Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 25, 2014

U. of Illinois: caught with its pants down

Filed under: Academia,repression,Steven Salaita,Uncategorized,zionism — louisproyect @ 12:40 pm

August 20, 2014

Wiesel, weaponized

Filed under: zionism — louisproyect @ 2:54 pm

By Eli Valley

Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel published a new ad campaign in major newspapers across the U.S., in which he claims that the war between Gaza and Israel is a battle between “those who celebrate life and those who champion death,” and refers to “child sacrifice” and “worshippers of death cults.”

Eli.Valley.Wiesel.Weaponized

August 19, 2014

The scum that rises around the Steven Salaita firing

Filed under: Academia,repression,Steven Salaita,zionism — louisproyect @ 9:06 pm

Having worked at Columbia University for 21 years I developed a real animosity toward the individuals and organizations trying to pressure my employer into silencing or firing pro-Palestinian professors. The first to come under fire was Edward Said. After him came the people in the MEALAC Department that he helped make famous: Joseph Massad, Hamid Dabashi and Rashid Khalidi. Barnard had the same problems. An online petition to deny Nadia Abu El Haj tenure went up after she wrote a book demonstrating how Israeli archaeologists helped to shore up the nation’s racial exclusiveness.

Although there are many reasons to dislike the presidents of Columbia University and Barnard, their commitment to academic freedom is second to none. When Edward Said became target of the Israel lobby for throwing rocks at an IDF watchtower, Lee Bollinger said that this was his protected free speech right. Imagine that! Using actual physical violence rather than offensive tweets was still not enough to get him fired.

Columbia University, I should add, was also very principled when it came to “back office” nobodies like me. On three different occasions assholes contacted the university for things that I said on the Internet that made Steven Salaita’s tweets look like Hallmark Greeting cards by comparison. And each time there was never any question about being disciplined, let alone fired. On one occasion the ombudsman told me that it would be a good idea to get a non-Columbia email account if I wanted to be a flame-thrower (my word, not hers). That’s how I ended up as lnp3 at panix.com

In some ways, the people who are open supporters of Israel like Cary Nelson don’t get me as worked up as those who pretend to be neutral observers. These individuals are the real scum, writing newspaper articles or blog posts taking the administration’s side while trying to conceal their obvious bias. Each day as I check to see if there’s anything new about Salaita on Google, I continue to be struck by the gall of the commentators who are trying to drive the shiv into his back. (As opposed to his tweet about driving a shiv into Jeffrey Goldberg’s article.)

Let me share with you what I have seen, in chronological order. You may want to put on a surgical mask to block the bacteria that floats from the people under inspection, especially from the lawyers (you know what Shakespeare said about them.)

Steven Lubet

This Northwestern law professor wrote an article titled “Professor’s tweets about Israel crossed the line” that appeared in the August 14th Chicago Tribune. Lubet says that his tweets should not be an obstacle to his being hired at the U. of Illinois but uses his article mostly to libel Salaita as calling for Jeffrey Goldberg to be knifed when he was referring to an article he had written, etc. Lubet, like Nelson, affects a “free speech” posture saying “I worked with the American Civil Liberties Union on the Nazis-in-Skokie case in the 1970s, and I would gladly do so again.” Right. Love me, I am a liberal.

As it turns out, Lubet did have a dog in this race. He is a founding member of “The Third Narrative”, a group that represents itself as being for a two-state solution but adds that “We reject all attempts to undermine or diminish academic freedom and open intellectual exchange, including those cases associated with the Israel-Palestine debate.” Other founding members include Eric Alterman, Michael Walzer, Todd Gitlin and –you guessed it—Cary Nelson.

In his brilliant exposé of Cary Nelson, Phan Nguyen delivered the goods on “The Third Narrative”:

Although ostensibly described as taking a middle ground between “two competing narratives on the Middle East—Israeli and Palestinian,” TTN was launched a year ago and designed to “counter anti-Israel bias on the far left.” Thus TTN is geared primarily toward attacking the pro-BDS left and rarely critiques the pro-Israeli right. TTN even distributes a booklet called “Progressive Answers To The Far Left’s Critiques of Israel.”

This is a common anti-BDS tactic that I discuss elsewhere, where the goal is to drive “a wedge between progressive values and the BDS movement,” in the words of a guidebook from the Israel Action Network (another organization that Nelson has worked with).

Jonathan Adler

On August 17th Adler, the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve, referred readers to the arguments of Hoffman, the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School, on why the administration was in its right in “rescinding” its offer to Salaita, couched entirely in contract law minutiae. He cited the bottom line of Hoffman’s findings:

Why am I so skeptical when Mike Dorf is not? I think it’s largely because I’ve read alot of promissory estoppel cases, and a lot of promissory estoppel articles. And the consensus is that over the last generation, promissory estoppel has waned as a theory of recovery. As Bob Hillman famously concluded, it’s a “remarkably unsuccessful” cause of action, which, in my experience, is brought largely in weak cases as a last-ditch shot to push through to discovery and thus motivate settlement. I think that most contracts professors spend time on the doctrine these days largely because it’s so darn fun — the facts are wonderful! — but not because it’s a regular part of the business lawyer’s arsenal. Promissory estoppel cases are losers. This case would be a loser.

It turns out that Adler is a regular contributor to The Volokh Conspiracy, a website that migrated to the Washington Post in January 2014. Hence Adler’s appearance there. Here’s what MediaMatters  says about the marriage made in hell:

On January 21, The Washington Post announced that it had entered into a partnership with The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog that has operated since 2002 and largely focuses on legal issues but has strayed into other areas, including climate denialism. The Post praised the blog in its announcement of the agreement, calling it a “must-read source [that] will be a great addition to the Post’s coverage of law, politics and policy.” In his first official post, the blog’s founder, Eugene Volokh, revealed that the Post granted him “full editorial control.”

The move was celebrated by right-wing media outlets such as the American Spectator, which praised Washington Post owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for highlighting a blog that provides legal commentary “from a [generally] libertarian or conservative perspective,” writing, “Perhaps it should stand to reason that a man who made a fortune offering people choices, should offer the same alternatives to his readership. What a novel concept in today’s news atmosphere.” TownHall editor Conn Carroll cited the acquisition as evidence that Bezos was “clearly moving” the Post “in a libertarian direction.”

So you might say that Steven Salaita’s firing is being defended in a newspaper funded by your Amazon.com purchases. The bastards have us coming and going.

Joyce Tolliver and Nick Burbules

These are a couple of U. of Illinois professors who have defended Salaita’s firing in the News-Gazette, a local paper that has been in the forefront of the witch-hunt. They write:

The other questionable assumption of the current debate is that the university’s action violates Salaita’s academic freedom. But the principle of academic freedom is not an absolute, open-ended license; the AAUP’s own statement on principles of academic freedom emphasizes that faculty are also bound by the standards of professional ethics: “As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, (and) should show respect for the opinions of others ….” Salaita’s comments raise legitimate questions about the limits of academic freedom.

