Friday, August 17, 2007

Don't Mess With Us!

Is the Israel lobby in the U.S. very powerful? Some have argued it is too powerful. Other have countered that this untrue. Or that even raising this claim is anti-semitic.

What is clear, is that openly challenging the the dominant viewpoint on Israel/Palestine will win you some very powerful enemies. It could be "a career limiting move."

Earlier this summer Normal Finkelstein, controversial Holocaust theorist, noted anti-Zionist, thorn in the side of Alan Dershovitz, and general sh*t disturber, was denied tenure as De Paul University. Read more about it here, or here, or just google Finkelstein Tenure. There are "about 159,000" entries!

Last week, an anti-tenure campaign and petition was organized against Nadia Abu El-Haj, an assistant professor of anthropology at Barnard. Abu El-Haj is the author of "Facts on the Ground," a 2001 book that questions archaeological claims regarding the ancient Jewish presence in Israel and argues that Israeli archaeologists legitimize the Jewish state's "origin myth." Read more about this here.

Now we have reports that Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, university professors who penned the forthcoming book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," have had a number of promotional appearances canceled. Read about it here.

So, is the Israel lobby extremely powerful, or not?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abu El Haj published a book denyinng than any ancient Hebrew kingdoms ever existted, asserting that the city of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus was "not Jewish," and denying that there is any connection between contemporary Jews and the Hebrew-speaking people of ancient Israel.

This is not a book about archaeology, it's more of a political fantasy.

Yet she was appointed and given tenure by Barnard (it is the Columbia tenure tht is now pending)

If the Israel lobby is so powerful, how did an out-there Palestinian activist, who openly advocates the destruction of the state of Israel and of ancient Jewish archaeological sites on the grounds that they are evidence of facts uncongenial to the Palestinian cause get appointed at Barnard in the first place?

2:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New development

www.NadiaAbuElHaj.com

2:51 pm  
Blogger Sydney Nestel said...

So the fact that masses of anonymous posts - like like the ones above - appear all over the internet attacking a scholar for taking an anti-Zionist position, or that a web site is set up - using her name no less - to attack her and deny her tenure; these are not signs of a powerful Israel lobby?

Of course it is not all-powerful, and does not always get its way. But to cross it, in politics of in academia, can be a "career limiting move."

As to the facts of the case, I invite readers to actually read the reviews attacking Professor Abu Nadia at www.NadiaAbuElHaj.com. Read the one by Jonathan Burack "Erasing History and Ourselves". This is clearly a partisan Jewish/Zionist argument. He does not attack Abu Nadia thesis that Israeli archeology is mostly a project of the Zionist idea designed to strengthen Jewish attachment to the Land (who can deny the obvious), but rather the whole postmodern approach to knowledge production. (By these standards half the staff at today's universities should be denied tenure.)

Archaeological evidence of anything Biblical prior to the Babylonian exile, is indeed scant. There is in fact zero archaeological evidence that the first temple ever existed. (This of course does nothing to prove that it did not exist.)

That archeology and political view points are inexorably linked in Israel is evidenced by Yigal Yadin. Once viewed as Israel's greatest archaeologist, he was also a general and a political leader. When he discovered human bones at Masada they where declared those of Jewish martyrs defending the desert fortress: most likely those famous "heroes" who chose suicide over captivity. And they where given a proper Jewish burial in a State sponsored ceremony. Now, with Yadin dead, and more dispassionate scholars looking at the evidence, it turns out that most probably these remains where of Roman soldiers.

So Abu el Haj is definitely on to something true, in her central thesis, that most (or at least many) archaeological projects in Israel serve ideological ends.


--
Sydney

11:37 am  

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