Friday, April 11, 2008
Columbia U hires an Israeli Court Jew
Yinon Cohen is chosen man by Columbia University.s Arab professors to
represent Israel and Jews
By Lee Kaplan
Professor Yinon Cohen is what some fellow academics have termed a .court
Jew,. or at least a Jew that fits historian Bat Y.eor.s description of a
dhimmi Jew under Arab and Muslim rule.
Cohen.s main field of study and teaching, where he began his academic
career, was as a demographer at Tel Aviv U in the sociology department.
Cohen has participated in a number of scholarly works in which he portrays
negatively the treatment of Palestinian Arabs as victims of Zionism, the
Jews emigrating to a Jewish homeland in Israel. Such works speak of
.ethnocentrism. as somehow being at the root of Zionism.
Thus, how appropriate that Professor Cohen should have participated in one
study comparing Israeli immigration trends with those of Germany. After
all, the Arabs, who were ardent Nazi allies during the Second World War,
today just love to make comparisons between Israelis as being like the
Nazis, when Israel is, in fact, a giant refugee camp for the world.s Jews
resulting from German Nazi persecution and the Nazi German regime that
sought to wipe out the Jewish people.
Cohen seems to have minimal note, if any, that the Jewish emigrants prior
to 1948 legally purchased their land through the Jewish Agency and any
other additional land mandated to the new Jewish state by the British was
public property at the time. True, the new state of Israel did capture
some Arab territories mandated by the UN in 1948, but they also lost
territories mandated to the Jews that were legally purchased, such as Gush
Etzion, and particularly Kfar Etzion, an agrarian settlement where the
Jews were all herded into a giant pit and massacred days after the
Armistice was signed ending the 1948 War of Independence.
In the 1930s and 40s American Jews in particular had sewing tins where
they regularly deposited pennies to be used by the Jewish Agency to
purchase land for other Jews in Palestine to develop a homeland for fellow
Jews to live, secure from a world that sought to wipe them out.
Yinon Cohen, the demographer, also seems to fail to recognize that the
Jewish Diaspora was one created when Jews were literally dispersed as an
entire people by the Romans as slaves throughout the Empire in what was
known as a Carthaginian Peace. The Romans, on conquering the rival empire
of Carthage, not only destroyed the entire city, but sowed the ground with
salt so nothing could grow there ever again. By the same token, after the
third Jewish revolt, the Romans deported as many Jews as possible as
slaves (Jewish slaves built the Coliseum), renamed Jerusalem and renamed
Israel as Palestine. Arab nationalism and Islam did not even exist as yet.
However, over the next two millennia Jews continued to end the Passover
and Chanukah prayers with the words, .Next year in Jerusalem,. about as
Zionistic a phrase as one could think of for the
religious-nationalist-ethnic people who survived their own Carthaginian
Peace in order to return to the Holy Land.
Yinon Cohen would just reduce the Jewish return to Zion to the same as
that of any other .ethnocentric. act by another nationalistic culture (the
Jew-murdering Germans no less!). The Jews would do so to consolidate
ethnic power in a given region. But the majority of today.s .Palestinians.
were Arabs who were encouraged to migrate into the legally mandated Jewish
land by the British at the same time the Jews were trying to find through
the Zionist enterprise a refuge once and for all from the world.s pogroms,
not as a goal to wipe out the .indigenous people. the Arab world and its
allies try to imply.
Yinon Cohen even is inclined to accept the Palestinian narrative that
there were 750,000 Arabs driven from their homes during Israel.s War of
Independence in another ethnocentric move by Zionist Jews. Few people know
that the actual number of Arab refugees per the United Nations was 420,000
at the end of hostilities. The Arab League left open the opportunity for
Arabs to apply for refugee status until 1950, which was what swelled the
number to somewhere between 720,000 and 750,000 because of the
availability of free food and clothing. Many of those Arabs who applied
for refugee status had jobs and homes and were not really refugees, but
the card meant free amenities and could be transferred for life to one.s
relatives. Many a .Palestinian Arab. who resided in the West Bank would
envy his fellow Arab.s refugee status card and ability to pass it from
father to son. Between 1952-1982 Israel quietly actually repatriated
140,000 .Palestinian Arabs. into Israel who could prove their property and
family links from 1948, which means the actual 1948 refugee numbers were
probably closer to 600,000 people, a number that Palestinian Arab
advocates today claim is really close to as much as 11 million people. In
1948, Israel also let 110,000 Arab residents of Palestine remain as
Israeli citizens with equal rights by law and these people total
approximately 1.1 million Israeli citizens today, a 1000% increase.
So much said for Israeli ethnocentrism as compared to German repatriation
as part of Yinon Cohen.s demographic .research. as a post-Zionist
academic. But let.s talk further about how court Jews like Yinon Cohen
serve the enemies of the Jewish people.
