Sunday, February 13, 2011

Anti-Israel Marxist Mud Wrestling at Tel Aviv University

Anti-Israel Marxist Jews at Tel Aviv University

Posted By Steven Plaut On February 14, 2011

Western universities are not the only centers of tenured academic
extremism. In Israel the most notorious den of Marxist faculty members
and radical tenured leftists is Tel Aviv University. Curiously, the
radicals there spend a lot of their time and energies bashing one
another for not being radical enough.

The leading combatant now attacking other tenured radicals is Yoav
Peled [1], a professor of political science at Tel Aviv University, an
unreformed Stalinist [2]. His sidekick is Horit Herman Peled,
evidently his wife, and in any case someone who teaches art at Oranim
College, where her specialty is to design art exhibits and poems that
"prove" Israel is a colonialist entity guilty of ethnic cleansing.

Peled is fairly well known [3] for his political extremism. When his
own niece was murdered on an Israeli bus by a Palestinian suicide
bomber, Peled and his sister, the victim's mother [4] Nurit Peled
Elhanan [5] (who is a professor at the Hebrew University [6]), invited
a spokesman from the PLO to speak at the funeral [7] and to denounce
Israel for being responsible for the death of the girl.

The Peleds have an article in the January/February 2011 [8] issue of
NLR entitled, "Post-post-Zionism: Confronting the Death of the
Two-State Solution." The article is saturated with Marxist rhetoric
and impenetrable polysyllables that force the reader to respond to
every second sentence with a moan of "Huh?"

It is said that to someone holding a hammer everything looks like a
nail. To the Peleds everyone who disagrees with them is a tool of the
ruling class. Thus all Israeli "intellectuals" who don't go along with
their views are an elitist Ashkenazi middle class gang who adopt the
"state discourse." The best example they provide is Benny Morris, the
one-time anti-Zionist "New Historian" who has since had second
thoughts. It is the job of true progressives to denounce such
wishy-washy puppets of the Zionist/imperialist ruling class.

The Peleds begin, however, with vicious denunciations against two
leftwingers (also husband and wife) Adi Ophir and Ariella Azoulay [9].
Ophir [10] is a colleague of Peled's at Tel Aviv University and
Azoulay is between jobs [11] after getting fired by Bar Ilan
University [12]. She was canned because virtually her entire academic
record consisted of tendentious photo albums designed to make Israel
appear to be a criminal entity.

Ophir and spouse recently published an anti-Israel book [13], but it
is evidently not anti-Israel enough for the Peleds. This is because
Ophir and Azoulay, while denouncing Israeli "colonialism," acknowledge
that within its 1967 Green Line borders Israel is democratic. Here the
Peleds sum up their problem with the book: "Azoulay and Ophir do not
argue that a false consciousness of exclusion is covering up the
reality of inclusion; rather, they are practicing 'inclusive
exclusion' in their own analysis by depicting the Israeli system as a
'dual regime' that includes and does not include the occupied
territories at the same time." Huh?

What really seems to have raised the Peleds' ire is that Ophir and
Azoulay only demonize Israel for its "occupation" of the West Bank,
whereas the Peleds want to demonize all of Israel for the sin of
existing. The Peleds conclude that Ophir and Azoulay are actually
secret agents of the Zionist enemy: "Azoulay and Ophir will go to
almost any lengths to insulate Zionism itself from the occupation and
to avoid thinking of it as a colonial project."

As proof, the Peleds offer the opinions of a handful of Israeli
ultra-haters of Israel even more extreme than Ophir and Azoulay,
including UCLA's Gabriel Piterberg, San Diego's Gershon Shafir, Ben
Gurion University's Oren Yiftachel, and the late Baruch Kimmerling.
Write the Peleds: "We believe that the colonial nature of the Zionist
enterprise has been persuasively demonstrated in the scholarly
literature and needs to be faced without subterfuge." This is a bit
like citing David Irving and Ahmedinejad as the "scholarly literature"
that proves the Holocaust is a hoax.

