“We are witnessing right now in the United States one of the most remarkable uprisings of black people against the structural regime of racial domination,” exclaimed Rutgers University law professor Noura Erakat. In a June 3 Arab Center Washington, D.C. (ACW) webinar alongside the equally extreme Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, this Palestinian-American academic duo drew on the intellectually vacuous rage of “intersectionality,” and the cult of victimhood it supports to connect America’s and Israel’s supposed sins. Along with five other panelists addressing the webinar’s topic, “The Threat of Israeli Annexation: Regional and International Implications,” the pair denounced America and Israel as allied imperialists.
Erakat’s family has a history of hostility towards Israel. She is the niece of PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat. Earlier this week her cousin, Ahmed Erekat, was killed by Israeli border guards at a checkpoint after a car-ramming terrorist attack in which he swerved, accelerated his car at a checkpoint and struck a guard, sending her flying through the air and leaving her with minor injuries. A video he made at some point before the attack shows a distraught Erekat (Campus Watch independently confirmed the translation) insisting he never betrayed his country, i.e., wasn’t a collaborator with the Israelis, that he had “degraded his parents and himself,” and that his “cowardice had driven him to this place,” meaning apparently suicide by police via his attack.
Despite this evidence, Noura Erakat went on the offensive, blaming Israelis for their “vicious, dangerous and disgusting allegations that this was a car-ramming,” calling it an “execution.” She claimed that “Israeli cowards” shot him and allowed Ahmed to “bleed out,” rather than render assistance (Israel denied the charge). “You lie. You kill. You lie,” she wrote; “the only terrorists” are the Israeli border guards who were attacked.
During her presentation, Erakat’s hatred for the West was equally clear, as she resorted to hackneyed leftist tropes about the American “empire” and “its colonies” even as looters nationwide destroyed productive free enterprises, often owned by minorities. America’s current rainbow coalition of rioters is thus “emblematic of a racial capitalist system that is built on settler-colonialism, which affirms once again the international nature of the black freedom struggle.”
Erakat, who personifies radical chic, fantasized that “right now there are fifteen cities under military occupation in the United States.” Ahistorically, but in keeping with academic fashion, she blamed Israel for American issues by praising the radical Jewish Voice for Peace’s (JVP) “Deadly Exchange.” This boycott campaign against American-Israeli police exchanges promotes the myth that Israeli law-enforcement connections promote American police abuse. The “steady militarization of U.S. law enforcement” has, she claimed, “amplified because of U.S. collaboration with Israel, where the Israeli army trains the U.S.”
Recent Israeli initiatives to apply Israeli sovereignty to ancestral Jewish territories in historic Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) stoked Erakat’s conviction of an evil American-Israeli nexus. She saw a “struggle both against Israeli expansionism as well as U.S. racial domination and expansionism,” while Israeli “rogue state” actions are “illegal under all law you can think of.” As evidence, she offered nothing but commonplace anti-Israel falsehoods, such as how voluntary movement of Israeli citizens into these territories is “tantamount to a war crime” under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Lest anyone doubt the depth of her bigotry, Erakat clarified that her Israel-hatred extended beyond any “occupation” following Israel’s 1967 Six-Day War expulsion of Jordan from the very “West Bank” created by Jordanian aggression in Israel’s 1948 independence war. “Palestinian resistance to Israeli apartheid” was “articulated as early as 1965” in opposition to “racial elimination in a framework of settler colonialism,” said Erakat. She approvingly noted the U.N. General Assembly’s scandalous “declaration against Zionism as a form of racism in 1975.”
Demonstrating that Erakat had no interest in peace with Israel today, the period before the 1993 Oslo Accords peace process held for her the “greatest strides in the Palestinian struggle for freedom.” By contrast, she mourned that this movement was “captured and incapacitated by the peace process, which contains successfully an anti-colonial struggle into a peacemaking affair.” Notwithstanding Zionist acceptance of various two-state Arab-Israeli peace plans as far back as 1937, she dismissed them as a “futile project” given Israel’s (relatively modern) “power imbalance” over Palestinians.
Similarly, a world without Israel would be a “decolonized, dezionized future,” proclaimed former PLO spokesman Khalidi. He lamented the “powerful international consensus since 1947 on a Jewish state, on a state of Israel.” For Arabs in the territory of the former British-run League of Nations Palestine Mandate who did not claim a Palestinian identity until the 1960s, Israel’s 1947-48 creation supposedly “violated our right of national self-determination.”
Khalidi voiced no similar accusations against Egypt, which occupied the Gaza Strip in Israel’s 1948 Independence War, or Jordan, which similarly occupied what it called the West Bank two years later. He merely complained that “Israel pounds nails into the coffin of the two-state solution, which it has been doing since 1967, systematically destroying any possibility of a two-state solution.” Why these two Arab states had not bothered to establish a Palestinian state before 1967, but instead helped create in 1964 a Palestinian Liberation Organization committed to Israel’s destruction, remained unaddressed.
Unequivocal rejection of Israel’s existence meant for Khalidi a pox on both Democrat and Republican houses for supporting Israel. Ignoring Democrats’ growing hostility towards Israel, he asserted that the “entire leadership of the Democratic Party is very pro-Israel,” including former President Barack Obama, who is as “pro-Israeli as anybody in the Trump camp.”
“Joe Biden has always been pro-Israel,” Khalidi added, and “is surrounded by a clique of advisers who are as pro-Israel as any group around any president since Nixon.” Accordingly, the United States would be “bleating some meaningless verbiage about opposition” to any Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank, “while Israel gets away with murder, as it has in every case in the past.”
While the ACW webinar’s format stemmed from COVID-19 contagion fears, Erakat and Khalidi’s comments demonstrate how modern Middle East studies remain similarly toxic to rational thought or documentary evidence. As law and order have come under assault in America and beyond, professors like Erakat, armed with the radical cliché that “law is politics” with “emancipatory purposes,” provide ideological fuel for further conflict. Lent a veneer of sophistication by “intersectionality” and sustained by academe’s abiding hostility to Western civilization, the politicization of Middle East studies now strengthens the forces of disunion at home and abroad.