Noura Erakat: Bashing Israel at UC-Berkeley
While Brooklyn-based “feminist” and Palestinian apologist Linda Sarsour is the progressive Left’s flavor of the month, George Mason University international law professor Noura Erakat is a more intellectually significant, and quickly rising, player in the anti-Jewish, Israel-hating business.
Approximately 50 people attended Erakat’s keynote address at the recent UC-Berkeley conference on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War — “6 Days, 50 Years: 1967 and the Politics of Time.” The conference was part of a larger University of California project.
In her talk, Erakat raised such leading questions as, “How has an exorbitant register of death and destruction as experienced in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s most recent military offensives become tolerable in the language of law?” and, “How has the Palestinian use of force been delegitimized to the point of extinguishing armed resistance by criminalizing all of it?”
The loaded nature of Erakat’s questions are obvious to anyone with a passing grip on the history of the region, the modern state of Israel and the lives of the Jewish people under Arab-Muslim imperial rule. And given the lack of human rights for Muslims and non-Muslims in the current Middle East, it is laughable that she could ask them with a straight face.
Erakat asserted that the 1967 Israeli victory in the Six-Day War established “the machinery of occupation,” whereby villages were established by the indigenous Jewish population in Judea and Samaria, allegedly in direct contravention of international law.
Her principle argument was that the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria represents a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits states from moving people into territories occupied through war. As a skilled attorney and professional harasser of anything connected to Israel, Erakat acted as though her interpretation of international law is self-evident when, in fact, it is highly dubious.
Whatever the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention in terms of Jewish people building housing for themselves on Jewish land, Erakat rightly noted that Israel has faced major international push-back for these actions.
Naturally, Erakat also dragged out the whiskered canard that Israel has used national security as a mere “cover for further colonization.”
But if the 1967 war was a war of national self-defense, which it was, then Israel is not merely an occupier. But, according to Erakat, the Six-Day War was not defensive — despite the fact that Israel only launched military operations after it was evident that it was about to face an overwhelming Arab invasion. Despite this undisputed history, however, Erakat claims that the war was one of Israeli-Jewish aggression against its largely innocent Muslim neighbors.
Another fatal flaw in Erakat’s approach, if not from a legal perspective then certainly from an ethical one, is that Arab and Muslim peoples oppressed “their” Jews as second and third-class non-citizens from the rise of Muhammad until the demise of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
The Jews of the Middle East are the only people in human history to regain sovereignty after millennia of ethnic cleansing from their homeland. If the Palestinians wish to be viewed as victims of Jewish aggression, then it might be helpful if they would condemn, and try to stop, the genocide of Christians in the region. It would also be helpful if their leaders would stop teaching their children that killing Jews is beloved in the sight of Allah.
One cannot, after all, claim to be a victim of secular racist oppression while ruining millions of lives with religious racist oppression. From an ethical or moral perspective, it simply does not work that way.
Erakat’s myopic hostility to Israel is all too common in Middle East studies, an academic field grinding a political axe against both the West and the indigenous Jewish population in the region. In Erakat, the discipline has found a dangerously engaging ideologue to fill its ranks.
Michael Lumish is an analyst on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the proprietor of Israel Thrives. He holds a Ph.D. in American History from the Pennsylvania State University and has taught at Penn State, San Francisco State University, and City College of San Francisco.