Discredited University of Exeter history professor Ilan Pappé condemned the “criminal identity and nature of the Zionist project in Palestine” and Israeli “genocidal policies” during a June 19 webinar. Along with like-minded Israel-hating academics, he addressed “The Dialectics between Zionist Settler-Colonialism, Racism and Palestinian Decolonization” for a conference of Istanbul Zaim University’s Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA).
CIGA’s June 18-23 second annual Palestine Conference on “Challenging Apartheid in Palestine: Reclaiming the Narrative, Formulating a Vision” achieved considerable notoriety thanks in part to CIGA’s director, Sami Al-Arian. A federal court convicted this Palestinian-American former University of South Florida professor in 2006 for supporting the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which ultimately led to his deportation to Turkey in 2015. At CIGA, Al-Arian has continued his long-established record of demonizing and calling for Israel’s destruction, which, as the conference showed, numerous academics in America and abroad zealously promote. They also turned a blind eye to CIGA’s support from the government of Turkey’s authoritarian Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has persecuted thousands of academics and journalists throughout Turkey.
Pappé’s presentation, “A Century of Colonization and Resistance: What Does It Tells Us About the Future,” continued the conference’s slander of Israel as an imperialist colony. “All Zionism is a settler-colonial project,” he said while discussing the “connection between whiteness and Zionism” and “Jewish white racism.” Such “equating Zionism with racism and colonialism” was for him the “best antidote for the weaponization of anti-Semitism,” but not an actual form of anti-Semitism itself, he said. Israel’s supposed illegitimacy led him to reject a two-state solution, for “partition is a colonist method of divide and rule.”
Columbia University professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history Joseph Massad further rejected any Jewish national liberation in Israel in his remarks on “Zionism, Anti-Semitism and Colonization.” Israel was born from an “alliance between European anti-Semitism, European colonialism, and the Zionist movement, an alliance that has persisted unhindered to the present,” he concluded. During the panel discussion, Massad dismissed Zionists as “lazy ideologues” who repeat common historical justifications for imperialism (e.g., benefiting the natives). Yet the blatantly anti-Israel New York Times “is utterly racist in its coverage of what happens around the world,” he said.
Pappé’s University of Leeds colleague, Professor of Social Theory & Decolonial Thought Salman Sayyid, extended this revisionism with his presentation “Palestine, Islamophobia and Global Decolonization.”
“We cannot imagine a decolonized world in which Palestine is not free,” said this longstanding associate of Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), a radical, anti-Semitic British Islamist organization. “Zionism itself has been successful in articulating itself as the Europeanization of Jewry” in the context of “Islamophobia,” he added, repeating the antisemitic canard that Israeli Jews are simply European colonists.
This “Islamophobia is a type of racism,” Sayyid said, in accord with MEND’s decade-old policy, ignoring that Islam is not a race. He sloppily conflated “Robert Spencer,” the bestselling expert on Islam who heads Jihad Watch, with Richard Spencer, the white nationalist and “alt-right figure” who has promoted his “white Zionism” on Israeli television.
Fabricating “Zionist settler-colonial designs that mandate Palestinian extermination,” UCLA assistant professor of Asian American studies Loubna Qutami celebrated “The Youth Movement in the Palestinian Struggle.” A “reign of Zionist terror” had caused the “annihilation of an entire people and land,” she claimed, even though the 1.2 million Arabs in the 1947 Palestine Mandate have grown to some 6 million today. She condemned “neoliberal racial capitalism that has paralyzed Palestinians through coercive economic imperial violence,” even though the corrupt Palestinian Authority has received the foreign-aid equivalent of multiple Marshall Plans.
Nevertheless, the “Palestinian struggle” for Qutami “will always be reborn,” she said, discussing the “commemoration of young martyrs”—killers otherwise known as Palestinian terrorists. She lauded that Islamic student groups had contributed to “laying a crucial foundation for the emergence of Hamas as a new political force in the Palestinian arena.” Meanwhile, Israeli Arabs or, as she termed them, Israeli “Palestinians,” are committed “not to a rights-based integration into settler-colonial designs [in Israel] but to decolonial Palestinian futures,” she said.
Qutami decried that “248 Palestinians were slaughtered” in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip during Israel’s “Operation Guardian of the Walls” this past May after yet another massive Hamas rocket offensive. However, careful analysis has shown that at least half of the dead were jihadist terrorists, while many Palestinian civilian casualties resulted from Hamas rockets falling short in Gaza itself. Despite this carnage, she lauded that Hamas’s “resistance demonstrated a commitment to fight even through asymmetric warfare,” while falsely (and ghoulishly) claiming that Israel used “Palestinian land and Palestinian bodies as testing sites” for weapons.
These transatlantic academics collaborating with the Turkish-based CIGA resembled members of Hamas’s press office more than taxpayer- and tuition-funded professors. Their anti-Israel vitriol exposes the financial waste and harm to U.S. national security wrought by modern Middle East studies. Cleansing academe’s Augean stables of such vicious bigotry is an urgent task.