RIP-John Hope Franklin


franklin

Pioneering historian John Hope Franklin dies at 94

His book was required reading for me as a freshman in college so many years ago.  Years later as an old man myself,  I ran across him in the aisle of the local supermarket in Durham, NC and was impressed by his quick and friendly smile.  I hope humanity can find a suitable replacement for him to live among us.

American academics stand up to be counted


Joining a growing list of people who are protesting the Israeli genocide in Gaza, American members of academe have come out to call for a cultural boycott of Israel, with five goals it wants to achieve.

“Refraining from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine,” “promoting divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions,” and “supporting Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.”

The group’s press release continues,

“We believe that non-violent external pressure on Israel, in the form of an academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel, can help bring an end to the ongoing massacres of civilians and an end [to] the occupation of Gaza and Palestine” — with “Palestine” referring to the West Bank land occupied by Israel since the 1967 war

explained David Lloyd, a professor of English at the University of Southern California.  I am glad to see Americans joining in the initiative and I note that they very clearly say they are interested ina  non-violent form of protestation, not something that is designed literally to exterminate the Jewish state.  What this boycott is asking for is a modification of Israeli behavior that will ensure its existence as well as that of its neighbors, the Palestinians.  It is NOT a zero sum game but you can expect the Israelis will portray it that way.

Israeli academics speak out


I mentioned in a previous post how the debate about what’s going on in Gaza is a much more vigorous debate in Israel than it is here in the U.S. and I admitted my own confusion why that’s so.  One aspect of this phenomenon is that rarely the Israeli debate finds its way into American media, so this is my contribution to the exposure of that debate to us here in the mainland, the enablers of Israel’s wars of aggression.

Commenting on the Israeli attack against a Gaza university, two Israeli academics had this to say.

Not one of the nearly 450 presidents of American colleges and universities who prominently denounced an effort by British academics to boycott Israeli universities in September 2007 have raised their voice in opposition to Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza earlier this week. Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University, who organized the petition, has been silent, as have his co-signatories from Princeton, Northwestern, and Cornell Universities, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most others who signed similar petitions, like the 11,000 professors from nearly 1,000 universities around the world, have also refrained from expressing their outrage at Israel’s attack on the leading university in Gaza. The artfully named Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, which organized the latter appeal, has said nothing about the assault.

While the extent of the damage to the Islamic University, which was hit in six separate airstrikes, is still unknown, recent reports indicate that at least two major buildings were targeted, a science laboratory and the Ladies’ Building, where female students attended classes. There were no casualties, as the university was evacuated when the Israeli assault began on Saturday.

Virtually all the commentators agree that the Islamic University was attacked, in part, because it is a cultural symbol of Hamas, the ruling party in the elected Palestinian government, which Israel has targeted in its continuing attacks in Gaza. Mysteriously, hardly any of the news coverage has emphasized the educational significance of the university, which far exceeds its cultural or political symbolism.

Established in 1978 by the founder of Hamas — with the approval of Israeli authorities — the Islamic University is the first and most important institution of higher education in Gaza, serving more than 20,000 students, 60 percent of whom are women. It comprises 10 faculties — education, religion, art, commerce, Shariah law, science, engineering, information technology, medicine, and nursing — and awards a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Taking into account that Palestinian universities have been regionalized because Palestinian students from Gaza are barred by Israel from studying either in the West Bank or abroad, the educational significance of the Islamic University becomes even more apparent.

Those restrictions became international news last summer when Israel refused to grant exit permits to seven carefully vetted students from Gaza who had been awarded Fulbright fellowships by the State Department to study in the United States. After top State Department officials intervened, the students’ scholarships were restored — though Israel allowed only four of the seven to leave, even after appeals by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “It is a welcome victory — for the students,” opined The New York Times, and “for Israel, which should want to see more of Gaza’s young people follow a path of hope and education rather than hopelessness and martyrdom; and for the United States, whose image in the Middle East badly needs burnishing.”

*snip*

By launching an attack on Gaza, the Israeli government has once again chosen to adopt strategies of violence that are tragically akin to the ones deployed by Hamas — only the Israeli tactics are much more lethal. How should academics respond to this assault on an institution of higher education? Regardless of one’s stand on the proposed boycott of Israeli universities, anyone so concerned about academic freedom as to put one’s name on a petition should be no less outraged when Israel bombs a Palestinian university. The question, then, is whether the university presidents and professors who signed the various petitions denouncing efforts to boycott Israel will speak out against the destruction of the Islamic University.

The answer to the last question is a resounding no. American academics and politicians are silent to the atrocities carried out by the Israeli government and such silence emboldens Israel to continue its slaughter.

Hat tip to Angry Arab News Service for posting this piece.