Council of Scholars
SPME was formed in the first years of the 21st century, in response to a wave of anti-Zionism that swept across Europe and America, especially on campuses, and has only gotten worse in the past several years: demonstrators cheer on suicide martyrs, professors recycle blood libels about Jews harvesting Palestinian organs, and demands for boycotts against the Israeli academy increase, pressuring Jews – students and faculty – to disavow Israel as a way of showing loyalty to progressive causes.
We believe that current belligerence on our campuses over Israel owes much of its strength to a significant failure on the part of many scholars to meet professional standards in discussing Israel and the Middle East Conflict, compounded by what has become journalism more interested in delivering a political message than in transmitting the accurate and relevant information the profession demands. The result has been a depiction of the conflict that aligns with anti-Israel war propaganda rather than the actual events and situation. The result, often enough, is a set of unintended consequences in which misinformed peace efforts backfire and lead to war. SPME scholars are as much committed to restoring the integrity of the academy as they are to assuring the honesty of accounts of the Middle East Conflict. We ask you to join us in this effort.
On the simplest levels, we seek out experts capable of identifying the inaccuracies that so often accompany the anti-Israel narrative, and opposing them where and when they appear. We also want to identify topics for research projects and conferences that explore areas relevant to the Middle East, which current, activist scholarship has either neglected or rendered taboo. On a still deeper level, we want to encourage original, empirically-grounded thinking about the conflict to explore more appropriate paradigms through which to view and interpret events and evidence, approaches whose realism makes efforts to work towards peace more, not less likely.
All of this we do in the conviction that resisting war propaganda benefits all, not merely the rights of Jews to self-rule, and the integrity of academics, but also benefits the very people whose leaders systematically poison them with that war propaganda. We do so in the conviction that the academy was created to help us understand the world, not adopt totalistic, scape-goating narratives that foment hatred. As information professionals ourselves, we wish to rebuke those of us who abuse the authority that democratic societies so generously confer upon us, and to adhere to the basic principles of intellectual integrity that undergird all great civilizational endeavors.
Council of Scholars