Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Hamas's Academic Apologists

Reaction by Middle East studies professors to Israel’s recent effort to destroy Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure epitomizes their perennial pro-Hamas, anti-Israel, and anti-American biases. In lieu of reasoned, informed, and balanced assessments, they proffer extremist rhetoric that demonizes Israel and America while ignoring Hamas’s misdeeds: rockets aimed at Israeli civilians, kidnappings and murder, disregard for ceasefires, and the cynical use of Palestinian civilians -- including children -- as human shields.

Two groups -- Middle East Scholars and Librarians and Historians Against the War -- signed letters advocating a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and accusing Israel of war crimes that demand the end to U.S. military aid, respectively.

Many, however, took their pro-Hamas, anti-Israel antipathies far beyond petitioning to spew forth hyperbolic and mendacious rhetoric that reveals far more about the fevered imaginations of the professoriate than about their intended target.

Ignoring that Hamas started the war, Juan Cole, a history professor at the University of Michigan, declared that, “Israel’s only real strategy is causing war, not ending war.” Despite the fact that no Israeli politician has advocated genocide and that none has been committed, Cole alleged that, “Israeli nationalists have been arguing for war crimes at an alarming rate. . . . Too many Israelis have justifications in their minds for genocide.”

Similarly, Rashid Khalidi, who teaches modern Arab Studies at the Columbia University, maintained that, “By parroting deceitful Israeli talking points about ‘self-defense’ and ‘human shields,’ they -- US and its allies -- make themselves complicit in what may well amount to war crimes.”

Meanwhile, As'ad AbuKhalil, a political scientist at California State University, Stanislaus, argued that, “With every war, with every massacre, and with every ‘assault,’ Israel (the government and its people) genuinely thinks that this war crime would do the job and finish off the flame of Palestinian nationalism once and for all.” “The US media and government are willing to justify any Israeli war crime no matter the scale,” he added.

Stanford University history professor Joel Beinin vilified Israeli society while portraying Palestinians as passive victims: “The public devaluation of Arab life enables a society that sees itself as ‘enlightened’ and ‘democratic’ to repeatedly send its army to slaughter the largely defenseless population of the Gaza Strip.”

Joseph Massad, professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University, imagined in characteristically lurid detail, “The carnage that Israeli Jewish soldiers and international Zionist Jewish brigades of baby-killers are committing in Gaza (and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, let alone against Palestinian citizens of Israel).”

Employing a grossly ahistorical comparison to the Holocaust, Hamid Dabashi, who teaches Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia University, likened Israelis to Nazis and Gaza to Auschwitz:

“After Gaza, not a single living Israeli can utter the word ‘Auschwitz’ without it sounding like ‘Gaza.’ Auschwitz as a historical fact is now archival. Auschwitz as a metaphor is now Palestinian. From now on, every time any Israeli, every time any Jew, anywhere in the world, utters the word ‘Auschwitz,’ or the word ‘Holocaust,’ the world will hear ‘Gaza.’”

Nadia Abu El-Haj, an anthropology professor at Barnard College–Columbia University, exploited another overwrought and mendacious analogy: “The IDF’s tactics recall the logic of the British and American fire-bombing of German and Japanese cities during the Second World War: target the civilian population. Make them pay an unbearable price. Then they will turn against their own regime.”

 Peddling a disproven conspiracy theory involving the three Israeli teenagers whose kidnapping and murder preceded the war, Noura Erekat, a human rights law professor at George Mason University , claimed that “Israel knew that these boys had been murdered very early on,” but that it nonetheless, “continued to fan racist and war-mongering flames.” Erekat also disregarded the vulnerability of Israeli civilians: “Hamas cannot hurt Israel at all militarily. . . . Israeli citizens enjoy relative security. In contrast, Palestinians are enduring an all-out massacre.”

Abdullah Al-Arian, a history professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar, claimed preposterously that, “Hamas has not chosen the option of a military or violent confrontation with Israel.” Yet Al-Arian hypocritically praised the terrorist group’s assault on Israeli civilians as “exceeding all expectations.” Rounding out this trifecta, he later compared Israel to the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS). 

Ratcheting up the absurdity, Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in Near Eastern studies and director of the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project at the University of California, Berkeley, equated Israeli policy with slavery and accused Israel of being behind Latin American death squads: “We need to make a link between what is taking place today in Palestine and the whole transnational, anti-colonial, anti-slavery, and anti-oppression struggle. . . . You need to understand the link of Israel to what’s taking place in Latin America. . . . Israel was helping the death squads and training them.”

Such cheerleading for Palestinian terrorism and willful disregard of historical facts discredits the individuals who advance it and the academic culture of Middle East studies that rewards it. It is politicized rather than objective, propagandistic rather than principled. American interests at home and abroad are ill-served by these apologists for terrorists.


Threats and assaults becoming a 'daily reality' for British teachers

Teachers are facing a rising tide of insults, threats and physical violence amid warnings of a breakdown in respect towards adult authority.

