Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why Was Puar Not Pooh-poohed?

According to this source, following the presentation of an anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist lecturer, the writer approached the former director of Jewish Studies at Vassar, Joshua Schreier, and asked him whether he believed Ms. Puar’s "outlandish accusations" and, he responded, 

“You prove to me that anything she said wasn’t true.” 

She was "stunned."

The event was an invitation to Jasbir PuarRutgers’ Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies, who spoke to “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters.” According to the report
"With no documentation or specific evidence, Ms. Puar asserted that Israel’s ultimate goals are ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, stealing of Palestinian land and entrenchment and expansion of suffocating Israeli power. Israel’s “settler occupation” (her term) which she calls the “second Nakba” (catastrophe) is all about using “asphyxiating” biopolitical control over body and environment to suppress the Palestinian people. To this end, she claims Israel uses scientifically executed “maiming” and “stunting.”"

On her.

As I had wanted to relate to this, I sent a short, indeed, very short request for confirmation of his words: "Can you confirm these were your words?"  That was not quite the derech eretz he expected, which is his right.

It took a bit of effort to rewrite my request and it finally came out thus:

Dear Mr. Schreier,
I read the quotation (included below) in an article. Given that I am committed to professional and ethical standards of blogging, I thought it best to check with you. I imagine you are quite busy with personal and professional responsibilities, so I appreciate your help.
Yisrael Medad

In his reply, he explained that he has been inundated with hate mail, including numerous accusations that I am a "Nazi" and a "Kapo,"  He expressed appreciation for my eventual polite tone of my question. 

He then clarified what happened:

Ms. Dahl, the source of the citation in question, egregiously misrepresents my statements in her article.

We were in a discussion after the lecture, and she was extremely upset and agitated. She declared something on the order of, "That was all a lie! You don't believe those lies, do you?" The lecture was quite theoretical and in a different discipline than my own, so I responded with something like "tell me something specific she said that you think is a like, give me some proof that it is a lie, and I will HAPPILY believe you." Whatever I said exactly, my response expressed my hesitancy to reduce just about ANY hour-long, highly theoretical talk to simply a "lie" or the "truth."

After enduring a good ten minutes of Ms. Dahl's disjointed tirade and personal insults, I was still unclear as to what Ms. Dahl thought was a lie.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
J. Schreier

I checked other sources such as this one by Professor William Jacobson.

Mulling this over, one thing I would have suggested to Ms. Dahl, had I been standing next to her, would have been to ask Schreier if anything Puar had accused Israel was true.  To that question, he could have said either that all was true, that none of her gibberish was true or that  something indeed was correct in what she claimed.  That he did not even say, according to Dahl, that something had bothered him and made him unhappy, that he did not reach out to this obviously agitated and hurting lecturer and suggest to her that indeed her fears had some justification is odd.  

He couldn't have said something like 'her talk was indeed a challenge and of course included some rather outlandish and seemingly nasty charges but if you recorded it, I'll be happy to review the contents when I am back in my office and make remarks'.

Seeking safety in noting that Puar was off "in a different discipline than my own" and therefore his comprehension was limited or, dare I say, stunted, is rather a weak way out from a confrontation that he easily could have addressed forthrightly.

I was not there and I did not hear all she had to say and the threat of "don't dare you record this lecture" might have had its influence on me (no, not really, but following Mr. Schreier's lead, I was just being 'theoretical').  That alone is quite an invasion of academic freedom.

But what should precede all this is why would the Jewish Studies Department partner up with this obvious anti-Semitic academic in the first place?

In any case, if any Jewish students as well as non-Jewish pro-Zionist students there wish to hear a counter-exposition, about life in Judea and Samaria, about "Apartheid and Other Lies" being spread, perhaps I can assist.


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