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UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies Becomes an anti-Israel Platform

FROM ISRAEL ACADEMIA MONITOR

UCLA plans to offer a three-part research colloquium next year named “Democracy in Israel: Past, Present and Future.” It is organized by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and co-sponsored by the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History at UCLA. The colloquium brings “together an invited group of scholars from diverse disciplines – History, Law, Political Science, Sociology, and Philosophy – to present and discuss critical topics of democracy in Israel.”

However, the participants come from the like-minded political perception of the organizers.  This is not surprising because the colloquium moderators, Dov Waxman, who directs the Nazarian Center, David Myers, and the coordinator, Liron Lavi, allow their politics to lead their way.  

The Nazarian Center mission statement “is to promote the study of modern Israel at UCLA and beyond… Through our research, teaching and outreach, the Nazarian Center has become an internationally known source of expertise and education about Israel and an intellectually vibrant home for Israel Studies at UCLA.”  The director, Waxman, added an inclusive message: “Through a commitment to academic rigor, interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship, and a dispassionate approach, we seek to promote a broader and deeper understanding of Israel’s history, politics, society, and culture. At a time when discussions about Israel are often heated and becoming increasingly polarized, we also hope to foster a more nuanced and civil discourse about Israel, inside and outside the classroom. Our goal is education—to advance knowledge and academic scholarship about Israel—not advocacy. Nor do we evaluate guest speakers, affiliated faculty members, or students with regard to their political beliefs, affiliations, or positions. We are neither “pro-Israel” nor “anti-Israel.” Instead, we are a place, and an online space, for people to teach and learn about Israel, whatever their politics or backgrounds.”   

By all accounts, the colloquium provides a one-sided and biased picture of Israel, judging by the speakers known for their radical political activism. The organizers and participants are at the same end of the political spectrum where the neo-Marxist, critical scholars congregate.   As a result, the colloquium lacks a wide range of views necessary for academic pursuit.

The participants are Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Dmitry Shumsky, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Liora Halperin, Department of History, University of Washington; Dani Filc, Department of Politics and Government, Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Amal Jamal, School of Political Science, Tel Aviv University; Dahlia Scheindlin, The Century Foundation; Gershon Shafir, Department of Sociology, University of California San Diego; Ameer Fakhoury, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa; Menachem Mautner, The Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University.

Dov Waxman co-authored, in 2011, an article promoting BDS titled, “The Boycott Debate: No Longer Taboo in Progressive Pro-Israel Circles.” 

David N. Myers published an article “Another way to think about BDS,” promoting the BDS aims. 

Liron Lavi reviewed favorably Judith Butler’s book, Partying Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism.  Butler, a leading critical scholar, has been a bitter critic of Zionism, and her book was attacked for promoting thinly veiled anti-Semitic themes. 

IAM reported in April on Dmitry Shumsky, “HUJ Dmitry Shumsky: The Next Generation of Academic-Political Activists,” that Allan Arkush, professor of Judaic studies and history at Binghamton University reviewed Shumsky’s work, noting Shumsky is “denouncing Israeli policy toward the West Bank, supporting BDS, and calling for an end to Jewish sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem.”

Liora Halperin was quoted in a MESA conference panel denouncing university donors’ “pernicious pressure for pro-Israel advocacy.”

Ameer Fakhoury, co-authored last year, the “Jewish-Arab partnership as an antidote to Jewish supremacism,” which urged readers to redefine the Israeli politics and invoke a “new partnership of Arabs and Jews, working side-by-side to combat Jewish supremacism.” 

Areej Sabbagh-Khoury argued “that the 1948 Nakba was neither the beginning nor the end of a process of settler-colonial expropriation. Instead, I claim that the mid-1930s signaled intensified efforts to expel Palestinian sharecroppers, a practice which culminated in the Nakba.” Where “the Zionist settlers utilized forceful practices, perpetrated in this region,” intending “to vacate the lands of its Palestinian inhabitants.” She focuses on “the pre-1948 colonization practices and their role in the Nakba.” 

Dani Filc has been a life-long political activist masquerading as an academic. Filc revealed in a radio interview, “All is Talking,” hosted by Oded Shachar on Reshet Bet, on 14.10.13, as one of the organizers behind the 2011 protest movement, which, according to him, has only made things worse politically. Filc also stated of the Israeli government’s “fear industry, if we did not have the Iranian threat, they would have had to invent an alien takeover.”

