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The Academy Promotes Hamas

New York University students stage a protest in Washington Square Park in Manhattan to oppose Israel and call for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 25, 2023. Photo: Gordon Donovan/NurPhoto via Reuters Connect

JNS.org – Do academic organizations represent intellectual values—above all objectivity? Or do they represent the current state of their communities and those communities’ prejudices and obsessions?

Hamas’ horrific Oct. 7 massacre is a litmus test for human decency. So, how did academics and intellectuals react?

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) has made its position known, saying, “There can be no justification for the targeting of civilians. Many of our members have been directly affected and we join them in grieving.”

But the next 845 words of MESA’s statement did not focus on Hamas, but instead excoriated Israel’s response to the Hamas massacre, accusing Israel of “indiscriminately bombarding [Gaza’s] population and infrastructure” and committing “ethnic cleansing” by calling on civilians to leave Hamas-controlled territories lest they “face certain death in a ground invasion.” MESA also emphasized Israel’s “broader political, administrative and legal system of racial discrimination and domination—regularly enforced through violence.”

No additional thoughts were spared for Israelis until the last sentence, which stated, “the only path forward on the ground is one premised on the equal rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live in dignity and safety,” which implies a magical “one-state solution” that will certainly not be called “Israel.”

MESA’s fall into moral decrepitude is emblematic of most of academia. Founded in 1966, the organization represents over 2,000 academics specializing in the Middle East. Like many academic associations, it sponsors a journal and conference.

The number of individual members has dropped, however, since MESA chose to boycott Israel in 2022. It has a diminishing number of institutional members as well, since universities do not want to be seen as adopting policies of discrimination based on racial, ethnic or national origin. George Washington University, which housed MESA until this year, was one of those that broke their association. The organization is now homeless and its conference has become biannual due to lack of interest.

But MESA is far from the only group of academics to cheer Hamas, let alone adopt Israel boycotts. At the University of Michigan, over 1,000 faculty members signed a letter blaming the “decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestine and the structural apartheid Palestinians residing both within Israel and the Occupied Territories endure on a daily basis” for Hamas’s genocidal violence. Apparently, the signatories believe that Hamas and the Gaza civilians who followed them on their rampage have no moral capacities whatsoever and can only behave like utter barbarians, including live-streamed dismemberment.

New York University’s Faculty for Justice in Palestine condemned “the brutal killing of civilians that occurred in Israel on October 7th, which constitutes a war crime,” but excoriated Israel for “occupation, expropriation, ethnic cleansing and the denial to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza of the most basic human and civil rights,” as well as “colonial racial violence.”

The statement also accused the university of bending to “immense pressure from trustees, alumni and donors to be perceived as ‘pro-Israel,’ even at the cost of tolerating or promoting violations of academic freedom and free speech rights.” The signatories appear to believe that academics can never be questioned or criticized. Such beliefs are typical of totalitarian states, but have little to do with “academic freedom” or “free speech.”

At the notoriously bigoted City University of New York, the faculty union escalated the hatred in emails to its 23,000 members decrying what it called a “Zionist genocidal campaign.” The union encouraged members “to channel your grief and rage over the nearly 1,000 Palestinians martyred, including nearly 300 children, into upcoming rallies across CUNY campuses and New York City.” The faculty, it seems, embraces the Islamic fundamentalist concept of the “martyr,” just as Hamas does.

Perhaps the most deranged statement was from Oxford University’s University and College Union, which claimed the war was “a direct consequence of decades of violent oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state” and that “only a mass uprising on both sides of the green line and across the Middle East can free the Palestinian people.” This call for a massive war that would consume the entire region is a horrific one, but has been echoed by many other academics.

Reflexively anti-Israel and anti-American biases in academia are partially the work of the tenured radicals of the 1960s and 1970s, steeped in fetishization of the Third World and vicarious admiration for hideously violent and often terrorist “liberation movements,” the “Palestinian cause” and “struggles against colonialism.” These academics have now trained generations of students who have assumed leading roles in numerous universities.

