Thursday, January 03, 2008


Subject: Scopusgate

An abridged version of a longer article about the cover-up scandal at the
Hebrew University, with relation to the "Abstaining From Rape of Arabs is
Jewish Racism" thesis, came out this evening at the NY Jewish Press under
the title Guilty By Reason Of Innocence: New Insanity From Israel's
Academic Leftists By: Steven Plaut
and can be read here:

I am pasting below the longer FULL version of the article, which has not yet
been published in full length form, but is presented here:


by Steven Plaut

It began as just another exercise in political academic wackiness at
the Hebrew
-D5CCA75921F5> University. A graduate student claimed that the absence of
any history of rapes of Arab women by Israeli Jewish soldiers proves that
the Jews are racists and oppressors, people who do not even regard Arab
women as sexually desirable. Such silliness is commonplace these days in
academia, and ordinarily no one would have taken much notice. But the
student at the Mount
80c6b495&PHPSESSID=89eca27f833a8f8880bd708344fd706c> Scopus campus and her
"research" were then awarded a university honor for her impressive
"discoveries." That drew media attention.

The matter has now become the worst recent scandal in Israeli academia
because of the attempt by the heads of the Hebrew
cc213880c6b495> University to cover it up, in a manner a bit reminiscent of
the worst days of Watergate. Maybe it should be dubbed Scopusgate. The
scandal now rivals the "Toaff Affair" in Israel last year, in which a
now-retired professor at Bar-Ilan University published "research" in which
he claimed that medieval Jews used gentile blood for ceremonial purposes.

The very highest officials of the Hebrew University are themselves now
implicated in a dishonest cover-up! The President of the Hebrew University,
Professor Menachem Magidor, and the Rector Prof. Haim D. Rabinowitch jointly
issued a deliberately false "spin" announcement regarding the MA thesis of
the student, claiming that the media had incorrectly described what was in
it. Instead of repudiating the student and her "academic advisors," Magidor
and Rabinowitch closed ranks with them and insisted that Nitzan's "research"
represents serious scholarship. The Nitzan Affair simply shows how
completely devoid of serious academic standards and quality controls parts
of Israeli academia are today.

Hebrew University apologists tried to defuse the cries of outrage over
the "research" by claiming that reports about it were all part of some sort
of vast right-wing conspiracy. The first two media reports appeared on web
sites, one Hebrew (Makor
?articleId=27530&channel=1&subchannel=2> Rishon) and one English (Israel
National <> News),
both associated with those on the Israeli Right. The apologists suggested
<> that these were misrepresenting
the thesis for political reasons. Then Magidor and Rabinovitch proclaimed
that reading the entire thesis would show that it is a serious piece of
scholarship. They obviously did not read it.

Well, I have now read the entire thesis (in Hebrew). [You can also,
if you read Hebrew, at] It is not a serious piece
of research. It is a disgrace and an embarrassment for all of Israeli
academia. The descriptions of it on the two "rightwing" web sites were
entirely accurate, and the heads of the Hebrew University simply lied about
its contents, in a pathetic attempt at cover-up. While University
you-make-me-look-like-a-genius> dismissed complaints about the thesis as
tendentious misrepresentation of it by a vast rightwing conspiracy, the
rallying in defense of the thesis by the Hebrew University administration
and some professors looks a whole lot like a leftwing conspiracy to cover

Tal Nitzan was a graduate student in anthropology at the Hebrew
University. Her thesis was supervised by anthropology Professor Eyal Ben
Ari <> and by Dr.
ciety_(Suny_Series_in_Israeli_Studies)_:_Books&ref=tgt_adv_XSNG1060> Edna
Lomsky-Feder, from the Hebrew University's school of education, a leftist
with a history of denouncing Israel for its supposed "militarism." The
thesis was evidently also supported by anthropology Prof. Zali Gurevitch
<> , the head of the Shaine Center (and
himself an anti-Israel leftist radical
<> ), who defended it to the media and
made the decision to award it a prize of honors.

Nitzan's "thesis" is largely a collection of tiresome feminist rhetoric
and postmodernist gibberish, not all of it related to rape. The thesis is
206 pages (over-) long and tries to appear scholarly by including many long
"citations" taken from the fever swamps of radical anthropology and leftist
sociology. One has to wade through it with suppressed nausea to get to its
main points, and all of the main points are exactly as they were represented
in the early media reports; they are at complete odds with the cover-up
attempt by the Hebrew University.

