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Editorial Article

The Defaming Duo - Adi Ophir (Tel Aviv University) and Ariella Azoulay (Bar Ilan University) - Two Israel Bashers for the Price of One

Pick one of the duo and you will always find the other hopping aboard. Start with support for the Palestinian "right of return.” Then calls for Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in the "territories." Then branding Israel 'an Apartheid state.' Then calls for an academic boycott of Israel. Then denouncing all acts of retaliation by Israel. Then dismiss warnings about the intentions of Iran.

Anti-Zionist petitions and articles always bear their two signatures. The duo of Adi Ophir and Ariella Azoulay seem to share everything, from a household to “books” churned out for the anti-Israel Far Left. They offer you…

IsraCampus Nepotism Update:
No sooner was Ariella Azoulay (one of the two members of the Defaming Duo described here) turned down for tenure at Bar-Ilan University when she was hired as an adjunct lecturer in the Faculty of the Arts at Tel Aviv University, the school where the other member of the Duo, her husband Adi Ophir, happens to be employed. Since universities in Israel generally do not employ married spouses in the same institution, IsraCampus invites the official heads of Tel Aviv University to explain this curious arrangement.

 

 

The Defaming Duo - Adi Ophir (Tel Aviv University) and Ariella Azoulay (Bar Ilan University) - Two Israel Bashers for the Price of One

Alon ben Shaul
25/3/2010

"First, an anecdote,” writes Ran Greenstein, an Israeli-born anti-Israel sociologist based in a South-African University. "A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference in Europe and went to a 'round table' discussion about settlement and colonialism in Israel/Palestine. When I made a reference to this book, one of the participants – a radical lefty Tel Aviv academic - looked at me in amazement and said something along these lines: 'Did you really read this book in South Africa? No one in Israel has managed to that.” If this is true, it is a great pity, but an understandable one: it is an over-long analysis of the system of domination in Israel/Palestine as it has been constructed over the last 40 years.”

Comrade Greenstein's admiration was for the book "The Regime Which is Not One,” written jointly by Adi Ophir and his spouse Ariella Azoulay. Greenstein’s commentary speaks for itself. The book evolves around the notion that the current Israeli regime is a product of settlement processes that were historically part of European colonialism, and whose practices are similar in many respects to other “separation regimes,” such as the Apartheid of South Africa. "The book,” he emphasizes, "has a dual character: brutal oppression, denial of human and political rights, total disregard of the welfare of subjects in the occupied territories combined with (qualified) democracy in pre-1967 boundaries.” (1)

This ex- Israeli occupier of South Africa found what he wanted, a book that confirms his belief that even after the Oslo accords, a "complete disregard to the welfare of (the Palestinian) residents became the norm” in Israel. The author duo adds, "Israel authorities have shirked all responsibility for what is happening to residents, and their concern is to ensure that they (the Palestinians) do not die en masse. Not because they care, but because they fear a diplomatic uproar.” Hence, "a supply of limited electricity of fuel or allowing a limited supply of food aid by international agencies, calculated to be just enough to prevent mass starvation or total infrastructural collapse.”

Another nasty book was co-edited by Adi Ophir with Michal Givoni of TAU and Sari Hanafi of the American University in Beirut, titled "Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of the Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Ophir, true to his co-habitation habits, co-wrote an essay there with Azoulay about "The Order of Violence," and gave Azoulay the privilege to publish in the book a “visual essay,” entitled "The (In)Human Spatial Condition.” (2)

That book, in the words of it authors, "calls into question prevalent views of the occupation as either a skewed form of brutal colonization, a type of Jewish apartheid, or an inevitable response to terrorism.” Engaging a variety of disciplinary and intellectual perspectives, the writers address the fundamental and contemporary dimensions of the occupation regime— "its unpredictable bureaucratic apparatus, the fragmentation of space and regulation of movement, the intricate tapestry of law and regulations, the discriminatory control over economic flows, and the calculated use of military violence.”

