Faculty Forum

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Dear Friends,

The current issue of the Faculty Forum brings our readers news and reports of ongoing problems. The famous French historian, Fernand Braudel, stated that there are several types of history: fast-moving history, slow-moving history, and history which hardly moves at all. According to Braudel, individual events are essentially ephemeral, like “fireflies in the night.” Thus, we may think of the well-organized and orchestrated campaign to delegitimize the Zionist cause, Israel and the Jews, as forming a backdrop of slow-moving history, upon which the battles of the political war on American campuses and beyond are now being waged.

The slow-moving backdrop to this ongoing program of delegitimization frequently takes the form of the BDS campaign, a well-organized push for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel. Its purpose is to isolate and single out Israel and its supporters for punishment by boycotting its products, commercial and cultural ties, and, not the least popular performers who would like to give concerts in Israel. Since the World Conference against Racism which took place in Durban in 2001, the enemies of Israel adopted the world campaign against Apartheid South Africa as their model. They have no interest in compromise, co-existence, or even the “Two-State Solution.” They hope that by using political agitation combined with guerilla warfare they can force Israel into isolation and discredit and bring about its politicide, nothing less than its complete demise.

On the campuses, in the United States and elsewhere, the BDS program has captured the imagination of idealistic students (who generally are not be well informed) and assumed the proportions of a serious human rights program. In the popular mind its goals have mistakenly become identified with the larger quest for world justice. Not the least, one of the methods of its sponsors is to undermine and split the general consensus of support for Israel by spreading their propaganda in the academic world especially by recruiting Jewish intellectuals.

It is within the context of this protracted conflict that the Faculty Forum brings its readers several timely articles and a rich selection of book reviews (courtesy of the Jewish Political Studies Review). We are particularly glad to run an original article by Professor Gabe Brahm of the Northern Michigan University.

We hope that you will find this issue informative good reading and, as always, we welcome your feedback.

Faculty Forum

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Joel Fishman

Biographical Statement:

Joel Fishman was born in Winston-Salem, N. C. and has lived in Israel since 1972. He grew up in Brookline, MA, received his B.A. from Tufts University, and his Ph. D. in modern European history from Columbia University. From 1968-1970, he was a Fulbright scholar at the Institute for History of the State University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. His dissertation was published under the title, Diplomacy and Revolution; the London Conference of 1830 and the Belgian Revolt. He is married and has three children and four grandchildren.

Like many of his generation, the unsettled conditions of the seventies interrupted his academic career. By the time he completed his doctorate in 1972, the job market had evaporated. During the following years, Fishman researched and published several pioneering articles on the postwar reconstruction of the Dutch Jewish community and from 1975-1978 carried out post-doctoral work at the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation in Amsterdam.

After returning to Israel in 1978, Fishman found that he was “overqualified” for nearly all manner of salaried work, so from 1980 to 2000, he worked as a photographer until the Second Armed Uprising ruined business conditions. Fortunately, an opportunity arose to join the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, so Fishman made the transition into a new field, contemporary history, or, better stated, the history of the present. His research applies the historical method in order to explain contemporary events. One of his pioneering accomplishments was the publication of the policy paper, “Ten Years since Oslo: The PLO’s ‘People’s War’ Strategy and Israel’s Inadequate Response,”[1] which analysed the strategy of the other side, many aspects of which were borrowed from the North Vietnamese, and the failure of Israel’s military and leadership elite to understand and adapt to the new situation. His findings appear in a series of articles, which are posted on the web. A selection of his articles has also appeared in book form, in French, under the title, La Guerre d’Oslo (Prof. Efraim Karsh was the coauthor).[2] Since 2004, Fishman has been a Fellow of the JCPA.

Independently, Fishman served as Chairman of the Center for Research on Dutch Jewry at the Hebrew University (2006-2009). There, he introduced sound fiscal practice and oversaw the construction of a new library.

Currently he is Book Review Editor of the Jewish Political Studies Review at the JCPA and is carrying out research on political warfare, particularly media warfare and propaganda.

Statement about SPME:

The members of SPME comprise a community of leading scholars with whom I have been able to share ideas and to learn. In their company, I have observed the combined virtues of courage moderated by maturity and caution. I find this outlook congenial.

Most scholars of my generation who grew up in postwar America enjoyed a period of opportunity and relative grace. Now, there are signs that this era may be ending, and we are entering “interesting times.” In this uncertain environment, SPME will have an increasingly important job to do, telling the truth, fighting for freedom of thought and protecting civil discourse, in America and abroad.

[1] Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem Viewpoints No. 503, 1 September 2003. www.jcpa.org/jl/vp503.htm .

[2] La Guerre d'Oslo. Paris: Editions de Passy, 2005.

Read all stories by Joel Fishman