SPME Responds to the Solidarity Statement claiming a “Repressive Climate on US Campuses”

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Almost 900 academics, claiming they are “transformational educators,” with a commitment to “education, learning and safety,” signed a letter in “Opposition to the Repressive Climate on US Campuses.” Is that repressive climate the one that attacks Jews and forbids any public defense of Israel? The one that disrupts classes and library reading rooms with slogans of “No Normalcy During the Genocide!” “Glory to Our Martyrs,” and chants of “Globalize the Intifada,” and “From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free”? The ones who chase Jews on campus into hiding places while they rant in public, who call for raping and killing Jewish students? Is that the professors who express their admiration and exhilaration at Hamas’ awesome blow against the oppressor’s “monopoly of violence” and encourage aggressive protests in support of these mass murderers on college campuses?

No. Quite the contrary, these professors want to prevent any effort to rein back these aggressive demonstrations that have applauded Hamas’ savage and sadistic massacres of 7/10. They denounce administrators who argue that embedded in calls for intifada is a genocidal message that makes Jews feel unsafe. This is “baseless and dangerous,” they claim against all evidence. On the contrary, they insist, intifada in Arabic just “means uprising.” Defiantly, they declare: “We will not cede our expertise [sic] to administrators who broadly and selectively interpret terms, ideas, and concepts as they please, in the service of their political and economic gains and military investments.”

The problem, of course, is that they are the ones “broadly and selectively interpreting terms as they please.” Intifada does not mean uprising in Arabic, that’s the loose English translation. In Arabic, it means “shrugging off,” as a great beast shrugs off an annoying insect, like the Arab-Muslim world shakes off the most recent colonial implant. And in in 2000, it designated the first jihadi suicide-terror war against the civilians of another country, an effort to “shake off” the alien Zionist presence with mass murder of women children and the elderly.

If we can ban terms like “Master” of a Harvard House because it stirs primal memories of slavery 160 years ago among Black students, why would a murderous and merciless “intifada” that targeted children only 20 years ago, revived so horrifically on October 7, and taken up enthusiastically by supporters on their campuses, not make Jewish students feel “threatened and endangered by such words”? How cruel, how macro-aggressive can one get to dismiss these fears as “baseless and dangerous”?

And what is the “danger” these academics fear? They explain: “Intentionally criminalizing the Arabic language, implies that the language itself, and therefore Arabic speakers generally, are inherently violent and genocidal.” And yet, no one has made such absurd claims; they are invented.

This technique has been a mainstay of cancel culture that has targeted the critics of the Palestinian Narrative relentlessly: put ridiculously offensive words in your target’s mouth, create a moral panic, and drive them from the public sphere. In so doing, these academics seek to forbid anyone from making the far more accurate and worrisome observation that the Arabic language is currently one of the major vehicles for genocidal Jew (and infidel)-hating in the world, especially among Palestinians, just as, in the 1930s, the German language was.

Indeed if one listens to what circulates in the Arab public sphere about Israel, it is shot through with hatred of not just Jews but the West. From the pulpits Muslims hear the ubiquitous genocidal “hadith of the rocks and trees.” From pulpit to political speech to commoner in the street, Palestinians believe that Allah brought the Jews back to the land between the river and the sea so that they could the more easily be slaughtered. By any progressive standards, this is a toxic cultural environment. And yet, if one searched the publications and curricula of these “experts,” one would find very little discussion of such “dangerous” issues.

What we confront with this letter is a mirror image of what it projects onto administrators and donors trying to bridle these shocking expressions of support for a genocidal ideology. The signers who dismiss as politically motivated any contradiction to the claims of their new pedagogy, are, in reality, ideologically (and financially) driven ones, whose program of education is entirely in the service of various radical causes, including the Palestinian one, which they somehow consider the height of progressive politics. These are the people who manipulate and corrupt the language for a totalitarian political agenda that leaves toxic consequences in the wake of its success.

The letter introduces its signers:

As educators invested in developing and upholding constructive learning environments, critical engagements with knowledge building, and transformative pedagogical discussions, we refuse to adhere to the censorship, policing, and the circumventing of our academic work and mission as educators.

In light of both the ideologies they promote with their transformational education and the causes they support, one might read this passage as follows:

As propagandists invested in developing and upholding environments of rigorous indoctrination according to which America and Israel are evil racist empires and Palestinian Jihad, noble resistance, committed to doctrine-building and transformative brainwashing sessions in which we censor everything contradictory to our “teachings,” we refuse to allow anyone to stand in the way of our missionary work in the service of our cause..

In genocide studies, the term is “Mirror Politics”: projecting your own publicly unavowable goals and methods onto your enemy.

Or as the Ukrainian-Soviet writer, Vasily Grossman, put it in 1960: “Tell me what you accuse the Jews of, I’ll tell you what you are guilty of.”

This statement is authored and circulated by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME). We invite all educators at US academic institutions and beyond to sign

SPME Responds to the Solidarity Statement claiming a “Repressive Climate on US Campuses”

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Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is not-for-profit [501 (C) (3)], grass-roots community of scholars who have united to promote honest, fact-based, and civil discourse, especially in regard to Middle East issues. We believe that ethnic, national, and religious hatreds, including anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, have no place in our institutions, disciplines, and communities. We employ academic means to address these issues.

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