Nitzan begins by noting that one should distinguish between organized
military rape directly ordered by authorities as a matter of policy, such as
in the Bosnian wars, and individual acts of rape by soldiers, which she
labels with the nonsensical term "symptomatic rape." She calls it that I
guess because she wants us to think it is a symptom the "racist Zionist
system" that is responsible for such crimes. She asserts that the first
kind of rape is a form of political policy, whereas the latter kind (the
"symptomatic") is a "direct result of the blurring of social divisions and
ethnic-gender barriers" (bear with me here! --- SP). She confirms that the
first form of organized rape has never been the policy of the Israeli army.
She then says that the second form, individual "symptomatic rape," has
replaced the former as a method of humiliation and oppression of Arabs, even
when - and especially when - Israeli Jewish soldiers do not do it at all!
Hence, she concludes, NOT raping Arab women shows how racist the Jews are.

Nitzan cannot conceive of any rape that is not in and itself a form of
establishing political control and defining political power. "Symptomatic
rape" for Nitzan is a reflection of the intolerant distancing of the
"dominant" group (Jewish men) from the "oppressed" group (Arab men and
women). But she then completely turns this "thought" on its head by arguing
that abstaining from rape is just as inhumane and oppressive as
"symptomatically raping," and in fact replaces it, because it just serves to
reinforce the intolerant attitudes towards Arabs by Jewish soldiers, who
think of Arabs as so inferior and horrid that they do not even feel a drive
to rape them. Really. "Absence of rape is explained by the social
condition in which there is blurring of attitudes towards gender power
relations while at the same time social limits... are unambiguous and solid.
(page 183)" While giving some shallow lip service to how the "question" of
rape refusal is "very complex," Nitzan's own "answer" is quite simple and
straightforward. And numbingly stupid.

Rape for Nitzan is not violent crime at all but rather is always a
manifestation of political plotting by elites. She contradicts herself by
noting that, come to think of it, Israeli soldiers do not rape Arab women as
individuals either. She then contradicts her own contradictions and claims
that the absence of rape by Israeli soldiers is "designed" to achieve the
same goals as organized mass rape in other countries and in other wars.

Her "conclusions" are that Israel is so racist and intolerably
anti-Arab that abstaining from rape is part and parcel of its way to enforce
rigid "lines of division." She asserts that individual soldiers abstaining
from rape represent an intentional policy of oppression roughly similar to
when governments order mass rape, because in both cases the "policy" serves
to subordinate and dehumanize the oppressed victim population.

The main significance of the thesis as an academic work is in the fact
that it illustrates the total collapse of any semblance of academic
standards at the Hebrew University. The "thesis" is not worth the disk
space on which it is printed. Yet it was not only accepted by the
Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University, the
department in which the late pro-terror
cc213880c6b495> anti-Zionist extremist Baruch Kimmerling spent his career
8E9-BD0B6D87995F%7d> fabricating "Palestinian history," but was even
awarded a prestigious award, one evidently financed with contributions from
the Shaine family. (I doubt the Shaines have any idea how their generosity
was misused by the university!) Atrociously written and constantly
contradicting herself, Nitzan would have been laughed out of any university
maintaining serious standards, EVEN if she had been writing about a valid
and legitimate subject.

The thesis draws its "scientific" conclusions from open interviews
with 25 reserve soldiers, ages 23-32, who served as combat troops in the
"occupied territories" during the "intifada." None of the comments by any
of these soldiers support or provide any confirmation, even the most
indirect, to any of the lunatic "conclusions" by Nitzan. Most of the
interview comments concern the day-to-day tactics and experiences of the
soldiers. Nitzan then asked the soldiers why no Arab women were raped by
Israeli troops. Their responses varied, ranging from assertions of ethical
awareness of soldiers to effective disciple. Some noted the presence of
media reporters or of NGO groups in the areas of conflict.

Nitzan constantly disregards what the soldiers actually say and instead
attributes to them irrational fears and feelings of disgust and snotty
superiority when they interact with Arabs (for example, page 53 and
following). Long segments of the thesis are rants about how Israel
brutally exercises control and suppression of the poor Palestinians.