So, who the hell are these people, you might ask. Well, to give you an idea of how committed they are to the rights of professors versus an obviously capricious administration, they are the people behind the “No Faculty Union at Illinois” website. A Wikipedia entry on Burbules states:

Professor Burbules has led the fight to prevent unionization of faculty (including non-tenure track faculty) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Burbules co-authored a 2014 open letter opposing faculty unionization; the letter rejected in principle the notion of fair share, that those workers who receive the benefits of a democratically created and elected trade union ought to pay their fair share of the union’s expenses. Without some semblance of fair share, no union can survive—workers will become free riders and take the benefits without paying for them, as the union gradually loses its leverage for lack of voluntary contributions, and eventually collapses.

Just the kind of people to be relied upon when a witch-hunt is brewing–if you are the administration trying to get rid of trouble-makers.

Spiked Online

This is the electronic magazine of a group of people in Britain that emerged out of the Trotskyist movement in the 1970s. Originally known as the Revolutionary Communist Party, they put out a print magazine titled Living Marxism that took ultra-contrarian positions on a number of questions. For example, they wrote in favor of fox-hunting, smoking cigarettes in restaurants, nuclear power, and GMO crops—all in the name of Karl Marx.

In the 1990s, they morphed into Spiked Online after dropping the Marxism thing. They did hold on to the contrarianism, however, as this assault on Steven Salaita should bear out:

If Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anyone be surprised #Gaza.’

This ugly, anti-Semitic tweet is just one in a long line sent by the American academic and pro-Palestinian activist, Steven Salaita. His response to the kidnapping in June of three Israeli teenagers was typically forthright: ‘You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the fucking West Bank settlers would go missing.’ More recently he informed his Twitter followers: ‘Zionists: transforming “anti-Semitism” from something horrible into something honourable since 1948.’

Salaita is one of the contributors to The Imperial University, a book which makes a consistent case for BDS and the censoring of all connections with Israeli universities, which I reviewed in this month’s spiked review of books. The various authors argue that academic freedom, an overrated concept, is a mere tool employed by the liberal elite to patronise and neuter voices of dissent within the academy. How ironic, then, that Salaita, a man all too happy to ride roughshod over the academic freedom of Israeli lecturers and researchers, should be outraged when his own academic freedom is threatened.

This is even more noxious than anything that rolled off of Cary Nelson’s tongue. The article was written by one Joanna Williams, the author of “Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought.” She has also written articles denying that rape is a problem in British universities and affirming that the pay gap between men and women is ancient history.

You can’t make this shit up.

August 18, 2014

How I became a self-hating Jew

Filed under: zionism — louisproyect @ 7:56 pm

French anti-Semitism: important resources from Lenin’s Tomb

Filed under: anti-Semitism,Fascism,France,zionism — louisproyect @ 6:15 pm

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 2.09.23 PM

On July 25th I wrote an article titled “The anti-Semitism Canard” that took aim at the smears directed against the pro-Palestinian protests in Europe. The gist of my analysis was that an amalgam of long standing between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism formed the foundation of the pro-Zionist attacks.

But one comment on my article caught my eye:

here too it’s worth considering this investigative report. According to Edwy Plenel’s online paper Mediapart, hooligans and skinheads partial to the call of Dieudonné are systematically infiltrating the Gaza protests in France. the reemergence of european antisemitism is not a canard, rather a self-fulfilling prophecy brought about by zionist intransigence and the genocidal acts perpetrated by the idf.

http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/290714/comment-la-galaxie-dieudonne-squatte-les-manifs-propalestinienne

I was frustrated in my attempt to read the article, not just because it was written in French but also because it was behind a paywall. Fortunately, there have been some very important articles investigating the Dieudonné connection that have appeared on Lenin’s Tomb that are essential for understanding the challenges facing the Palestinian solidarity movement in France and anywhere else where anti-Semitism is interjected. I don’t think that anti-Semitism poses any serious threat to Jews anywhere in Europe on the scale of the 1930s but the ability of backward elements either consciously or unconsciously serving the propaganda aims of the Zionists must be thwarted since the ultimate victims will be Palestinians rather than Jews. Every article smearing the mass movement on the basis of slogans shouted on demonstrations such as “kill the Jews” will help allow the next attack on Gaza or the West Bank to proceed with greater impunity.

I don’t find anything funny about the “comedian” Dieudonné. In January I responded to Diana Johnstone who had made the case for him as a satirist on France’s well-documented support for Israel’s crimes on the basis of its “victimization” by the Third Reich. I use scare quotes around victimization not to question whether six million Jews were murdered but to call attention to Israel’s exploitation of the holocaust to justify its own Third Reich type behavior. That being said, no quarter should be given to Dieudonné whose amalgamation of Judaism and Zionism is virtually identical to Abe Foxman and Alan Dershowitz’s. I wrote:

I really wonder what went through Dieudonné’s mind when he decided that Jean-Marie Le Pen was just the right person to be his kid’s godfather. After the French banlieue riots, he had this to say: “Many live by dealing in drugs, or stealing. They have created their own ghettos. We have places where there are no schools, because they have set them afire and the police and firemen are attacked when they go there. Civilization is slowly evaporating from this country.”

I could be wrong but Dieudonné strikes me as the French version of Clarence Thomas or Roy Innis, the former civil rights leader who found it to his advantage to hook up with the Republican Party right. It is a bit harder to place Dieudonné politically on the French spectrum since he tends to be coy about what he stands for, but if you think that he is on the left, then you really have no idea what the left is about.

There are three articles on Lenin’s Tomb that are crucial for understanding the ultraright penetration of the pro-Palestinian movement. The first is “How Dieudonné’s Followers Hijack the Gaza Protests” that appeared in the MediaPart website I mentioned above. The article highlights the role of some other unsavory characters on the right, including Alain Soral who I also looked at in my rebuttal to Diana Johnstone.

Fortunately we have an English language version of the article retrieved from behind the paywall. The article calls attention to a group known as “Gaza Firm” that takes its cues from Dieudonné and company:

Although these infiltrators from the extreme right are very much in the minority at pro-Palestinian events, the protest on Saturday, July 26, organized in solidarity with the people of Gaza, was fraught with strong internal tensions. Part of the procession seemed to have been overrun with radical elements. Some of these protesters from the extreme right have united in a small cell known as “Gaza Firm.” They are unrelated to traditional pro-Palestinian groups and come to protests primarily to fight in the streets with the Jewish Defense League. But who pulls the strings of this operation?

Perhaps the article is not clear enough when it refers to “radical elements”—it is referring to ultrarightists with connections to soccer clubs, etc.

