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February 10, 2016 7:38 am

Vassar Sponsors the Demonization of Israel…Again

avatar by Ziva Dahl

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Vassar College. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Vassar College. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Remember Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies”? Eight academic departments invited Jasbir Puar to Vassar College and she told students lots of lies. They were neither sweet, nor little.

Puar’s talk this past Wednesday evening was titled “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters.” Rutgers’ Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies has been busy telling lies, presenting a version of this lecture from Poughkeepsie to Santa Barbara.  Her incendiary, unbalanced hate speech masquerades as scholarship.  In typical postcolonialist fashion, she ignores the facts and twists reality in favor of delusional fantasies to promote her spurious agenda. Disguised behind a plethora of pseudo-intellectual jargon, she presents bigotry all too reminiscent of 1930s Europe to demonize Jews.

I was there, listening to her reading from her computer in a monotone voice. Her lack of emotion contrasted sharply with the hatred she expressed. Let me give you a taste of her slanderous distortions and demonizing lies about Israel.

With no documentation or specific evidence, Puar asserted that Israel’s ultimate goals are ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, stealing of Palestinian land, and entrenchment and expansion of suffocating Israeli power. Israel’s “settler occupation” (her term) which she calls the “second Nakba” (catastrophe) is all about using “asphyxiating” biopolitical control over body and environment to suppress the Palestinian people. To this end, she claims Israel uses scientifically executed “maiming” and “stunting.”  

“Maiming” means shooting to intentionally cripple, shattering knees and hitting vital organs (an obvious contradiction) to minimize death statistics and ensure that Palestinian workers can be profitable without threatening the occupier.

“Stunting” is used to permanently debilitate and disable the Palestinians. This is achieved through population poisoning with uranium, lead and phosphorus and “calorie starvation” in children. Through Israel’s actions, it is creating physical, psychological and cognitive injuries by controlling infrastructure, water, electricity and land, restricting mobility and limiting telecommunications.  Her personal observation is that 95 percent of Palestinians are permanently disabled.  

Even congenital disabilities are blamed on the Israelis and, incredibly, Puar held Israel totally responsible for the collapse (via “remote home control”) of essential services in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which she called an “open air prison.”

Puar’s libelous accusations included Israelis killing Palestinians to harvest their organs, a version of the age-old antisemitic “blood libel,” experimentation on Palestinian children, “field assassinations” of 120 Palestinians, ages 12-16, in the last four months, and the intentional bombing of Palestinian hospitals and nursing homes.  She labeled Israel an apartheid state that uses its world-renowned reproductive technology to control population demographics by collecting genetic data to identify who is Jewish and specifically targeting Palestinian procreative organs. Paradoxically, she bragged that the Palestinian birthrate is triple that of the Jewish Israelis.  

Puar concluded that Israel is imposing a collective punishment on the helpless Palestinians through psychic, bodily and mobility impairments, all elements of biopolitics. She described the end goal as not just ethnic cleansing, but also the “cannibalism of a culture.”

When asked whether Israelis were creating a slow-motion genocide, she agreed that Palestinians are dying a slow death, but insisted that the term “genocide” remains “tethered to the Holocaust” and its use is not allowed since Jews have thoroughly hijacked discourse regarding trauma and victimhood.

She supported Vassar’s current BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) resolution, but, after students stopped applauding, advocated organized armed resistance against Israel.

This lecture was hate speech, pure and simple, demonizing the Jewish nation like Goebbels and Hitler, perpetuating the antisemitic “blood libel” and blaming Israel for all the evil in the world.  Shades of Der Sturmer or Mein Kampf.

A hundred students sat in rapt attention, many nodding approvingly and, by their questions, indicated agreement with her message. Far worse was the utter silence of the half dozen Vassar faculty members present. Not one stood up to challenge the baseless lies and unadulterated exaggerations within Puar’s hour-long diatribe. Not one. Behind me sat Peter Antelyes, director of Jewish Studies, and Joshua Schreier, the former head. When I asked Schreier whether he believed Puar’s outlandish accusations, he responded, “You prove to me that anything she said wasn’t true.”  I was stunned.

How could Vassar American Studies, Africana Studies, International Studies and Women’s Studies programs and the English, Political Science and Religion departments sponsor such a lecture, especially since Puar spoke at Vassar in 2012? And how could they do so without also offering an opposing view?  These academics’ sponsorship was an endorsement of hate speech against Jews, setting an example for students to follow.

