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Turkish Webinar Wages Anti-Israel Jihad (Part Two)

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Hamas could “muster enough support for a Muslim or Islamic state in all of historic Palestine based on sharia law, it’s possible,” stated the notoriously radical former professor Norman Finkelstein during a June 20 webinar. This disturbing, realistic assessment raised no concerns at the June 18-23 second annual Palestine Conference of Istanbul Zaim University’s Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), a measure of CIGA’s radical hatred of Israel.

As previously examined, this conference on “Challenging Apartheid in Palestine: Reclaiming the Narrative, Formulating A Vision” achieved considerable notoriety merely due to CIGA’s founder, Sami Al-Arian. A federal court convicted this Palestinian-American former University of South Florida computer science professor in 2006 for supporting the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which ultimately led to his deportation to Turkey in 2015. At CIGA Al-Arian has continued his long-established record of demonizing and calling for Israel’s destruction, which, as the conference showed, numerous academics in America and abroad zealously promote.

Thus, Finkelstein conducted an interview with Nader Hashemi, director of the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies, a conference sponsor. His introduction of Finkelstein, a Holocaust denier and defender of Hezbollah, revealed just how high extremist sentiments towards Israel have reached in the Ivory Tower. He “is not only a leading scholar on the topic, but an old friend of mine,” Hashemi said.

However, Finkelstein is no friend of Israel, a “Jewish supremacist state.” He condemned Israeli settlement justified under international law in the historic Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) as “land theft.” He repeated the canard that the 93 percent of land in Israel owned by the state is “reserved for Jews only” as well as the falsehood that some 900 towns in Israel exclude Israeli Arabs (i.e. under the controversial Admissions Committee Law).

In response, Finkelstein blithely proposed to merge Israel’s Jewish population with the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who, together with Israel’s Arab minority, would form an Arab-majority single Palestinian state. He expressed no concern over the dangers Jews would face in such a polity, for Hamas, a genocidally antisemitic terrorist organization, is currently the “overwhelmingly popular leadership among the Palestinians.” As he conceded, “one would be very hard pressed to say that Hamas supports a single, democratic, secular state in Palestine. That’s not really a creditable interpretation of its political program.”

Finkelstein’s objectivity made mockery of a presentation on “Palestinian Women in Grassroots Mobilization” during the conference’s June 18 opening session. Hereby Maha Nasser, an associate professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Mideast and North African Studies, presented Israeli Arab women as suffering primarily from Israel. This veiled Muslim woman, who rejected Israel’s existence with her terminology of the “‘inside’ or ‘’48 lands’” of “Palestine,” seemed unwilling to criticize the anti-women aspects of traditional Islamic culture.

While ignoring Islamic doctrines concerning honor killings or wife-beating, Nasser discussed “gender-based violence as a manifestation of the colonial and exploitative conditions that Palestinians face.” This outlook absurdly “clearly links Israeli settler-colonialism with a lack of women’s rights,” she said. Therefore, Israel’s younger “Palestinian” women have defined “their work in more explicit anti-colonial terms.”

By contrast, Nasser rejected as patronizing any suggestion that Israeli Arab women had benefited from the Jewish state. She dismissed an “Israeli-Zionist narrative that posited the state as uplifting benighted Palestinian or Arab women who were suffocating under the yoke of traditionality and lack of employment.” These “Israeli colonial discourses” had “presented the state as a source of enlightenment and emancipation in the lives of Palestinian women, rather than a source of repression.”

Jewish Israeli feminists had similarly not aided this “minoritized community in Israel,” Nasser stated. It has “faced colonial-feminist discourse from Jewish-Israeli women who insisted on seeing them as backwards, traditional, and in need of the modernizing help of the Israeli state,” she said. “Jewish-Israeli women and particularly Ashkenazi-Jewish women continue to see themselves as beneficent leaders of Palestinian-Arab women, who could show them the way towards modernity and equality on their own terms.”

Nasser should consult Anwar Mhajne, a native of the Israeli Arab town of Umm Al Fahem and assistant political science professor at Massachusetts’ Stonehill College. She has written that Muslim-majority “Arab women are taught from childhood that their sexuality is their family’s property rather than their own.” Moreover,

it’s expected of women to prioritize the fulfillment of their obligations as mothers and wives, which pressures women to leave their jobs. Failure to comply with these traditional gender roles is perceived as a reflection of a woman’s inability to manage the well-being of her own family, and is thus regarded as socially intolerable and worthy of punishment. This contributes to the high rates of domestic violence in the Arab community in Israel. According to Knesset data, one out of four women in the Arab community has faced verbal and physical gender-based violence in 2018. Half of the women killed by their partners or family members in 2018 were from the Arab community, even though Arabs constitute about 20% of the entire Israeli population.

Precisely the massive development Israel’s Arab population has experienced since Israel’s creation in 1948 has helped alleviate such problems. For example, average education levels among this once largely illiterate group have increased from two to 11 years per capita. This helps explain why Israeli Arabs have little desire to abandon the enormous advantages Israeli Arabs have over most other Arabs in the Middle East by joining a Palestinian state.

Yet for CIGA conference participants, Israel-hatred trumps all facts. While Nasser castigates Israel with faith-based faux-progressivism, Finkelstein seems content to force Israeli Arabs and others into a Palestinian state dominant by jihadists such as Hamas, consequences be damned. But CIGA’s rage against Israel did not stop there, for presenters even suggested going nuclear against Israeli “apartheid,” as a future article will show.

 

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