Israel Lobby Watch

New Middle East scholars group seen as close to White House

WASHINGTON, 12 November (IPS) - A small group of Middle East and African studies scholars in the United States has announced the creation of a new professional association to change the direction of scholarship in the field. And it boasts several big name albeit controversial scholars, among them Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, two academics who advised the George W. Bush administration’s policy towards the Middle East. 

Israel, free speech, and the Oxford Union

The Oxford Union is one of the world’s most illustrious debating chambers and a bastion of free speech. It was founded in the nineteenth century to uphold the principle of free speech and debate in England at a time when they were being severely curtailed. Recently, however, the Union failed to live up to its lofty ideals. Professor Avi Shlaim recounts how the Union crumbled under pressure from Israel’s kneejerk supporters. 

Dutch "research" group covers for Israeli crimes, violations

Doron Livnat is co-owner of Riwal, a Dutch company involved in the illegal construction of the separation Wall in occupied Palestinian territory. Livnat is also a member of the board of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), a pro-Zionist political lobby group based in Amsterdam. CIDI does not seem to have a problem with the judgment of the International Court of Justice finding the route of the Wall illegal, nor Livnat’s company’s involvement in this illegal activity. Yet, CIDI still has the audacity to condemn United Civilians for Peace, a broad-based Dutch human rights platform. Stan van Houcke analyzes for EI

Academic freedom at risk on campus

“Academic colleagues, get used to it,” warned the pro-Israel activist Martin Kramer in March 2004. “Yes, you are being watched. Those obscure articles in campus newspapers are now available on the Internet, and they will be harvested. Your syllabi, which you’ve also posted, will be scrutinized. Your Web sites will be visited late at night.” Kramer’s warning inaugurated an attack on intellectual freedom in the US that has grown more aggressive in recent months. Saree Makdisi comments. 

Silencing Bishop Tutu: Critical discussion off limits?

There is a point when a political position can become rabid; a point when rational arguments no longer work because the holder of such politics believes that their way can be the only way of seeing things and that all other views must be suppressed. Thus, we have the case of the cancellation of the speaking engagement of one Bishop Desmond Tutu, world-renowned human rights activist and one of the chief architects of the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Bill Fletcher, Jr. comments on the cancellation. 

US evangelicals at odds on embracing Israel

OAKLAND, Aug 2 (IPS) - It was business as usual during Christians United for Israel’s recent “Israel Summit,” its highly-publicized second summer sojourn to Washington. There were thousands of supporters in attendance, including an impressive array of Republican Party elected officials and political leaders. There were a series of seminars and workshops aimed at solidifying pro-Israel talking points, and growing the organization’s political effectiveness. 

Finkelstein case: Academic freedom loses to Israeli lobby

As an untenured assistant professor on this campus, who thought serious scholarship would find a site of articulation within the university named after St. Vincent de Paul, I have questioned not only my DePaul colleagues’ commitment to academic freedom, but the motivations and rationalizations of many of my colleagues who remain silent in the wake of the grave injustice that took place on 8 June 2007, when Finkelstein and Larudee received their denial letters from President Dennis Holtschneider. Matthew Abraham writes for The Electronic Intifada. 

Father of Christian Zionism Leaves the Building

OAKLAND, United States, May 16 (IPS) - The right-wing U.S. Christian evangelist Jerry Falwell, who died Tuesday at the age of 73, is perhaps best known for his fundamentalist social positions and tirades against lesbians, gays and feminists, not to mention “pagans”, “abortionists” and assorted other miscreants. But Falwell also had a significant impact on U.S. foreign policy over the last 30 years, and was one of the founding fathers here of so-called Christian Zionism — the belief that the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical “End Times” prophecy and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support. 

Coretta Scott King and the Jewish National Fund

Towards the end of April, the Associated Press filed a story reproduced by, amongst others, Ha’aretz, Guardian Unlimited, and CNN, reporting that “Israel will name a forest in northern Galilee after Coretta Scott King”, part of a wider campaign to replant “thousands of trees destroyed during last year’s war with Hezbollah”. At least 10,000 trees will be designated as a “living memorial to King’s legacy of peace and justice”, according to US Israeli ambassador Sallai Meridor. 

Michigan school closes its doors to Palestinian voices

In mid February of 2007 two Palestinian, nonviolent human-rights activists, Mohammad Khatib and Feryal Abu Haikal, were in the Detroit area as part of a national tour. The Roeper School, located in the Detroit suburbs of Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham, with a body of 630 gifted students from preschool to 12th grade, was contacted to host the speakers. The school seemed to be an ideal place for Khatib and Abu Haikal to give their presentations as its philosophy has an “optimistic and humanistic view of life,” with a commitment to justice, non-violence, and “accepting one’s obligation to make the world a better place for everyone.”