According to Canary Mission, I’m now the foremost academic anti-Semite in Nebraska. My Jewish parents in Brooklyn may not be proud of this.
But I am, because what Canary Mission calls anti-Semitism is simply telling inconvenient truths about Israel and advocating justice for Palestinians. I’m pleased to be recognized for that.
How does one get on the Canary Mission blacklist? The criterion is that one is “promoting hatred of the USA, Israel, and Jews on college campuses in North America.” Of about two hundred listed professors, I’m the only one in Nebraska.
For the record, I don’t hate the USA, Israel, or Jews. I don’t hate or promote hatred of anyone. I don’t even hate Canary Mission or the people there who blacklisted me. But sometimes, I have to admit, people hate what I have to say. Especially when I talk about the founding of Israel.
The charges against me are (1) “promoting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement”; (2) “propagating anti-Israel accusations”; (3) defending “the anti-Semitic statements of Professor Steven Salaita”; and (4) signing two petitions. Here are my responses.
First, BDS is a movement for Palestinian rights that is committed to achieving justice through nonviolent means such as boycotts, divestment, and sanctions rather than through violence. I strongly support that approach.
For the record, I don’t agree with BDS on everything. As explained in my post “Boycott Hewlett Packard, not Israeli Academia,” I oppose the BDS call for a general boycott of all Israeli colleges and universities because I believe boycotts should be aimed at specific institutions or organizations guilty of specific violations of academic freedom or human rights.
Next, I am charged with writing (1) that in order to make Israel a Jewish country, over 400 Palestinian villages were depopulated in 1948, followed by an ongoing campaign of Judaization; (2) that Arabs were expelled by Jewish authorities, attacked by Jewish militias, or terrorized by military attacks in nearby villages and reports of massacres; and (3) that Israel denied Palestinians the right of return and took their land and property without compensation.
In an age of political correctness where groups of all sorts claim the campus should be a “safe space” free of “microaggressions,” it is understandable that Jewish students seek equal recognition and protection. Many see “anti-Israel accusations” such as mine as offensive or even hateful.
But the first question to be asked concerning my claims about Israel should not be, “Are these claims offensive or hateful?” The first question should be, “Are these claims true?”
The answer is that they are. Canary Mission refers to my claims as “accusations” to imply that they are wild charges that could only be motivated by a hatred of Jews and Israel. It fails to note that the post in which these “accusations” appear, “Palestinians Erased,” is a book review in which I summarize the results of research on 418 depopulated villages.
The mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs, which has come to be known as the Nakba, is denied by many, including Canary Mission, because it does not fit the standard patriotic narrative of Israel’s creation. But Nakba denial does not change the reality that Israel’s founding included a process that Zionists called “transfer,” which in modern human rights law would be classified as ethnic cleansing.
On the third charge, Professor Steven Salaita is a hot-headed guy with a bit of a tweeting problem who gets a little upset when he hears about mass killings of children in Gaza. I plead guilty to agreeing with the American Association of University Professors that his termination at the University of Illinois seriously violated academic standards.
For the record, it’s clear from Salaita’s writings that he’s not an anti-Semite. For more, see my post, “Safe from Salaita at Illinois” and my article with Frank Edler, “Civility and Academic Freedom after Salaita.”
Finally, I am charged with signing two petitions. One was entitled “Jews for Palestinian Right of Return.” The other condemned the blacklisting tactics of Canary Mission. Guilty as charged.
In summary, I am guilty of seeking and speaking the truth, even if it challenges what I was taught as a child, and of advocating justice for all. I hope my Mom and Dad will be proud of that.