web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘truth’

Sandra Korn’s Academic Totalitarianism

Friday, February 21st, 2014

I’ve often said that the best thing about Hamas is that they say what they think. None of the two-faced English vs. Arabic stuff we get from the ‘moderate’ PLO. They say they want to kill us, because they mean it.

So for the same reason, I enjoyed the Harvard Crimson piece by Sandra Y. L. Korn, “The Doctrine of Academic Freedom.” Korn is not ashamed to put forth the idea that academic freedom should be limited when it conflicts with the political prejudices of the “university community”:

If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?

Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.

And how does it “ensure” this? She provides examples, such as disruption of classes “with a bullhorn and leaflets” and the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. The irony in advocating coercive action to oppose research or speech that she and her peers consider politically incorrect is palpable, especially since the bullhorns and boycotts are reminiscent of the SA tactics of the 1930s.

While she understands that the purpose of academic freedom is to see to it that research is not “restricted by the political whims of the moment,” she apparently fails to grasp that the reason for this is that political whims are just that — whims. During Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Chinese students took the lead in what Ms Korn must (at least, we hope she must) admit were terrible injustices. Their views were doubtless shared by most of the “university community,” but so what?

The principle of academic freedom does not require, as Ms Korn’s “academic justice” does, an omniscient and perfectly good community to decide which ideas may be discussed and which not. It says in effect “don’t suppress any ideas, let them compete on their merits,” because we are not smart enough to decide a priori (Korn thinks she and her friends are).

The fact that she chooses a boycott of Israeli universities as an example of a just limitation of academic freedom is a perfect example of the defect in her approach, because as a matter of fact, the ‘oppression’ of the ‘Palestinians’ is at bottom a whopper of a lie intended to cover up the desire of the Arabs to eliminate the state of Israel, and even in many cases to perpetrate a genocide of the Jewish population (viz., Hamas Covenant), something I am sure Korn would disapprove of.

Probably all of Ms Korn’s friends agree that only a right-wing Zionist nut would believe that. Maybe this is because the only voices that they hear are those of, er, left-wing anti-Zionist nuts. Academic freedom is intended to allow all (scholarly) points of view to be heard, in order to help us avoid precisely this situation.

Korn’s “academic justice” is more like academic totalitarianism!

This seems blindingly obvious to me, who did not go to Harvard (but like Ms Korn, did study the history of science, in which I learned about politically incorrect scholars like Galileo Galilei). So why doesn’t she get it?

Her bio indicates that she is “a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator.” And there could be the explanation: perhaps whatever she learned in her History of Science classes was overwhelmed by the main lesson taught in gender and ethnic studies, which is that there is no such thing as objective truth, there are only the political consequences of belief.

Turkish-Muslim TV Commentator Goes to Bat for Israel

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Ceylan Ozbudak is a Turkish TV commentator, peace activist, and supporter of the State of Israel. Ozbudak says she values the fact that

Israel has this democratic perspective which is very hard to find in the Middle East. There are minorities in the Knesset, which is hard to find in the Middle East. The democracy of Israel is something that we should all take an example from, as well as the religiousness. I am a religious person and respect religion.

According to Ozbudak, “People in the region look up to Israeli religiousness and this have set an example for other Muslims in the region.” Turkey, for example, has more mosques per capita than any other country in the world, even Saudi Arabia, and average Turks usually pray. Mosques are always full in Turkey. Thus, when the Jewish people value and respect their religion, it helps advance the cause of peace, for it helps Israel to fit into this very religious region of the world.

Ozbudak believes that Muslims around the world should recognize Israel’s right to exist:

According to Islam, Jews have the right to live in Israel until the day of resurrection, the end of the world. The Qur’an says, “Dwell in this land and when the promise of the End of Day comes to be fulfilled, we shall ensemble you there.”

