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January 10, 2016 12:54 pm

UCLA and the Los Angeles Times Should Be Ashamed to Associate With This ‘Professor’

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Saree Makdisi. The UCLA professor claims Israel deserves a boycott. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

UCLA professor Saree Makdisi says Israeli schools deserve to be boycotted. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Saree Makdisi, a UCLA professor, starts this way:

Why Israel’s schools merit a US boycott

At its annual convention this week, the Modern Language Assn., which represents 26,000 language and literature scholars, will become the latest academic body to consider the merits of adopting a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This follows endorsements of such a boycott by the Assn. for Asian American Studies, the American Studies Assn. and, most recently, the American Anthropological Assn., which voted 1,040 to 136 to endorse a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions at its November annual meeting in Denver; the AAA’s entire membership will soon vote on the resolution, which is expected to pass.

The justification for an academic boycott — which targets institutions, not individual scholars — stems from the peculiar relationship between Israel’s educational system and its broader structures of racism.

The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination points out with alarm that Israel maintains two separate educational systems for its citizens — one for Jewish children and another for the children of the Palestinian minority — a structure that reinforces the profound segregation of Israeli society in everything from matters of citizenship and marriage to housing rights.

Here’s the first indication of falsehood. Israel teaches Arabic language, culture and history in Arab schools and Jewish culture and history in Jewish schools. If Arabs were forced to go to Jewish-majority schools, you can be sure that Makdisi would be saying that Israel must be boycotted for destroying Arab culture.

According to official Israeli data cited by the human rights organization Adalah, by the turn of the 21st century Israel was investing three times as much on a per capita basis in the education of a Jewish as opposed to that of a Palestinian citizen.

The consequences are obvious: Schools for Palestinians in Israel are overcrowded and poorly equipped, lacking in libraries, labs, arts facilities and recreational space in comparison with schools for Jewish students. Palestinian children often have to travel greater distances than their Jewish peers to get to school, thanks to a state ban on the construction of schools in certain Palestinian towns (for example, according to Adalah, there is not a single high school in the Palestinian communities of the Negev desert in southern Israel).

These naked forms of discrimination extend into the university system as well. “The hurdles Palestinian Arab students face from kindergarten to university function like a series of sieves with sequentially finer holes,” Human Rights Watch points out. “At each stage, the education system filters out a higher proportion of Palestinian Arab students than Jewish students.”

Only one problem. This pseudo-academic is using statistics and quotes that are from one and a half decades ago.

He sort of admits it, by calling a 1999 study “the turn of the 21st century,” a sly way to make it sound modern. But what has happened since then?

Haaretz notes that from 1999-2010, when science teachers in Jewish schools plummeted:

In Arab schools, however, the picture was different, with the number of computer science teachers rising by 50%. The Arab sector also saw a rise of 165% in instructors teaching technology classes and a 171% increase in the number teaching mathematics, the report found.

The number of physics teachers in Arab schools grew by 25%, those teaching chemistry by 44% and in biology by 81.7%.

There are still gaps but Israel has poured lots of money into the Arab school sector since the gaps were first reported.  But Makdisi wants to boycott Israel first, and doesn’t want the facts to get into the way. So he wants an academic boycott in 2016 based on statistics from 2000.

Even the Human Rights Watch article he quotes is from 2001!

But what about these damning figures that he quotes that are more recent?

About a quarter of Israeli schoolchildren are Palestinian. But as a recent study by the Assn. for the Advancement of Civic Equity points out, the higher you go in the system, the lower the number of Palestinian students. As of 2012, according to data published by the Israeli Council for Higher Education, Palestinians constituted only 11% of bachelor’s degree students, 7% of master’s students, and barely 3% of PhD students. A mere 2.7% of the faculty in Israeli universities are Palestinian, and the percentage of Palestinians in administration is even lower.

I went to the website of the Israeli Council for Higher Education, and discovered another way that this “academic” is willing to lie with statistics. Indeed, in the 2011-2 academic year, only 11.8% of all university students were Arab. Yet that number went up to 12.4% in 2013, 13.1% in 2014 and 14.1% in 2015 – indicating that the money that Israel put in Arab public schools has paid off. In fact, since 1999, the number of Arab university students has increased by 50%.

Clearly the problem was identified and is being addressed from way before anyone ever heard of BDS. Which shows that BDS advocates are first and foremost anti-Israel and only afterwards do they try to muster up facts to support their own racism.

Beyond that, the idea that Israel universities must be punished because the Arab education sector has been historically underfunded makes absolutely no sense. I am not aware of any studies showing that Israeli universities discriminate against Arabs. By boycotting the very institutions that Arabs need to attend to gain equality in the next generation, the BDSers are trying to perpetuate the problem, not solve it.

It is amazing that UCLA allows an academic with such sloppy and dishonest research methods to be employed.

And it is more than disappointing that the Los Angeles Times published this without doing the basic fact checks that took me about 15 minutes to complete.

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  • Ilya Lavrenti

    They should be thorough and consistent– if you’re going to boycott Israel institutions, boycott them all including Israeli medical discoveries and treatment. All you academics who join in the boycott should be ready to suffer, yea, even die for your cause. You might also tear some of the chips in your computer that were made in Israel.


    He should be more worried about the failing American school systems that the school systems in Israel.
    Or is this a case of the incompetent chastising others so that they won’t look at HIS failures?