Ironically, Sari Hanafi, one of the co-editors of that book, was boycotted by his own University, where he works as a sociology professor. The reason is not very hard to guess – his cooperation with Israeli academics. Even the fact that Hanafi is a strong supporter of "The Lebanese Campaign for the boycott of Zionism" did not help him. His “solidarity” with the “Palestinian people” and his advocacy of divestment and sanctions were outweighed by his willingness to cooperate with the Israeli "enemy," even when the Israelis in question were radically anti-Israel. Hanafi apparently believed naively that producing an anti-Israel damning book with two collaborators from across the border would save him his colleagues' wrath. Instead they accuse him of “hypocrisy.” After all he committed himself to boycott not only Israeli institutions, but Israeli scholars as well. In their view, the only good Israeli is a non-breathing one. Poor Hanafi believed that boycotting Israel should NOT include those Israelis who themselves vilify Israel.

Anti-Israel books written or edited by Israelis are just not anti-Israeli enough for many Arabs. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has recently describe the book as a project by people "that, while intending to empower the colonized Palestinians, in essence end up undermining their will and choice of method of struggle for freedom, justice and self determination.” For them it "represents a classic example of how the collective voice of the colonized is ignored in the production of a scholarly work supposed to empower them.” (3)

The same leaders of the Boycott aggression against Israel even denounce the radical semi-Marxist Van Leer Institute. Their attitude towards Van Leer reflects their negation of Israel as an entity. And they explain: "contrary to the claims of some left-wing Israeli academics that the Van Leer institute is an incubator for cutting-edge critical thinking and oppositional politics, the Institute is firmly planted in the prevailing Zionist consensus and is part and parcel of the structures of oppression and domination. It subscribes to the “vision of Israel as both a homeland for the Jewish people and a democratic society, predicated on justice, fairness and equality for all its residents,” ignoring the oxymoron presented by this inherently exclusionary vision -- a “Jewish State” of necessity discriminates against its “non-Jewish” citizens.” What's more “the Van Leer Institute receives financial support from other Israeli universities and state institutions that are subject to boycott.”

On March the 1st Ophir shared a platform with Hanafi in Goldsmith College in London, chaired by the Israeli anti-Israeli Eyal Weizman, but the irony was lost upon him.

From Pretoria To Gaza

Azoulay, the other half of this joint conjugal intifada, is a Nakba-freak. She spends most her life hunting for 1948 photographs that might prove the existence of massacres committed by Jews against Arabs. So far, on her admission, she found none. Azoulay concentrated also on the years 1947 and 1950, in which "the institutions of the Jewish Yishuv were transformed into the apparatus of a Jewish state," and they were tasked with "Judaizing the region they had conquered.” She tried to show how the state applied this “strategy” to all areas of life in a territory that still had no permanent borders. Her photo exhibition contains about two hundred photographs, most of which come from various Yishuv and state archives. "The apparatus of the new state,” she writes, "was shaped during the process of destroying Palestinian society by killing, dividing, expropriating, expelling and preventing those expelled from returning.” And in her words "nor was that enough.” In order for this “apparatus” to be maintained, "it was necessary to transform the catastrophe imposed on the Palestinians into what I shall characterize as “catastrophe from their point of view” – “their,” of course, referring to the Palestinians. (4)

Embarrassingly, an American Holocaust denier was so impressed by the Ophir-Azoulay joint ventures that he crowned them with the honor of "Righteous Jews.” His Neo-Nazi web site praised them and others for the “courage to commemorate Palestinians who have been depopulated, dispossessed, humiliated, tortured, and murdered by the Zionists.”

Ariella Azoulay was a senior lecturer at the Program of Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies at Bar-Ilan University before being denied tenure there. When Bar Ilan turned her down for tenure, large number of Israeli tenured leftists circulated a petition protesting this. We doubt they were motivated by her scholarship and research track record. Adi Ophir is an associate professor at the Cohen Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University.