Of even more interest is Yinon Cohen.s appointment as the Director of the
Institute for Jewish and Israel Studies at Columbia University. Middle
East historian Martin Kramer has described Columbia and its anti-Israel
faculty as .Bir-Zeit-on-the-Hudson..
Bir-Zeit is a university that was largely expanded by Israel after 1967 in
the West Bank in hope that an educated Arab populace would eschew violence
against Jews. Instead, it is a breeding ground and recruitment center for
Hamas and PFLP activists and terrorists against Israel. Anti-Israel
faculty at Columbia U. and their behavior make Kramer.s comparison more
Not long ago, a Chair was created in the name of Israel-hater Edward Said
to the tune of $5 million dollars that the University refused to divulge
to the public where the money came from (as required by federal law. A New
York State Senator named LaValle invoked similar state law to force the
University to reveal its source. Ultimately, it was linked back to a law
firm that works for the PLO. This Chair then went to Rashid Khalidi, an
Arab professor who has openly said killing Israeli soldiers is .legitimate
resistance. during the .peace process. and an acolyte of Edward Said.s
militancy and false scholarship against Israel.
In an attempt to ameliorate the anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism on
campus, some of Columbia.s donors put up $3 million to create an Israel
studies department. Columbia had already hosted Jew-hater Mahmoud
Ahmadinajhad to speak on campus so something needed to be done. But, who
did the University designate to head its search committee for the post of
the new Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies?
And who did Rachid Khalidi choose?
Martin Kramer wrote at the time that the inclusion of Khalidi and other
anti-Israeli faculty on the search committee was nothing less than
perverse and how .Edward Said used to complain that the Palestinians
needed .permission to narrate. their story. in US academia (perhaps
because the narration was not based on facts or scholarly research?)..
Kramer continued, .At Columbia, the situation is reversed: Israel can.t be
narrated without the permission of the great Palestinian mandarins. They
must be appeased, satisfied, propitiated..
Columbia was already well known for its Arab professors who openly
insulted Jewish students in the classroom such as Joseph Massad, so
letting such a camarilla of anti-Israel professors pick the head of a new
department to lend balance was a joke at best.
Yinon Cohen fits their needs. A sociologist and demographer on migration
trends rather than a Professor of Jewish History and Studies, particularly
as relates to world calumny against the Jews, Cohen has already earned his
pro-PLO stripes by signing a petition with other post-Zionist faculty
members announcing .their wish to express our appreciation and support for
those of our students and lecturers who refuse to serve as soldiers in the
occupied territories.... that .the present war is not being fought for
our home but for the settlements beyond the green line and for the
continued oppression of another people." This was done during Operation
Defensive Shield when hundreds of Israelis were being murdered by suicide
bombing attacks. The Oslo Peace Accords specified that Israel had the
right to go after terrorists within the occupied territories if the
Palestinian Authority refused to do so, so it was legal by international
law and necessary to save Israeli lives. At the same time, Yinon Cohen
also objected to protecting the lives of Jews who had the temerity to live
on legally purchased land in the territories because their Arab neighbors
insisted the area must be .Jew free. (talk about .ethnocentrism.!). Nobody
has heard a retraction from Yinon Cohen either since the forced
deportation of 8,000 Jews from Gaza that netted 4,000 missiles being fired
on Israeli children in Sderot and as far north as Ashkelon.
Yinon Cohen thus was the perfect choice to placate the anti-Israel crowd
at Columbia: a court Jew who can represent the Israeli side for .balance,.
one who already has shown his attitude of rubber stamping the Palestinian
narrative even at the expense of the murder of his own people if they try
Yinon Cohen has demonstrated where he stands in terms of the rights of the
Jewish people to exist in an internationally legal and secure homeland,
and their right to self-defense. He is benefiting his own career working
as a dhimmi under Arab overlords who ultimately seek the destruction of a
Jewish homeland through propaganda and indoctrination in America.s
2, Committee for Tyranny in Academe [on the Ad Hoc Committee to Defend
the University; incl. Norman Finkelstein, Nadia Abu El-Haj
by Gil Troy
April 8, 2008
So far, 2007-2008 is looking like another bleak academic year for those of
us who want the university to be a fair, welcoming and open-minded oasis
where the life of the mind can flourish. In Gaza, Hamas police and their
henchmen recently beat professors and students at Al Azhar University, who
dared to protest a Hamas rally mourning the death of Hamas's founder. In
Great Britain, radical academics are threatening to try boycotting Israel
again, despite the financial strain it puts on their union which is
supposed to improve scholars' working conditions. In California, an
independent task force deemed University of California at Irvine a hostile
environment for Jews, with the administration cowed by an aggressive and
frequently anti-Semitic Muslim Student Union. And in February, in 20
campuses worldwide, activists spent a week perpetuating the historically
inaccurate and libelous comparison between Israel's policies and the old
South Africa's systematic, racist apartheid regime.