But “the most unkindest cut of all” is the sponsorship by Vassar’s Jewish Studies program. Surely one would think that Jewish Studies faculty, familiar with the 2000-year history of Jewish persecution, would recognize blatant antisemitism. Is it too much to expect them to have the moral integrity and principles to refuse to sponsor this rank antisemitism and to debunk the demonizing lies?  Have their brains been hopelessly addled by their ideological obsession with the postcolonialist view of Israel as a foreign Western colonial power victimizing  “indigenous” Palestinians?  Would the Africana Studies program endorse the views of a Klansman or the Women’s Studies program host a misogynist?

This is not the first time that Jewish Studies has supported antisemitic speech. They sponsored Judith Butler (2013) advocating the elimination of Israel via BDS, Max Blumenthal (banished from the German parliament for antisemitic rants), Ali Abunimah (2014) promoting ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Middle East, and Sa’ed Atshan (2015) demonizing Israel as “apartheid.”  

George Orwell in his 1945 “Notes on Nationalism” observed, “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that:  no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

Dahl is a fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. She has a Master of Arts degree in public law and government from Columbia University and an A.B. in political science from Vassar College. This article was originally published by The Observer.

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  • Paul

    As an Israeli, I know that most of what the rabid arab antisemites say is nonsense.
    But I also know that what we DO do prevents us really defending ourselves against the slanderous lies.
    Specifically: the Israeli right-wing government policy of continued, 48 year ongoing civilian settlement in the territories is not accepted by ANYONE except the Israeli right-wing and some extreme Christians – all of who base their views on the messianic belief that God gives us rights and denies them to others. That does NOT convince anyone seeking justice or fair play.
    Until Israel stops trying to hold another people by force at the end of our rifles, decent people all over the world are going to be against us, and many will swallow the slanderous lies because we appear a priori to be morally wrong because of our policy.
    Our civilian settlement policy is probably the most destructive force working against the continued survival of Israel.

  • Sol

    Nice article , Ms. Dahl! Anti-semitism is known to be a chronic & often fatal disease. My only question is…did you, Ms. Dahl, stand up at the lecture, and defend Israel & speak out against anti-semitism? If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?

  • Guilt is proved by fact – innocence not; this puts the innocent on the defensive. The ONLY way to be in the clear is to be first. If one cannot pre-empt through prognosis then by pro-active publicity of Israeli democracy and Arab hate indocrination. pro-Israeli benefactors should and can get into the public eye by social media and posters

  • reevin stein

    In Devorim (Deuteronomy), Moishe the Miracle Maker tells the sons of Israel not to worry about who & where the enemy will be because Israel is so rare a House, it will give birth to them their selves! we saw the UN speech of einstein against a separate Jewish State and his attack on Menachem Begin and later Deir Yassin, the lies of stephen veiss! against Polish Yiden and east europe Yidin and against Menachem Begin, the charade of sham veitzmann!! the tsebruchiner Yid (broken Jew)in: David Gurion (Chazon Ish); Sandy Berger, Ross, Indyk, Peres, Rabin; and now: Boynie Soyndies, Ivy League Jewish “Studies” with Antelyes and Schreier a quintessential core (Y”Shm V”Zm).

  • Jews bend over backwards not to offend our enemies. Then we wonder why it is so easy for our enemies to get away with slander and blood-libel.

  • Isaac Brajtman

    So,was there no response at all ?
    She is either a criminal lier or if she believes what she says, is psychotic
    There must be some way to point this out to the students who are gullable enough to listen and believe

  • Robert Davis

    How then can she explain that these “persecuted palestinians”(sic sic) do not move from Judea/Samaria? the reason is evident it is called : ARAB IMPERIALISM. These arabs who of course are NOT palestinians since only jews can be palestinians, want grab these jewish toeritiries at any cost. Thius is why the ONY solution to this arab/Israel conflict is the eviction of those arabs over to Eastern Palestine (jordan)which would stop the whole matter and make Israel stronger which is a second element favourable to peace and good relations with the REAL neighboring arab nations which is a third cause for real peace to which fake “palestinians” zombies cannot be a part.This is STRATEGY not Netanyahu’s zig zag tactics.

  • stevenl

    So here we go again. Antisemitism is alive and well! Tk U.