Egypt’s "Street" still hates the Jews

Israelmatzav: Anti-Semitism in the anti-Mubarak crowd

Here is a major scandal that involves The New York Times and other American main-line media: there has been an apparently deliberate suppression of the anti-Semitic incidents in their great, beloved, democratic revolution of Egypt. Al Jazeera reported that “many of the gangs who attack reporters shout ‘Yehudi !’ ” (Feb. 13), but this is something the Times didn’t find fit to print. The New York Post had an altogether credible account of the sexual gang assault on CBS’s (non-Jewish) correspondent Lara Logan (Feb. 16), viz. that it was accompanied by shouts of “Jew, Jew.” But our so very high-minded “quality” newspapers would have none of that. We also know of other anti-Semitic incidents, reported elsewhere, but not in the New York Times.

Now, to its great credit, the Jewish Week of February 25 publishes an impressively researched article by its associate editor Jonathan Mark, The Lara Logan Cover-Up ?, in which he gives details about the shameful Egypt-prettyfication campaign by the Times and other papers.

UPDATE May 1, 2011: Tonight’s 60 Minutes has an interview with Lara Logan in which she confirms, though in a muted way, the anti-Semitic aspect of the incident. Will that be enough for the NY Times to break its conspiracy of silence ?

Germany has a lesson for the University of Toronto

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, whose doctorate has been questioned

Within the last two days all the German papers have headlined a Peto-like academic scandal at the University of Bayreuth: a recent doctoral dissertation by a prominent politician has been described by critics as intellectually unacceptable. The author of the dissertation, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, is not only the scion of an aristocratic German family but is also Germany’s young and popular minister of defense.

And here is what the German university did within hours of these serious allegations: it charged its standing control commission with the case, and it told Guttenberg to submit a detailed response to the criticisms.

There are differences between the Peto and Guttenberg cases, to be sure. Guttenberg’s work has been accused of plagiarism, while Peto’s was accused of falsification of facts and general scholarly incompetence. But the similarities are more striking. The accusations, in both cases, came from outside the institution. In each case, the integrity of the institution and its reputation was called into question. In each case, the public, which foots the bills, expressed a concern over what goes on within the walls of academe.

Now look at the difference on how these universities have reacted. Toronto has told the public to mind its own business: everything is fine within our borders, it has said, repeatedly. Bayreuth has told the public: we appreciate your concern; we will investigate; we have required the dissertation’s author to submit explanations.

In both cases, senior professors were involved in approving the theses in the first place, and the accusations of academic malfeasance will cause internal political difficulties for the administrators. These difficulties, matters of administrative inconvenience really, have carried the day in Toronto. In Bayreuth, God bless that University, integrity has, at least so far, won out over bureaucratic hanky-panky.

For further reading:

The English-language press has had little to say on the Guttenberg case so far. But here is a very brief BBC report. For a longer treatment, in German, see FAZ, here. Here is a fascinating, hour-long video of a round-table conducted by Anne Will on German TV

Revelations of plagiarized material in the Guttenberg dissertation increase by the hour as scholars all over Germany continue to scrutinize the work. A special blog has been established for this growing body of criticism. Here is the trenchant critique of Guttenberg’s thesis by Prof. Andreas Fischer-Lescano. It is this work by Fischer-Lescano that brought the whole affair to public attention.

And… for those who don’t quite recall the Peto matter: I have done a number of postings about it on this blog in the recent past.

UPDATE, FEB. 23: The University of Bayreuth has rescinded the doctorate of zu Guttenberg. See today’s Tagesschau. The University of Toronto, on the other hand, persists in its academic dereliction in the Peto matter.

What Goes On at Broolyn College ? — Some Observations by Abigail Rosenthal

Below is a letter from Abigail Rosenthal, Professor Emerita of Philosophy at Brooklyn College, to the National Association of Scholars, a watchdog organization. I reproduce it here with her permission.

I’ve long felt that Brooklyn College is an important place in the academic universe. It’s a kind of Ellis Island, with students from all over the world, & a significant contingent of Talmudically trained young Jews who do wonderfully in Philosophy. And, when I was there, the student body included upwardly mobile Muslim young people who were often a pleasure to teach, too.

I was gratified when NAS took the stand it did last fall, against a one-sided “common text,” portraying Muslims in America as victims, which was assigned as “orientation” reading to incoming students. Since then, as you may know, the latest FBI statistics have come out, showing that Jews are eight times likelier than Muslims to be victims of hate crimes — the likelihood particularly high in the borough of Brooklyn. It’s obvious that we wouldn’t want a common orientation text devoted to interviews with Jewish victims of hate crimes in Brooklyn — not because they aren’t victims — but because we don’t want incoming students treated as part of a group with a grievance. Students are individuals seeking their own higher education.

The Petersen-Overton case, where the Provost reversed the hire and then reversed the reversal, was somewhat different. Due process was not followed in the hire. (A second-year student in the PhD program is under-credentialed to teach a graduate course, & his course syllabus, which included a history component, wasn’t cleared with the History Dept.) Due process was also not followed in his firing. I think due process, rather than academic freedom, was the main issue here. (Political considerations should not have determined the hire either. Yet it’s probable that the Political Science Dept.’s rush to hire Petersen-Overton was connected to his views. When a faculty unit acts that way, I don’t think it should be considered the only stakeholder. One can claim, with the AAUP, that advocacy is okay in the classroom. But who in Brooklyn College’s Political Science Dept advocates on the other side? One-sided advocacy is not okay, by any standards.)

Anyway, what’s done is done. My question is, where are we now, on the Brooklyn campus? Well, the “Palestinian Club” (a group that — unlike other Muslim groups on campus — refuses to talk to Jewish students), immediately staged a noisy rally, under the slogan, “We won!” — rally attended by Petersen-Overton, who addressed his jubilant followers. (I don’t think the “We” stands here for academic freedom.) I am told by the Executive Director of campus Hillel that last year’s “Israel Apartheid Week” is to be extended to two weeks this year. Which will add up to two weeks of defamation & bigotry on the time & space of a public college.

Meanwhile, thinking it was time for me to get better informed about Petersen-Overton, I read through his posted piece, “Inventing the Martyr: Martyrdom as Palestinian National Signifier.” To reporters, he had claimed that it was preposterous to say he endorsed suicide killers; the piece was merely a scholarly study — in no sense an endorsement of what he now calls “heinous acts”. However, now that I’ve read it, I can say that his denial is not true. The piece is an extraordinary propaganda sheet for Palestinian suicide killers. It is, however, wrapped in postmodern jargon, so that national identity is said to be forged in “imagination” & key terms are in (now-you-see-’em-now-you-don’t) scare quotes. One example: the al Dura hoax is first presented as fact, then admitted to have been controverted (though without mention of the relevant evidence) & finally celebrated as a substantive contribution to the process of imagining/creating national identity, with truth or falsity deemed irrelevant. Jews who were physically attacked on the pretext of the al Dura footage could not have agreed that its falsity was irrelevant. One could spend a lot of blood, sweat & tears countering every slanted & misleading claim about Israel. He is counting on that not being done.

It seems to me that by now the campus has generated a hostile atmosphere for Jewish students & has conveyed the message (via the orientation text, via political theatre on campus, via this now-underscored hire, via the expanded “Israel Apartheid Week”), to students & faculty, that only one political view has official sanction, from the effective faculty & administration.

I’m not sure whether anything can be done about it, but it needs watching, & what we don’t have is a victory for academic freedom tout court. The College is not a better place, after all this has happened. At any rate, I wanted to let you know of my view of this troubling situation.