The duo have described Israel’s military operations against Hamas terrorists in Gaza as the "kind of raids known from 19th century colonial wars; the kind of raids South Africa conducted often in the seventies and eighties against neighboring countries. Only now the natives, not the colonists, are in the enclave.”

For them the "Israelis" are the colonists and the Palestinians are the "natives.” The distinction reflects their firm belief in the illegitimacy of Israel. To re-enforce this perception they resort to their favorite fetish - equating Israel to white minority rule in apartheid South Africa. "The Jewish colonists have turned the entire Palestinian territory into a series of enclaves, more or less separated from each other, and from ‘Israel proper.’ Different enclaves are treated differently. They are more or less ‘external’ to the Israeli mainland, more or less forsaken by the Israeli sovereign and its governmental apparatuses. Gaza is an enclave of a special kind and status. It is an enclave that has turned into a frontier, a no man's land and an experimental field for man's hunting and for a gradual, more or less controlled destruction.” And if that is not enough, many of the colonialists "enjoy, let along tolerate, the killing of civilians. There is a sense of satisfaction, even joy among Jewish Israelis.” (6) The couple seem to spend too much time reading anti-Semitic web sites.

The couple and their friends tried to involve the foreign embassies in Tel Aviv, calling for an international intervention in Gaza. In that petition they argued that "Israel's atrocities will not cease without a massive intervention by the international community.” In particular, they ask world leaders to imposed sanctions against Israel.

Basically, the two are pro-terror, and think Arab terrorism against Jews is a perfectly legitimate response to Jews having “settlements.” (Never mind that Arabs regard Haifa and Tel Aviv as settlements as well.) "While we totally condemn acts of terror against innocent civilians,” they write, "we regard Palestinian violence as being, on the whole, a legitimate revolt against colonial occupation. Despite the fact that many innocent Israelis have been victims of this revolt, we understand that there can be no moral and military symmetries between occupiers and occupied. The occupation itself is morally and politically wrong; the excessive force Israel uses in order to impose its rule against growing Palestinian resistance is totally unacceptable.” (emphasis added)

They also blamed Israel, not Arab terrorism, for disrupting Palestinian emergency medical services, transportation, and education. "Palestinian civilians are not only abused and mistreated by members of the Israeli military, but are further exposed to daily harassment and aggression by Jewish settlers. The mental harm caused by years of terrorization (sic), anxiety, loss, humiliation and mourning is inexpressible.” (8)

In the height of the suicide bombing campaign against Israeli citizens the Ophir-Azoulay due and their ilk among Israeli academia found the need to express "solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom,” and call upon the state "to do everything possible to protect the Palestinian population living in the occupied territories.” No such call to protect Jewish civilians from the terrorists!

While Israeli buses, restaurants and wedding halls were being targeted by Palestinians in explosive belts, they accused of "openly committing war crimes, worse than what we have seen in a long time. ….” They pointed the finger at "Israel's destructive criminal policy" and cited a disappointment that "except for some rather weak official condemnation, the international community is reluctant to intervene. ….” They clarified: "In the past the world know how to fight criminal policies. The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves: its trade relations are flourishing, academic and cultural cooperation continue and intensify with diplomatic support. This international backing must stop. That is the only way to stop the insatiable Israeli violence. We are calling on the world to stop Israeli violence and not allow the continuation of the brutal occupation. We call on the world to Condemn and not become an accomplice in Israel's crimes.

Recently, in an article published on Mara, a pro-Palestinian website, Ophir discussed to the Passover-eve massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya in April 2002. There he accuses Israel of responding aggressively to that carnage in which 30 people were murdered and 140 more injured. "Israel re-conquered several Palestinian towns, crushed the security apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority and dismantled many other institutions of the Palestinian government…..” (9)

From Olga to Tehran

Needless to say that the "Royal Couple" of the Israel-hating post-Zionists were signatories to the notorious Olga declaration in June 2004, which came out openly for the Palestinian "right of return,” which means the “right” of Palestinians” to flood Israel with immigrants and turn it into one more Arab state. That document denounced Israel as "a death-trap whose inhabitants live in constant danger, the likes of which is not experienced by any other Jewish community.” It also alleged that the Israeli state "was supposed to be a democracy,” but in fact "it has set up a colonial structure, combining unmistakable elements of apartheid with the arbitrariness of brutal military occupation.”