Despite these assaults on academic freedom and integrity, more of my
professorial colleagues are outraged by the failure of the anti-Zionist
polemicist Norman Finkelstein to get tenure. Many professors are also
furious that some Barnard College alumni vainly tried to interfere in the
tenure process of Nadia Abu El-Haj, who sloppily and tendentiously
caricatures Israeli architecture as a prop for Zionist colonialism.
THESE TWO cases and others inspired the noble-sounding but deeply biased
Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University. This fall, leading scholars
from Princeton and Columbia started a petition drive against outsiders
imposing "political agendas" at the cost of academic freedom. These
external forces, the petition argues in its first paragraph, have defamed
scholars, pressured administrators and subverted university governance to
achieve their aims. Such assaults violate "an important principle of
scholarship, the free exchange of ideas, subjecting them to ideological
and political tests. These attacks threaten academic freedom and the core
mission of institutions of higher education in a democratic society." The
second paragraph then reveals the bias. The petitioners claim that "many
of the most vociferous campaigns targeting universities and their faculty
have been launched by groups portraying themselves as defenders of
Israel." The petition ends by warning of a new McCarthyism, perpetuating a
stereotype of embattled liberal academics, and vowing to defend and
explain the "importance of academic freedom to a sustainable and vibrant
In fact, the 646 scholars who signed will have difficulty explaining
academic freedom, considering their petition reflects such a deep
misunderstanding of the essential mutuality underpinning academic freedom
- and the broader notion of scholarly integrity. Conservative and liberal
academics seem to agree that academic freedom is threatened. Yet they
ignore that, together, partisans from both extremes risk creating a
self-fulfilling prophecy. The more "academic freedom" becomes a term
fronting a particular political agenda, the more embattled and devalued
the concept becomes.
As writers and teachers, professors cherish their academic freedom to
think and speak freely. Academic freedom is a politically neutral concept
defending professors' rights not to be politically neutral. Scholars
should be free to reach politically-charged conclusions without worrying
about professional sanctions. But academic freedom demands that scholars
grant colleagues and students the same latitude they enjoy to think
differently. Unfortunately, too many modern academics demand the freedom
to pursue their own political agendas without embracing that mutuality
THE PETITIONERS missed the historian's favorite text - context. They are
free to condemn the backlash against the Columbia Middle East Studies
professors who intimidated Zionist students, the Norman Finkelstein and
Nadia Abu El-Haj tenure controversies, the fights over federal funding to
bring Middle East Studies professors hostile to American policy into high
schools. But an honest assessment of the background would conclude that
these storms did not emerge in a vacuum. Tensions accumulated for years
over perceived leftist biases and politically correct intolerance
throughout the universities, most especially in Middle East studies.
In the modern university, attacks on George W. Bush are ubiquitous and
guaranteed to get cheap and knowing laughs. Yet when critics suggest that
academics on the whole veer left, cries of "McCarthyism" fill the air. A
petition truly in the spirit of academic freedom would acknowledge the
growing tension, both sides' excesses, and challenge everyone in the
university to ratchet down the politicking, especially in the classroom.
The petitioners have undermined faith in their political smarts as well as
their scholarly integrity. Given the charged context and the many
grievances on both sides, their inability to mention even one abuse from
anti-Israel or anti-American forces inside or outside the university is
shocking. Scholars should be among the first to reject the modern Middle
East's mutually exclusive, all-or-nothing narratives. This doctrinaire
refusal to acknowledge complexity dismays many students who are subjected
to their professors' one-sided perspectives.
Universities need professors to create a new tone in many classrooms. Many
of my students understand that their professors will reveal some bias. The
students resent professors who present their political bias as the only
perspective and disdain any other positions.
Students know how to play the academic game. If they sense professors want
parrots, they can squawk back brilliantly. But we do not need a generation
of cynical copycats, echoing a party line. We need a generation of eagles,
taught by their mentors to soar high, transcending the red-blue
gravitational physics weighing down so many discussions today.
This need for independent, creative student thinkers, mentored by
tolerant, truly liberal-minded professors, suggests the deeper scandal in
spreading such one-sided petitions and such a pinched,
my-way-or-the-highway view of academic freedom. These petitioning
professors not only unduly politicize the meaning of academic freedom. If
they impose the same one-sided views in the classroom that they do in such
petitions, they are also regularly committing educational malpractice.
The writer is professor of history at McGill University. His next book
Leading from the Center: Why Moderates Make the Best Presidents will be
published this spring.