Palestinian representative calls Yale conference ‘anti-Arab’

The U.S. representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization has accused Yale of hosting right-wing extremists at a recent conference on anti-Semitism.

The representative, Maen Rashid Areikat,wrote University President Richard Levin to protest the conference, titled “Global Anti-Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity,” which took place Aug. 23-25and included presentations from 110 scholars. In his letter, Areikat singled out three of them: a former Israeli military officer, the legal representative of an organizationthat monitors human rights groups, and the founder of a media watchdog organization.

“It’s shocking that a respected institution like Yale would give a platform to these right-wing extremists and their odious views,” Areikat wrote. The PLO is internationally recognized as the sole authorized representative of the Palestinian people.

In a letter to President Levin, the U.S. representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization accused Yale of hosting right-wing extremists at a recent conference on anti-Semitism.
In a letter to President Levin, the U.S. representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization accused Yale of hosting right-wing extremists at a recent conference on anti-Semitism.

Don Filer, director of Yale’s office of international affairs, wrote Areikat Wednesday to say that Yale places a premium on free speechand does not censor the views of academics. The University does not endorse the views of everyone it invites to speak, he added.

Areikat cited seminars offered at the conference such as “The Central Role of Palestinian anti-Semitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity.”

“As Palestinians, we strongly support principals of academic freedom and free speech,” he wrote.“However, racist propaganda masquerading as scholarship does not fall into this category.”

According to Charles Small, who organized the conference and directs the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, the speakers and attendees represented a wide range of the political spectrum. But, he said, the political views of its participants should be beside the point.

“The conference was an open space for people to explore contemporary anti-Semitism,” he said. “It shouldn’t be reduced to being part of a right-wing agenda.”

Areikat could not be reached for furthercomment Wednesday.

The controversy comes as Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plan to meet today atthe White House to discuss the Middle Eastpeace process.

Two presenters named in Areikat’s letter said he misrepresented their views without attending their talks or reading their papers, and they denied being politically “right wing.” The third, founder of Palestinian Media Watch Itamar Marcus, could not be reached for comment.

Jonathan Fighel, the former military officer, said he spent much of his career in the army helping to coordinate the Oslo Accords of 1993, which sought to lay the groundwork for future peace talksbetween the Israelis and Palestinians. He added that he has worked as an academic since he left the army in 1996.

Fighel now works for the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, an Israel-based research organization. His paper did not mention the PLO, but focused on the terrorist group Hamas and the role of anti-Semitism in radical Islam. He said he did not think Areikat was familiar with his record beyond his military rank.

“His letter was very irresponsible,” Fighel said. “If [President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority] had seen it, I’m not sure he would have agreed that he would send it.”

Anne Herzberg, another presenter criticized in the letter, works for the Israel-based NGO Monitor, whose missionAreikat said is“to suppress criticism of Israel by undermining the credibility of human rights organizations.”

Herzberg denied this claim and said NGO Monitor has no political positionbut does support at two-state solution. NGO Monitor examines the activities of human rights groups in the Middle East and assesses whether or not they are contributing to the peace process, she said. NGO Monitor’s mission statement states that it seeks to reveal the way human rights organizations use their budgets, many of which are derived from government donations and taxpayer dollars.

“Many of these organizations are operating for a one-state solution while being funded by governments that are working for a two-state solution,” she said. “European taxpayers should know.”

Small said the conference was the largest-ever gathering of scholars to talk about anti-Semitism and helped to establish the topic as one deserving of academic study.The initiativewas founded in 2005and was the first institute of its kind in the United States. Last year, the initiative sparked protest by inviting Harvard professor and pro-Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz to speak andwhen it brought Jytte Klausen, author of a book about controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, to campus.

Comments

  • Haber

    The problem is created when ideologically-motivated donors give oodles of money to create a “Center” that has an ideological agenda — in this case, consonant with the liberal-hawk-neocon consensus on Israel — and then turns around and invites all the usual suspects (friends and friends of friends). So you get a conference worthy of the American Enterprise Institute and not an Ivy League university.

    The problem is not limited to the right. I can give you academic conferences where the range is equally narrow on the other side. Last year York University and Queen University had a big conference called Israel Palestine — Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace. The ideology ranged from liberal Zionist two-staters to non-Zionist one-staters. Nobody represented, as far as I know, either center-right Israelis/Zionists, and religious constituencies, either Jewish or Muslim.