Essentially, they are extreme fans (ultras) of the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) soccer club, former members of the “K-soce team” associated with the Auteuil and Karsud factions of fans, with ties to the radical fringe associated with the Boulogne bleachers. Besides, according to an expert in this milieu, the reference to the culture of soccer fans is transparent, “since the word ‘firm’ in this context is a codeword among extreme soccer hooligans which brings to mind the Inter City Firm,” the first group of English soccer hooligans.

So you get the idea. This outfit sends 30 or 40 of its members to a mass protest against Israeli brutality in order to fight with the Jewish Defense League, just as if it were a rival soccer fan club. The resulting publicity is exactly what the Zionists seek, namely to smear the protests as anti-Semitic especially when the Gaza Firm people yell things like “kill the Jews” when they are brawling in the streets.

Whenever I run into actions such as this that function to undermine the mass movement, I conclude that it makes little difference whether they are the result of agent provocateurs or the stupidity of those carrying them out. There is no question in my mind that the cops and the Zionists need the Gaza Firm to help tarnish the real opposition. If some Arab joins their ranks because he is a Dieudonné fan who is genuinely enraged by the attack on Gaza, it makes little difference. His actions only serves to legitimate further attacks by turning the victim into a criminal.

With all proportions guarded, Gaza Firm operates after the fashion of the Black Bloc that puts its own testosterone-laden imperatives over those of the majority. Mass demonstrations, especially those organized around issues not yet embraced by the overwhelming majority such as the case of Palestine, have to present a serious and disciplined image to the rest of society. Anything that cuts against that goal is counter-revolutionary. Period.

Richard also made available two articles that appeared originally on Le Monde Diplomatique. The first is titled “France, Racism is Indivisible” and is written by Dominque Vidal. I found it very useful since it helped me understand that anti-Semitism is on the rise in France even if a Kristallnacht is not in the offing. Violent attacks are on the upswing as the article documents but unfortunately appear to be inspired by young and disaffected Muslim identification with the Palestinians:

Who attacked Jewish schools and synagogues, as well as individual Jews? The CNCDH report quotes the police intelligence service view that the second intifada and consequent repression have “led many young people to identify openly with the Palestinian fighters, who are seen as symbolising the same exclusion which they consider themselves to suffer in France”.

So France is facing neither Alain Finkielkraut’s threatened Kristallnacht nor the “new Judaeophobia” denounced by Pierre-André Taguieff (21), but is confronted with the rising tide of social violence diagnosed by Théo Klein. Its breeding grounds are the miserable ghettoes of the unemployed, where entire sections of French youth, especially those of immigrant origin, vegetate without hope for the future. Racism and anti-semitism, especially its violent expression, must be fought there as in the rest of French society. But the problem must also be tackled at its roots, which is why it is important to have an alliance between traditional democratic forces, alternative-world activists and the autonomous movements of the young in disadvantaged suburbs.

The other article that is a must-read is titled “The online politics of Alain Soral”, written by Evelyne Pieiller. Soral is described in the subhead as ‘Leftwing on labour but rightwing values’. It starts off:

Visitors to Alain Soral’s Egalité et Réconciliation (Equality and Reconciliation, E & R) website see pictures of Hugo Chávez, Che Guevara, Muammar Gaddafi, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin on the left of the masthead. Joan of Arc and Soral are on the right. The site, with its motto “leftwing on labour, but rightwing values”, is France’s 269th most popular, a few places behind the TV magazine Télérama.

The juxtaposition of Guevara and Putin, of Chávez and rightwing values is a sign of the confused political times. The big questions are, who stands for what and what does it mean to be on the right or left?

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 3.06.17 PMAlain Soral website

That, of course, is consistent with the developing trend in Europe that unites Putin with Le Pen’s party in France, Jobbik in Hungary, and the Golden Dawn in Greece. All these groups are united in the belief that the EU is designed to ruin the working and middle classes, as well as a call for “traditional values” on homosexuality and the precious bodily fluids of the Nation, as General Jack D. Ripper put it in “Doctor Strangelove”.

What Soral amounts to is the French equivalent of the “right-left” alliance that people like John V. Walsh have been calling for in the USA. Pieiller writes:

His talks appeal to key emotions and ideas: a feeling of powerlessness about globalisation and France’s loss of autonomy under EU law; worries about economic and social decline; the malaise caused by modernity; the difficulty of conceiving a different future. He highlights the need to fight globalism, as “an ideological project that aims to create a global government and dissolve nation states on the pretext of universal peace; this will be achieved through the complete commodification of humanity” (3). To Soral globalism means “oligarchic domination”, which disregards popular sovereignty and underpins the myth of market omnipotence, “as though that were not a political phenomenon, created by power and class relations”. The granting of specific rights to “oppressed minorities” replaces collective social advances and leads to the fragmentation of society, which risks civil war. He believes the evidence for this is the racialist interpretation of social relations: “indigenous French” against “Arabs”, at the lowest echelon of society, rather than labour against capital. One result of this is that Muslims are scapegoated.

That young Arabs and Muslims can find themselves being led around by the nose by human garbage like Alain Soral and Dieudonné should be a clarion call for a return to class politics.

Over the past decade or so there has been a gathering of forces internationally that speaks in the name of the left as “anti-imperialists” that is marching more or less under the same banner as the ultraright. With a fixation on “national sovereignty” as the last bastion against “globalism”, you will sooner or later end up in bed with Rand Paul, Pat Buchanan and the like.

Just compare what Diana Johnstone said about Marine Le Pen, and what John V. Walsh said about Ron Paul to get an idea of the dry rot that is sinking in:

Johnstone :

Among the leading candidates, the only clear anti-war policy is that of Marine Le Pen, who favors immediate withdrawal from both Afghanistan and the NATO command, describes the current French government policy of supporting the Syrian opposition as “totally irresponsible”, calls for recognition of a Palestinian State and opposes threats to bomb Iranian nuclear sites, which have not been proven to be military. And she adds: “As far as I know, no nation which has atomic weapons has ever asked for permission from anyone, neither the United States, nor France, nor Israel, nor Pakistan… Must we then plunge the world into a war whose extent we will not control because certain foreign counties ask us to?”

Walsh:

The Left has complained for decades that it is unable to reach much of the American public with a message of peace. In large part that is due to a cultural gap – the “progressive” Left does not speak in the same language as much of the country. Nor does the Left share the same worldview as many Americans. Ron Paul does, and he can reach, in fact, has reached these people with a solid anti-intervention message. Paul does not ask that his base change its worldview but simply to understand that anti-interventionism is a consistent part of that view. Paul speaks in straightforward terms. Let us stop poking our nose into other nations’ business and stop wasting our money doing so. He reaches people never before touched by an anti-war message. How can the Left pass up the chance to help such a candidate?

