The Arab-Israeli Conflict's Effect on Academia

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Northeastern University Students for Justice in Palestine

 

The Arab-Israeli Conflict's Effect on Academia

 

Palestinian students at Al-Quds UniversityIn June 1990, after much institutional delay, 150 faculty members of the University of Idaho, including the new president, signed a resolution calling on Israel to reopen Palestinian universities shut down during the Intifada. The resolution “expresses the faculty members’ deep concern on the issues of academic freedom, civil liberties, and access to educational opportunities for the Palestinian people residing in Israeli-occupied territories.” Declaring education to be a “basic human right,” the resolution may have been the first public act of Palestinian solidarity by an American university faculty.

 

In fall 2004, Professor Joseph Massad became the poster boy for pro-Israel advocates claiming that Middle East studies departments at American universities are hostile to Israel and dominated by a pro-Palestinian bias. Massad was accused of intimidating Jewish and Israeli students in a partisan film titled “Columbia Unbecoming,” in reference to the Ivy League university where the Palestinian-American professor teaches. Massad issued a public statement disputing the accusations, a university committee duly concurred that the charges were baseless, and the effort to deny Massad tenure eventually failed. “This witch-hunt aims to stifle pluralism, academic freedom, and the freedom of expression on university campuses in order to ensure that only one opinion is permitted, that of uncritical support for the State of Israel,” Massad wrote at the time.

 

Northeastern University SJP Solidarity ProtestorIn March 2014, Northeastern University banned the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter after members distributed mock eviction notices in an effort to raise awareness about Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes. The university’s administration deemed the action to be inappropriate and an associate dean sent an email to all students implying that the flyers were meant to intimidate Jewish students, a charge leveled against other SJP chapters after distributing similar notices. Many university officials, mostly recently at New York University, have dismissed the notion that distribution of such fake notices “intimidate” Jewish students as flyers are randomly distributed and make reference only to Israeli state policies. Northeastern SJP had long been attacked by pro-Israel groups in Boston, but student members were able to rally forces on their behalf and after a month of protest the university agreed to allow SJP to resume campus activities. Reflecting on SJP’s successful appeal, a member stated, “Although historically our side has been the one that’s been marginalized and powerless against this sort of arbitrary punishment, the tide is turning and the university is now afraid of both [pro-Israel groups] and SJP.”

 

Separated by decades, these cases demonstrate the fraught reality of academia, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian Territories – of access to education, the subject and content of higher learning, and campus activism. The American college space is contested by respective advocates and scholars critical of Israel and Zionism have become the focus of attack by pro-Israel organizations. In the Palestinian territories, universities are subject to closures or access is otherwise impeded due to restrictions, such as checkpoints. While in Israel, how Israeli students relate to the history of the conflict, the role of Zionism in expelling and dispossessing Palestinians in 1948, and the ongoing occupation is politically charged.

 

As part of our Special Focus on the Arab-Israeli Conflict’s Effect on Academia, the Institute for Palestine Studies has made available a series of articles* from our archives as well as a set of 5 videos from the Institute's event on 21 November 2014 titled, "The Legal Assault on Palestinian Rights Activism".

 

*Articles that were only made available as part of our monthly Special Focus have since been removed and may be purchased at our co-publisher's website, the University of California Press. Removed articles will automatically take you to the respective article at UCP's website. 

 

Articles:

 

Academic Boycott of Israel: The American Studies Association Endorsement and Backlash

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Spring 2014), pp. 56-71

 

Colonialsim, Nationalism, and the Politics of Teaching History in Mandate Palestine

Author: Elizabeth Brownson

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Spring 2014), pp. 9-25

 

Reflections on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in U.S. Public Discourse: Legitimizing Dissent

Author: Sara Roy

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Winter 2010), pp. 23-38 

 

"Taking Back" Middle East Studies: The Case of Columbia University's MEALAC

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Winter 2005), pp. 70-74

 

Academic Freedom and the Teaching of Palestine-Israel: The Columbia Case, Part II

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Summer 2005), pp. 75-107

 

Palestinian Universities under Occupation, February-May 1988

Author: Penny Johnson

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Summer, 1988), pp. 116-122

 

Palestinian Universities under Occupation, August-October 1987

Author: Penny Johnson

 Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Winter, 1988), pp. 143-150

 

Palestinian Universities under Occupation, November 1986-January 1987

Author: Penny Johnson

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Spring, 1987), pp. 134-141

 

Palestinian Universities under Occupation

Author: Penny Johnson

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Summer, 1986), pp. 127-133

 

Arab Students in Israel

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Spring, 1981), pp. 140-146

 

Arab Students under House Arrest in Israel

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Summer, 1979), pp. 121-124

 

Freedom in Universities

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Autumn, 1977), pp. 171-174

 

The Palestinian in the Consciousness of Israeli Youth

Author: Elia T. Zureik

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Winter, 1975), pp. 52-75

 

Australian Students and the Conflict

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Autumn, 1974), pp. 176-179

 

Israel's Student Movement

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Summer, 1972), pp. 140-142

 

Social Factors Influencing Attitudes of University Students in Lebanon towards the Palestinian Resistance Movement

Author: Halim Barakat

Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Autumn, 1971), pp. 87-112

 

 

The Legal Assault on Palestinian Rights Activism - 21 November 2014:

IPS event details

Legal Assault on Palestinian Rights Activism Pt. 1 - Opening Remarks - 11/21/14

Legal Assault on Palestinian Rights Activism Pt. 2 - Andrew Dalack - 11/21/14

Legal Assault on Palestinian Rights Activism Pt. 3 - Dima Khalidi - 11/21/14

Legal Assault on Palestinian Rights Activism Pt. 4 - Yaman Salahi - 11/21/14

Legal Assault on Palestinian Rights Activism Pt. 5 - Steven Salaita - 11/21/14

 

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Photo Credits: 

Photos on Northeastern University's campus, Photography by Bryan MacCormack with Left In Focus