But since when is asking 25 random soldiers why no rapes take place a
scientific way to go about answering the question? The soldiers are not
social scientists and are not criminologists. How any MA degree could be
awarded to anyone on the basis of having conducted 25 interviews is one of
the mysteries that the Hebrew University authorities have yet to explain.
The thesis is totally devoid of statistical analysis or empirical testing,
even using the rather primitive methodologies popular among some
sociologists. At no serious academic institution would such a superficial
exercise in baseless long-winded verbiage be accepted as a "research

Nitzan's anti-Israel political bias is also evident throughout. On page
23 she declares that "Imposing control and instilling fear is a frequent
practice (by Israel in the 'Palestinian-Israeli' conflict) and so it would
be expected that military rape should be used as an efficient method for
ensuring the security and survival of a Jewish Israel." On page 53 she
asserts that "de-humanization amidst avoiding demonization is one of the
most blatant features of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict." [She means by
the Jews.] The words "terror" and "terrorist" do not appear even once in
the entire thesis. Neither does "bomb," "bomber," or "suicide murderer."
No one reading the thesis would have any idea that Israeli military actions
in the "territories" have anything to do with suicide bombers and terrorist
murderers. The political bias and open political propagandizing should
have been more than enough for the thesis to be rejected altogether as
pseudo-research. Instead, it got a prize.

The possibility that Israeli soldiers do not rape Arab women because
they are simply decent and honorable people, or under effective command by
decent and honorable people, is automatically dismissed by Nitzan. After
all, there are acts of criminal rape in Israeli civilian society, citing a
radical feminist group claiming such sexual abuse is common in Israel, so
this could not be possibly explain the mystery. How the incidence of such
civilian crimes rules out the obvious real explanation for the absence of
rape by soldiers is not even the worst logical inconsistency by Nitzan and
her supervisors.

Nitzan's thesis contains the Arab "narrative" about just about
everything, including such things as the battle of Deir Yassin. The claims
of Bash-Israel "historians" are accepted at face value. Arab propaganda is
accepted as "scholarship." Nevertheless, even these confirm that virtually
no rapes of Arab women by Jewish soldiers ever occurred. [One of the few
people claiming that a few such rape cases did take place is anti-Israel
propagandist Uri Avnery, who is not an academic and is hardly a credible
source, although one Nitzan on which is willing to rely.]

Once reports about the Nitzan "research" claiming Jews were racist for
NOT raping Arabs began to circulate, the heads of the Hebrew University (the
President and Rector together) evidently heard outraged complaints and so
issued their own statement concerning it, dated December 30, 2007. It
reads, in part: "Thank you for your concern about the thesis of the student
Ms. Tal Nitzan. In her thesis, Ms. Nitzan examined a number of explanations
for the question why the Israeli army is not involved in rapes, as was so
widely done by the Japanese in Korea and more recently by the Europeans in
Kosovo and by the Americans in Iraq, just to name a few. IDF soldiers are
not involved in raping and other atrocities common to other armies, and Ms.
Nitzan examined a number of explanations for this proper behavior. It seems
that the source, on which the media reports were based, either did not read
the thesis or used sentences that were taken out of context (emphasis in
original statement). Below please find excerpts from her work (both in the
original Hebrew and the English translation, side by side), providing
possible explanations for the question why the Israeli army is not involved
in rapes."

This was followed by three brief citations from the Nitzan thesis in
Hebrew with English translation. Sure enough, nothing in the three
selections, all taken out of context, is particularly outrageous or
anti-Israel. But that is only because in 206 pages of babble, it is
unsurprisingly possible to find a handful of sentences that are not
offensive. Indeed, Nitzan did mention in passing the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo
and Korea, but nearly the entire thesis is dedicated single-mindedly to
proving that Jews are racists for NOT raping Arabs. The President and
Rector of the Hebrew University did exactly what they disingenuously claimed
the media had been doing, selecting non-representative sentences to
misrepresent the thesis and make it appear harmless.

Meanwhile not a single feminist organization anywhere has spoken up
about this thesis claiming that it is racist when Jews do not rape Arabs.
This past spring a gang of Arabs terrorized the Galilee by raping Jewish
women for political motives and was apprehended. Some of their victims were
children. Nitzan and her professors have nothing to say about THAT wave of
politically-motivated rapes. According to Nitzan's own thesis logic, if a
Jewish woman were to be raped by Hamas terrorists, this would pretty much
prove that the Hamas are egalitarian and progressive seekers of peace and
justice, not treating Jews as the inferior "Other."

But the most outrageous aspect of this entire scandal is the behavior of
the heads of the Hebrew University, defending and endorsing this "research"
with a cover-up, and proving that the Hebrew University today, despite one
of its retired professors having won a Nobel Prize, has jettisoned academic
standards and has lost interest in seeking academic excellence.

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