Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Battling for Control of Academic Discourse

This is from a pro-Israel blog Ethnic Ashkenazim Against Zionist Israel . Another example of the Jewish religious zealot - the Al Sharpton the the American Jewish community - Alan Dershowitz censoring anyone he disagrees with.

New York City--May 28, 2007— Nadia Abu El-Haj, an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at Barnard College, is the latest target in the ongoing tenure wars against scholars, whose works are viewed as undermining the official Israeli narrative.

University faculty and staff that have experienced such attempts at academic assassination have included Columbia's faculty members Rashid Khalidi, Georges Saliba, Joseph Massad, and Hamid Dabashi, as well as Harvard University's Hillary Rantisi and University of Michigan's Juan Cole. Recently, a campaign led by Alan Dershowitz pressured De Paul University to deny tenure to Norman Finkelstein.

Neoconservative organizations and individuals, including Daniel Pipes' Campus Watch and the Solomonia website, which represents the David Project in the blogosphere, have focused on Abu el-Haj because of her book, Facts on the Ground: Archeological Practice and Territorial Self-fashioning in Israel (University of Chicago, 2002).

This book analyzes the anthropology of Israeli archeology as well as the role that Israeli archeology and geography play in Israeli societal self-conceptualization.

Israeli academics are unused to being the object of anthropological study by a Palestinian American scholar working at a prestigious American University.

Critics claimed Abu El-Haj's analysis calls into question the connections of modern Jews to ancient tribes of Palestine...

Abu El Haj interpreted the city name of Tel Aviv as a contrived attempt to connect modern Jews with ancient Palestine because tel is an Arabic word meaning a mound composed of an ancient ruin while aviv means spring. Old-New Land, the title of a book written by Zionist leader Theodor Herzl to advocate the colonization of Palestine, was rendered into Hebrew as Tel Aviv.Phil Orenstein of the Neoconservative Democracy Project implored Barnard College President Judith Shapiro to “do the right thing” and deny tenure to the Palestinian American anthropologist. He tried to argue that pro-Israel advocates were being denied tenure.President Shapiro clarified her position on the massive campaign waged by Neoconservative Israel advocates against Abu El-Haj.

“I do not myself believe that the people who are getting in touch with me anonymously truly need to do so. Nadia Abu El-Haj has also received death threats from those opposed to her work…I have not received a single student complaint about her teaching, advising, mentoring, or anything that has gone on in the classroom. There are indeed places where Jews or Zionists are endangered and marginalized, but Morningside Heights [NYC] in the year 2007 does not happen to be one of them.”

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