The truth about Israel is being progressively distorted – indeed, poisoned – in academia. PhD students are being supervised by anti-Israel Professors and are then taking up tenured positions. The anti-Israel academics referee each other’s grant applications and graduate students’ PhDs. Thus Quatermass-like, the virus mutates and spreads via these clones produced eg by SOAS, Exeter and Warwick. Let’s call them HICs – ‘Hate Israel Clones’.
Last month there was an event at Warwick where Israel was accused of eugenics. A HIC – Dr Siggie Vertommen (a Research Fellow at KCL who got her PhD at Ghent) – accused Israel of discriminating in fertility treatments between Jews and others, in order to boost the proportion of Jews in the population. I submitted an FOI to Warwick asking for ‘all the documents relating to the arranging of this event’. In gaining permission to hold the event, the sponsors (‘Warwick for Justice in Palestine’ and the ‘Centre for the Study of Women and Gender’ – names are redacted in the FOI response) said ‘The speaker has not attracted any controversy. She will be presenting Marie Curie funded research.’
WHAT? The accusation that the Israeli government practises Nazi-style eugenics does not attract controversy? An obviously outrageous and false statement.
Yet more …. “Marie Curie funded”: You would think that is the Marie Curie charity which helps people with terminal illness, wouldn’t you …. clearly that is the impression that the sponsor intended to convey to the Warwick University authorities: ‘Vertommen is funded by this worthy charity – so she must be OK.’
The only problem of course is that Vertommen’s funding is unrelated to this charity. The CEO of Marie Curie explained it to me: ‘The Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship is a longstanding fellowship scheme funded by the European Commission. It supports the exchange of skills across Europe by funding international fellowships for researchers to work in another country of the EU.’
On Wednesday evening I attended a book launch by another HIC, Dr James Eastwood. He got his PhD at SOAS, supervised by Professor Laleh Khalili who supports an academic boycott of Israel.
Now he is a Lecturer at QMU.
Unfortunately I was delayed and missed the first 20 minutes of the talk. Eastwood has form. He was the academic who alleged (at conferences at both Sussex and Warwick) that a Mizrachi woman dressing up her grandson for Purim was in fact an Ashkenazi woman practising racism.
Eastwood showed a couple of film clips which he said were shown to high school students in Israel in pre-military academies. The first was from the film ‘To See If I’m Smiling’, the second (he said it was made by Breaking the Silence) a video of an incident at Hawara checkpoint where a soldier punches a Palestinan – he later says ‘by mistake’. (What he did not tell us was that the video is 14 years old).
Eastwood’s somewhat trite argument was that an army cannot behave ‘ethically’ – however much ethical training there is – if they are pursuing an unethical political objective. Of course he assumes it’s a given that Israel is NOT pursuing an ethical objective – predictably he descended into mindless HIC slanderous clichés, accusing Israel of “patriarchal and racist social relations” and “above all, settler colonialism”.
In the Q+A I asked Eastwood about the allegation he made at Warwick (see above – repeated at Sussex). He said he had been to Warwick again and had apologised there for his error.
After the Q+A there were drinks and crisps and a book sale (£50 down from the £75 that Amazon is charging!). So I went to speak to Eastwood. I asked him what is the purpose of the checkpoints (since he hadn’t said anything in the talk, nor had he said that the IDF is fighting genocidal terrorists). His response was “to control Palestinian movement”. When I expressed incredulity, suggesting that their purpose might just be to save life by stopping suicide bombers, all he could say was “I understand the position you are putting forward” followed by “I don’t really see the point of continuing this conversation”. I also asked him if he spoke Hebrew. “Yes” he answered . But David Collier’s earlier report suggests that the truth is different:
‘At one point, someone asked Eastwood to translate ‘back into Hebrew’ a specific word. Eastwood was unable. At the break I asked James if he speaks Hebrew. He ‘gets by’. I point out that must be an enormous impediment to conducting this type of research. He says he cannot scan, nor is he comfortable reading Hebrew newspapers.’
At that point the young American woman who had been chairing the meeting (she could have been Jewish and was obviously anti-Israel) decided that Eastwood couldn’t handle difficult questions and she called in the security (who had been hovering outside) and two of us (the other was Thor Halland) were asked to leave. Not for heckling. Not for intimidating. But asked to leave for the crime of asking the speaker questions which exposed his obvious bias.
So far from being an institution which encourages free speech and evidence-seeking, you will be thrown out of Queen Mary University in London if you dare to challenge a biased Israel Hater……………
Beware of the HICs!