been behind the times but now BDS is arriving!

  • Doug

    There is a difference between academic freedom and propaganda. Did you make the claim of bias and propaganda to the School administration?

  • Great article. We need students like Ms.Kranish to challenge these anti Israel professors in all our universities. Opinions are not facts.

  • Jonas

    Indoctrinating professors/teachers/educators and clerics should be registered on a for the public easy reachable blacklist.

  • joe

    Shoshana, keep up the good work. I know how hard it can be in your position to face up indifference and ignorance of a majority.

  • VictorMc

    A good 50% of so called students should not be in a ‘university’ in the West they are far too stupid but we need more plumbers.

  • Why does Shoshana Kranish not name the professor?

  • Geoff Mizel

    To the apathetic Ignorance can be bliss. It offers a blanket of comfort too the unaware.

    College Professors automatically wear a badge of authority and “expertise”. They are the “experts”

    As is be proven year after year, the high schools are failing their students with the same IDEOLOGICAL dribble that is offered to the impressionable 18-19 year fresh out of the indoctrination mills call high school. The college simply reinforce the dribble but add intricate layers to the lies, de its and misinformation offered at the high schools.

    College/universities are supposed to be institution that refine the thinking processes of the student, expand critical thinking skills and explore different opinion through exposure.

    Colleges/universities are not Ideological platforms to indoctrinate and use propaganda to reinforce one belief system over another.

    Today’s college/university are deaf and dumb when it comes to Common Sense along with the lack of promotion of the individual over the Collective. Professors teach out of their field of “expertise, thereby, venturing into the muddy waters of IDEOLOGY offering just one perspective and condemning all others.

    Political Correctness, Multi-Culturalism, Diversity and Social Justice are the hammers that are pounded away at students offering no quarter.

    The college/university produces drone-like automatons who talk alike, think alike and act alike.

  • When the time comes to writing a paper on the course of this “professor,” it may get interesting if a given student manages to demolish what he/she has “learned” in class and restore the truth based on incontrovertible facts.

    Of course, that student will unfortunately get an “F.” But that is a risk worth pursuing if the student makes the whole thing public with the support of ad hoc organizations like CAMERA or others. It might create the necessary bombshell to finally disrupt the deadly apathy Shoshana Kranish refers to.

    • Tab Brown

      There is a team waiting here to provide rebuttals, and fact backed by source. Harness them, there is a lot of blood boiling on this post.

  • jay kushner

    I suppose that Ms. Kranish expects the world to believe the same apathetic students when they push their anthropomorphic theory of global warming which they parrot from their unchallenged professors. Adolescents are still easily influenced by authority figures. No surprise that armies conscript 19 year olds, not 39 year olds.

  • steven L

    It all happens from the top and the elite.
    Antisemitism is spreading further into the USA!

  • a yid

    Why is this even allowed to go on? Why isn’t this horse-ass “professor” not disciplined or fired? No professor anywhere in this country should be allowed to spew such lies and filth? Where is the screening process? Where are the lawsuits? Why isn’t SJP banned yet? Where are the organizations that such a student can report to in order to have this slimeball hate professor terminated?

  • Ronit Jacobs

    Thank you for writing this important piece. It is important to call out these “educators” so that others are made aware of how they are abusing their positions by indoctrinating new haters based on lies. If you could, please post her name and class so that we can “out” each and every hater posing as a professor. Also, I hope you gave her a horrible student review. Without accountability, nothing will change.

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