Home Page >
News and Opinion

Washington State Continues the Lies

University Of Washington’s Simpson Center Puts Israel In The Dock

 
Alexander-031315
In the modern world, the Jew has perpetually been on trial; still today the Jew is on trial, in the person of the Israeli – and this modern trial of the Jew, this trial which never ends, begins with the trial of Shylock .”

–  Philip Roth, Operation Shylock (1993)


Although we live in a new Dark Age in which millions of people are assaulted daily with some version of the argument that the misfortunes of the world are to be explained in terms of “Israel,” the University of Washington’s Simpson Center has decided to add its two cents worth of calumny with a “research cluster” entitled “Palestine and the Public Sphere.”

Its first featured speaker is Omar Barghouti, a stalwart of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to expel Israel from the family of nations; its three UW “faculty contacts” – Sandra Silberstein, Eva Cherniavsky, and Anis Bawarshi – are all (like Simpson director Kathleen Woodward) English professors.

The allegations against Israel brought by academic boycotters are countless, and make the tiny country – that “[expletive] little country,” as a French diplomat who unzipped his mouth in public said some years ago – guilty of every evil on the planet with the exception of avian flu. But let us examine their favorite one: Israel is an “apartheid” state. According to the Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, “All academic exchanges with Israeli academics…have the effect of normalizing Israel and its politics of occupation and apartheid.”

On every American campus that deems itself “progressive” there is an Israel Apartheid Week each spring. For days on end the self-declared friends of the human species spew fire and vitriol at the Jewish state and call for its elimination, so that the globe may be  Judenstaatrein  (purified of a Jewish state).

There have never been apartheid laws in Israel. Jews and Arabs use the same buses, clinics, government offices, theaters, restaurants, soccer fields, and beaches. (Did I fail to mention universities in my list? Here is Mr. Barghouti to remind me: his academic institution of choice for pursuing a Master’s degree in philosophy was Tel Aviv University, of the nation he paints as irredeemably biased.)

All citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnic origin, are equal before the law. That law accords full political, civil, and human rights to all people, including the more than one million Arab citizens, some of whom serve in the Israeli parliament and cabinet. Israel is also the only country in the world to have sought out and brought to its shores, entirely on its own initiative, tens of thousands of black Africans for purposes other than slavery, granting them full citizenship. There is, to be sure, extreme and murderous racial and religious discrimination in the Middle East – have BDSers assessed the causes of the 130,000 killed and 20 million refugees from nearby Syria? – so much so that Israel is nearly the only state in the region where “apartheid” is  not practiced in some form.

The Simpson Center has for many years been zealous in sponsoring or co-sponsoring peripatetic Israel-haters. In 2008, in an act of depraved malevolence, Simpson marked Israel’s 60th  birthday by bringing to campus, with help from the Graduate School, Norman Finkelstein, the dream-Jew of the world’s anti-Semites, and Yitzhak Laor, a second-tier Israeli poet who specializes in depicting his country as the devil's experiment station.

Lest there be any doubt about where Woodward’s Simpson Center stands in relation to the campaign to demonize Israel, it shamelessly recommends, as its model of scholarship in this area for “depth, tenor, and thoughtfulness,” the scandalous tract by yet another English professor, Jacqueline Rose, called  The Question of Zion . A critic of the psychoanalytic persuasion, Rose has put Zionism on the couch in a way that gives some support to those who claim that psychoanalysis is the disease it purports to cure. She depicts mass murderers as “people driven to extremes,” rhapsodizes about bonding with Islamist fanatics, lashes out against “those wishing to denigrate suicide bombers and their culture.”

“Appalled at what the Israeli nation perpetrated in my name,” Rose wishes to live “in a world in which we did not have to be ashamed of shame” and looks forward to curing her shame-sickness by destroying its cause: Israel. The book’s level of scholarship is exemplified in the following sentence: "It was the same Paris performance of Wagner. . .that inspired Herzl to write  Der Judenstaat  [the Jewish State], and Hitler  Mein Kampf .” (Is there a normally attentive junior high school student who would not laugh at this historical absurdity?)

Careful observers of the organizations that strive to demonize Israel will notice the frequency with which they trot out what Kafka called “Display Jews” like Rose. One hesitates to call such Jews self-haters because so many of them are sick with self-love. They become Jews by virtue of the (much-advertised) fact that they are  not Zionists.

Perhaps a cautionary and charitable note of warning, especially to the English professors among them, is in order. Stoking the fires of Jew-hatred is a risky business because the flames quickly get out of control. Jew-haters are notoriously poor at distinguishing between Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews. Like poor Cinna, the unfortunate poet in Shakespeare’s  Julius Caesar  who is mistaken by the “firebrands” come to avenge their murdered emperor, insisting that he is  not  “Cinna the conspirator,” they will find it useless to plead “I am Professor Rose the  anti -Zionist! I am not Professor Rose the Zionist.” The killers – in Paris or Toulouse or Copenhagen – will nevertheless reply: “It is no matter. Tear her to pieces, she’s a Jew.”

About the Author:  Edward Alexander is professor emeritus in the English department at the University of Washington and the author of a number of books including “The State of the Jews: A Critical Appraisal” (Transaction, 2012).