Opposition to Radical Islam

She believes Hamas opposing Israel’s right to exist is merely one of many ways in which Hamas is behaving un-Islamically. Other manifestations include harming innocent people in violation of Islamic laws on armed conflict and engaging in offensive rather than defensive wars.  Ozbudak says that, “There is also no offensive war in Islam, only a defensive war. You cannot fire rockets at a place that is not fighting with you.”

Ozbudak is very much opposed to radical Islam. She claims,

They hate women, animals, art, science, every thing beautiful. What they are doing has nothing to do with Islam. It is a great danger to Islam.

Our Prophet had agreements with Jews and Christians, and they got along with them. The first Islamic country had Jews, Christians and Muslims living in peace. Caliph Umar invited the Jews back to Jerusalem. We learn Islam from these people. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have nothing to do with this.

Ozbudak, as an advocate for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews, believes that the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East remains ideology. Thus, the ideology of hatred that permeates the Arab world needs to cease. She believes that the best way to diminish this hatred is to promote people to people interactions among the various peoples of the Middle East so that the peoples of the region can coexist with each other. In other words, peace should be built up from the bottom upwards.

Targeted by Terror

Unfortunately, Ozbudak and her group in Istanbul that supports peaceful coexistence within Israel have been targeted by radical Islamists for their beliefs. Evidently, al Qaeda had a list of targets within Istanbul. The first on the list was a synagogue, yet Muslim scholar Adnan Oktar, with whom Ozbudak is affiliated, was number two on the list.

Ozbudak believes this is because Oktar has been very outspoken in favor of peaceful coexistence with Israel. In fact, he and his friends have even held four conferences within Israel itself, as well as hosting members of the Israeli press and political leadership. Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and Israeli Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara, among others, have appeared on his TV show.

Nevertheless, despite the risks, Ozbudak believes that “someone should speak up and say the truth, so others can follow.” In an era when radical Islam is on the upswing, it is refreshing to have a Turkish voice such as Ceylan Ozbudak supporting peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Visit United with Israel.

‘Attacking Each Other’?

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

See, this is a really good example of what is wrong with the world – or, at very least, what is wrong with the UK’s Express site (see image below).

Israel and Gaza attack each other? Excuse me? They fired rockets at us yesterday; they fired rockets at us today. They fired five rockets at us when Obama was here; and mortars have been flying too. And yes, early this morning, the IDF “struck targets in the Gaza Strip.”

But, I have several problems with this:

  1. Gaza clearly “attacked” us first – and so putting Israel first isn’t very honest.
  2. Attack each other implies there is no clear aggressor (note THEY fire at our CITIES, we fire at their military targets and rocket launchers).
When you say “each other” – it implies a sense of proportionality, a sense of endless violence, senseless violence. Of course, this is likely the intention of the Express – to point out that Israel attacked Gaza and let the unspoken thought pass through our minds that Israel attacking Gaza was basically equivalent to Gaza attacking Israel, and worse, that Israel did it first.
But no, that has nothing to do with the actual facts. GAZA fired at Israel; Israel responded. We must respond. No country in the world would put up with rockets being fired regularly across its border.
In the last conflict – they fired at our largest cities – at Jerusalem, our capital. What, what would the United States do if North Korea fired a missile into Washington, D.C.? Would Obama say…well, luckily, it landed in an open field and with a little plaster, we can put Lincoln back in his chair?
And if, as I suspect they would, the United States fired BACK at North Korea…would the Express write, ‘United States and North Korea attack each other”? I suspect they would not.
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Why Israel is NOT an Apartheid State

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

As we speak, anti-Israel activists across the globe are gearing up for or hosting Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) events on various college campuses, with the goal of delegitimizing the State of Israel.  As an anti-Israel student group at American University announced, “The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.”  While anti-Israel student groups like the Students for Justice in Palestine frequently make such statements, it is critical to remember that such assertions are nothing more than slander designed to harm Israel.

Many of the young anti-Israel activists who claim that Israel is an apartheid state don’t understand what the definition of apartheid truly is.  According to Merriam Webster’s English dictionary, apartheid is “racial segregation: specifically, a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa.”

