In May 2009, a conference was hosted at the University of California, Irvine, titled "Israel: The Politics of Genocide." Among the speakers was Abdel Malik Ali, a fervent supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad. This conference was not unique but rather one among many where academics and passionate Islamists shared a common narrative: alleging Israel's involvement in genocide, asserting Jewish control over media, politics, and the economy, and advocating for a global imposition of Sharia law. Similar sentiments were expressed by some Jewish figures like Norman Finkelstein and Ilan Pappe at such events, disavowing any antisemitic stance while criticizing Israel.
The emergence of the "eye-opening bin Laden letter" should not be surprising but rather prompt astonishment at the prevailing trend. Over two decades, a narrative against America, Zionism, Jews, whites, and colonialists has been systematically propagated, fueled by racist propaganda filled with lies and manipulations. Academic circles, not only at the Islamic University in Gaza but also in the United States, have been influenced by anti-American sentiments, branding America as the Great Satan and Israel as the Little Satan, often supported by generous funding, including from Qatar.
In 2016, Amherst University in Massachusetts faced criticism for lacking conservative voices in a specific discussion. Students, outraged by what they perceived as professors promoting anti-American views, initiated a petition. The sentiments echoed in the petition aligned with the content of the bin Laden letter, emphasizing anti-American judgments attributed to issues ranging from poverty in Africa to ISIS, tracing them back to American imperialism and capitalism. The elimination of bin Laden did not eradicate his doctrine, filled with hatred toward America, the free world, and Jews, which continued to influence university campuses.
For years, academic institutions have been venues for disseminating anti-American and anti-Zionist ideologies, often intertwined with antisemitic narratives. The rise in academics endorsing toxic ideologies has been facilitated by ongoing brainwashing, not only at institutions like the Islamic University in Gaza but also in the United States. The situation raises concerns about the influence of biased narratives funded by external sources.
It is crucial to acknowledge that while there are honest academics, not all criticism of Israel is inherently antisemitic. However, a troubling number of academics have become apologists and propagandists for ideologies that fuel hatred against America, the free world, Jews, and Zionism. The prevalence of such ideologies poses a serious challenge to intellectual integrity within academic communities.
It is essential to recognize that the "anti-colonialism" promoted by figures like bin Laden and other jihadist leaders does not align with genuine anti-imperialism. Instead, it represents a dark and murderous form of imperialism, as evident in the violent imposition of an oppressive Islamic caliphate. This extremist ideology lacks the principles of freedom, basic rights, and equality, exemplified by the mistreatment of women and brutal punishments such as the cutting off of hands, as witnessed in Afghanistan.
While some may express enthusiasm for the purported "anti-colonialism" of bin Laden and other jihadist figures, it is imperative to confront the realities. Recent history has shown that propagandist frenzies can evolve into extermination projects. The establishment of the state of Israel aimed to prevent the recurrence of such extermination enterprises. Zionism, in this context, is not the problem but a response to historical challenges.
Professor Jasbir Puar of the Department of Gender Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey has written a book titled "The Right to Maim." Puar's main idea is that Israel willfully maim Palestinians—a kind of boundless wickedness. There was no data or proof in the book. It was progressive gibberish. When it comes to an antisemitic pamphlet masquerading as academic, there is no need for a factual basis. Even after harsh criticism of the book, after all, there are decent academics, the book won the annual award of the National Women's Studies Association in 2018.
So what are we surprised about?
In simplified terms, a segment of American academia appears to engage in anti-American, anti-Zionist, and antisemitic narratives. The content of Bin Laden's letter mirrors what is taught in some social and humanities faculties, challenging claims that it "opened eyes." There's concern that similar reactions might arise when extreme ideologies like the Protocols, and Hitler's writings are encountered.
New supporters of Bin Laden, Hamas, and Jihadist groups may not align with moral values, as evidenced by the majority of terror attacks occurring in Muslim countries, causing harm to Muslim populations. The resurgence of mass violence, like in Darfur, Sudan, doesn't seem to deter these followers. Wickedness and anti-Western sentiments, instilled in academia, contribute to their mindset.
Expressions like "decolonization is not a metaphor" emerge after significant events, indicating a concerning call for annihilation. While not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, too many academics seem to endorse harmful ideologies. The authenticity of Bin Laden's letter is uncertain, but its content echoes the violent imposition of a restrictive Islamic caliphate seen in groups like Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and ISIS, evident in Afghanistan.
Enthusiasm for the so-called "anti-colonialism" of Jihadist leaders may overlook historical lessons, as past propaganda frenzies led to extermination projects. Establishing a state like Israel aimed to prevent a recurrence of such endeavors. Zionism, in this context, is presented as a solution rather than a problem.
- Ben-Dror Yemini is the author of Industry of Lies