The radical historians lose again.Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By RONALD RADOSH
At the annual conference of the American Historical Association in New York City this month, anti-Israeli activist historians suffered a rare double defeat. Calling themselves Historians Against War (HAW), the group pushed first for an academic boycott of Israel, then for condemnation of alleged Israeli violations of academic freedom. But a handful of AHA members led an effective fight against them—in an admirable echo of the great confrontation of 1970, when, thanks to the remarkable intervention of a then-Marxist historian, the AHA fended off a fierce challenge from the New Left.
Last week’s drama seemed to culminate when outgoing AHA president Jan Goldstein ruled that HAW’s boycott resolution lacked the requisite signatures. Goldstein’s objections, moreover, were not only procedural. She argued that the AHA, as a scholarly organization, had no purview over any Palestinian “right of return,” whose denial by Israel had been said to justify the boycott.
Goldstein had been lobbied intensely by historians Jeffrey Herf and Sonya Michel (University of Maryland), David Greenberg (Rutgers), Sharon Musher (Richard Stockton College of New Jersey), and others. They had warned her that many of the claims made by HAW to bolster its case against Israel were false. HAW maintained, for instance, that during the Gaza war, Israel had intentionally sought to destroy an oral history center at the Islamic University. Herf showed Goldstein evidence that the Israeli target was actually a facility where rocket components were manufactured for Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. Similarly, HAW maintained that Israel refused to allow Gaza students to study abroad, even in the West Bank, when in fact the restriction applied only to students supporting terrorist groups. Herf also warned Goldstein against further politicizing the AHA: The effect of endorsing HAW’s resolution would be to “support the right of academics to aid in a terrorist war waged against Israel.”
Undeterred by its initial defeat, HAW pushed its agenda again at the AHA business meeting on January 4. This time it sought votes on two resolutions that stopped short of calling for a boycott—but that had been submitted for consideration after the relevant deadline.
The first resolution accused Israel of violating academic freedom and called on the State Department to contest Israel’s denial of visas to (pro-Hamas and Hezbollah) academics seeking to work at Palestinian universities. The second called on the AHA to condemn alleged Israeli acts of violence against Palestinian researchers and archival collections that threatened to “destroy the Palestinians’ sense of historical identity as well as the historical record itself.”
HAW produced 50 signatures from AHA members asking for votes on these measures. The controversy excited enough interest that the business meeting was moved to the large Hilton ballroom, where HAW tried to have the bylaws governing deadlines for resolutions suspended. But the vote on the bylaws went heavily against the radicals, 144 to 51, in a major victory for the forces of sanity.
No such victory is permanent, as those of us who lived through a major defeat of the left at the AHA in 1970 know all too well. Back then, the challenge came from a group called the Radical Caucus—some of whose members are still active now, in HAW or the Mid-Atlantic Radical Historians’ Organization, an AHA affiliate. Their object back then was to get the business meeting to put the AHA on record as opposing the war in Vietnam.
In the early 1970s, the New Left radicals were a minority in the profession, which was dominated by established mainstream historians like John K. Fairbank, Richard Hofstadter, and C. Vann Woodward, old-style liberals who adhered to a strict separation of politics and history. The Radical Caucus, born in late December 1969, was at first composed largely of University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students. But even then, left-wing historians were beginning to gain university appointments. One of them—Marxist Eugene D. Genovese, at the University of Rochester—argued that leftist historians should defend the university and seek to hold it to its own highest standards. The New Left preferred to confront the university and expose its links to other so-called oppressive American institutions.
Are evangelicals turning against Israel?Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By MARK TOOLEY
Senator Ted Cruz’s vigorous defense of Israel at a recent conference for persecuted Middle Eastern Christians in Washington, D.C., provoked jeers from a loud minority in the audience, made up largely of Catholics and Orthodox, many of them from the region or of Middle Eastern background. In June, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to divest from three firms doing business with Israel to protest Israeli policies towards Palestinians.
Who won the Gaza war? Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
For the moment, the Gaza war of 2014 is over. Anyone trying now to figure out who won and who lost should recall the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. Then, Israelis had a great sense of letdown because they had not “won.” They had not destroyed Hezbollah, and the organization loudly claimed a triumph: “Lebanon has been victorious, Palestine has been victorious, Arab nations have been victorious,” said Sheikh Nasrallah. An estimated 800,000 Hezbollah supporters gathered in Beirut for a rally celebrating the “divine victory.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.5:35 PM, Aug 5, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on the ceasefire agreed to in Gaza by Hamas and Israel.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:35 PM, Jul 14, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on the situation in Israel and Operation Protective Edge.
Jul 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 42 • By LEE SMITH
Last week, Hamas fired hundreds of rockets and missiles at targets throughout Israel, including the nuclear reactor at Dimona. Two of the three M-75 missiles targeting Dimona missed the mark entirely, but one had to be brought down by Iron Dome, Israel’s antimissile shield. The U.N. considers an attack on a nuclear reactor an act of nuclear terrorism, which in this case might have taken a catastrophic toll on Israel’s population—as well as the Palestinians.
The perils of the Palestinian Authority’s new Fatah-Hamas government Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
The creation of a new Palestinian “national unity” government has raised a slew of questions in the United States. What should our policy be toward a government that has the support not only of the Fatah party but of the terrorist group Hamas as well? Should all aid to the Palestinians be suspended?
Israel’s security establishment steps up.May 12, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 33 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
The world’s attention was largely turned to Ukraine last week. To the extent that the Middle East was on the front pages, the focus was the new agreement between the PLO and Hamas, its implications for the “peace process,” and John Kerry’s comment about Israel as an “apartheid state.”
But in Israel a different subject was getting a lot of attention: Iran’s nuclear program. April 28 was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and that was the context in which Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about Iran at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
Apr 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 30 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
In his Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony last week, Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel for the breakdown in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He argued that an Israeli announcement of 700 new housing units for a neighborhood in Jerusalem were what did in the talks. “Poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said. “We find ourselves where we are.”
He’s not the author of their woes. Jan 27, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 19 • By LEE SMITH
During Anwar Sadat’s historic trip to Jerusalem in 1977, he met Ariel Sharon, the Israeli general credited by his countrymen as one of the heroes of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Sharon’s crossing of the Sinai and his encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army had turned the tables on Sadat’s forces, ensuring a victory that had once been uncertain. “I tried to catch you when you were on our side of the canal,” Sadat told Sharon. And now, replied Sharon, “you have the chance to catch me as a friend.”
If Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders, what then? Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By ARYEH TEPPER
Even with al Qaeda making gains across the Middle East and Iran still enriching uranium in its march to a nuclear breakout, John Kerry’s attention is focused on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He has visited Israel 10 times since becoming secretary of state. The aim of Kerry’s feverish shuttle diplomacy is to hammer out a framework agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that will be long on generalities and short on thorny details and, as such, will enable peace talks to move forward.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:38 PM, Aug 23, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's foreign policy is viewed in the Middle East.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:35 PM, Jul 22, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior editor Lee Smith on Secretary of State John Kerry's peace tour, Egypt, Syria, and Iran.
"I think we've tilted very much to the Israeli side."11:41 AM, Feb 20, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama's defense secretary nominee and a former Nebraska senator, said in a 2008 interview that he agreed that the United States has not been a "fair or credible peace broker" in the Middle East, specifically with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.