No, you don’t have to be Jewish to join the Orwellian-named Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – it’s enough if you agree that ever since the world’s only Jewish state has been re-established, it has been causing an ongoing “Nakba,” i.e. catastrophe, to the Palestinians. Obviously, without this ongoing Nakba, the Palestinians would live in one of those thriving modern and democratic Arab-Muslim countries that are so typical for the region…
Working hard to undo the catastrophe of having a tiny piece of the Middle East that is not ruled by Arab Muslims, JVP has acquired a reputation for using “its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism.” Some recent events have provided JVP with the opportunity to demonstrate that this reputation is well-earned.
In January, after a group of hundreds of Oberlin College alums and students argued in an open letter that the aggressive demonization of Israel by so-called “pro-Palestinian” activists created a hostile campus climate for Jewish students who wouldn’t denounce Israel, JVP urged their followers on social media to support efforts to reject such “false” accusations of anti-Semitism. It is noteworthy in this context that a new study indicates that there is indeed a strong correlation between anti-Israel activism and anti-Semitism.
Just a few weeks after the controversy about anti-Semitism at Oberlin, virulently anti-Semitic social media posts by Oberlin professor Joy Karega – an ardent supporter of “pro-Palestinian” campus activism – triggered widespread outrage. Some on the left, such as Ha’aretz columnist Bradley Burston, were quick to condemn Karega’s “vile, high-octane, Klan-grade anti-Semitism;” however, as Burston rightly noted, Karega’s fellow “pro-Palestinian” activists remained conspicuously silent.
Indeed, it seemed that JVP-affiliated Oberlin students were even willing to defend Karega, asserting in an open letter posted on the “progressive” site Jewschool that they “greatly admire” her “as a professor and activist.” Eventually, however, there was an update denying that the authors of this letter were affiliated with JVP – though in the absence of any condemnation of Karega’s blatant bigotry by JVP, it is hard to overlook that the text of the letter certainly fits JVP’s agenda and rhetoric.
However, so far JVP has not denied that its “Academic Advisory Council has drafted and circulated a sign-on letter for faculty and academics” in support of Rutgers University professor Jasbir Puar, who recently gave a lecture at Vassar College where she presented Israel very much in the way the Nazi magazine Der Stürmer used to present Jews. I have written about Puar’s lecture and the disgraceful show of solidarity with her vile views elsewhere; for a very short summary of what Puar’s lecture offered, it is perhaps best to cite the definition of “antisemitic anti-Zionism” formulated by the British academic and intellectual Alan Johnson:
“Antisemitic anti-Zionism bends the meaning of Israel and Zionism out of shape until both become fit receptacles for the tropes, images and ideas of classical antisemitism. In short, that which the demonological Jew once was, demonological Israel now is: uniquely malevolent, full of blood lust, all-controlling, the hidden hand, tricksy, always acting in bad faith, the obstacle to a better, purer, more spiritual world, uniquely deserving of punishment, and so on.”
In Puar’s case, the long list of monstrous evils committed by the Jew among the nations include her fantasy that Israel might be pursuing “a weaponized epigenetics” that requires “body parts … for research and experimentation,” which – as Puar suggested on the basis of Palestinian conspiracy theories – Israel may be obtaining by mining Palestinian corpses for organs.
As far as the JVP’s Academic Advisory Council is concerned, criticism of the blatant anti-Semitic tropes promoted by Puar is completely unjustified because her work in general is supposedly a result of “the highest professional and scholarly rigor” and “anyone who heard her Vassar lecture … can attest [that] her words are carefully chosen and grounded in serious scholarship and thorough research.”
Among the prominent members of JVP’s Academic Advisory Council is Judith Butler (University of California, Berkeley), whose name also appears (twice) among the signatories of the letter in support of Puar. So presumably, we can now add to Butler’s memorable statement about the importance of “understanding Hamas, [and] Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left” another important insight: by dressing up the age-old blood libel with 21st century academic jargon to produce preposterous fantasies about “a weaponized epigenetics” that requires “body parts … for research and experimentation,” we end up with something that is “grounded in serious scholarship and thorough research.”
In short: anything goes when it comes to academic anti-Semitism, and JVP will stand ready to defend it vigorously.