At the risk of sounding platudinous, isn’t it about time that the left returned to class? After all, that is what Karl Marx was all about. This is especially important in a time of rising class tensions when some demagogues will try to exploit ethnic or religious differences in order to weaken us and strengthen the ruling class. We went through this in the 1920s and 30s and there’s no need to go through this again, especially with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons scattered around the globe.

An addendum to “Before there was Steven Salaita”

Filed under: Academia,repression,Steven Salaita,zionism — louisproyect @ 12:58 pm

This is an eye-opening report on how the Israel lobby tried to witch-hunt William I. Robinson out of the academy:

As Repression Escalates on US Campuses, an Account of My Ordeal With the Israel Lobby and UC

Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:00By William I Robinson, Truthout | News Analysis

A building in Rafah destroyed by the Israelis during Israel's assault on Gaza in January, 2009. Shortly after Israel concluded its month-long Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Professor William Robinson was targeted for repression for including material critical of Israel in his course materials.

A building in Rafah destroyed by the Israelis during Israel’s assault on Gaza in January, 2009. Shortly after Israel concluded its month-long Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Professor William Robinson was targeted for repression for including material critical of Israel in his course materials. (Photo:International Solidarity Movement)

Professor William Robinson of UCSB was the target of a campaign of intimidation, silencing, and political repression that included techniques described in the “Hasbara handbook” by the Israel lobby in contravention of academic freedom and university rules. He describes the experience here.

The latest Israeli carnage in Gaza has provoked worldwide condemnation of Israel for its continued war crimes and its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. In response, the Israeli state and its allies and agents are stepping up campaigns of intimidation, silencing, and political repression against opponents of its policies. Israel may continue to win military battles – after all, it has the fifth most powerful military on the planet – but it is losing the war for legitimacy. In the wake of its bloody attacks on schools, hospitals and United Nations refugee centers in Gaza, support has intensified around the world for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The BDS campaign in the United States has taken off, above all, on university campuses, which is why the Israel lobby is so intent on targeting academia.

Five years ago, I was attacked by the Israel lobby in the United States, led by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and nearly run from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), where I work as a professor of sociology, global and Latin American studies. The campaign against me lasted some six months and garnered worldwide attention, but I am hardly alone. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of professors and student groups have been harassed and persecuted for speaking out against Israeli occupation and apartheid and in support of the Palestinian struggle. Some of these cases have been high profile in the media and others have gone relatively unknown. The latest victim, Steven Salaita, a respected scholar and professor of English literature and American Indian Studies, was fired in August from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for denouncing on social media the most recent Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

read full article

An Israeli soldier rejects the Zionist agenda

Filed under: zionism — louisproyect @ 11:32 am

August 15, 2014

Before there was Steven Salaita

Filed under: Academia,repression,Steven Salaita,zionism — louisproyect @ 7:08 pm

NY Times October 2, 1983

THE STONY BROOK RIFT: RACISM AND ZIONISM

By MICHAEL WINERIP

ON Aug. 17, five faculty members at the State University of New York at Stony Brook met to review the evidence against Prof. Ernest Dube.

It was skimpy evidence, those five executive committee members agreed – certainly nothing they ever dreamed would attract the attention of the Governor.

In a two-page letter, a visiting professor from Israel had charged Professor Dube with using the classroom for ”the kind of sloganeering that is practiced by the anti-Semite,” including teaching that Zionism is racist.

The Israeli professor, Selwyn K. Troen, had never been to Professor Dube’s class nor made an attempt to talk with Professor Dube. He based his letter on conversations with a single student and a copy of the course syllabus and shortly afterward flew back to Israel.

”Frankly, I thought what Professor Troen said was bull,” said Joel Rosenthal, a Stony Brook history professor and head of the committee. That same day, after reviewing the evidence available, the committee decided that Professor Dube was within the bounds of academic freedom abnd had not acted improperly.


 

NY Times, October 19, 2000

Columbia Debates a Professor’s ‘Gesture’

By KAREN W. ARENSON

When Edward W. Said, a celebrated literary scholar, Columbia University professor and outspoken Palestinian advocate, hurled a rock toward an Israeli guardhouse from the Lebanese border in July, a photographer caught the action. The photo, which captured Mr. Said with his arm reached far behind him, ready to throw, appeared in newspapers and magazines in the Middle East and the United States.

Mr. Said’s rock-throwing occurred during a visit to Lebanon with his family last summer. He has given several explanations for it. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he said it was merely a competition with his son to see who could throw farther.

But his explanations did not satisfy critics like Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. Mr. Foxman wrote to Columbia’s president, George Rupp, calling Mr. Said’s behavior ”a crude, disgraceful and dangerous act of incitement” and saying that it warranted ”clear repudiation and censure from the Columbia University community.”


 

Jewish Ledger, June 26, 2002

CCSU, Tunxis institutes for teachers lack balance, Jewish leaders say

by Adam N. Schupack

Two professional development institutes to educate Connecticut public school teachers about the Middle East and Islamic world have drawn criticism from members of the Jewish community and a Connecticut congressman for their lack of balance.

At least three professors teaching at the programs at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in New Britain and Tunxis Community College in Farmington are anti-Israel activists, according to Jewish leaders.

“We feel that it is important that middle and high school teachers receive a balanced presentation of the issues, and we’re not convinced these faculty will be able to accomplish that,” said Cathrine Fischer Schwartz, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.


 

NY Times, November 21, 2002

Poet Who Spoke Against Israel Is Reinvited to Talk at Harvard

By ROBERT F. WORTH

Citing concerns about freedom of speech, Harvard University’s English department has renewed an invitation to the Irish poet Tom Paulin to give a lecture, just a week after he was disinvited for expressing strongly anti-Israeli views.

The new invitation, approved in a vote on Tuesday night, drew sharply differing responses from faculty members and students at Harvard, which has been troubled by heated debates and demonstrations about Israel in the past year. Some expressed relief, saying the university had crossed the line by disinviting a poet because of his political views. Others were outraged and said the decision would lead to renewed protests.


 

New York Sun, January 27, 2004

Hamas in Florida Classroom

by Daniel Pipes and Asaf Romirowsky

A visiting Palestinian professor at Florida Atlantic University, Mustafa Abu Sway, is “known as an activist” in Hamas, a group on the American government’s terrorism list, we reported in October of 2003. We also disclosed that his salary is being paid by the American taxpayer, via the Fulbright exchange program.

Our little scoop met with yawns or with disbelief. Mr. Abu Sway himself, in an interview with the Palm Beach Post, denounced our article as a “witch hunt.” Florida Atlantic University ignored the disclosure: “We have no reason to take any action,” the university’s president told the Post, a paper that published four skeptical responses, including an editorial insisting that “there is no known evidence” against Mr. Abu Sway.