According to a report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on the subject, among the policies that were implemented in apartheid South Africa were legal prohibitions on sexual relations between different races; forced physical separations between races, in restaurants, neighborhoods, swimming pools, public transport, etc.; restricting members of the black community to unskilled labor in urban areas; forbidding blacks from voting; educational restrictions for blacks, etc.

Benjamin Pogrund is a former deputy editor of the South African Rand Daily who reported on apartheid for 26 years and was an anti-apartheid activist himself.  After his newspaper was shut down because its owners were under pressure by the apartheid government, he made Aliyah to Israel.  Pogrund, as someone who is familiar with both South African apartheid and Israel, claimed that these conditions listed above do not exist in Israel.   He asserted in the Guardian that “Arabs have the vote, which in itself makes them fundamentally different from South Africa’s black population under apartheid. And even the current rightwing government says that it wants to overcome Arab disadvantage and promises action to upgrade education and housing and increase job opportunities.”

Upon witnessing how both Arabs and Jews worked and were treated in Israeli hospitals, in another instance, Pogrund claimed, “What I saw in the Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital was inconceivable in South Africa where I spent most of my life, growing up then and working as a journalist who specialized in apartheid.”   Yet the existence of Arab voting rights, government initiatives to decrease the gap between Jews and Arabs, and coexistence in hospitals are not the only aspects of Israeli society that prove that Israel is not an apartheid state. Incitement to racism is a criminal offense in Israel, as is discrimination based on race or religion, implying that the Israeli legal system fundamentally rejects apartheid ideology.

In fact, Israel is a liberal democracy, where the Arab minority actively participates in the political process.   Arabs like Major General Hussain Fares, Major General Yosef Mishlav, and Lieutenant Colonel Amos Yarkoni have served prominently in the IDF, while Arabs such as Ali Yahya, Walid Mansour, and Reda Mansour served as Israeli Ambassadors.  Salim Joubran sits on the Israeli Supreme Court, while Nawwaf Massalha and Raleb Majadele were members of the Israeli Cabinet.   Arabs have also served as university professors, heads of hospital departments, management level positions in various businesses, and in senior level positions in the Israeli Police.  Indeed, Israeli Arabs have reached positions that blacks in apartheid South Africa could only dream of. Thus, Israel is the polar opposite of being an apartheid state.

Visit United with Israel.

The State of the Internet Revolution in International Affairs: Less Progress Than You’d Think

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

In January 2000 I wrote an article entitled “Bringing Middle East (and International Affairs) Studies into the Twenty-First Century.” Rereading that piece exactly a dozen years later to the day is an eye-opener. Some of the things I predicted then have become so commonplace that it is hard to believe such ideas were so daring to present back then. Others haven’t happened much at all.

Here I’m talking about how international affairs writing has been changed. I began by pointing out that our project to produce a high-level online journal on the region, the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, then four years old, was an innovation that some had mocked and predicted would fail. But now that journal is entering its 17th year, having published around almost 500 full-length articles each reaching an audience of around 30,000 people! By way of comparison, most printed academic journals in the field have a circulation of around 1000.

At that time, I also had to explain our new turn to PDF/Adobe and how that was more convenient in several ways. That, too, is now taken for granted and new more advanced systems have been developed. I continued:

It is also necessary for funding agencies to rethink how their monies can be most effectively used. Amounts that have been paid for individual books–or even papers–and conferences could have 100 times more impact if applied to some of the new [computer-based] approaches discussed below.

Strange as it might seem, this still hasn’t completely happened. The money spent on a single conference or on a print journal could probably fund a journal or other online project for one or two years.

Following that I suggested a program for the future.

Equality for internet publications with printed media. Internet publications that meet the existing criteria should have equality in being indexed and being used for academic rank and tenure decisions. There is no intrinsic reason why a publication should not be treated differently simply because it is not produced originally on paper.