Amal Jamal was quoted two years ago in an Al-Jazeera article, titled “Israel celebrates ‘pyrrhic’ victory as it turns 70,” that “This is more like a pyrrhic victory… Israel has won this round of the battle, but at a price it probably can’t afford in the coming rounds.”  

Gershon Shafir was very critical last year of the publication of a pro-Israel journal affiliated with the Association for Israel Studies titled “Word Crime.” He wrote: “This attempt to suppress critical voices and dissenting views within the [association] is a microcosm of the larger assault on liberal voices and institutions in Israel… The term ‘word crimes’ echoes accusations hurled at ‘the criminals of Oslo,’ while the claim of reclaiming parallels the attempted delegitimation of political opposition. Ironically, the [association] itself was created with the aim of procuring a forum where Israel may be analyzed with the tools common to the social sciences and humanities, to free the study of Israel from the bonds of political loyalty and subservience in which it was enmeshed. That accomplishment, academic autonomy, is threatened now by the repoliticization of the study of Israel through the criminalization of scholarship and assault on academic freedom.”  

Dahlia Scheindlin wrote a 2015 piece, “No, BDS does not unfairly ‘single out’ Israel.” 

Menachem Mautner wrote in 2006 that: “Israel’s definition as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’ does not allow for granting somewhere a space within the definition of Israel’s national identity, to the Arab citizens. This definition excludes the Arab citizens of the state from the national identity of the state.”

Israel Studies has been hijacked by anti-Israel activists before. To recall, in 2002, Prof. Oren Yiftachel was selected to become the first Helen Diller Foundation Visiting Professor at the UC Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies. As reported by Martin Kramer at the time, “Yiftachel was the kind of Israeli that an Edward Said-boosting, Saudi-connected Middle East center could not only tolerate, but embrace.”  

Waxman had a chance to fulfill his promises of producing a balanced discourse on Israel.  However, his pick of panelists indicates that balance and moderation was the last thing on his mind.   This should come as no surprise given the so-called “cancel culture” in the universities, a practice that blocks voices not compatible with the Neo-Marxist, critical hegemony.

Groundbreaking Report Showing Wikipedia's



December 30, 2020 – Los Angeles, CA – The Israel Group, a nonprofit pro-Israel activist organization dedicated to defeating the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement – released a groundbreaking report today exposing Wikipedia’s anti-Israel bias.
 
The new, highly detailed research exposing an ideological bias behind the most popular informational resource online, Wikipedia, was released today by The Israel Group, and can be found on their new website featured in the section “Stop Wikipedia’s War Against Israel.”
 
The exclusive report, “A Comparative Analysis of Wikipedia’s Israeli and Palestinian Biases,” analyzes more than 350,000 words from 50 Israel-related Wikipedia pages. A brief detailed overview of the report can also be found on the website.
 
The recently launched website also highlights what The Israel Group has found to be the eight most anti-Israel Wikipedia editors, with specific examples of their edits, as well as Top 10 Lists of The Most Anti-Israel Wikipedia Articles.



David M. Swindle, The Israel Group’s Director of Research, who led the study, said, “most studies trying to analyze bias on Wikipedia are too simplistic, often they will use crude ‘keywords’ to represent bias and try to analyze thousands of pages by computer. We did the opposite: we picked 50 important Wikipedia pages to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and then manually scrutinized every word, classifying each sentence into one of five categories: Pro-Israel, Anti-Israel, Pro-Palestinian, Anti-Palestinian, or Neutral.”
 
The analysis proved shocking results: there is twice as much critical content of Israelis/Israel compared to Palestinians. The Israel Group also found articles with absurdly high percentages of anti-Israel content, some over 80%.
 
Jack Saltzberg, The Israel Group’s Founder and President, said, “this report should be of paramount importance to the pro-Israel community because most students use Wikipedia for their general academic studies and the beginning of their research. Everyone complains that Israel never receives good PR, how can it when the world’s largest PR machine is so biased against it?
 
The report yielded rankings in each category in which articles could be judged both by the total words in each category and the percentages of biased text in each. Top examples of anti-Israel Wikipedia articles include “Israeli occupation of the West Bank,” with 13,719 anti-Israel words, and “Israeli settler violence”, which contains 88.58% anti-Israel bias.
 
Saltzberg added, "many organizations list the antisemites of the year, these Wikipedia editors are the antisemites of the decade!"

For more information contact The Israel Group at 833-600-6001 or info@theisraelgroup.org.



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