Tuesday, August 01, 2023

An example of how academia creates anti-Israel narratives out of lies

Academia is used to launder every possible libel against Israel into acceptable-sounding social science. "Apartheid," "racism," genocide" - no matter what lies people make up against Israel, they are all supported by academic papers. 

It is easy to lie in an academic paper. Peer review is next to worthless. There are enough sources to support the most insane theories as long as the authors pick and choose them, and ignore any counter-examples. Then, once published, these papers are used as source materials in the next set of papers, and no one checks to see if these materials were any good to begin with because they rely on the peer-review process of other journals. Using these methods, it is not difficult to create an edifice of well-sourced theories based on lies.

A paper was recently published in Cogent Arts and Humanities by Hanana Bamadhaj Omar and Mohd Irwan Syazli Said that asserts that Israel is inflicting "social death" on Palestinians. Wikipedia defines "social death" as "the condition of people not accepted as fully human by wider society. It refers to when someone is treated as if they are dead or non-existent. It is used by sociologists such as Orlando Patterson and Zygmunt Bauman, and historians of slavery and the Holocaust to describe the part played by governmental and social segregation in that process."

Rather than look at whether Israel is indeed guilty of this charge, the authors seek to expand the definition of "social death" to include Israel as the social murderer. They say this explicitly:
This article draws on the elaboration of social death theory and expand it to analyse the (attempted) social death Israeli regime is inflicting on Palestinian refugees.
Omar and Said freely admit that the paper takes what is a relatively new social science concept and seek to expand it in way that are far beyond its original form - just to damn Israel. 

The authors take previous studies on how there is a component of social death in genocides - where (for example) the Nazis made the conscious decision not only to murder all Jews but also to destroy their culture and their relationships. They they twist this into saying that the effects of what Israel did to survive a genocidal attempt to wipe out the Jews in the region in 1948 on its Arab population was in fact the intent.

In the Palestinian context, we are contending that Palestinians are not entirely socially dead; however, they are, to a certain degree, are exposed to social death. The dispossession of millions of Palestinians in the past 73 years is an (attempt) to socially kill them. Quoting Edward Said (1986 p. 16), “identity- who we are, where we come from, what we are—is difficult to maintain in exile.”

Said's quote is only true when the exiles do not have a strong social identity to begin with. Jews, Kurds, Armenians, and Tibetans have all managed to maintain their national identities. One can look at the same set of evidence in this paper that supposedly proves Israel is attempting "social death" on Palestinians and instead argue that Palestinian identity was never that strong to begin with.

This Said quote exemplifies how academia rewards lies.

Science - when done properly - bases new theories on things that have been proven via controlled and reproduced experiments. 

Social science, on the other hand, only has pretensions to being science. But in social science, the "researchers" can pick and choose which theories and evidence they like and discard anything they don't. They then pretend that the previous studies that they like are settled facts, and they use previous half-truths to build new lies.

This paper has all of that:

2.2. Social death and genocide? Unlatching a new portal to social death
Card looks at “genocide” from a sociological viewpoint, a stance that attempts to expand the legally bounded term of genocide. Interestingly exemplifying the Holocaust, Card contended that it was not only a program of mass murder but also an assault on Jewish social vitality. This article argues that the ongoing Nakba is not only a program of violent dispossession but an assault on Palestinian social vitality. Lendman (2010), in Israel’s Slow-Motion Genocide in Occupied Palestine, perhaps puts it best in illustrating this. Palestinians: dispossessed of their lands, chased out of their sanctuaries, turned into permanently temporary people. This state of being permanently temporary separates them from their families and community is a form of assault on Palestinians’ social vitality, therefore, an (attempt) to social death.

We start off with Holocaust inversion, comparing what Palestinians to Holocaust victims, which is antisemitic. They are doing this consciously with the word "interestingly" above. 

Omar and Said then assert, with no citations, that the "nakba" is ongoing. This is an example of how social science rewards repeating lies that "everyone knows" without the slightest reluctance.

