Donna Robinson Divine, Morningstar Professor of Government, Smith College Contributes To SPME to Counter Colleagues Threatening Israel’s Right to Exist and Advancing Political Agendas and Not Advancing Knowledge and Understanding

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Several decades ago, Israel’s right to exist may have been hotly contested in the Middle East, but it was not much challenged in the halls of the academy. In courses on the Middle East conflict, the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians was treated largely as a tragedy between two legitimate nationalisms fighting for the same territory.

Today, the situation has been transformed and the transformation is filled with irony. Increasing numbers of Arab countries are, however grudgingly, acknowledging the country’s existence while more and more college campuses are treating Israel as a pariah both within and without the classroom.

Wrapping their courses around a biased syllabus[1], classes on the Middle East conflict offer their students slogans instead of complex and objective analyses. Funded by advocacy movements for the Palestinians, lecturers tour campuses across the United States to denounce the occupation and Israel’s right to exist.

Scholars trained in the field of Middle East Studies seem to believe it their mission to use their classrooms as platforms for the political changes they deem correct in the region. Supported by senior administrators and colleagues sympathetic to their mission, these experts now hold tenured positions in many of our prestigious universities. They have become a significant part of America’s educational establishment and the gatekeepers for the next generation of scholars.

For these reasons, I joined SPME and help fund its activities. I want to do whatever I can to restore academic respectability to the study of the Middle East. Israel may have won its many wars in the region, but it has lost the campus battle for a reasonable and fair hearing of its claims and of its history. To surrender this battleground at this time would be a terrible loss for Israel and for American Jewry.

Donna Robinson Divine

Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Government

Smith College


[1] It is increasingly difficult to find books on the Middle East Conflict that offer a balanced account. University Presses have published highly tendentious accounts of Israel’s history and politics creating the impression that the country has deprived the rightful inhabitants of the land of their national birthright.

Donna Robinson Divine, Morningstar Professor of Government, Smith College Contributes To SPME to Counter Colleagues Threatening Israel’s Right to Exist and Advancing Political Agendas and Not Advancing Knowledge and Understanding

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AUTHOR

Donna Robinson Divine

Donna Robinson Divine is the Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Government, Emerita at Smith College where she taught a variety of courses on Middle East Politics. Her books include Women Living Change:  Cross-Cultural PerspectivesEssays from the Smith College Research Project on Women and Social Change;  Politics and Society in Ottoman Palestine:  The Arab Struggle for Survival and Power, Postcolonial Theory and The Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Exiled in the Homeland:Zionism and the Return to Mandate Palestine, Named the Katharine Asher Engel lecturer at Smith College for the 2012-2013 academic year in recognition of her scholarly achievements, she was also designated as Smith's Honored Professor for the excellence of her teaching. President of the Association for Israel Studies from 2017-2019, Affiliate Professor at Israel's University of Haifa she was named to Algemeiner’s 2019 list of the top 100 people “positively influencing Jewish life”.


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