Harvard Never Learns

March 8, 2012
(Stephen H. Norwood h/t Doc’s) This past weekend Harvard hosted a One-State Solution Conference, designed to promote the dissolution of Israel. It is only the latest example of that university’s longstanding practice of facilitating the spread of anti-Semitism.
The virulently anti-Israel Harvard student organizations that sponsored the event, including the Palestine Solidarity Committee, Justice for Palestine, the Palestine Caucus, and the Arab Caucus, acknowledge in the program that the One-State Solution Conference would not have been possible without the support of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and funding from the Harvard Provost’s Office and the Center for International Affairs.

Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust and her administration did not express any concern over the conference’s heavily biased and non-scholarly nature. Not one of the speakers is known to be sympathetic to Israel, and many are prominently involved in the campaign to boycott Israel’s universities and to pressure American schools to divest any holdings in corporations that do business there.
Benny Morris, a leading scholar of the Arab-Israeli conflict, has described keynote speaker Ilan Pappé, a supporter of Israel’s minuscule Communist party, as “at best… one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest.”
Harvard Law School professor Duncan Kennedy, the opening speaker, has denied that Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction, even though the Hamas charter accuses Jews of plotting to take over the world, and claims they caused the two world wars and the French and Bolshevik revolutions.
Unfortunately, there is nothing new about Harvard’s tolerating and even assisting anti-Semitic propagandists. In 2000, Harvard’s Divinity School accepted funds from United Arab Emirates dictator Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to endow a professorship in Islamic Religious Studies named for him. The dictator had already established a Zayed Centre in his own nation that condemned Israel’s existence and promoted Holocaust denial. Harvard planned faculty exchanges with the Zayed Centre.
No Harvard administrator or professor publicly criticized the university’s acceptance of the sheik’s funds. The endowed professorship was withdrawn only because a graduate student, Rachel Fish, mobilized public support against it.
By contrast, the Harvard administration refused to host an academic conference on American responses to the Holocaust that the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies proposed in 2004. Many of the world’s leading Holocaust scholars are affiliated with the Wyman Institute. The institute asked me to present the keynote lecture, on Harvard’s response to Nazism. As a courtesy, I sent then-Harvard president Larry Summers a detailed summary of my lecture. Summers’s office replied several months later that it would not host the conference. It emphasized that no Harvard administrator would attend if it were held elsewhere. Boston University’s Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies was delighted to serve as host.
My lecture focused on how Harvard and other elite universities forged friendly ties with Germany’s Nazified universities, helping the Hitler regime improve its image in the West. Harvard sent a delegate to Heidelberg University’s 550th anniversary celebration in 1936, a Nazi propaganda festival orchestrated by Josef Goebbels. This occurred after Germany’s universities expelled their Jewish faculty members and the Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their citizenship. Heidelberg University promoted Nazi “racial science” and “Aryan Physics.”
Harvard warmly welcomed to its campus Hitler’s foreign press chief Ernst Hanfstaengl, a fanatical anti-Semite. Harvard president James Conant called anti-Nazi protesters who demonstrated against Hanfstaengl’s visit “ridiculous.” Harvard Law School dean Roscoe Pound accepted an honorary degree from Berlin University, personally presented by Nazi Germany’s ambassador, Hans Luther. Harvard Law professor Felix Frankfurter unsuccessfully pleaded with Conant not to allow the ceremony to be held on campus.
Sadly, there is consistency in Harvard’s complicity in helping Nazi Germany present itself as civilized during the 1930s; accepting funds from a Holocaust denier, Sheik Zayed; trying to suppress a scholarly conference on the Holocaust; and now serving as a platform to promote the destruction of the Jewish state.
Stephen H. Norwood is professor of history at the University of Oklahoma and author, most recently, of “The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses” (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Did Historian Ilan Pappe Fabricate a Quote by David Ben-Gurion?

