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Jewish Professors Across America Launching anti-BDS 'University'

Israel and the Academy website, going live at the end of the month, aims to provide more 'nuanced' understanding of Middle East conflict.

In the latest initiative aimed at countering the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, a group of Jewish-American university professors has created an online database of materials and resources designed to help academics obtain a more “nuanced” understanding of the Middle East conflict.
The website’s most notable feature is being billed as “the world’s largest public library of course syllabi in Jewish studies and Israel studies.”
“Our aim to go beyond the usual debate about whether Israel is the greatest country in the world or the most wretched country in the world,” said Cary Nelson, former president of the Association of American University Professors (AAUP) and the driving force behind the initiative.
“By gaining access to all this material, we hope people will start to think about Jewish culture, Jewish history and Jewish politics — not to mention Israeli culture, Israeli history and Israeli politics — in a much more nuanced way than they are presented by the BDS movement.”
The new online database, which will be free of charge, is set to launch at the end of the month.
According to Nelson, a professor of English at the University of Illinois, more than 450 syllabi have already been uploaded to the site, called “Israel and the Academy”.
Nelson, who served as president of AAUP for six years, has been at the forefront of the U.S. fight against academic boycotts of Israel. At the same time, he has often spoken out against the Israeli occupation and expressed sharp criticism of the Israeli government.
In recent years, a number of professional academic associations have passed resolutions to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education. They include the American Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association. A resolution to boycott Israel by the much larger American Anthropological Association was rejected in June, but only by a very slim margin.
Speaking with Haaretz by phone, Nelson said the new project has not received any money from the Israeli government or any Israel advocacy organizations, and is largely the fruit of volunteer work.
According to its mission statement, Israel and the Academy “aims to educate, inform and empower those who believe in the existence of a secure and democratic Jewish state, and who are convinced that goal can only be secured by providing for the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
“To make that possible,” the statement continues, “we must bring an end to efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state and to prevent the mutual empathy and dialogue that is necessary to negotiate a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The project was conceived in May 2015 during a brainstorming session attended by a group of Jewish-American professors concerned by the growing impact of the BDS movement on academia.
“The main catalyst was that the BDS movement was starting to make far more detailed claims against Israel, and we needed to find a way to address them,” said Nelson. “Also, we found that the debate about Israel was happening within academic disciplines, with historians talking to historians and anthropologists talking to anthropologists. We thought it was important to provide a platform to enable discussion of these issues across disciplines.”
On its website, the BDS movement justifies the academic boycott of Israel on the grounds that “Israeli universities are major, willing and persistent accomplices in Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.” The website claims that “thousands of international academics” support this boycott.
In addition to the database of course syllabi, the new website will also feature more standard Israel advocacy material, including flyers and video links, as well as updates on developments in BDS campaigns, both in academic associations and student government organizations.
Although the project was initiated by American university professors — almost all of them Jewish and most of them from campuses in the Midwest and East Coast — the advisory committee also includes Israeli academics.

Judy Maltz

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/americas/.premium-1.742969Schermata 2016 09 20 alle 21.19.13

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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