November 27, 2012
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Message from the Editor
During the Blitz, in February 1941, George Orwell published the following thoughts in his essay, "England Your England":
As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.
They do not feel any enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are 'only doing their duty', as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me to pieces with a well-placed bomb, he will never sleep any worse for it. He is serving his country, which has the power to absolve him of evil.
It was not the first time that I had the opportunity to appreciate exactly what George Orwell meant. On November 16, just after my wife lit the Sabbath candles, we shared this experience, and again at lunchtime on Tuesday, November 20. The second time, our four-year old granddaughter was our guest. Children, by the way, do not take such things well. In both cases, we did not run but deliberately moved to an inner room in our flat. During a rocket attack, it is a great advantage to be indoors.
While such events may happen occasionally in urban centers such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, further south they can go on hundreds of times, and the cumulative impact of this experience is the disruption of normal life, collective and individual trauma, not to mention serious material loss. When the siren goes off and missiles fall by the hundred, life becomes a blur, and to the extent that it is possible, one may catch one's breath only between missile attacks. This is a disorienting experience in all respects.
From my own personal circle of friends, I know that life was much less agreeable for those who live in the south. My copy-editor, -- not for the Faculty Forum, -- who lives in Beer Sheva with his significant other, takes shelter in his stairwell. My first cousin, who also lives in Beer Sheva, has a reinforced room, but he was really shaken up. He sent me a photo of seven small puffs of smoke in the sky which indicates that the Iron Dome rockets knocked down a volley of incoming missiles. The puffs, he explained, were exactly above his head.
After the siren, one waits a fixed amount of time. If there is no boom, then the rocket landed far away. During the Gulf War, the delay between the siren and the boom was about five minutes. With short-range missiles, this margin can be reduced to thirty seconds, or less.
The home front was a real front in this war, because the enemy targets civilians with the intention of murdering them, demoralizing them, and making normal life impossible. For the enemy, civilians are a legitimate target for missiles and suicide bombers, and stabbing. Whether Orwell's terms, "civilized human beings," or "kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life," apply to this enemy is something that the reader may decide.
One of the maxims of Francois de la Rochefoucauld, the seventeenth-century moraliste and keen observer of human behavior, was that one cannot fix one's gaze either at the sun or death, Le soleil ni la mort ne peuvent se regarder fixement. He may have overlooked something. It seems that men cannot come to terms with profound, murderous and vengeful hatred. In an age when cultural relativism has become a dominant politically correct value, there is a rejection of the evaluation of the cultural differences between societies. Such differences must be faced squarely because they do matter and directly bear on a society's development and economic progress (See the Introduction to Laurence E. Harrison and Samuel Samuel P. Huntington, eds. Culture Matters [New York, 2000]).
Diplomacy and world public opinion comprise another front in this war, the political dimension, and a challenge which for many years the leadership of Israel did not quite understand. This time, Israel's leaders achieved considerable success, winning expressions of public support from the American administration and of several leading European states, affirming the country's right to defend itself and safeguard the safety of its citizens. Nevertheless, without a decisive outcome, the current situation remains inconclusive. While Israel did much better in the most recent operation, "Pillar of Defense," few people believe that this will be the final chapter of the ongoing conflict and that peace is in prospect.
We are glad to include in the present issue of the Faculty Forum a particularly valuable perspective piece, "Another round in the 100 year war," which Emeritus Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yehoshua Porath, published in 2005. It is noteworthy that this forceful piece has stood the test of time and proved to be remarkably accurate. An analysis of this nature reflects independent thought and enables us to develop some measure of historical perspective.
The present issue of the Faculty Forum includes a number of original book reviews and updates from the world press. This selection reflects SPME's continued commitment to freedom of thought, tolerance on campus and in the academic discourse.
Editor SPME Faculty Forum
Background to the News
By: Yehoshua Porath, Bitterlemons
November 27, 2012
Few situations in human history can be defined in clear-cut terms as victory or defeat. Even wars that are ended by crushing military defeats and the unconditional surrender of one side do not necessarily constitute political or economic victory for the other. Victory and defeat are very relative terms. Further, they are concepts applicable only to the end of wars. One should be very...
By: Asaf Romirowsky, PhD & Alex Joffe, PhD, Forbes
November 23, 2012
As Operation Pillar of Defense continues to escalate we have now witnessed a potential game-changer in Hamas's methods. After years of pounding southern Israel, for the first time, Hamas rockets are now aimed at Jerusalem and its surrounding neighborhoods. This begs the question, just how holy is Jerusalem to the Islamic faith? Sunni groups like Hamas, the Al-Aqsa Martyr...
