Last week I was e-mailing back and forth with Prof. Donna Robinson Divine of Smith College about an upcoming academic event. Along the way we detoured into a discussion of the sorts of things one can hear these days at academic conferences. Prof. Divine has given me permission to post the relevant segments of our correspondence for public consumption:It is one thing if some fringe conspiracy theorists claim that Israel is hiding information in its archives. But these are professional historians whose entire careers are supposedly dedicated to using archives like these to uncover the truth.
So, to summarize: it is now acceptable for a panelist at a prestigious academic conference to claim that the lack of documentation of Israeli crimes proves not only that Israel committed the crimes, but that it's being devious and hiding the documentation. This, at a time when the archives are open, the documents in them have been searched exhaustively, and they do not support the thesis the academics wish they would support.
The panel on Israeli Archives at the American Historical Association meetings placed a great deal of emphasis on Yishuv period and on the War of Independence with one panelist actually stating that if she and others had access to the documents, they might be able to show that policymakers planned the displacement of Palestinians. Then, she added that if they could prove that a so-called policy of elimination [of the indigenous read Palestinians], they could secure the return of all the refugees in accordance with international law.
Whoever the panelist was, she was not adhering to the truth. By and large, the documentation of that period is open. All she needs to do is come and use it. And if there's a specific file which has been sealed – here and there, there are such files – she should request of the State Archivist that he look into the matter so as to open it.
The documentation shows very clearly that there was no such policy. Since that's the case, she's reverting to falsehoods. In essence what she's saying is that although the record shows that what she wishes were historically true isn't historically true, she's claiming that the record must be wrong; and the reason the record must be wrong is that the evil Zionists are falsifying it.
...From my reading of the field of Middle East Politics [US, England, Canada] the people who embrace this kind of so-called intellectual perspective are the ones gaining tenure and academic prestige. It is probably worse for the academy than for Israel but I am committed to do what I can try to reverse the course.
Update: Dr. Divine sends in a comment on the aftermath of her encounter with researchers who blame Israel in spite of, or even because, there isn't any evidence for their thesis. It gets even worse:
DRD: After completing the Archives Panel, I turned to finish another of the panels I developed on the topic of the 'settler colonialist perspective'. I asked some of the very people who embrace this view of Israel--and who charge Israel with denying them or those adopting this view access to relevant archives--to participate in a panel that would interrogate this approach. In fact, with one particular person, I pointed out that there would be archivists at the conference holding out the possibility of determining whether or not Israeli archives are indeed 'open'. The academician who already has charged Israel with denying access to those challenging the country's legitimacy refused my offer because of a strong commitment to the boycott movement. Charge Israel with denying access and then prove it by ever refusing to gain access. Wonderful!
Yet their hate is so deep that they choose their facts first and then fit all evidence - or supposed lack of evidence - to fit their bias.
The entire field of historical research is sullied because of these historians who are, quite literally, anti-history. This should be a scandal within the community of historians, but as far as I can tell, this dedication to being against research is not hurting anybody.
Of course, the deranged hate that people have for the Jewish state doesn't stop with the conspiracy theory that any evidence that doesn't support a pre-ordained result must be evidence of a coverup. The charge of "pinkwashing" - also supported by supposedly respected academics - says that evidence that contradicts their thesis of Israeli depravity in fact supports their thesis of such depravity!
At this point, Israel-hate (what I like to call misoziony) has gone way beyond any logic and even any pseudo-logic. It has crossed the line into dogma, where facts simply are not as important than feelings, and feelings of irrational hate for Israel are assumed to be true simply because they are so strong.
It does sound a lot like traditional antisemitism, doesn't it?
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