Moreover, fields like Middle East studies are increasingly dominated by individuals from communities in the US and abroad that have imbibed the prejudices of their cultures of origin, which are then confirmed by their teachers.

Thus, wide swaths of academia now see themselves as scholar-activists, saviors working for “liberation.” But who and what to “liberate” is an open question. So, for them, evil needs a specific name and location. In this Manichean theology, saving Palestinians take first place, with the Jews cast as metaphysical villains, giving license to overt antisemitism. This is not scholarship; it is political religion. It is an apocalyptic fundamentalism in which the downtrodden must be saved, evil defeated and the empty lives of activists given new meaning.

None of this has anything to do with an objective understanding of the world. It is a crusade to wrestle the future into a particular shape, one in which Israel does not exist.

It would be possible to dismiss all this if the crusaders were confined to the ivory tower, but they are not, and people are getting hurt. The consequences of their bigoted ideology have resulted in ugly demonstrations on campus and in the streets, as well as acts of antisemitic violence.

Students, along with allies on the far-left, including Antifa and BLM, have applauded Hamas’s slaughter of Israelis or denied it occurred at all. They lie relentlessly, blaming Israel for a “genocide” that is not happening and for bombing a hospital Israel did not bomb. As a direct result, Jewish individuals, institutions and neighborhoods have been targeted.

There are no easy solutions to this problem except for holding bigoted academics and their equally bigoted students responsible for their hatreds. Exposing their words and forcing them to act within the bounds of normal human decency is a good start.

The post The Academy Promotes Hamas first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Poland Bans Israeli Soccer Teams From Major City Due to ‘Safety’ Concerns

Stadion Widzewa is a multi-use stadium in Łódź, Poland. It is currently used mostly for football matches and serves as the home stadium of Widzew Łódź. Photo: maps.pomocnik.com.

Two Israeli soccer teams — Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Beer Sheva — that were set to play their European Championship matches in the Polish city of Łódź have been banned by the hosting country, after widespread outrage from Poles.

The Union of European Football Associations previously announced that Israel will not be allowed to host UEFA-sanctioned matches due to the ongoing war against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

As a result, the Israeli clubs announced on Sunday that their new “home stadiums” would be the Władysław Król Municipal Stadium and the Stadion Widzewa in Łódź. Soon afterward, two Polish clubs that play at the stadiums released statements distancing themselves from the decision, with many fans expressing antisemitic outrage on social media against Israel and support for the Palestinians.

The Polish city’s Cultural and Sport authority then released a statement saying that no Israeli teams would play at any facilities in Łódz because “the safety of Łódź residents and visitors is the highest priority for the city.”

Yacov Livne, the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, slammed the decision and lodged a complaint with the Polish city.

“One should not give in to such threats. Lodz needs to remain a place of tolerance, not fear,” Livne said in a statement on X/Twitter.

Maccabi Haifa took second place in the Israeli top league, giving it the opportunity to play in the qualifying rounds for the European Conference League, while Hapoen Beer Sheva came third in the Israeli premier league.

One of the Polish clubs based in Łódz has a history of antisemitism.

In 2016, a group of ŁKS Łódz hooligans set fire to “Jewish” effigies and paraded a banner calling for the burning of Jews. Years earlier in 2013, fans of the same team invited visitors to an indoor tournament to play a game in which they could throw objects at “Jews,” models dressed in uniforms of the club’s rival, Widzew Łódź. A sign next to the game informed players that for a meager price they would be given “three throws at the Jews.”

Antisemitism is increasingly creeping into Polish politics as well.

Last week a virulently antisemitic member of the Polish parliament who extinguished the candles of a lit Hanukkah menorah with a fire extinguisher won a seat in the European Parliament elections, riding a wave of far-right success across the continent.

The post Poland Bans Israeli Soccer Teams From Major City Due to ‘Safety’ Concerns first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino Harassed in NYC by Anti-Israel Media Personality For Being a ‘Zionist’

Quentin Tarantino being harassed by anti-Israel media personality “Crackhead Barney.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

A notorious anti-Israel social media personality accosted filmmaker Quentin Tarantino at a New York City restaurant and called him a “Zionist piece of s–t.”