Schools told of a deterioration in standards of discipline from pupils and their parents in recent years, with claims that bad behavioural was now becoming a “daily reality” for most staff.

The study by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that more than half of teachers in state schools – 57 per cent – had been faced with aggression from a pupil in the last 12 months while a quarter had been confronted by angry mothers or fathers.

Of those, more than eight-in-10 said the aggressive behaviour from pupils took the form of insults, seven-in-10 said they had been intimidated or threatened and almost half had been physically attacked.

The most common form of physical violence was pushing and shoving, but some teachers also reported pupils kicking, punching, spitting, scratching, biting, using furniture to launch assaults and even employing weapons such as knives.

In one case, a supply teacher from East Yorkshire told how a pupil emptied the contents of a syringe into her face without being disciplined by the school.

But other teachers warned that parents were also responsible, with some mothers and fathers refusing to accept school decisions when it came to disciplining their children.

A primary school teacher from Devon revealed how she was forced to remove a father from the nursery after he launched a foul-mouthed tirade at staff in front of under-fives.

One head of department at a London academy told the union that being sworn at seems "relatively normal".

Concerns have now been raised that the scale of indiscipline could be on the rise despite the introduction of tough new rules from the Coalition designed to crackdown on bad behaviour in the classroom.

This includes more powers to search pupils for banned items, giving children detentions without the previous 24-hour warning and preventing appeals panels from overruling head teachers’ decisions to expel.

More than half of teachers – 52 per cent – said standards of behaviour had worsened in the last two years while a similar number noted a deterioration over a longer, five-year period.

The majority of those surveyed blamed a decline in levels of respect towards “people in front-line professional jobs”.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said: "It is shocking that almost 60 per cent of education staff have faced aggression from a student in the last year. No member of staff should be subjected to aggressive behaviour, in any form, while doing their job.

"Sadly, although the vast majority of students are well-behaved and a pleasure to teach, poor behaviour is now a daily reality for most staff. Many students have chaotic home lives that would cause most adults to lose their temper occasionally.”

The study – carried out jointly with ITV News – was based on a survey of 1,560 education staff working in UK state schools.

The most common source of aggression or assaults was pupils themselves, but many teachers reported a decline in parental attitudes towards schools.

Some 27 per cent of teachers said they had faced aggression from a parent in the last year. Of those, 80 per cent said this took the form of verbal insults, 60 per cent cited threats or intimidation and four per cent had been shoved, pushed or hit with a piece of furniture.

A primary teacher from Northern Ireland told researchers: “In the last year I’ve experienced parents telling lies and spreading untruths and believing their child is incapable of wrongdoing, even when it can be proved their child has been in the wrong.

“If it hadn't been for my principal standing behind me and supporting me fully I would have seriously questioned whether to return to my job in September.


More relationship education needed in Australian schools

The Deputy NSW Coroner will recommend that the Department of Education introduce the topic of domestic violence and abusive relationships into the NSW school curriculum, after finding that Sydney woman Kate Malonyay was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

Coroner Hugh Dillon revealed that he would personally write to Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to make the request, following a coronial inquest in which it was revealed that Ms Malonyay's ex-boyfriend, navy analyst Elliot Coulson, had not only abused her, but also another woman from a previous relationship.

"It will be no panacea but may help over time [to] engender respect between boys and girls and increase the self-confidence of young women in seeking the protection of the police and the law courts against domestic abuse," he said.

Mr Dillon found that Coulson murdered the 32-year-old sometime between April 17 and 19 last year by means of strangulation and the infliction of a head injury caused by blunt force.

Coulson killed himself days later as police closed in by jumping from a high-rise hotel room on the Gold Coast.

The coroner's findings reveal that, while Coulson had only once been physically violent towards Ms Malonyay, she had complained to friends that he was sometimes aggressive, controlling, jealous and verbally abusive, particularly in text messages.

They also show that Coulson had previously subjected another ex-girlfriend, Anne Thoroughgood, to more overt physical violence.

This included one occasion when the heavily built naval employee threatened to kill her, shoved her against a door frame and then later began to strangle her.

The coroner noted that each woman contemplated seeking an Apprehended Violence Order but did not do so.

"It appears that Ms Thoroughgood was deterred from taking action because she thought she would have to disclose her home address to get an AVO and was nervous about confronting Elliot Coulson face to face in court," Mr Dillon said.

"It is not entirely clear why Kate did not proceed with her AVO application. Like many other women, Kate may have found the process too daunting and stressful or lacked confidence in the AVO system ..."

A police officer told the inquest that, based on his experience, had Ms Thoroughgood proceeded with the AVO it may have made a significant difference for both women.

"A woman in genuine fear of domestic violence should never be dissuaded from approaching the police and the courts for an AVO," Mr Dillon said.

He determined to recommend the addition of domestic violence education to the school curriculum after Ms Malonyay's mother, Wendy, made a powerful verbal statement to the court.


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