SPME’s Critique of the “Palestine and Praxis Letter”

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In the midst of the hostilities between Israel and Hamas in May 2021, a group of people claiming to be scholars, published Palestine and Praxis: Open Letter and Call to Action.

Signed by and addressing professors in the university, the text offers a startling glimpse at the way in which academia has been colonized by people engaged in a cognitive war that has sheer contempt for scholarship, academic standards, and the principles of teaching. Instead, it opens with an utterly one-sided presentation of the current situation that could have been written by someone at the Hamas Ministry of Propaganda, an account in which the “settler-colonial” Israelis are trying to eliminate the “freedom-loving” Palestinians, which scrupulously avoids any evidence that might be sympathetic to Israel, including any mention of the attitudes and deeds of the genocidal, eliminationist Hamas.

Indeed, an astute psychologist might even venture the observation that this is a systematic projection of Hamas’ attitudes towards Israel, including the silence about the very source of the projection. Take, as a representative example, the only (oblique) mention of the “other side” of this conflict, the 4000+ rockets that Hamas rained down on both Israel and the Gaza Strip during its two-week assault, to which Israel’s attack constituted a retaliation.

The attempts to transform the conversation on Israeli state violence to a series of stale talking points about Hamas rockets reflect the thorough dehumanization of Palestinians and the abject disregard for Israeli military aggression. 

 In fact, these attempts to dismiss Israeli concern for Palestinian Jihadi violence against its people, radically dehumanizes the Israelis, who are not permitted to worry about their people, not permitted to respond to the violent hostilities of Palestinian political culture, whose  dehumanizing racism this statement abjectly disregards.

After thoroughly trashing every principle of scholarship – thoroughness, inclusivity, balance, fairness, impartiality – with the principles of propaganda warfare – one-sidedness, exclusivity, partisanship, and partiality – the call to action moves on to what scholars should do: not only should they push this propaganda in their classroom, bring in Palestinian scholars who articulate it, keep anyone who might contradict it from soiling their teachings, but also go out in the world and ally with those activist movements fighting for the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.

Thus, “scholars” who articulate the propaganda of regimes and educational cultures that systematically eliminate any dissent, are mainstreamed into Western universities. Instead of hearing the variegated voices of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who have good reason to fear the “liberation” of Palestine, we hear the voices of post-colonial ideologues who speak for – and silence – the voices of anyone with a different story to tell. In other words, these “academics” literally privilege the voices of those who repress their own people and wish fervently to repress the Israelis, and smother the voices of anyone who wants peace. Cognitive war, as “non-violent” as it might claim to be, is warfare and aims at total victory.

When one considers the (silenced) claim that Hamas provokes Israeli attacks by firing rockets at her cities from behind civilians in order to maximize Gazan casualties so they can appeal to dupes in the West to condemn Israeli cruelty and war crimes, this kind of partisanship is not merely unscholarly. As enthusiastic dupes, these scholars actively cooperate in the victimization of the very people they claim to champion. It is somewhat pathetic that this is something Arab media are more likely to recognize than the Western media.

The final call to weaponize this propaganda further, brainwash students with it, and spread it far and wide, makes it clear: this has nothing to do with scholarship, understanding, or insight – only with pursuing an eliminationist political movement that holds the West in sheer contempt and hatred. Indeed, this wave of empirical and moral folly feeds the fires of Jew-hatred and public violence on an unprecedented scale (at least for the USA), and promises more damage the next time Hamas implements its cannibalistic strategy by provoking Israel.

This call to action found distressingly widespread support among individual academics, academic institutions, and various scholarly organizations. By the end of May more than 300 departments, centers, programs etc. had published various one-sided condemnations of Israel filled with distortions, misrepresentations, and outright lies, including the CUNY union representing some 30,000 faculty and staff, some 150 entire departments of Gender and/or Women’s Studies, and even some 200 scholars of “Jewish and Israel Studies.” This orgy of support for Hamas suggests that whole segments of academia have been colonized by Middle Eastern cognitive warfare campaigns that aim not only at the destruction of Israel, but Western academia. Is the Titanic sinking?

(For a more detailed analysis of this document, with links, see here.)






SPME’s Critique of the “Palestine and Praxis Letter”

  • Source: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)b
  • Originally published on 06/21/2021
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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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