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Editorial Article

Tel Aviv University - Taking a Hard ‘GAZE’ at the anti-Israel NewSpeak and Gobbledygook of Dr. Orly Lubin (Dept of Comparative Literature)

By Lee Kaplan, www.Isracampus.org.il
26/4/2010

A senior lecturer in Comparative Literature and “Women’s Studies” at Tel Aviv University, Orly Lubin is what could be called a compulsive “joiner.” She joined Tel Aviv University, a matter we still find a bit puzzling. She joins any group and signs almost any petition that bashes Israel, particularly when such involves so-called “feminist” and “peace” groups. These include “New Profile,” which specializes in fabricating “war crimes” by the Israeli army, and the Coalition of Women for Peace, with its intimate ties to Israel’s communist party. She got her PhD in 1989. Have a look at her “academic record” since then and make up your mind for yourself as to what her credentials are (we were able to find only one English article by her in a refereed bona fide academic journal).

Reading Lubin is like reading an essay that received a failing grade written by a student in an inner city high school. It is unreadable pabulum. Lubin has a fetish about “power”: she claims it is held by what she calls the “community” that oppresses “the Other.” This is all postmodernist Newspeak and PC gobbledygook. She is trained in comparative literature, so just what could she possibly know about power?

Just what do we know about her “community?” The one with which she identifies? It pretty much consists of Israel bashers, anti-Semites and terrorists. For openers, she signed a petition put out by the PFLP-backed Alternative Information Center complaining that leftists in Germany are not sufficiently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel enough because they actually sided with Israel’s defensive war in Gaza to stop the rocket attacks. She signed on to the call for Germany to boycott Israel, and disarm it. The petition accepts at face value all the smears in the discredited Goldstone Report accusing Israel of war crimes.

The statement she signed then goes on say that “Germany’s diplomatic and military action throughout the region couples with its active support of Israel’s occupation policies representing sufficient reason to view the FRG as an additional actor responsible for the violations of international law and war crimes committed by the Israeli government.”

You will be astounded to hear that Orly Lubin has never signed any petitions objecting to Kassem rockets landing on Sderot.

Another petition signed by her called for “international intervention” to erase Israeli sovereignty and to pressure Israel to stop defending itself in time of war; it was sent to foreign embassies in Israel. One other petition voiced support for ultra-anti-Semite Neve Gordon, who had served as a human shield for terrorists, who writes a column for the Iranian government newspaper, and who leads the campaign of Israelis for an Elimination of Israel to boycott and “divest” from Israel. Lubin has also endorsed calls for a boycott against Israeli universities, including the very university, TAU, in which Lubin is employed.

But by far the best way to appreciate the “thinking” of Lubin is to consider an article she wrote in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, while in the US as a visiting scholar. It was titled, “Masked Power: An Encounter with the Social Body in the Flesh.” The article describes mourning the dead of the 9/11 attacks as “…a way to maintain the innocence, namely the innocence of the victim suffering an unjust injury inflicted on her for reasons that she can grasp but are beyond her control. She mourns from the bottom of her heart and in the very act of mourning proves herself to be the good person she always knew she was, that we all were” (Note the obsessive misuse of “she” rather than “he” as the neutral third person pronoun.).

Lubin then continues, “But mourning, even when it does not need to have meaning, does need to be framed. This framing becomes ‘the community’; and the notion of the community seems to be a prism through which one can view the trauma, as community becomes the containment of the trauma.”

She drones on: “After 9/11, ‘community’ became the magic word. The sense of community born at the very moment the event has become, already, an object of nostalgic lament. Very quickly people began to reminisce nostalgically about both the shock and sense of togetherness; the terrible sense of vulnerability and the birth of new friendships; the feeling of isolation and the ability to rely on others for company and help. It is this construction of the near sacredness of the community, though, that also enabled discourse of revenge, military action, violations of civil rights, and ‘the post 9/11hush’, [that] …labels the lack of civic activism.”

In case you missed it above, Ms. Lubin rejects the right of the US and allies to go after al-Qaeda terrorists or state sponsors of terrorism. She considers such anti-terror operations after 9/11 as simple “revenge,” and “military action.” They are not so much as a way to protect Americans and others (even Israelis) from terrorism. Instead they are reaction by the terrorist “community” to perceived injustice against what she describes as “the Other.” She shrilly complains of violations of civil rights of supporters of terrorism. She laments how even mentioning 9/11 serves to prevent the pro-terror forces in the Islamic world from coming to terms with the western “community.”

Of course, she has no problem with the Hamas and PLO attacking the Israeli “community” to which she testily belongs. Instead, Israel, and by extension the US and the West, are the worst violators imaginable of her “sense of oppression.” She couldn’t care less that Israel’s community provides her with a cushy academic post at the taxpayers’ expense.

In summing up 9/11, Lubin wrote: “September 11 created a traumatic shock not so much in the realization of actually having power, but in the realization of the horror of being in power. Students of culture, colonialism and postcolonialism [sic], of feminism and queer [sic] studies, have been theorizing and demonstrating in the last two decades the position of the victims of the gaze [sic].” “Gaze” is another of her nonsense words; by gaze she means ogling someone until they drop their eyes, in this case using power over the oppressed individual. She then explains, “The owner of power, the owner of the gaze, has to encounter herself as a source of violence, inherent in her status. which she more often than not, has not chosen to confront her own positioning…Her only way out, her only option to get rid of the objectifying power of the gaze, is to move—metaphorically when the literal move ‘to the other side’ is impossible—to the side of the Other.”

Reading her prose is enough to convince would-be undergraduates to sign up for carpentry shop. “An altogether different understanding of the very notion of Otherness, of how to get rid of power and the gaze by defying the ‘demand’ to have an Other in order to maintain one’s identity, by never gazing long enough so as to objectify the gazed at, never standing long enough in one identity positioning so as to have to create an Other for that positioning to imagine itself as a position. As abstract as it sounds, this is the task that the shock of recognition of power brings. It requires one to be on the move constantly, never being ‘one’ long enough for the creation of the Other.” Finally, “In a community one is never moving, one is always static, one is always a part of something, which is by definition an Other of an Other.”

We suggest that the heads of Tel Aviv University need to take a nice solid GAZE at what Lubin is inflicting on her hapless students.

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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