by Ari Lieberman
Smith [the proposed instructor], who labels Zionism as “beyond redeemable” and “intrinsically irredeemable from the start,” subscribes to every single modern day calumny against the Jewish State.
Imagine for a moment that a university decides to offer a new course called “Perspectives on the American Civil Rights Movement.” Imagine further that the professor slated to teach the course lacks any degree applicable to the subject, never visited any of the historical sites associated with the subject and never published anything noteworthy on the subject that would indicate a particular expertise. Instead, the professor maintains a degree in biology and his writings on the course subject matter are limited to interactive “talkback” commentary and a few op-eds in fringe or obscure online blogs. Imagine further that this professor is highly critical and even hateful of the civil rights movement and his opinions on the subject reflect a visceral animosity toward anything or anyone who attempted to advance the cause of civil rights in America. Now substitute the word “Zionism” for “American Civil Rights Movement” and this ridiculous and unimaginable charade instantly turns into an ugly reality at the University of Missouri.
In the fall of 2015, students at the University of Missouri will be offered a one credit “honors tutorial” called “Perspectives on Zionism.” George P. Smith – more on this character later – is slated to be the course lecturer. According to its description, the course will be limited to “the history of Zionism from the turn of the 20th century to the present day.” Of course, a true understanding of Zionism – the Jewish expression of the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel – and its roots requires an examination of the millennia-old Jewish cultural, spiritual, historical, religious and geographical nexus to the Land of Israel. Smith on the other hand, would have his students believe that the Zionist movement emerged from a vacuum and is merely a modern-day phenomenon that resulted in the displacement of the area’s “true indigenous inhabitants.”
Smith oddly describes himself as a “Jew-in-law,” because as he puts it, “my wife is Jewish, our kids are both bar-mitzvahed (sic), and we’re active in the congregation though not religious.” He’s also been known to describe himself as a “Nakba Jew-in-law,” borrowing the phrase that Arabs routinely employ to describe the “catastrophe” that befell the “Palestinian” Arabs following Israel’s rebirth and military victory in 1948.
Smith, who labels Zionism as “beyond redeemable” and “intrinsically irredeemable from the start,” subscribes to every single modern day calumny against the Jewish State. He is a supporter of the anti-Semitic “Boycott Divestment Sanctions” (BDS) movement. He has on multiple occasions referred to Israel as an “Apartheid state” despite the fact that Israel, unlike any other nation in the Mideast, maintains an electoral system that grants all of its citizens, irrespective of gender or ethnicity, the right to vote.
Smith is perhaps also ignorant of the fact that one of Israel’s past presidents (on an acting basis) was a Druze Arab. Moreover, it was an Israeli Arab who, while sitting on a 3-member judicial panel on Israel’s highest court, found Israel’s disgraced president, Moshe Katzav, guilty of misconduct. It would have been unthinkable for black judge to have been appointed to the top judicial court in Apartheid-era South Africa, let alone one with the power to sentence South Africa’s president to a lengthy prison term. But a hate-driven, myopic partisan like Smith will not allow facts to alter his skewed narrative.
At a recent event featuring an IDF soldier and his personal accounts and observations, Smith, sitting in the front row, repeatedly interrupted the speaker hurling groundless accusations. He accused Israel of committing “ethnic cleansing” and of provoking last summer’s Gaza war using the kidnapping-murder of three Israeli teens as the necessary pretext. Absent from Smith’s account are the rockets and terror tunnels employed by Hamas to inflict mass civilian casualties. Smith routinely employs narratives that omit relevant facts necessary for context and proper understanding of the conflict and that by itself renders him dishonest and unsuitable to lecture on the subject of Zionism or related fields.
If Smith had a shred of honesty in him, he would rename the course, “Perspective on Zionism,” in singular tense because he is clearly uninterested in allowing the expression of any narrative favorable to Zionism to filter into the classroom. His repeated attacks against Israel – where he subjects Israel to double standards, demonizes the Jewish State and denies the fundamental right of Israel to exist as a sovereign Jewish nation – places him squarely within the parameters of Natan Sharansky’s 3-D paradigm for determining anti-Semitism. Smith’s self-proclaimed title of “Jew-in-law,” which he utilizes as a fig leaf to spew the vilest anti-Semitic canards, fails to insulate him from this disparaging reality.
It is no secret that anti-Semitism on college campuses, spearheaded by the student hate group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) continues to surge. More disconcerting however, is the emergence of an unholy alliance between college officials and the SJP. The instant case involving Smith’s hate course at the University of Missouri represents but one example of many.
At Brooklyn College, the political science department co-sponsored an event with the SJP that featured BDS activist and notorious anti-Semite, Omar Barghouti. Four Jewish students were tossed from the event under the false pretense of causing a disruption. The forcible removal of the students occurred in full view of senior college officials including Milga Morales, Vice President for Student Affairs. A Daily News reporter who was wearing a Yarmulke was also removed from the event. A subsequent investigation by outside counsel concluded that the Jewish students had not caused any disruption and were removed without just cause.
At Northeastern University, economics professor Shahid Alam told his students to be proud of being called “anti-Semites.” He then spoke approvingly of how the student body has turned against Israel over the years and that those students who are still supportive of Israel are afraid to speak their minds. Like all good fascists, Alam is supportive of free speech when that speech is consistent with his hateful narrative but gives the nod of approval to intimidation tactics when confronted with challenge.
At UC Riverside, a course is being offered on “Israeli Apartheid.” The course will be taught by student leader of SJP. The course syllabus includes material that rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Protests by students and leading Jewish groups that the course is anti-Semitic and violates the school’s own prohibition against political indoctrination in the classroom have made no impact on administration officials, who insist that the course meets requisite academic standards.
And at Connecticut College, a distinguished professor of philosophy, Andrew Pessin, became the victim of an intellectual pogrom after Lamiya Khandaker, a former student and SJP leader initiated a hate campaign based on spurious allegations involving the convoluted misreading of a single 7-month old Facebook post. Without analyzing the facts and acting with extreme haste that bordered on gross negligence, administrated officials and faculty sided with khandaker thus further tarnishing Professor Pessin’s good name and scheduled events featuring virulently anti-Israel films and speakers that included terrorist supporters. Khandaker, who chairs the college’s Diversity & Equity panel, later came under scrutiny herself when it was revealed that she posted offensive comments with anti-Semitic overtones on Facebook.
The University of Missouri’s collaboration with an academic, who openly seeks Israel’s destruction and wishes to politically indoctrinate his students with poison, represents the latest outrage. I wrote to MU Chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, seeking clarification on the course, its anti-Semitic and anti-Israel overtones and Smith’s qualifications for teaching such a subject given his abject lack of academic credentials in Mideast studies or related fields. I have yet to receive a response and doubt one will ever be forthcoming.
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.
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