Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Zionists Enforce the Party Line on Israel

Ever wonder why Western political parties and institutions such as the media and universities can generally be relied upon to toe the line on Israel?

One thing's for sure. It has nothing whatever to do with any particular fondness for the beast. Basically, it comes down to fear, fear of becoming the target of a campaign of confected outrage, sometimes accompanied by a threatened or actual loss of funding, or maybe even legal action.

To cite but one local example: despite the claptrap we hear from Labor leaders at Zionist functions about Australia and Israel sharing common values, and the nonsense they spout concerning the 'glorious' role of Labor icon Doc Evatt at the United Nations in laying the foundations for the creation of the Jewish state, the ALP's current piss-poor position on Palestine/Israel stems primarily from the party's reliance on Zionist funding - see my 22/6/10 post The Best Israel Policy Money Can Buy.

The case of pro-Palestinian US academic Steven Salaita*, a professor of English and an authority on Arab and Native Americans, provides a rare glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes whenever the usual suspects get their knickers in a knot over anyone with the gumption to critique Israel from a mainstream party, media, or academic platform.

To set the scene:

"On Friday, officials of the University of Illinois offered their first public explanations for the decision to block the hiring of Steven Salaita. They denied that his criticism of Israel was the reason, and said that they were committed to promoting an atmosphere in which people and ideas are not demeaned. 'What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them...' said an email from Phyllis M. Wise, chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus where the American Indian studies program offered Salaita a tenured position that he and the department believe he accepted. Since news emerged 3 weeks ago that Wise told Salaita that the job would not be his because she would not submit it to the Illinois board for approval, the decision has been the subject of intense national debate in academic circles and beyond." (U. of Illinois officials defend decision to deny job to scholar; documents show lobbying against him, Scott Jaschik, insidehighered.com, 25/8/14)

Now for that rare, behind-the-scenes look at what it was that influenced or prompted the university's chancellor to deny this perceptive and passionate critic of Israeli apartheid and terrorism a job:

"Also on Friday, the university responded to an open records request from Inside Higher Ed for communications to the chancellor about the Salaita appointment, prior to her action to block it. The communications show that Wise was lobbied on the decision not only by pro-Israel students, parents and alumni, but also by the fund-raising arm of the university. The communications also show that the university system president was involved, and that the university was considering the legal ramifications of the case before the action to block the appointment. Most of the emails have the names of the senders redacted and some are nearly identical, suggesting the use of talking points or shared drafts. Many of the letter writers identify themselves Jewish and/or sympathetic to Israel, as students, parents or alumni, and as people who say that the tone of Salaita's comments (especially on Twitter) makes them believe he would be hostile to them and to their views... While many of the emails are fairly similar, some stand out. For instance, there is an email from Travis Smith, senior director of development for the university of Illinois Foundation, to Wise, with copies to Molly Tracy, who is in charge of fund-raising for engineering programs, and Dan C. Peterson, vice chancellor for institutional advancement. The email forwards a letter complaining about the Salaita hire. The email from Smith says: 'Dan, Molly, and I have just discussed this and believe you need to [redacted].' (The blacked out portion suggests a phrase is missing, not just a word or two.)... At least one email... was from someone who identified himself as a major donor who said he would stop giving if Salaita were hired."

There's plenty more along these lines in Jaschik's report, but I'm sure you've got the idea. See also Steven Salaita's academic lynching by Stephen Lendman (sjlendman.blogspot.com, 25/8/14)

[*For those who might like to explore Salaita's writings, I can personally recommend Anti-Arab Racism in the USA (2006) and Israel's Dead Soul (2010).]

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