Sunday, June 16, 2013

Remember Sarah Schulman, who wrote one of the most bizarre op-eds in NYT history in her crazed attempt to say that anything Israel does that is gay-friendly is really to whitewash its alleged crimes,  and whose hate for Israel makes it impossible for her to say a bad word about the undeniably homophobic terror group Hamas?

Well, she organized a conference on "Homonationalism and Pinkwashing" at CUNY earlier this year. I pointed out some of the nuttier parts of the conference description, but it turns out that Schulman's hate for Israel caused her to disallow anyone to speak at - or even attend! - the conference unless their hate for the Jewish state was as pure as hers is.

James Kirchick in Tablet describes how Schulman rejected numerous papers at the conference, even papers critical of Israel, if they did not toe her line that the only possible reason for Israel's being friendly to gays is to pursue its agenda of crushing Palestinian Arabs.

Beyond that, when one man proposed a paper saying that Israel's support of gays was meant to help tourism rather than provide cove for genocide, Schulman not only angrily rejected the paper but publicly accused him of being an "Israeli operative:"
But the most revealing of Schulman’s interactions was with Jayson Littman, a New York-based organizer of social events for gay Jewish men who has led gay-themed Birthright trips to Israel. Last spring, Littman sent a proposal titled “The Myth of Pinkwashing,” which, along the line of Jonathan Miller’s, explained that the Israeli government’s advertising its gay life is primarily about tourism dollars, not propaganda. Schulman sent him a similar response to the ones she fired off to the other three individuals described above. Littman’s dedication to connecting gay Jews with Zionism, however, appears to have made him a prominent target of Schulman’s florid campaign to portray any and all mention of gay life in Israel as part of a dark Israeli government-controlled conspiracy to oppress Palestinians.

In a November 2012 interview with the British lesbian magazine Diva, Schulman said that “the more I work in this arena, the more aware I become of the involvement of the Israeli government in the US LGBT community.” She named Littman, among others, as “Israeli government operatives … who work for the Foreign Ministry, whose job it is to work our community along pinkwashing lines.” Among their tasks, she said, are to “plant stories in newspapers, co-opt our events … and flood websites with propaganda.”
Littman, of course, is nothing of the sort.

Kirchick also reveals this little tidbit:
Schulman’s behavior—accusing someone (by all accounts falsely) of being a spy for a foreign government and then compiling a dossier full of inaccurate “evidence” when challenged on the veracity of her claim—is the work of an activist, or of a secret policeman in the old Soviet-bloc states, not a scholar. Indeed, despite having the title of “Distinguished Professor” at CUNY, Schulman has no degree higher than a Bachelor’s from Empire State College.
Empire State College is known for its distance learning program; meaning that her degree is pretty much a mail order  bachelor's degree, from a little known albeit accredited institution. CUNY hiring someone with those credentials as a "Distinguished Professor" makes one wonder about CUNY altogether.

Kirchick concludes with the undeniable:
In her opening speech, Schulman dropped any pretense of being anything other than an ideologue. Noting that some critics of her conference had suggested she invite “a keynote speaker from the other side,” she responded, “Like there’s two sides!” By offering a veneer of academic respectability to Sarah Schulman and her acolytes, CUNY has provided legitimacy to agitprop posing as scholarship.
FrontPage had a nice review of the entire joke of a conference.

(h/t Gidon)

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