Actually, being named as “a known activist” in Hamas by the Israeli government — who knows terrorism better ? — qualifies in itself as “evidence,” but since October we have learned that Mr. Abu Sway also, according to Israeli sources:


 

Berkeley Daily Planet Tuesday May 25, 2004

UC Lecturer’s ‘Intifada’ Comment Brings Death Threats

By JAKOB SCHILLER

A recent speech delivered by a UC Berkeley lecturer during an impromptu anti-war protest in San Francisco has set off a firestorm of criticism around the country, including death threats and calls for his removal from the university.

The speech, given by Hatem Bazian of UC’s Near Eastern Studies Department, at one point noted the intifada in Palestine and uprising in Iraq and then asked the crowd why the U.S. has not had its own political intifada to protest the lies U.S. government has used to lead this country to war.

Critics took offense with his use of the word “intifada” and are claiming Bazian could be calling for an armed uprising like the ones in Iraq and Palestine. In Arabic, Intifada comes from a root word which means “shaking off,” but the word has come to be associated with the armed Palestinian struggle against Israel.


 

NY Sun, October 22, 2004

Rep. Weiner Asks Columbia to Fire Anti-Israel Prof

By JACOB GERSHMAN, Staff Reporter of the Sun

A congressman from New York City is calling for the dismissal of a Columbia University professor he accuses of “displays of anti-Semitism.”

Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat of Brooklyn and Queens, has written a letter to Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, urging him to “fire” Joseph Massad, an assistant professor of Arab politics and one of the harshest critics of Israel on campus.


 

NY Sun, November 22, 2004

Professor Fearful of Attack

By JACOB GERSHMAN, Staff Reporter of the Sun

After receiving an e-mail from a Columbia University graduate student accusing him of anti-Semitism, the chairman of Columbia’s Department of Middle East and Asian languages and cultures told university officials he felt physically threatened by the student and urged them to alert school security.

Columbia’s provost, Alan Brinkley, told the professor, Hamid Dabashi, he was overreacting, and declined to notify security about the letter from the student, according to an e-mail obtained by The New York Sun.

Mr. Dabashi, whose department at Columbia has come under public scrutiny for its promotion of anti-Israel sentiment and its alleged harassment of Jewish students, was responding to an e-mail he received in late September from Victor Luria, a Ph.D. student who works in a Columbia genetics lab.


 

NY Times, February 28, 2005

Some Limits on Speech in Classrooms

By JOYCE PURNICK

WHILE Columbia University struggles to find the line between academic freedom and unacceptable classroom behavior, the city’s Department of Education has found a facile but provocative solution: banish the guy.

Earlier this month, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein barred Rashid Khalidi, director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute, from again lecturing to city teachers enrolled in a professional development course because of “a number of things he’s said in the past,” said Michael Best, the department’s general counsel. Asked if the department had verified those purported remarks, Mr. Best did not answer directly: “He’s denied saying certain things; he has not denied saying others.”

Set against the backdrop of a simmering campus dispute over Jewish students’ charges of intimidation by pro-Palestinian teachers, the Khalidi affair has inevitably been linked to the larger controversy. “In this feeding frenzy for finding culprits, he sort of got lumped in with others, and it’s been unfair to him,” said Ari L. Goldman, dean of students at Columbia’s journalism school.


 

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

No 3, 1 September 2005, 27 Av 5765

Faculty Efforts to Combat Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israeli Bias at the University of California, Santa Cruz

By Leila Beckwith, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, and Ilan Benjamin

The University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC), founded in 1965, is one of the ten campuses of the University of California, a public institution. The attractive campus is situated on two thousand acres of hills and redwood forests overlooking Monterey Bay. Fifteen thousand students attend, of whom about 20 percent are Jewish, the highest proportion of Jewish students among all the UC campuses.1

Nevertheless, UCSC is home to a great deal of virulent anti-Israeli rhetoric, which creates an intimidating environment for many Jews on campus. Although such hostility can be found at many other universities, what is unique at UCSC is that the animus is not directed by the usual sources, such as well-funded Muslim student groups2 or faculty in a Middle East studies program.3 In fact, the UCSC Muslim Student Alliance is not very active; nor are other pro-Palestinian/anti-Israeli student groups such as the Committee for Justice in Palestine. And while there is a Jewish studies program, there is none for Middle East studies, and no known Arab/Muslim funding of university faculty or activities. Instead, at UCSC the anti-Israeli sentiment is primarily generated by a leftist faculty scattered throughout the university’s academic units.


 

Associated Press, December 7, 2005

Not Guilty Verdicts in Florida Terror Trial Are Setback for U.S.

By ERIC LICHTBLAU

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 – In a major defeat for law enforcement officials, a jury in Florida failed to return guilty verdicts Tuesday on any of 51 criminal counts against a former Florida professor and three co-defendants accused of operating a North American front for Palestinian terrorists.

The former professor, Sami al-Arian, a fiery advocate for Palestinian causes who became a lightning rod for criticism nationwide over his vocal anti-Israeli stances, was found not guilty on eight criminal counts related to terrorist support, perjury and immigration violations.


 

Inside Higher Education, June 5, 2006

Blackballed at Yale

By Scott Jaschik

One of the most closely watched — and criticized — faculty searches this academic year is ending with Juan Cole apparently being rejected for a post in Middle Eastern history at Yale University.

Cole is a professor of history at the University of Michigan and president of the Middle East Studies Association. He also has one of the largest audiences of Middle Eastern studies experts through his blog, Informed Comment, on which he publishes numerous updates a day about events in the Middle East. Cole is a tough critic of U.S. foreign policy and of Israel’s government — and his blog comments have been used for months by opponents of his appointment to kill it.


 

NY Times, June 11, 2007

Outspoken Political Scientist Denied Tenure at DePaul

By PATRICIA COHEN

Norman Finkelstein, the political scientist whose bid for a permanent position at DePaul University stirred up charges of anti-Semitism, personal vendettas and outside interference in the hiring process, was informed Friday that he had been denied tenure by the university.

Mr. Finkelstein said he clearly ”met the publishing standards and the teaching standards required for tenure” and that DePaul’s decision was based on ”transparently political grounds” and an ”egregious violation” of academic freedom.

DePaul’s political science department had voted to award Mr. Finkelstein tenure, but the University Board on Promotion and Tenure rejected his bid. DePaul’s president, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, upheld that decision. In a letter to Mr. Finkelstein, Father Holtschneider wrote that Mr. Finkelstein is an excellent teacher and a nationally recognized public intellectual but does not ”honor the obligation” to ”respect and defend the free inquiry of associates.”


 

NY Times, September 10, 2007

Fracas Erupts Over Book on Mideast by a Barnard Professor Seeking Tenure

By KAREN W. ARENSON

A tenure bid by an assistant professor of anthropology at Barnard College who has critically examined the use of archaeology in Israel has put Columbia University once again at the center of a struggle over scholarship on the Middle East.