By: Richard Landes , PJ Media
November 18, 2012
Here's a classic. Let's start with the ghoulish display of sorrow over the body of a dead boy, allegedly killed by Israeli bombing. It's aimed right at the heart of someone like Annie Lennox who, upon seeing bombs falling on Gaza, immediately imagines Palestinian babies on the receiving end, rather than Hamas militants targeting Israeli babies. And, of course, the news media snatch up...
By: Ben Cohen, Commentary
November 1, 2012
I first met Ronnie Fraser, an unassuming lecturer in mathematics at one of London's further education colleges, in 2002. Sitting at a table in a small central London cafe, Ronnie barely sipped the cappuccino in front of him as he laid out for me, in urgent tones, the growing support among British academics for a boycott of their Israeli colleagues, along with the vicious strain of...
By: Miriam Shaviv, Times of Israel
November 1, 2012
LONDON — A British college lecturer broke down in tears in court on Wednesday while explaining why he had remained a member of the academics' trade union despite feeling that it was institutionally anti-Semitic. "I continued to put up with hurt and humiliation because my parents were refugees from the Holocaust," said Ronnie Fraser, a freelance mathematics lecturer. "My...
By: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post
October 29, 2012
In 1925 Adolph Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that Jews must always be judged first by their ethnoreligious identity; "when talking French his [the Jews'] thoughts are Jewish and when writing German rhymes he only gives expression to the character of his own race." In 2012 Columbia University Associate Professor Joseph Massad wrote an op-ed for Al-Jazeera about the television show and CIA...
By: Deborah Lipstadt , Forward
October 17, 2012
I am sorry. We are sorry." It was with those unscripted two sentences uttered in front of a standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 people that Emory University's president, James Wagner, gave voice to a great wrong. But first some background. From 1948 to 1961, the university's dean, John Buhler, led Emory's dental school. . Every year, a small number of young Jewish men would be...
By: Jessica Ravitz, CNN
October 13, 2012
Atlanta (CNN) – Sixteen years after Susan Shulman Tessel lost her father, she sat on a Southern college campus Wednesday night and couldn't stop thinking about him. Surrounded by hundreds in a packed ballroom, she cried because he was missing. He should have been there with her and her mother. He deserved to be. The late Irving Shulman was the only Jewish man to enter Emory...
By: Samuel Freedman, New York Times
October 6, 2012
Early in the summer of 1952, after his first year of dental school at Emory University in Atlanta, Perry Brickman received a letter from the dean. It informed him that he had flunked out. Mr. Brickman was mystified. He had been a B-plus student in biology as an Emory undergraduate and had earned early admission to dental school. He had never failed a course in his life. Over the...
News and Analysis
By: Gil Troy , Times of Israel
November 25, 2012
The angry brouhaha between Daniel Gordis, Sharon Brous,David Myers and Adam Bronfman, pivots on a sensitive subject: while defending Israel, how do Jews relate to Palestinians, in whose name our people are being terrorized and delegitimized, maimed and murdered? I only know Gordis, but I feel everyone's anguish. Perhaps the American statesman Daniel Patrick Moynihan's...
By: Michael Oren, New York Times
November 20, 2012
CRITICS of Israel's campaign to defend millions of its citizens from deadly Hamas rocket fire claim that it lacks a clear objective. Israel has bombed Gaza in the past, they argue, and received only rockets in return. Is there any logic, much less an end, to the cycle of violence? Can it lead to negotiations and peace? Such questions can be answered only by going back to the origin of the...
By: Saul Singer, Wall Street Journal
November 16, 2012
One of the more chilling yet routine phrases used to describe the fighting between Israel and Hamas in recent days is "the current round." As in: "We don't expect many more missiles to hit Tel Aviv during the current round." The term treats warfare like a hurricane—randomly arriving, taking its toll, then departing, but leavingbehind the expectation that...
Keeping Track of the Other Side
By: UN Watch, UN Watch
November 20, 2012
GENEVA, Nov. 22 -- Although this past week saw U.N. agencies and high officials rushing to intervene the moment Israel began to defend its civilian population from hundreds of Hamas rocket attacks, letters published by UN Watch show that the same U.N. actors repeatedly turned a blind eye while Israel pleaded for action. Russian ambaasador Vitaly Churkin, who for nearly two years...
