“The Petition: Israel, Palestine, and a tenure battle at Barnard,” [PDF] Jane Kramer’s piece this week in The New Yorker, is a rather engaging and thoughtful read that echoes a sentiment I’ve been expressing often, as of late, in my conversations with Jewish community professionals on the tone and substance of pro-Israel activism, both on- and off-campus.
I am certainly interested to see what impact, if any, this exposé will have. Somehow I have a feeling it will not affect terribly much within the Jewish community, should the greater community actually read this article without offhandedly dismissing it as an anti-Zionist slander.
In fact, despite the mounting evidence that the highly visible actions of militant pro-Israel activists are far worse for Israel’s public image than anything taught by post-colonialist Islamic studies professors, I’m quite sure that individuals like those mentioned in this article will persist to defend Israel and the Jewish people by engaging in character assassination against Israel’s critics (the hallmark of such slanders being willful misrepresentation). This, rather than patiently and thoughtfully addressing the substance of their arguments, and in doing so, perhaps even righting some wrongs. This, while the world gazes in horror at the inanity of such antics, and grows evermore in its revulsion towards Israel, Zionism, and the Jewish community.
We are, after all, dealing with people who view the martyring of Norman Finkelstein as a proud victory rather than as a shameful public relations disaster.
These pricks aren’t helping anything, I guess is what I’m trying to say. And I fear that if our community continues to not only let them run amok, but to provide these elements with affirmation by endlessly pouring cash into their coffers…
Well, let’s just say it doesn’t bode well for the future stature or security of the Jewish people.
See also: My Jewschool post from when Juan Cole lost his bid for tenure at Yale. I cringe at much of what I wrote then, and regret my misguided attack on Cole and my failure to provide an adamant defense of academic freedom in the face of partisan bullying. Thankfully with time, as both a result of that subsequent thread and continued discussions with friends and colleagues on this subject, I have traveled quite a distance from some of my prior positions. One that has obviously remained consistent, however, is my belief that the tactics of the Zionist Right will — chas v’shalom — be the Jewish people’s undoing. (G-d willing, EV‘s comic illuminating the nature of my anti-Cole outburst will soon be published.)