    Director Small doesn’t seem to realize that anti-Semitism is too serious an issue to be marginalized by a conference whose invitee list looks like a reunion of the Commentary crowd with some New Republic liberal hawks added for “balance”. At a conference on global anti-Semitism there should be, first and foremost, academic experts in the field who are not known for grinding ideological axes on Israel. It should not invite ideologues, loonies of the right, obsessive “watchers”, and, across a narrow spectrum.

    This conference invited folks without scholarly expertise in the field of anti-Semitism provided that they were to the right of center. Prof. Richard Landes, who is a medievalist, is ok, but Norman Finkelstein, who has written a long essay on the new anti-Semitism, is not. NGO Monitor is ok, but representatives of Amnesty International and Human Right Watch that it routinely bashes are not.

    And what about Brian Klug, who has written a trenchant critique against those who consider “demonizing Israel” to be anti-Semitism. Was he invited? Or Tony Klug who has raised the question in Tikkun magazine [Are Israeli Policies Entrenching Anti-Semitism Worldwide?][1] Or Jerome Slater? There are a whole slew of academics who have written on this issue. Were they invited? Or was there a deliberate attempt to keep it within the “mishpocha:, the orthodox Zionist family?

    Yes, Yale’s name has been besmirched by a conference that failed to present different voices outside of a narrow range. But rest assured — no academic who is not already biased will take the conference — and the Center — seriously. Yale once returned a gift to the Bass family because they wanted to control the appointment. Yale apparently learned not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

    [1]: http://Are Israeli Policies Entrenching Anti-Semitism Worldwide?

    [1]: http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/may2010klug

  • yale

    Having a conference which examines the anti-Semitism in the Palestinian population is not hate-mongering, it is simply an honest look at reality. But hey, maybe we should start censoring all views which make a few people uncomfortable.

  • kiskaro

    Why isn’t there also focus on the vehement phobia of others, including the Palestinians in Israel. Earlier this week, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, perhaps the most revered religious figure in israel and founder of a major political party in the current coalition, called for the annihilation of Palestinians (links below to recent and past genocide comments from Rabbi). At the conference on anti-semitism, many speakers referred to a document they call “the Hamas charter” from about 15 years before the founding of Hamas, which has anti-semitic propaganda in it. But there is hardly any attention to the deadly reverse. I would challenge people to find the very few place in the Western press this week that covers this specific call for genocide against Palestinians. I have attached one, from BBC, but even that article is watered down and doesn’t include his most hateful comments. And why should we be concerned with anti-arabism in Israel, because we politically, morally, and financially support that state. We do not support Hamas.

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/shas-spiritual-leader-abbas-and-palestinians-should-perish-1.310800
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11127409
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1270038.stm

  • theantiyale

    3000-year-old grudges don’t go away easily.

  • ireverent

    Its not right for the palestinians to hate all jews just because a few are stealing their land

  • theantiyale

    AT THE RISK OF REPEATING MYSELF:

    Why do people hate Jews?

    I don’t get it. Especially when CHRISTIANS hate Jews. Jesus was Jewish, for God’s sake (lol), from the day he was born to the day he died. *The Last Supper* was a *Passover meal*!

    Is it elitism?

    Do they hey hate the self-advertisement: The “Chosen people”?

    That whole elitist phrase is based on the most famous act of SEXISM in human history.

    Sarah, Abraham’s WIFE, is barren and Abraham wants MALE offspring so he takes a CONCUBINE ( a woman with whom he can stand stud) named Hagar and creates ISHMAEL (remember the famous line “Call me Ishmael”?) Then God (because he has a sense of humor) makes SARAH pregnant at age 90 and she gives birth to ISAAC, future father of the Tribes of Israel.

    Here is the KERNEL of the thousands-year-old mid-east conflict, a kernel “conceived” (lol) in SEXISM:

    Because Ishmael is *IL*LEGITIMATE and Isaac is LEGITIMATE, Isaac’s offspring (the Tribes of Israel) are eligible for the title “Chosen”. This leaves Ishmael’s people (aka the Arab people) *de facto* the UNchosen people whether they accept the description or not.

    Ergo 3000+ years of war. Nice going.

    The whole things is a house-of-cards based on an ELITIST SEXIST PREMISE: males and male “blood” (genes) passed on legitimately are BETTER than males and male blood passed on illegitimately.

    NB: Herman Melville adds to the irony with “Call me Ishmael” (Call me the UNchosen one) since HIS Ishmael is the only member of the Pequod chosen NOT to be drowned by Moby Dick. Nice job Herman!

    PK

    [link text][1]

    [1]: http://theantiyale.blogspot.com “GOD Genome’s Obscure Distributor”