May 20, 2019
- A special issue of the Israel Studies journal (Summer 2019), published by the Association for Israel Studies, was titled “Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict.”
- Its focus is how language is used to delegitimize Zionism and the State of Israel. It was a long overdue attempt to begin a discussion about the way academia has become a hostile environment for anyone other than those who believe Israel’s creation was a crime.
- There has been an exponential growth of tenured positions and well-funded Middle East Studies departments. But this trend has fostered a new orthodoxy of opinion about the subject.
- These departments became a preserve of those devoted to whitewashing radical Islam, bashing Israeli policies, critiquing and undermining support for Zionism, and supporting the Palestinian Arab war to destroy the Jewish state. In Mideast studies, only one point of view about Israel is welcome. Scholars sympathetic to Israel and critical of radical Islam are often treated as pariahs and driven from the field.
- The journal offers a deep dive into the way biased scholarship has distorted our understanding of the issues and produced a climate in which slander of the Jews and their rights isn’t merely treated as acceptable, but normative in higher education.
- It is a breath of fresh air when compared to the unhinged polemics against Israel that passes for scholarship in most of academia.
See also Word Crimes: Reclaiming The Language of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Donna Robinson Divine
The writer is Professor Emerita of Jewish Studies and Government at Smith College. (Israel Studies)