The professor, Nadia Abu El-Haj, who is of Palestinian descent, has been at Barnard since 2002 and has won many awards and grants, including a Fulbright scholarship and fellowships at Harvard and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Barnard has already approved her for tenure, officials said, and forwarded its recommendation to Columbia University, its affiliate, which has the final say.

It is Dr. Abu El-Haj’s book, “Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society,” that has made her a lightning rod, setting off warring petitions opposing and supporting her candidacy, and producing charges of shoddy scholarship and countercharges of an ideological witch hunt.


 

Record-Courier (Kent, Ohio), November 30, 2007

History chairman ousted Removed from KSU post over professor’s trip

By Dave O’Brien

John Jameson said Thursday his ouster as chair of the Kent State University history department earlier this month and the means by which it was done disrupts the learning process and “rips asunder a pretty good history department.”

KSU and Jerry Feezel, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, assert Jameson was removed from his post for violating written university policy by improperly granting academic study leave to a controversial KSU history professor.

Jameson, who remains a full professor of history, was notified Nov. 7 that he was being removed as department chair in an e-mail sent by Feezel. Feezel said Jameson failed to go through him in requesting mid-semester leave for associate history professor Julio Assad Pino.

Jameson said Pino came to him earlier in the fall semester seeking six weeks of leave to study Arabic in the United Arab Emirates because his research is on black Muslim slaves brought to Brazil.

Pino has come under fire for writings in which he expressed sympathy for Palestinian suicide bombers. Jameson said he has gone over these writings and “certainly” defends Pino’s right to his beliefs even if he does not agree with them.


 

Inside Higher Education, February 19, 2009

Anti-Israel Prof Loses Post at Bard

By Scott Jaschik

Joel Kovel — one of the more outspoken professorial critics of Israel on American college campuses — is out of his job at Bard College. This week Kovel sent a letter to all Bard faculty members denouncing the way he has been treated and charging that his politics cost him the position.


 

The Washington Independent, Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The New McCarthyism?

By Daphne Eviatar

In January 2004, Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss professor of Muslim studies and visiting fellow at St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford, was offered a tenured position as a professor of religion, conflict and peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame. He applied for and received a visa to come to the United States that May. But just nine days before the 44-year-old academic and his family were to move to Indiana, Ramadan was informed by the United States Embassy in Switzerland that his visa had been revoked.

At a press conference on August 25, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security said that Ramadan’s visa had been revoked based on a part of the USA Patriot Act that allows the government to exclude those who have “endorsed or espoused” terrorism.


 

The Jewish Exponent

October 28, 2010

Anti-Israel Views Draw Fire

by Bryan Schwartzman

Pressure is mounting on the administration at Lincoln University to repudiate the views of a longtime literature professor who has called for the destruction of Israel and promoted denial of the Holocaust.

So far, Lincoln — a state-funded, historically black college in Chester County — has stood by Pakistani-born Kaukab Siddique, a tenured instructor, and affirmed the right of faculty members to express their views outside of the classroom and away from campus — no matter how controversial the subject matter.

Two state senators have scheduled a meeting Oct. 28 with university president Ivory V. Nelson, and were planning to ask that he condemn Siddique’s rhetoric. Also this week, several Jewish advocacy organizations in the region were planning to meet and devise a coordinated response plan.

Siddique made headlines last week when a speech he made on Labor Day in Washington was posted by http://www.investigativeproject.org and reported by the Christian Broadcasting Network.

In the footage, Siddique tells a crowd at an anti-Israel rally: “We must stand united to defeat, to destroy, to dismantle Israel — if possible by peaceful means.”


 

NY Times, May 4, 2011

CUNY Blocks Honor for Tony Kushner

By PATRICK HEALY

In a rare move, the trustees of the City University of New York have voted to shelve an honorary degree that one of its campuses, John Jay College, planned to award to Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of “Angels in America.” The vote on Monday evening came after a CUNY trustee said that Mr. Kushner had disparaged the State of Israel in past comments, a characterization that the writer attacked on Wednesday.

Amid calls from CUNY faculty and staff members for the board to reverse its decision, Mr. Kushner said in an interview that he believed the trustees had slandered him and owed him an apology. Even if the board was to reconsider and approve the degree, Mr. Kushner said, he would not accept it.


 

The Algemeiner, DECEMBER 21, 2011

Anti-Israel Agenda at Harvard Middle East Center

Following the controversy this summer over the closure of Yale’s Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, another Ivy League school is taking heat as questions have recently been raised about the agenda of Harvard University’s Middle Eastern Studies’ Outreach Center. On it’s website, the Center – which promotes its program in the Boston area and provides curricular materials to public and private schools – says its mission is to promote “a critical understanding of the diversity of the Middle East region.” But according to a recent report, the record of its director and its programming reveal a pattern of promoting a one-sided narrative rather than presenting diverse viewpoints.

The detailed report, published by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) highlights the Center’s Director Paul Beran’s longtime activism in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. In 2004 it says, he participated in the Presbyterian Church’s BDS campaign and claimed that he formed an alliance with an extreme anti-Israel group in order to counter criticism from “Zionists and their ilk.” The report details how following the failure of a similar BDS petition in Somerville, MA, Beran accused the town mayor, pension-fund manager and elected state representatives who voted against it of being “recruited by pro-Israel groups” and urged divestment activists to counter “Zionist backlash.”

The report mentions that in 2007 Beran protested the enrollment of former Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz into a Harvard Business School course, calling him “a noted war criminal,” although the General was never tried or found guilty of any war crimes.


 

American Thinker, January 7, 2012

Islamism at UCLA Law School

by Jamie Glazov

My guest today is George Aaron, an alumnus and graduate of the 1976 class of the UCLA School of Law. He practices Social Security disability law in Tarzana, California. He is starting a public campaign for alumni to withhold donating money to the UCLA School of Law.

Glazov: George Aaron, thank you for taking the time out to talk about your public campaign.

Tell us about this effort you are starting to convince alumni to withhold donating money to the UCLA School of Law. It is connected to Prof. Khaled Abou El Fadl, a champion of sharia law, presently being a law professor at your law school, yes?

Aaron: That is correct, Jamie. I first found out about Dr. El Fadl when I read his story in a 2003 L.A. Times article. The picture painted was of a “moderate” Muslim legal scholar courageously fighting the jihadis. I bought the puff-piece profile hook, line, and sinker. Later on, I read an article (containing 62 footnotes!) by Daniel Pipes, claiming that the professor was a stealth jihadist. I read other devastating critiques by Pipes regarding the double-talking El Fadl, all meticulously footnoted, such as a 2003 essay entitled “Khaled Abou El Fadl’s Disastrous Interview.”

G: Tell us some more about Dr. Abou El Fadl and his “scholarship.”