The authors cite Stephen Lendman, a recently deceased crazed right-wing conspiracy theorist who has no academic credentials.  Lendman's blog includes "CIA Involved in Child Trafficking?", "Fake Biden Announces 2024 Re-selection Bid" and "The Scourge of US-Supported Ukrainian Nazis

This is their source for a "slow motion genocide" of Palestinians!

The researchers are cognizant of social death being the centre of genocide (Card, 2003, 2010; Card & Marsoobian, 2007). However, she also noted that “social death is not necessarily genocide. But genocide is social death”, the same as we are conscious of the debate on using “genocide” to illustrate the violent Palestinian dispossession. Additionally, Card and Marsoobian (2007) point out that “genocidal acts are not always or necessarily homicidal” but achieve their intended effect by inflicting harm on the victim’s social vitality. Similarly, Lemkin (1944) notes genocide is not necessarily the immediate destruction of a nation. Destroying social relations on which a group’s identity and communal life are based can be genocidal (Lemkin as cited in Abed, 2007, p. 27). Culverwell (Citation2017) notes that while social death is unrecognised as an act of genocide under international law, it is essential to understand these actions’ impact on society as a whole. It is vital to note that this article will not ruminate on the genocide debate because it is not the focus of this research. There is a plethora of work on this, and among them are (Boyle, Citation2000; Doebbler, Citation2010; Lendman, Citation2010; Ophir, Citation2010; PappĂ©, Citation2006; Rashed et al., Citation2014) that the researchers find persuasive.

Their main source says that social death is not genocide. But the authors then twist that into saying that  some people say that Israel practices genocide on Palestinians, and they agree, so social death is evidence of genocide. The entire purpose of this paragraph is to link Israel to genocide using cherry picked sources and an argument that violates basic logic.  

Abed (Citation2007) responds and expands Card’s (Citation2003) social death in a manner we agree with. He introduced “territory bounded culture”, which is central to our argument where the forced removal of a population from their traditional lands eventuates social death (2007 p. 47). From our observation, Abed (Citation2007) and Patterson’s (Citation1982) work are interconnected. Patterson wrote: “slave is violently uprooted from his milieu and the process of social nullification constitutes the first external phase of enslavement” (1982 p. 38). The Palestinian case is a mixture of Patterson’s framework of social death; they are violently uprooted from their milieu by being dispossessed of their homes and lands. Many if not all cases of genocide involve forced displacement of populations, and many of these populations have cultures that are, in varying degrees, “territorially bounded” (Abed, Citation2007, p. 45). Nevertheless, Abed summarised Card’s argument perfectly. 

Omar and Said are basing their entire thesis on making links that don't exist, that they feel must be right, and therefore they seek sources that seem to support them and ignore any counter-evidence. 

In fact, they are quite aware of sources that disprove their own thesis - because they quote some.

[L]ooking at Palestinian identity, Siklawi (Citation2019) recognises Palestinian refugees’ identity in Lebanese camps faced a decline post-Lebanese civil war. 
If their identity was strong before the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s and weakened after it, then what does Israel have to do with their "social death"? 

Yet that is the entire thesis of the paper!

The rest of the paper is equally worthless. The methodology is a joke, where instead of directly asking a random sample of Palestinians some questions, the authors blame Covid-19 and instead choose a tiny number of pre-existing interviews to analyze to glean their social death status. (Ever hear of email? Telephones?) 

To determine Israeli dismissive attitudes towards Palestinians, they rely exclusively on quotes from the right-wing Arutz Sheva, which represents a small percentage of Israeli Zionists and opinions. 

It is obvious that the paper is not meant to research anything, but to support the authors' pre-existing biases. But it goes beyond that: the purpose of the paper is to build another component of the edifice of lies about Israel in modern academia. It is meant to be cited as a source for the next paper that will make further allegations, "extending" these concepts to further position Israel as uniquely evil and Palestinian Arabs as uniquely victimized. 

The social science universe does not punish academics who subvert the field in this way. On the contrary, because the field has little rigor, it rewards them.

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