March 7, 2012

(Volokh)The quotation in question is “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as war.”
With regard to the first part of the quotation, “The Arabs will have to go,” this piece makes a strong case that he, at best, relied on a mistranslation of the Hebrew by others rather than going back to the original source (the mistranslation saying the exact opposite of the original writing’s “We do not want and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places”).
With regard to the rest of the quote, the ethics committee at Pappe’s University of Exeter determined that this was a “fair and accurate paraphrase” of sources relied upon by Pappe (without specifying the sources), but was mistakenly put in quotes.
This raises the obvious question of how this could be a fair and accurate paraphrase if the first part of the quotation was incorrect.  On that point, the ethics committee apparently concluded that the fact that others incorrectly “translated” the first part of the quotation even more egregiously exonerates Pappe.
I wasn’t aware of this controversy previously, and I haven’t gone back to the original Hebrew sources.  But if the linked-to piece is correct, it looks like Pappe took a bogus English translation of a Ben-Gurion quote that had been repeated by others, then “paraphrased” some other material that he nevertheless put into quotation marks, and combined them into a quotation falsely suggesting that Ben-Gurion had a longstanding to expel the Arabs of Palestine.
In fairness to Pappe, in the editing process things like this can happen inadvertently, and can especially happen if the mistake creates a quotation that seems perfectly sensible to the author based on his ideology–one is much less likely to carefully check a quotation that “sounds right” than one that doesn’t.  But it certainly doesn’t help Pappe’s case that he attributes the difficulty this has caused him not to his own errors, but to the machinations of “Zionist hooligans,” [UPDATE: fwiw, an old Soviet propaganda term used to denounce American Soviet Jewry activists as well as Israelis] which hardly makes him sound like an objective scholar pursuing the truth.

Pappé publicly supported an M.A. thesis by Haifa University student Teddy Katz, which was approved with highest honors, that claimed Israel had committed a massacre in the Palestinian village of Al-Tantura during the war in 1948, based upon interviews Arab residents of the village and Israeli veteran of the operation. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian historians had previously recorded any such incident. Meyrav Wurmser describes it as a “made-up massacre,” but according to Pappé “In fact the story of Tantura had already been told before, as early as 1950 . . . It appears in the memoirs of a Haifa notable, Muhammad Nimr al-Khatib, who, a few days after the battle, recorded the testimony of a Palestinian.”  In December 2000, Katz was sued for libel by veterans of the Alexandroni Brigade and after the testimony was heard, he retracted his allegations about the massacre. Twelve hours later, he retracted his retraction.

The Economics of Settlement

June 20, 2011

In the mid-19th century, before the arrival of the first groups of Jewish settlers fleeing pogroms in Russia, Arabs living in what became the mandate territory of Palestine — now Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza — numbered between 200,000 and 300,000. Their population density and longevity resembled today’s conditions in parched and depopulated Saharan Chad. Although Worldwatch might prefer to see the Middle East returned to these more earth-friendly, organic, and sustainable demographics, the fact that some 5.5 million Arabs now live in the former British Mandate, with a life expectancy of more than 70 years, is mainly attributable, for better or worse, to the work of those Jewish settlers.

…Jordan. A country almost four times larger than Palestine (including Sinai), Jordan partakes of the same mountain fold of mesozoic limestone, the same rich river plains, the same Rift Valley and highlands, the same mineral resources, the same climate, and a several times larger population in ancient times. But at the time of Lowdermilk’s visit, its agricultural output and per capita consumption of imports was one-fifth that of Palestine and its population density was one-tenth Palestine’s.

…Lowdermilk summed it up: “Rural Palestine is becoming less and less like Trans Jordan, Syria and Iraq and more like Denmark, Holland, and parts of the United States [Southern California].”
…Raja Khalidi’s entire argument itself suffers from a huge gap — namely, the absence of evidence that Arabs anywhere in the world outside of the United States have performed as well economically as have Arabs in Israel. The average Arab annual per capita income in Israel is $600 per month (i.e., an annual household income of $14,400 for a family of four). This compares with an average annual income of $9,400 for a family of four in sparsely populated Jordan, which roughly matches the average across the Arab world. Moreover, while Palestinians in the disputed territories have undergone a catastrophic 40 percent drop in income since the PLO’s resurgence, the income gap between Israel’s Palestinian Arab population and Jewish population has, in fact, been declining.
Any income gap between the Jewish and Arab populations of Israel is clearly attributable to the prowess of Jewish entrepreneurs and other professionals, whose excellence produces similar gaps in every free country on earth with significant numbers of Jews. Jews, for example, outearn other Caucasians in the United States by an even larger margin than they outearn Arabs in Israel. This probably reflects the fact that the United States, until recently, had a freer economy, by most standards, than Israel.

….As George Will acerbically noted in a particularly brilliant column, “Turkey was claiming to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, a land with higher incomes and longevity than Turkey itself.” via spectator.org