A: Around December of 2010, I read an exposé by Pipes on El Fadl that made my blood boil. Entitled “Answering Khaled Abou Fadl,” Pipes recounted the totally false smears El Fadl lobbed at his critics Steven Emerson and Robert Spencer (as detailed in “UCLA’s Professor of Fantasy” by Cinnamon Stillwell and Eric Golub) and opined that he should be “sacked” for his lies about Emerson and Spencer. I read a withering critique of Dr. El Fadl’s arguments by the indomitable Andrew Bostom, a true scholar and walking encyclopedia on Sharia Islam. The last straw was when I read Campus Watch’s May 2011 column “Pushing ‘Islamaphobia’ at UCLA” by Judith Greblya,” strongly critical of the deceptions, obfuscations, and meritless claims deployed by El Fadl in a lecture on sharia.

G: What was the upshot of this “last straw”?

A: I wrote to the dean of the law school, pointing out that Prof. El Fadl was assiduously whitewashing and soft-soaping Sharia Islam, that in so doing he [El Fadl] was committing academic/scholastic misfeasance and malfeasance, and that these well-documented improprieties should be rigorously looked into by the law school. I pointed out that the belief system and values undergirding Sharia Islam are the antithesis of American/Western beliefs and fundamental values, and therefore Dr. Fadl’s scholarship relentlessly sanitizing sharia was “deceptive and dishonest.”


 

NY Times, February 7, 2013

Pro-Palestine Speakers at Brooklyn College Attract Protests Outside

By VIVIAN YEE

Tensions were evident everywhere as two pro-Palestinian speakers arrived Thursday night at Brooklyn College. Protesters began gathering across the street from the student center, where the college-sponsored talk was scheduled, more than an hour before the event was to start. And police officers were stationed at the entrance to the building, searching bags and checking attendees’ names and identifications against an approved list.

Controversy had grown over the past week at the Midwood college, where nearly a fifth of the undergraduate population is Jewish, over the event organized by a student group, Students for Justice in Palestine. The college’s political science department agreed to co-sponsor the speakers along with more than two dozen other groups.


 

The Chicago Reader, April 1 2014

At Columbia College, a film screening is followed by a charge of bias

Iymen Chehade’s course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has given rise to a conflict of its own.

By Deanna Isaacs

Last fall, shortly after Columbia College instructor Iymen Chehade showed the documentary 5 Broken Cameras in his course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he was summoned to a meeting with Steven Corey, chair of the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Science.

The Oscar-nominated film is a nominally Israeli work (an Israeli codirected, and it had some Israeli funding) with an entirely Palestinian point of view. Mostly filmed by its protagonist, Emad Burnat, it chronicles the life of his young West Bank family, along with six years of protests against Israel’s wall of separation, which had cut off part of the Palestinian village of Bil’in’s agricultural land. In the end—thanks to an Israeli court decision in the village’s favor and the increasing visibility of the protests—a portion of the wall is moved back toward the Israeli settlements that loom on the near horizon.

Chehade recalls that in their meeting Corey informed him a student had complained of bias in his class, and had mentioned 5 Broken Cameras in particular. Chehade, who’s been a part-time faculty member at Columbia since 2007, says Corey also questioned his qualifications and told him that he should be “more balanced” in his teaching. Chehade describes the meeting as adversarial, and says he asked why the student hadn’t been sent to him, which would have been the normal procedure.

Chehade had already been contracted to teach two sections of the same course for the spring semester, but a week after this meeting, and just hours after registration opened, one of those sections was canceled.


 

Chronicle of Higher Education, August 7, 2014

Kent State U. Denounces Professor’s Letter Blasting ‘Academic Friends of Israel’

by Nick DeSantis

Kent State University this week denounced a professor and vocal critic of Israel for a letter that accused “academic friends of Israel” of being “directly responsible for the murder of over 1,400 Palestinian children, women, and elderly civilians,” The Plain Dealer reported.

Julio Pino, an associate professor of history, reportedly wrote an open letter stating that pro-Israel academics have “chosen to openly work for and brag about academic collaboration with a regime that is the spiritual heir to Nazism.”

In 2011, Mr. Pino drew scrutiny for shouting “Death to Israel” during a speech by a former Israeli diplomat. In 2007 he was cited online as being linked to an extremist Islamic website, though the university said at the time that he had no connection to the site.

August 11, 2014

Fascist art

Filed under: art,Fascism,zionism — louisproyect @ 7:41 pm

When Frank Rosengarten went over to Italy in 1956 to work on his dissertation, he planned on researching Vasco Pratolini, a novelist best known for “Il quartiere”, a work known as “The Naked Streets” in English. He had been told that Pratolini was a Communist, an affiliation that made sense given the strong identification he had with his working-class protagonists. He seemed at first blush to have all the right connections, developing a friendship with Roberto Rossellini during WWII, fighting with the partisans against Il Duce and the Nazis, and developing a whole body of work that was similar to that of Ignacio Silone if not as well known.

Eventually Frank discovered to his complete surprise that Pratolini was a card-carrying member of the Fascist party until the late 1930s:

The fact is – and it is a difficult fact to grasp – young Pratolini looked on Fascism as marking a revolutionary turn in Italian history, a new order that would redeem the working class and establish a society of equals, based on labor, with the state assuming the role of disciplinarian, making sure that private interest groups would never threaten the lives of the Italian masses. He even believed that Fascism had a universal and liberating role to play in the world. His disillusionment therefore was doubly painful. The empty space in his ideological universe was filled by the only political force that, in his view, in the Italy of 1943 to 1945, could bring about the revolution that Fascism had left unrealized, namely the renascent Italian Communist Party led by Palmiro Togliatti. And behind Togliatti there was the great Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci, whose writings Pratolini began to read, in fragmentary and clandestine publications, in 1944 or 1945.

I doubt that Frank, who died a couple of weeks ago after a year long battle with prostate cancer, was well enough to have attended the show on Italian Futurism at the Guggenheim but I am sure he would have been reminded of Pratolini.

I attended the show yesterday with long-time friend and Marxmail co-moderator Les Schaffer and was amazed to discover how a generation of Italy’s most talented artists could have lent themselves to the fascist cause. As we walked down the ramp, the paintings and other art works had the same kind of bold spirit and experimental drive as Russian art of the early 1920s.

One artist covered the same bases as Pratolini but in reverse order. Born in 1881, Carlo Carrà became famous for his 1911 painting “The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli” that commemorated the death of Italian anarchist Angelo Galli, shot by police during a general strike in 1904.

The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli

Wikipedia on Carrà:

Carrà was indeed an anarchist as a young man but, along with many other Futurists, later held more reactionary political views, becoming ultra-nationalist and irredentist before and during the war, as well as by Fascism after 1918 (in the 1930s, Carrà signed a manifesto in which called for support of the state ideology through art). The Strapaese group he joined, founded by Giorgio Morandi, was strongly influenced by fascism and responded to the neo-classical guidelines which had been set by the regime after 1937 (but was opposed to the ideological drive towards strong centralism).