The Olga Declaration also charged that "retaliations, military operations and wars have become the life-support drug of Israel's Jews, but their recipe for a solution could exposed the true extremist faze of the participants.” Signers of that declaration emphasized their unity in their criticism of Zionism, "based as it is on refusal to acknowledge the indigenous people of this country and on denial of their rights, on dispossession of their lands, and on adoption of separation as a fundamental principle and way of life.” They also denounced Israel for its persistent refusal “to bear any responsibility for its deeds, from the expulsion of the majority of Palestinians from their homeland more than half a century ago, to the present erection of ghetto walls around the remaining Palestinians in the towns and villages of the West Bank.”

The Olga signers advocated a "one state solution” in which Israel would simply cease to exist. (Azoulay herself, together with her radical group "Zochrot,” organized a conference about the “one-state solution” in June 2008 in Tel Aviv).

But Ophir, Azoulay and their comrades in arms do not stop here. In recent months they claim to sense a new danger – that Israel is about to launch a pre-emptive strike against the pro-genocide regime of the Ayatollahs. "There is no military, political or moral justification to initiate war with Iran!" - they proclaim in a recent petition. This is little more than a Leftist Blood Libel - Israeli academics invent the claim that "their" country plans to attack Iran. "A constant flow of information,” they write, "bears witness to the fact that the Israeli government is seriously considering attacking Iran, in order to disrupt its nuclear plans.” In an ironic twist, this came only a few days after President Obama's decision to deploy missile batteries in the Gulf.

A group of academics (200 in number!) were scholarly enough not to "disregard irresponsible actions by the Iranian government," as they put it. But they are very clear about the real source of the immediate danger of a possible widespread war in the Middle East: Unsurprisingly, it stems "from the policies of the Israeli government and the flow of threats from it, backed by provocative military maneuvers.” (11)

In sum – here is Israel in the eyes of Ophir, Azoulay and their taxpayer-financed academic battalion: an apartheid colonial regime that is hell-bent to kill innocent people at random for the fun of it, to deny the root course of the conflict, to deprive the Palestinians of their livelihood and dignity, and - for good measure – to create another world war by attacking Iran.

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  1. "This Regime which is Not One: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and the River. In Hebrew. Tel Aviv: Resling, 2006.
  2. "Power of Inclusive Exclusion.” Brooklyn: Zone Books, 2009.
  3. www.pacbi.org Its advisory board, founding committee and steering committee consist of Arabs only. The organization initiates the "First International Israel Apartheid Short Film Contest.”
  4. www.zochrot.org
  5. www. righteousjews.org
  6. www.Zspace.org 12. 1. 2009
  7. www.kibush.co.il
  8. "Israeli Citizens for International Intervention.” www.oznik.com
  9. "The Politics of Catastrophization.” Also on www.roundtable.kein.org
  10. The Olga document could be found in "Not in My Name.” www.nimn.org
  11. www.globalsearch.ca. Also on www.windowsoniran.wordlpress.com

And who are the whistleblowers? Well, you may find them on the list of the usual suspects who decorates Israeli universities. The Coordinating Group consist of names like Prof. Gadi Algazi; Judy Blanc; Prof. Rachel Giora; Prof. Anat Matar; Prof. Yoav Peled; Reuven Kaminer, Prof. Haggai Ram; Prof. Yehuda Shenhav; Prof. Oren Yiftachel and many more.

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Op-Ed articles appearing on IsraCampus.Org.il are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinion of IsraCampus.Org.il