The Association for Middle East and African Studies (ASMEA) held its 16th annual gathering from November 4-6 in Washington, DC, a few blocks from George Washington University’s campus. Interestingly, the first day of the conference coincided with the largest pro-Palestinian rally in history, taking place just a few blocks away.
ASMEA is an academic society dedicated to promoting the highest standards of research and teaching in Middle Eastern and African studies, and related fields. Professor Fouad Ajami and Professor Bernard Lewis created ASMEA in 2007 to respond to the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), which they believed had become increasingly “anti-Israel and anti-American.” However, most importantly, they desired an organization committed to protecting academic freedom and promoting the search for truth. This mission has proven to be all the more relevant given the spike in anti-Israel activity following the October 7 Hamas massacre in Israel, and the war it launched.
The group’s inaugural event, the Fouad Ajami Roundtable: Legacy and Memory, paid tribute to one of the organization’s founders. The gathering featured speakers who shared personal connections with Ajami or had deeply researched his work. These speakers, among them Ajami’s wife Michelle, delved into Ajami’s life journey, including his early trips to Israel. They also pondered how he might interpret contemporary events such as the Hamas/Israel conflict and the prevailing identity politics. Additionally, Michael Lewis, the son of founder Bernard Lewis, presented prizes in his father’s honor for outstanding papers on antisemitism.
The panel titled “Israel’s War with Hamas” was added to address the current conflict. Panelists presented in person and via Zoom from Israel, to discuss the factors that led to the current war. The panelists highlighted how Hamas has systematically used online platforms to demonize and dehumanize Jews, mainly targeting the younger generation. Hamas employed psychological warfare by stripping Jews and Israelis of their humanity as part of their tactics against Israel.
All of the panelists agreed that Israel must dismantle Hamas. Another panel delved into the prospects of the Saudi-Israel normalization talks, especially in the context of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and the future of the Palestinian people. While the opinions presented on the Saudi panel were undoubtedly not monolithic, there was a shared tepid optimism for the future of normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The panel “BDS and the Occupation of Western Academia” unpacked the growing antisemitism on college campuses, mainly focusing on the rise of Hamas support among students, the marginalization of pro-Israel students, and the lack of response from campus administration.
Professor Walter Russell Mead delivered the timely and fascinating keynote address, “Israeli Policy and American Interest in the Middle East.” Students and scholars from all over the country attended, with participants from as far away as Hawaii, Korea, and Australia. Unfortunately, a significant Israeli delegation was absent from this year’s conference, but many attended and presented remotely via Zoom.
Despite their country being at war, the Israeli speakers confidently shared their research, making invaluable contributions to the panels they were a part of.
In contrast, just a few blocks away, pro-Palestinian protesters spread falsehoods during their supposed peaceful protest. Widespread calls were made during the protest for an end to the “occupation” and “apartheid” and accusations of “genocide,” alongside demands for a ceasefire.
The crowds could be heard chanting phrases like “From the River to the Sea” and “Long Live the Intifada.” Unfortunately and not surprisingly, there was no mention of the brutal massacre carried out by Hamas and the significant loss of Israeli lives.
All of the above demonstrates the need for groups like ASMEA that can understand the region for what it is, versus the perceived reality showcased on American college campuses and in the streets of Washington, DC.
Shira Weissbach is a seasoned Israel educator with an MA in Education and Human Development from George Washington University in the Field of Israel Education.
The post A Voice of Sanity in the Campus Effort to Demonize Israel first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
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Gallant: Seizing Internal Hamas Documents Brings Hostage Deal Closer
i24 News – Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant provided a review to fellow ministers of weapons and documents belonging to Hamas, which were collected by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Document and Technical Means Collection Unit (Amshat) operating in the Gaza Strip.
“This morning we are hosting the government meeting at the IDF, in the defense establishment, to show the ministers exactly how we are achieving and deepening our achievements and what is coming out of the Gaza Strip,” Gallant explained.
“You can see a small part of the things here – missiles, explosive charges, mines, a great many maps, means of communication, documents, computers, drives, all these things which the IDF uses now on as intelligence, and not only that,” the defense minister continued.
“These demonstrate that we penetrated into the heart of the most sensitive places of Hamas and use their intelligence against them,” Gallant described the process of attaining the documents and weapons, hinting at some of the locations from where it was found.
“We are using their weapons against them, detonating them in the field, all this leads to the consequence of deepening and penetrating the heart of Hamas’ capabilities,” the defense minister said.
“The more we deepen our operations, the closer we get to a realistic deal in order to return the hostages,” Gallant concluded.
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UNRWA Chief Urged to Resign After ‘Absurd’ Pledge of Ignorance
i24 News – Israeli diplomatic leaders called for the resignation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, following denial of knowing about a Hamas data center under the agency’s headquarters in Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) revealed on Saturday night that Hamas built a vast network of tunnels under the UNRWA headquarters, with a base directly underneath that was even hooked up to its grid.
“The exposure of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters’ deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action,” the Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, posted on X.
“Philippe Lazzarini’s claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative,” Katz concluded.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, also called for the UNRWA Commissioner-General to resign, responding “it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know.”
“We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did you refuse, you chose to stick your head in the sand,” Erdan added in a detailed post on X.
.@UNLazzarini it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did… https://t.co/bJsD66OwoO
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) February 10, 2024
“Take responsibility and resign today!” the Israeli ambassador said, “Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa. Anything the UN says or claims about Gaza cannot be trusted.”
The post UNRWA Chief Urged to Resign After ‘Absurd’ Pledge of Ignorance first appeared on Algemeiner.com.