Sunday, May 19, 2019

Question. Is there room in the academy for honest scholarship on Israel? - by Jonathan S. Tobin

The smearing of scholars for publishing a journal that examined misleading attacks on the Jewish state exposes the intellectual dishonesty of academic Israel-bashers.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
17 May '19..

The old joke about academia is that the arguments in the faculty lounges are so nasty because the stakes involved are so small. That’s often true about most things that go on in the narrow world of intellectual specialists, who guard their university department fiefdoms with jealous ferocity. They conduct their scholarly wars with publications that are written in academic jargon that is virtually indecipherable to the general reader. Their feuds are epic in their bitterness, but happily of little concern to the rest of society, which can easily ignore the doings of this tribe of underpaid and generally disgruntled people who have earned the right to have the letters Ph.D. after their names.

But there are some academic arguments about which the rest of us would do well to pay attention. One such is the brawl that has started among the members of the Association for Israel Studies, in which a number of members are outraged that some AIS scholars have published a journal devoted to the topic of how language is used to delegitimize Zionism and the State of Israel. The special issue of the Summer 2019 edition of Israel Studies was titled “Word Crimes: Reclaiming the Language of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict.”

But rather than earn the plaudits of their colleagues, the editors and authors involved have been subjected to scathing attacks for their supposed lack of scholarship, their bias and for being lightweights unworthy of being published in a peer-reviewed journal.

(Continue to Full Column)

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