For the movement, modern transportation had the same kind of charisma that Christian symbols had for artists of the renaissance. Their works were filled with homages to airplanes and railroad trains. Within Futurism, it was a subgenre called arte meccanica. This 1922 work by Ivo Pannaggi titled “Speeding Train” is emblematic:

Speeding Train

In the same year that he painted “Speeding Train”, Pannaggi co-wrote the “Manifesto dell’Arte Meccanica Futurista” (Manifesto of Futurist Mechanical Art) with fellow Futurist Vinicio Paladini. The Manifesto was couched in Marxist language and saw machinery as a “key to bridging the gap between the proletariat and bourgeoise” as Wikipedia puts it. It would seem that “bridging the gap” between proletariat and bourgeoisie was a theme that allowed some of these artists and novelists to become seduced by fascism, especially when there were such benefits to be gained. After Pratolini became a fascist spokesman, he landed a cushy job with the Ministry of Education.

Even though Pannaggi’s Marxism was questionable at best, it was too much for Futurism’s czar Filippo Marinetti to put up with. Again from Wikipedia:

Marinetti is known best as the author of the Futurist Manifesto, which he wrote in 1909. It was published in French on the front page of the most prestigious French daily newspaper, Le Figaro, on 20 February 1909. In The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, Marinetti declared that “Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.” George Sorel, who influenced the entire political spectrum from anarchism to Fascism, also argued for the importance of violence. Futurism had both anarchist and Fascist elements; Marinetti later became an active supporter of Benito Mussolini.

The Sorel connection is interesting. In the early 20th century he had many supporters on both the right and the left, as I discovered doing some research on José Carlos Mariátegui. Mariátegui, the father of Peruvian communism and a major influence on my own pro-indigenist Marxism, extolled Sorel in his writings. This is no surprise considering Mariátegui’s exposure to the Italian left during his stay in Italy from 1920 to 1923. Sorel was a favorite of the Italian anarchist movement and clearly had an impact on those who had a “voluntarist” streak.

Over and over the exhibition makes reference to the rise of nationalist fervor that led to Mussolini’s rise to power. As many of you probably know, Il Duce started off as a socialist. I would strongly recommend that you watch Marco Bellochio’s “Vincere”, a 2010 biopic about Mussolini that can be seen on a Netflix DVD. Starting out as a socialist, he capitulates to war fever at the outset of WWI and makes fiery speeches about the nation having to redeem itself in battle before advancing toward socialism.

Unlike Hitler, Mussolini was less prone to impose esthetic strictures on Italian society. While by no means a Futurist ideologically, he was happy to accept their toadying salutes. It was only around 1937 that pressures from Hitler forced him to adopt a more “traditionalist” outlook in sync with the campaign against degenerate art taking shape in Germany.

A show on “Degenerate Art” is on display at the Neue Galerie on 86th Street, just 3 blocks south of the Guggenheim where the Futurism show is running. Both exhibitions close on September 1 and I urge fellow New Yorkers to grab both.

Les and I stopped by the Neue Galerie before heading over to the Guggenheim. Both of us were intrigued by the inclusion of Emil Nolde in the “degenerate art” exhibition mounted by the Nazis in 1937. Nolde was not a Communist like George Grosz. In fact he was a card-carrying Nazi until his modernist inclinations put him outside the Hitler cult. This 1912 woodcut titled “The Prophet” was included in the degenerate art exhibition, just one of more than a thousand works by Nolde that were seized by the Nazis. Nolde was a German Dane, who considered Expressionism to be an echt-Aryan style, a view shared by Joseph Goebbels.

The Prophet

After 1941 Nolde was prevented from making any new paintings, so total was Hitler’s opposition to anything that smacked of modernism. Intent on continuing his work, Nolde took up watercolors since they—unlike oils—did not produce a strong odor, something that would allow the Gestapo to catch Nolde in the act of creating art.

The Neue Galerie was funded by Ronald Lauder, the Republican billionaire heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire, former Ambassador to Austria, and President of the American Jewish Congress. Using his enormous wealth, Lauder interjects himself both in American and Israeli politics. A 2002 profile on Lauder by Michael Massing in the American Prospect gave the lowdown on a Jewish counterpart to the Koch brothers:

Politically, however, he seemed out of step with most American Jews; in 1989, while seeking the Republican nomination for mayor of New York, he ran to the right of Rudolph Giuliani. And, on Israeli issues, he was a vocal Likudnik, with long-standing ties to Netanyahu. While Lauder was seeking the conference chair, the Jewish press carried reports that he had helped bankroll Netanyahu’s campaign for prime minister. Such foreign contributions are illegal under Israeli law; Lauder denied the reports, but that did little to mollify his opponents.

If you go to the American Jewish Congress website, you’ll find a “talking points” page that repeats all the usual hasbara bullshit. Lauder showed up in Israel in July on behalf of the AJC, where he turned the victim into the criminal and the criminal into the victim, as Malcolm X once put it. The Jerusalem Post reported:

According to Lauder, a former US ambassador to Austria and deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO affairs, the international media have not adequately portrayed the “hundreds of rockets” that have been fired into Israel by Hamas as intercepted projectiles make for boring stories.

“They can’t show rockets being blown up in the air by one side. That’s not a story. And the result is that there is this fanning of anti-Semitism.

“There are no pictures to be seen, so they have reporters reporting on what’s happening in Gaza and they hear stories about children being killed and things like that and the result is that the Arab communities all over hear that the Israelis are going after them,” he explained.

As a long-time observer of political/cultural trends, it strikes me as a crowing irony that someone like Lauder can fund a museum that decries Nazi suppression of great art while at the same time cheering on an assault on a defenseless people that is widely regarded as taken from the Nazi playbook, to the point where rightwing Israelis carry signs saying “One People, One State, One Leader”—a Nazi slogan.

It is also deeply ironic that the modernism of the 1920s and 30s became an instrument of corporate power during the Cold War and is now brandished by someone like Ronald Lauder who would most certainly be the target of George Grosz, the Communist artist whose animosity for such bourgeois pigs was so prominent in most of his work. The Nazis knew who their enemy was when they included Grosz’s work in the Degenerate Art show. One would only hope that a new generation of artists would begin to develop the backbone to picture Lauder in the same way Grosz depicted the Lauders of his day in the 1926 “Pillars of Society”:

Pillars of Society

August 10, 2014

“Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer”

Filed under: Fascism,zionism — louisproyect @ 12:25 pm

“1 people, 1 state, 1 leader”: Counter-protestors at Tel Aviv anti-war rally last night waved signs with Nazi slogans

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