What might be called digitalphobia, however, has only gradually waned. In theory, this goal has been achieved but it is hard to get that point implemented.

Internet book publishing. Today it can take up to one year just to work through the reviewing process and gain acceptance for a book, as well as another year to be published. The resulting books usually sell for $30 to $50, putting them out of range for almost everyone except libraries (whose resources must be reaching their limit). It isn’t as if anyone is becoming rich in this process, on the contrary, academic presses are often losing money. We must work out acceptable ways to publish via the internet, both on a for-sale and free basis, so that authors will receive the proper credit and academic benefits. We should also be very aware of the possibility of creating `living books,’ monographs, and papers, which can be updated as events, new sources, and the author’s own interpretations develop. Such materials can also benefit from criticism so as easily to correct errors or alternative interpretations.

Twelve years later we are still only at the beginning of this transition. Publishers have benefited from the Kindle and other such products enough to save themselves. As for ebooks, the terms offered to authors are quite unattractive. And publishers do nothing much to publicize ebooks. Of course, they don’t do much to publicize print books either. It’s strange to have written books on Egypt, Syria, and Arab reformers—to cite only three examples—at a time when these issues are front-page news every day and see the publishers do absolutely zero to promote them.

The use of teleconferencing and computer telephones for research, meetings, and discussions. We now have access to low-cost, easy-to-use teleconferencing and voice-conferencing systems that allow us to erase geography in our daily work. These will come into increasing use in the coming years, especially as high-speed internet connections (such as ISDN, DSL, and cable modems) become more widespread.

It is amazing the extent to which this has not happened. Oh yes, there are such things but they have been strongly resisted and are still rare. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on plane tickets and hotels instead. The argument is face-to-face meetings are so much better. Certainly, that is true on one level but the ratio of “in-person” events to those using digital communications is still absurdly high.

New styles of research and academic projects….An international team can be assembled to study a topic in which all exchange materials or smaller groups of partners work on a paper together. When impossible to meet face-to-face, they can meet now by teleconferencing after the papers are completed for a discussion on a higher level than would otherwise occur. The monies saved could be used to pay the researchers. The resulting book or individual papers can be published traditionally or on the internet.

While I know you can think of examples of such things they are still amazingly rare.

Big online archives and research tools where people know how to find them. We need a system of documentary collections and other materials that can be readily used by researchers.

This has happened to the extent that many college students only use online sources, more’s the pity. Often, though, these troves are mishandled (in terms of judging the quality of sources) and underutilized when it comes to primary source material. Ironically, it is just as easy to go to the original source yet people use the tool of Internet to restrict themselves lazily to secondary sources, for example, the opinions of journalists or bloggers rather than what people actually said or did.

Specialized seminar groups on every topic. Those interested in any subject, no matter how specialized, can organize mediated, membership discussion groups involving experts from anywhere in the world.

This has happened to some extent, both in terms of institutional and individual lists. Yet one wonders whether this is as systematic as it could be.

The use of internet broadcast lectures and conferences. Using current technology like Realplayer and Windows Media Player, sites can make available on demand either radio (sound only) or television (sound and picture) coverage of lectures and meetings so they would be permanently available to people everywhere in the world. The cost of such technologies is quite affordable. The greatest advantage of this technology, however, is that a lecture or conference attended by one hundred people on one day can now easily be seen by thousands of people–at their convenience–over a long period of time. Of course, as with other media, people must get used to using them.

Such things have developed dramatically.

Embedded footnotes. Increasingly, in publishing papers and books on internet, we can use notes linked to the sources being quoted, allowing instant access to sources. This creates an infinite chain of information that provides far more breadth and depth than anything written on paper. Obviously, any quotation out of context will be clearly seen, while translations can be checked as well.

This, of course, has happened so thoroughly it is hard to remember what earlier life was like.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/the-state-of-the-internet-revolution-in-international-affairs-less-progress-than-youd-think/2013/01/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: