Those looking to incite hate toward Israel have options. They can choose the crude path or opt for a more highbrow route. And in recent days we've seen both, courtesy of two Ohio universities.
At Kent State, tenured professor Julio Pino shouted "Death to Israel" as he stormed out of a lecture by a Bedouin-Israeli diplomat. While the president of Kent State rightfully deplored the professor's "grotesque failure" to model the university's values, he failed to implement any of the disciplinary procedures that apply to those who, like Pino, violate the school's expressed policies.
Shortly thereafter, in response to widespread criticism of Pino's outburst, a distinguished professor at neighboring University of Akron acknowledged that Pino's "crude exhortation" shouldn't have been made. Instead, he argued in an Akron Beacon Journal Op-Ed, the way to end Israeli "oppression" is through what he called "analysis of the history and current status of the conflict."
What history professor Walter Hixson seems to have meant is this: Anti-Israel activists shouldn't scream; they should calmly lie to their audience. His Op-Ed was so full of fabrications that it can only be seen as a more elegant attempt to defame Israel and stoke prejudice.
Early in the piece, Hixson employs language meant to convince readers that he approaches the subject as a serious historian. "The so-called 'Arab-Israeli conflict' is complex and too easily reduced," he claims. It isn't long, though, before he abandons such pretense and insists the history of the complex conflict is actually "clear-cut": "The history of the conflict is complicated yet clear-cut. Israel armed, backed and bankrolled by the United States has persisted in violating international law and destroying the lives of Palestinians for some 60 years."
The rest of the piece is no more nuanced or honest. And although he makes more of an attempt to disguise his hostility, Hixson is no less guilty than Julio Pino of using his academic credentials to spread hate and misinformation. On the contrary, his attempt to sugarcoat his anti-Israel hate-mongering may make Hixson's piece even more contemptible than Pino's shout.
On Nov. 14, several days after Hixson's column appeared, the Beacon Journal
published a letter
by CAMERA rebutting some of the distortions in the piece. The letter is republished below.
Although Walter Hixson's Nov. 9 commentary, "Why Israel must confront its past," virulently attacks Israel, he assures readers that "none of its statements will be proven inaccurate." Apparently hoping to further inoculate himself against criticism, he alleges that CAMERA, a media-monitoring organization known for rebutting such columns, "routinely" labels anti-Israel activists as anti-Semites.
A simple search of our website, where the word "anti-Semite" rarely appears, reveals that we focus on researching facts and exposing falsehoods and Hixson's piece, despite his assurances, is full of falsehoods.
For example, there's his claim that Israel "systematically rejected" the U.N.'s land-for-peace formula. That formula, codified in Security Council Resolution 242, was quickly accepted by Israel and rejected by the Palestinians. It took 20 years and serious pressure by the U.S. before the Palestinians reluctantly agreed to the principle. Before then, Israel had already demonstrated its commitment to land-for-peace by withdrawing from the strategically important Sinai Peninsula in exchange for peace with Egypt.
And its recent peace offers to the Palestinians, rejected by their leadership, again showed Israel's hopes for a land-for-peace agreement.
The Six Day War, which preceded Resolution 242, was not an Israeli "aggressive war," as Hixson claims, but rather a defense against over 200,000 troops massed on Israel's borders with plans and promises to attack. And six separate American investigations contradict Hixson's allegation that the USS Liberty was "deliberately" destroyed.
Julio Pino's shout of "Death to Israel" was deplorable, and a violation of school policies. But it isn't as damaging as Hixson's series of falsehoods masquerading as fact.
Senior research analyst
Committee for Accuracy in
Middle East Reporting in America