The second target of the Peleds is Boaz Newmann [14], a
sometime-communist lecturer in history at Tel Aviv University. Newmann
specializes in the history of Weimar Germany, writes novels and, like
Ophir-Azoulay, churns out anti-Israel opinion. But once again this is
not enough for the Peleds. For Newmann has had some unforgivably
positive things [15] lately to say about Zionism. Newmann's worst sin
is to have positive feelings of nostalgia for the old-time Zionist
pioneers who came to the land decades before Israel achieved
independence with dreams of socialism blurring their vision. "Trained
in the post-Zionist discourse, Neumann aims to transcend it by
portraying the 'pioneers' as rugged individualists motivated by an
almost primal desire for the land, innocent of all ideology or
colonialist design. He tries to achieve this through a patchwork of
concealment and disclosure, which could serve as a Borgesian map
covering the real landscape and history of the Land of Israel in the
modern era." Huh?

The Peleds conclude: "While Neumann does not absolve Zionism and
Israel of the injustices they committed against the Palestinians, the
political message conveyed by his book, regarding the entire territory
under Israel's effective rule, is: 'between justice and my mother, I
choose to defend my mother.'"

The final target is Prof. Yehouda Shenhav [16], a Marxist sociologist
[17] and until recently the editor of Israel's tiny Marxist journal,
Theory and Criticism. Among its notable articles was one claiming that
the University of Haifa's tower was designed as a giant phallus to
symbolize the oppression of Arabs.

Shenhav is the inventor of the "Arab Jew" or the "Arab of the Mosaic
faith," his term for Sephardic or Mizarchi Jews [18] whom Shenhav
insists are actually oppressed Arabs, colonialized by the Western
Ashkenazi Jews. The number of Sephardic Jews who share Shenhav's
outlook might fill a mini-bus. Shenhav would like to replace Israel
with a "bi-national" state dominated by an Arab majority, a sort of
Rwanda solution to the Jewish problem. Shenhav's latest book [19] is
"The Time of the Green Line," which argues that Israel should not
exist as a Jewish state.

So what exactly are Shenhav's failures and shortfalls in the minds of
the Peleds? Shenhav still thinks it might be okay for Jews,
especially Sephardic Jews, to enjoy some "space" and cultural
existence in the new post-Jewish bi-national state with the Arab
majority he wants created, something like the Amish enjoy in rural
Pennsylvania. Shenhav wants the new entity to be a "consociational
democracy." Huh?

The Peleds will have none of this: "It is curious that Shenhav, whose
starting point was that the most significant line of demarcation was
not the one between Jews and Palestinians, and who argued that the
liberal Ashkenazi elite scorned Mizrahi Jews, Palestinians and
settlers alike, would recommend an arrangement based on the
ethno-religious divide between Jews and Palestinians, which would
entrench the Jewish and Palestinian elites in positions of power and
privilege…. What concerns Shenhav, then, is not the oppression of the
Mizrahim, the Palestinians and the settlers under the yoke of the
liberal Ashkenazi elite, but rather the safeguarding of the rights of
Jews as an ethno-religious group that is bound to become a minority."

It is sometimes said that the worst enemy of the good is the better.
This saying has analogues in the world of extremist politics. The
worst enemy of radical Marxist pseudo-academics seems to be even more
radical Marxist pseudo-academics. Religious cults tend to fragment
into the tiniest of splinters, which invest most of their energies in
battling against one another. The worst enemies of Islamist
fundamentalist extremists are the even more extremist Islamofascists.
Marxist ideology, being a sort of cult theology, exhibits all the same
tendencies. Today's worst leftwing extremists are tomorrow's gutless
wimps, insufficiently militant and too ready for compromise. Surf the
leftist blogs and see for yourself, where the worst venom is reserved
for other leftists, for those who have been disappointing because of
their insufficient devotion to the cause.. In the fever swamps of
tenured Marxism, where academic standards are notorious for their
absence and hiring standards consist of ideological litmus tests, no
one can be quite extremist enough!

If even Shenhav is too moderate for the Peleds, just what do they
really want? Well, they never quite get around to telling us, but it
is pretty clear that the only acceptable "solution" they can envision
is to create a fine shining new Soviet regime in the Middle East that
"solves" ethnic tensions the same way they were solved by their
beloved Comrade Stalin.

Just what this mud wrestling mess tells us about academic standards at
Tel Aviv University is something that needs no elaboration!






















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