By: Barry Rubin , PJ Media
November 23, 2012
The French press agency headline says it all: "Egypt's [President] Morsi assumes sweeping powers, branded new pharaoh." Mursi has issued a decree giving himself virtually dictatorial powers and contradicting the assumption that he—and his Muslim Brotherhood organization—intend to rule democratically. Opposition forces said this constituted a coup. Mursi's spokesman explained the...
From Our Members
By: Laurence Weinbaum, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)
November 25, 2012
Laying the Foundations for Holocaust Research: The Impact of the Historian Philip Friedman, Search and Research – Lectures and Papers 15, by Roni Stauber, Yad Vashem, 2009, 60 pp. I was a child, not quite ten, rummaging through a bookcase in my grandparents' house when I came across Martyrs and Fighters. It was on the cover of that dog-eared 1962 paperback, its faded pages brittle to the...
By: Joseph S. Spoerl, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)
November 12, 2012
Thomas A. Baima, editor, A Legacy of Catholic-Jewish Dialogue: The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Lectures. Chicago: Archdiocese of Chicago - Liturgy Training Publications, 2012. xxvi + 212 pages. Except for its preface and afterword, this book consists of the texts of lectures in a ten-year series initiated by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin...
By: Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)
November 6, 2012
Yosef Govrin. Published by Vallentine Mitchell, 2011. $75 pp. 332 What a day in history it was, that Saturday, June 10, 1967. It was a frightful scene, as if the mob would break into the courtyard at any moment and the embassy itself. It lasted for hours, wrote Yosef Govrin, as the outraged Soviets departed. In the last five days Israel had defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria and...
New Ideas and Interpretations
By: Daniel Pipes , The Dorchester Review
November 27, 2012
Those concerned with the security and welfare of the Jewish state keep asking questions like "Is Israel Doomed?" and Will Israel Survive? (also in French, Israël peut-il survivre?). One even titled a bookThe Late Great State of Israel. This gloom results from the unique barrage of threats facing the Jewish state. These include weapons of mass destruction,...
By: Abdulateef al-Mulhim, Arab News
October 6, 2012
Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, in 1948 and 1967. The 1967 War lasted only six days. But, these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations. From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them...
Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS)
By: Richard L. Cravatts , Right Side News
November 19, 2012
Seeming to give credence to Orwell's observation that some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals (or at least Harvard graduates) believe them, Sara el-Yafi, a Lebanese graduate of Harvard, posted an October 28th protest on her Facebook page to the university of descriptions of various foods appearing on the menu of the Israeli Mezze Station at Harvard Business School's dining room....
By: Douglas Murray, Gatestone Institute
November 12, 2012
There are a lot of Nazi caparisons being thrown around these days. Where might they be most accurately directed? Toward the State of Israel? Or against the growing number of people who believe that it is permissible to boycott any herb, any product or indeed any tune if it comes from the hand or the heart of a Jew? I am happy to say that Britain still has some exports. Sad to say, they...
Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism
By: David Newman, Jerusalem Post
November 26, 2012
Ronnie Fraser is a brave man. The manager of the Academic Friends of Israel website for many years, he has now, almost single- handedly, stood up to what he sees as institutional anti-Semitism within the Universities and Colleges Union in the UK. Last week, he brought the case to an Employment Tribunal. Represented by leading lawyer Anthony Julius, who had previously represented Deborah Lipstatdt...
By: Michel Gurfinkiel, PJ Media
November 15, 2012
There is something intriguing about François Hollande, the socialist president of France. Many of his policies boil down to sheer liberal mantras in the style of Paul Krugman or the New York Review of Books. He indulges in overtaxation, big government, inflated social programs, and such cultural demagoguery as compulsory gender parity, gay marriage, and electoral franchise for...
November 8, 2012
Ronnie Fraser, a maths teacher, claims the University and College Union had repeatedly singled out Israel for condemnation at its annual conferences and created an intolerant environment in which "it is no longer tenable to be a Jew in UCU". Mr Fraser claims the UCU's vote last year to reject the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia's (EUMC) definition of...
By: Colin Shindler, New York Times
October 27, 2012
LAST week, Twitter shut down a popular account for posting anti-Semitic messages in France. This came soon after the firing of blanks at a synagogue near Paris, the discovery of a network of radical Islamists who had thrown a hand grenade into a kosher restaurant, and the killing of a teacher and young pupils at a Jewish school in Strasbourg earlier this year. The attacks were...
Conferences and Events
News and Recaps
November 15, 2012
Dr. Asaf Romirowsky (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East) Dr. Robert Satloff (Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Mr. Lee Smith (Foundation for Defense of Democracies) Mr. Eric Trager (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)