  • This is a very valuable article because it reflects the ideological warfare that is currently going on worldwide due to the internet. These infected academics need to be exposed. As I heard Manfred Gerstenfeld say many years ago “We cannot give any antisemites a free lunch”. He was speaking at a CIJR – Canadian Institute for Jewish Research Conference in Montreal. (I filmed his talk as well and you can find it on youtube)

    In the US and Canada this battle is mainly carried on by left wing academics subverted by the infamous Barghouti’s Electronic Intifada and the annual Israel Apartheid meetings organized by the BDS-Boycott movement on campuses all over the US and Canada.

    The American Historical Association has now rejected two such votes, mainly because of the courageous involvement of Jeffrey Herf and other historians who Have caught wind of the perverting of these associations by small cadres of academics who have been poisoned by the BDS/left wing support of Palestinians. I wrote about this in a blog. which includes the video of Jeffrey Herf sharing his experience at a recent conference in Baltimore sponsored by the law society and SPME – Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

    Here is the video by Jeffre Herf: How One professor Countered the BDS Movement

  • Where does UCLA keep this rotten anti-Semite?

    Wait til his buddies in ISIS comes to LA.

  • Where does the LA Times get off in publishing this trash. Wait til ISIS drops by to congratulate them and invites them to participate in this anti-semetic dribble.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    It may be true that since 1999 the number of Arab university students has increased by 50%. Nevertheless, the numbers are still abysmal overall. The curricula cited in this updated article do not mention any history, philosophy, art, English or other language,humanities, nursing, geology, archaeology, psychology, sociology, physical education, or education courses. Accordingly, the improvements are still insufficient and inadequate. Boycotting Israel is definitely not the answer. In the near future, the Israeli government has promised a major overhaul of the educational system. This should include integration of the public schools so that children of Arab and Jewish students get to learn together. That would ameliorate the discrepancies in the quality of education. Separate schools for separate peoples will never ever work in Israel or anywhere else in which there are different cultures. Arabic and Hebrew should be taught for sure, and English, French, Spanish, and German should also be taught. Israel is a democracy; therefore, the next generation is entitled to be exposed to the world outside of Israel and outside of the Middle East.

  • ESLombard

    This item is an example of our needing a team of experts to develop potent responses to lies and half lies. Although this article is well written and useful, it really calls for a shorter,scornful news bite so aggressive that it may prove a lesson to future liars including the Arab team.
    All these reports out of UCLA leave me reluctant to confess that I wasted six years there starting with 1941.

  • Abbushuki

    He doesn’t just lie with stats: Israel maintains separate schools for the National Jewish Religious and there are numerous Hareidi school systems. There are separate curricula for Christians.

    He also calls Israeli Arabs ‘Palestinians’. They are no more Palestinians that the Jews who also lived in the Land of Israel which anti-Semites changed to the word Palestine. No one has heard of an Israeli Arab who would prefer to live in the P.A. or Gaza. For one thing, if they wanted to live there, no one would lift a finger to stop them.

    Saree is an expert at Literary Fiction and he is adept at writing his own. Whenever he speaks, there should be a big lable: FICTION.

  • Ike Semaya

    These professors who support the boycott if Israeli education and Universities won;t be happy until ISIL comes to this country and they will be the first ones the kill. HOW STUPID CAN THEY BE???????????????????????????

  • Herschel Friedman

    Nothing shocks me anymore!

  • Remember to spell LA Times correctly: Der Sturmer…that’s how you spell it.

  • Uriel Priwes

    It’s amazing how easy it is to be unfair to Israel. One has so many sympathizers all over the world!! What a way to be fashionable! For shame!

  • ZG

    This guy is a professor of Falsehoods. If these are your educators America, then I don’t see your future as very bright. Send this guy back to his bigoted Islamic homeland,before he brainwashes your young!!!

  • Mickey Oberman

    There are certain elements in society who should be ignored.
    Foremost among them are UCLA, The L.A. Times and numerous other biased, irrational entities especially in the academic world.
    Makdisi is one of those foul elements.

  • Mickey Oberman

    There are certain elements in society who should be ignored.
    Foremost among them are UCLA, The L.A. Times and numerous other biased, irrational entities. Makdisi is one of those foul elements.

  • Makdisi Saree – ask him how he feels about Morsi.

  • Hamanslayer

    Most of the time, I find the reports and comments by the Elder of Ziyyon truly right on the mark.

    Undoubtedly,what he says in this blog is also very true — except he is talking about “Palestinian children” in Israel’s educational system
    That is an aberration, to say the least. There are Israeli Arab children in the system, but no Palestinian children, to the best of my knowledge. There are Israeli Arabs in the Knesset, and as a Palestine-born Jew I may not like their stand or affinity to Palestinian Arabs, but they are Israelis, for better or for worse.

    This item sounds like it should have been on the plate of Cinnamon from Campus Watch (with all due respect to Elder of Ziyyon who certainly does a great job)…. And the censure of UCLA and the LA Times should be taken up vigorously by everyone who agrees that the abominable BDS is just anti-Semitic excrement.

  • Laura Burkhart

    My sincerest apologies, to all Israel…from one American, who had a brother attend UCLA.
    Your statistic, I can certainly verify from practical experience, living in Israel two years. Israel offers free education to Palestinians, offers land to Palestinians who serve in their military for several years. 60% of the income support Jews in Israel, who are 80% of the population, and 40% income support 20% of the Arab population. I personally worked for a Muslim who education included a double masters in Psychology, working toward a doctorate, brilliant, respected woman in Wadi Hamim, also a brilliant archeaologust from Nazareth, and each Arab I know seeks higher education, as Jews in Israel do! This article could not be further from the truth…especially the three Muslim children I personally know, attending private schools, in the Palestinian community!