A woman known online as “Crackhead Barney” shared a video on Saturday of her confrontation with the “Django Unchained” director, 61, as he was eating alone inside a restaurant on St. Marks Place. She approached his table and shouted, “Quentin Tarantino, say ‘Free Palestine!’ Why are you a Zionist piece of s__t?!” Tarantino remained silent as Barney repeated herself and then asked him, “Going to Israel?” as workers from the establishment tried to make her leave the restaurant.

When Tarantino left the eatery, a rowdy crowd awaited him outside including Barney, who confronted him again. She repeatedly shouted “Free Palestine” and asked the director to “say ni–er” multiple times while also exposing herself to the “Pulp Fiction” director. The crowd of people outside the restaurant also chanted “Toes! Toes!” which is seemingly a nod to the director’s fixation with showcasing feet in his movies.

Tarantino is married to Israeli singer Daniella Pick, who is the daughter of legendary Israeli pop musician Svika Pick. The couple live in Tel Aviv with their two children and Tarantino spoke in 2021 about learning Hebrew. In 2022, he received an honorary degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, Tarantino visited an army base in southern Israel and met with Israel Defense Force (IDF) troops.

Earlier this year, Barney harassed actor Alec Baldwin inside a coffee shop in New York City and recorded their confrontation on her cellphone. She told the actor, “Free Palestine … F–k Israel, F–k Zionism.” She repeatedly asked Baldwin to also say “Free Palestine” and when she would not back down, Baldwin eventually knocked Barney’s phone from her hands.

The post Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino Harassed in NYC by Anti-Israel Media Personality For Being a ‘Zionist’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks

A protester wrapped in an Israeli flag at a rally against antisemitism at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

A live web service provided by Aish.com that allows users to speak directly with one of the Jewish organization’s leading rabbis has seen a 300 percent increase in usage since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.

More than 5,000 chat responses (over 225 per day) are received each month, according to Aish, which added in a press release that many of the chats turn into extended conversations, sometimes on WhatsApp, in which rabbis help unaffiliated or disconnected Jewish users reconnect with their Jewish identities and form bonds with other Jews.

The Jewish organization said it believes the increase in usage of its live web chat service is due to the global rise in antisemitism and a newfound curiosity about Israel following Oct. 7, as well as a “yearning for meaning and community in the face of life’s uncertainties, and a desire for deeper meaning and spirituality in the face of a fast-paced modern culture where spiritual needs have been put on a backburner for too long.”

“We’re hearing from so many Jews who feel profoundly disconnected, whether due to living in areas with little Jewish community or lack of affiliation growing up,” said Rabbi Tzvi Broker, who oversees Aish.com‘s Live Chat. “The personal nature of these interactions, coupled with their anonymity, creates a safe space to ask questions and begin exploring. Having a live rabbi to connect and share with, has been a draw for many, and we’re seeing lives transformed as a result.”

Among their efforts, Broker and his team have helped people on the chat slowly incorporate Jewish rituals and traditions into their lives, and have connected them with peers through the organization’s new online community Aish+ so they can continue learning and engaging with other Jews.

“It’s amazing to witness lives being transformed in such profound ways,” said Broker. “Jews around the world are finding threads of connection to their heritage, and tapping into the depth and wisdom of our tradition to find meaning, community, and resilience in these challenging times.”

Bob Diener, the founder of hotels.com and the seed funder of Aish.com’s live chat, added in a statement: “The chat has been a powerful way for people to connect one-on-one with a spiritual leader and have their unique questions answered in a non-threatening and non-intimidating way. The chat’s rabbis are connecting so many people to their roots who otherwise don’t know where to go for guidance.”

“The chats have had a deep impact on many disconnected from the Jewish community,” said Aish CEO Rabbi Steven Burg. “Each of the people we connect with demonstrates a broad yearning to explore Jewish spirituality, peoplehood, and identity and that is why they have been turning to Aish for connection and guidance. We are happy to provide both while connecting them with local Jewish communities in their area, if there is one, to continue their journey.”

The post Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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