The Hudson Institute, founded by Herman “Thinking the Unthinkable” Kahn and peopled by the hottest names in neocon-dom, is attempting to work its magic on Israel. According to Didi Remez’s Coteret blog, Hudson is heavily funding two Israeli extremist groups which are targeting Israeli higher education by demanding the firing of “left-wing” professors considered hostile to Zionism. They also want to “reform” the teaching of Zionism in the social sciences by removing “anti-Zionist” materials from the syllabi and removing unconventional or dissident ideas as well. This is the thought police run amok. This is David Horowitz with a Hebrew accent. This is Campus Watch and the David Project translated to an Israeli context.
The right-wing Institute is providing $500,000 to the Institute for Zionist Strategies, an Im Tirzu look-alike which is, like its ideological twin, pressuring Israeli universities (in IZS’s case Tel Aviv University) to review and adjust its curricular offerings corresponding to the former’s partisan orientation. The pressure has worked in the case of TAU, whose president has asked to review the course offering of the sociology department after a complaint that it was infested by “post-Zionist” thinking. The group defines the latter as:
…The pretense to undermine the foundations of the Zionist ethos and an affinity with the radical leftist stream.
IZS was founded by Yisrael Harel, a settlement leader and (wonders never cease) a Haaretz columnist. Harel’s got TAU’s knickers in such a knot that the University president is actually reviewing individual course syllabi:
The university has stated that since this is Klafter’s first year as president, he is intensively studying what is being taught at the university, and this includes reviewing course syllabi.
One wonders whether there isn’t an Israeli institute for new university presidents where they can go to learn how to do their jobs. Leadership 101 would teach them that this isn’t their job, but rather the job of the department heads who are designated by him and his subordinates. When presidents are doing what this guy is doing they’re either running way scared or simply don’t know shit from shinola about being a president.
For those of you who studied the McCarthy era in your American history classes, the following quotation will remind you of that speech in Wheeling, WVA where the senator screamed there were 53 known Communists (the number kept increasing with each speech he made thereafter) in the State Department. Here Haaretz is referring to a “report” written by IZS “analyzing” sources used by the sociology department:
The paper says final figures from the courses examined shows syllabi contained 146 sources the authors defined as Zionist and 440 sources deemed post-Zionist.
Those of you who know the courageous role that Yehuda Shenhav has played both as a TAU professor and human rights activist will gather that the following was intended as a bitterly ironic statement:
…Shenhav, one of the professors whose course reading list was requested, said: “I have no doubt that the president…requested [the syllabi] to protect academic freedom against McCarthyism.”
As they say in Hebrew: Ha’levay (roughly translated as “I’ll bet”).
If any of this is reminiscent of the work of Im Tirzu, which has been busy wreaking similar havoc on the political science department at Ben Gurion University, it could be because Ronen Shoval, the group’s founder, learned his trade at workshops sponsored by IZS. What makes this even stranger is that Shoval has previous denied such collaboration between the groups as has IZS. But the fact of the matter is that the terms of the attacks, the concepts utilized in the reports which criticize the various academic departments, all of this points to the groups aping each other’s tactics:
Not only is the methodology of the two reports identical (an examination of syllabi and a classification of lecturers into categories such as “Zionist” and “anti-Zionist” ), but the conclusions they reached about the state of Israeli academia are similar.
IZS’ advisor committee includes such noteworthy Israeli neocons as Michael Oren, Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon, Natan Sharansky, and Ron Baratz. Baratz was the academic fig leaf who served as mashgiach for the Im Tirzu hit job on Ben Gurion University. Baratz also let out a geshrei when the Hebrew University’s philosophy department declined to renew his one-year adjunct lecturer appointment, claiming his “firing” resulted from ideological bias (interesting that the subject of ancient Greek philosophy could be approached through an ideological bias).
Hudson’s generosity toward IZS stems at least in part from the former’s senior fellow, Meyrav Wurmser, one of the foremost pro-Israel neocons in Washington, a former Bush administration apparachik, former director of the anti-Arab media outlet, MEMRI, and wife of David Wurmser. The latter was a colleague of Doug Feith in the Bush Defense Department. Or to paraphrase Stan Laurel: “That’s a fine kettle of pro-Israel fish you’ve gotten us into, Ollie.” Ms. Wurmser is the founder and director of Hudson’s Center for Middle East Policy.
Remez writes that neither IZS nor Hudson note on their respective websites the web of financial support woven between the two groups. The former’s website notes in Hebrew that its donor data is “private,” while in English it claims that support derives from an IZS Friends group. You’d have to examine the IRS 990 report and Israeli government funder report in order to learn this information. Certainly not the finest example of philanthropic transparency.
Ironically, Im Tirzu, NGO Monitor and none other than IZS are the godfathers of the new Knesset bill which will require “transparency” from Israeli NGOs like the New Israel Fund and B’Tselem, which allegedly receive “tainted” donations from foreign sources hostile to Israeli Zionism. One wonders whether the law will somehow exclude IZS from its scrutiny or whether the latter will suddenly get religion and bring its own accounting into line with the proposed law.
Hudson also donated $600,000 to the Atlantic Forum of Israel in 2007, which Didi characterizes as “an opaque, security oriented organization” founded by Bibi Netanyahu’s national security Rasputin, Uzi Arad. Arad, in his past life a Mossad operative, is accused of being instrumental in the Larry Franklin/Aipac spy case. For a time during the Bush administration, Arad was persona non grata in Washington. In one of its less intelligent moves, Obama opened its arms to Arad after Bibi elevated him to the national security advisor role in his new government. We can charitably say about Arad that he long ago went over to the Dark Side.
Though the Atlantic Forum’s website is under construction, the American Jewish Congress described the former as Israel’s “non-governmental representative to NATO.” In other words, a repository for all manner of Israeli spookdom on European soil.
What is interesting here is that the Hudson Institute clearly favors attacking Iran. Uzi Arad, who stepped down from his leadership role at the Forum on joining the government, favors attacking Iran. U.S. government policy (at this time) opposes attacking Iran. Which means that a U.S. neocon think tank has teamed up with the current Israeli national security advisor to advocate a position at odds with U.S. foreign policy. Nothing illegal about that. But Didi and I think both the U.S. and Israeli publics deserve the right to know about such tag team wrestling duos attempting to wreak havoc with U.S. policy. Further, I think this makes Hudson an agent of Israeli influence (and vice versa).
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- Hudson Inst primary financial backer of NGO behind campaign to purge Israeli universities of “leftists” (coteret.com)
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.