The Third Narrative Academic Advisory Council – new pro peace, anti academic boycott network based in the US

This new network is for peace between Israel and Palestine, is against racism and antisemitism and argues that the academic boycott and other bans against scholars are counterproductive.  Its founding statement is as follows:

Introduction

We are progressive scholars and academics who reject the notion that one has to be either pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian. We believe that empathy for the suffering and aspirations of both peoples, and respect for their national narratives, is essential if there is to be a peaceful solution. Scholars and academics should play a positive role in asking difficult questions, and promoting critical thinking, about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. To achieve this goal we insist on the importance of academic freedom and open intellectual exchange, and so reject calls for academic boycotts and blacklists, as well as efforts to punish academics for their political speech, including even those who support the academic boycotts that we oppose.

Statement of Principles

We are committed to the following principles:

a)    We respect the humanity of Israelis and Palestinians alike, and believe that all political analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be grounded in empathy for both peoples.

b)    We believe in two states as the only way to avoid perpetual conflict, and recognize that since both peoples require national self-expression, the struggle will continue until this is achieved.

c)    We believe the Israeli occupation of the West Bank not only deprives Palestinians of their fundamental rights, but is also corrosive to Israeli society and is incompatible with the democratic principles upon which the State of Israel was founded.

d)    We accept the obligation to actively oppose violations of human rights, but cannot condone the use of violence targeting civilians as a tool to address grievances, or to promote strategies that would undermine the future viability of each nation.

e)    We strongly oppose the rhetoric used by both sides which demonizes and dehumanizes the other, or distorts the history and national aspirations of each people, to promote violence and hatred.

f)    We reject the all-too-common binary approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict that seeks to justify one side or the other as all right or all wrong, and sets out to marshal supposed evidence to prove a case of complete guilt or total exoneration. Scholarship and fairness require a more difficult and thoughtful approach.  As academics we recognize the subjective perspectives of individuals and peoples, but strive to apply rigorous standards to research and analysis rather than to subsume academic discipline to political expediency.

g)    We reject all attempts to undermine or diminish academic freedom and open intellectual exchange, including those cases associated with the Israel-Palestine debate. Academic boycotts and blacklists are discriminatory per se and undercut the purpose of the academy: the pursuit of knowledge. Likewise, we are against legislative and other efforts by domestic or foreign interests that seek to diminish the academic freedom of those scholars who might propose, endorse, or promote academic boycotts, even if we strongly disagree with these tactics.

Structure

The Council will function as an advisory body to The Third Narrative (TTN), facilitated by Ameinu.  The Council will seek to create a unique, middle ground, organizing space at TTN for progressive academics and will engage academics from across North America to undertake the following activities:

  • Oversee the preparation of written materials on issues related to academic freedom and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
  • Coordinate the sharing of information on efforts to promote anti-Israel boycotts and blacklists among academic associations, and efforts to punish academics for their political speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the speech of those who support the academic boycotts that we oppose;
  • Promote the values of academic freedom and open intellectual exchange, as well as the perspectives of the Council, through traditional and social media;
  • Organize advocacy campaigns on specific academic freedom issues;
  • Develop proactive outreach plans to promote the values of academic freedom, and more generally the free expression and exchange of ideas, particularly as they relate to the Middle East, in academic institutions and associations;
  • Provide speakers and other resources to individual campuses where academic freedom is threatened; and
  • Create opportunities for progressive faculty to collaborate with like-minded undergraduate and graduate students on individual campuses to work together for academic freedom and open intellectual exchange.

Endorsing the Statement of Principles:

Eric Alterman, CUNY Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism, Brooklyn College

Yael Aronoff, Associate Professor of International Relations and Associate Director of Jewish Studies, James Madison College and Jewish Studies, Michigan State University

Peter Beinart, Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science, City University of NY

Michael Bérubé, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature and Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities

David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor of Jewish History, University of California, Davis

Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Hasia Diner, Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, New York University

Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, Distinguished Professor, Graduate Center, City University of NY

Sara Evans, Regents Professor Emerita, Department of History, University of Minnesota

Claude S. Fischer, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities; Professor of English, and Director of American Studies, Stanford University

Sam Fleischacker, Professor of Philosophy, University of Illinois-Chicago; Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (2013-14)

Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology; Chair, Ph. D. Program in Communications, Columbia University

Chad Alan Goldberg, Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Peter E. Gordon, Amabel B. James Professor of History, Harvard University

David Greenberg, Associate Professor of History and of Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University

Harold Hellenbrand, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, California State University, Northridge

Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

Carole Joffe, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of California, Davis

Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

Michael Kazin, Professor of History, Georgetown University

Ari Y. Kelman, Jim Joseph Chair in Education and Jewish Studies, Associate Professor of Education, Stanford University

Alice Kessler-Harris, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of History, Columbia University

Rebecca Kobrin, Russell and Bettina Knapp Assistant Professor of American Jewish History, Columbia University

Nicholas Lemann, Professor of Journalism and Dean Emeritus, Columbia University School of Journalism

Steven Lubet, Williams Memorial Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law

Jeffry Mallow, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Loyola University, Chicago

Maud Mandel, Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and History, Brown University

Elaine Tyler May, Regents Professor, Departments of American Studies and History, University of Minnesota

Deborah Dash Moore, Director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of History, University of Michigan

Leslie Morris, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of German, University of Minnesota

José C. Moya, Professor of History and Director, Forum on Migration, Barnard College; Director, Institute of Latin American Studies, Columbia University

Samuel Moyn, James Bryce Professor of European Legal History, Columbia University

Sharon Ann Musher, Associate Professor of History and Director of M.A. in American Studies, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Cary Nelson, Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Derek J. Penslar, Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History, University of Toronto

Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor of American Studies and Director of Center for Jewish Studies, University of Minnesota.

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, Merle Curti Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Brent Sasley, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Texas at Arlington

Gershon Shafir, Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego

Judith Shulevitz, Adjunct Assistant Professor of English, Barnard College

Catherine Bodard Silver, Professor Emerita (Sociology), Brooklyn College and Graduate Center, CUNY

Seymour Spilerman, Julian C. Levi Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Mira Sucharov, Associate Professor of Political Science, Carleton University, Ottawa 

Ann Swidler, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Robertson Professor; Chair, Department of Media Studies, The University of Virginia

Kenneth Waltzer, Professor of History, James Madison College; Director of Jewish Studies, Michigan State University

Judith B. Walzer, Former Provost and Professor of Literature, New School, NY

Michael Walzer, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Studies

Dov Waxman, Associate Professor of Political Science, Baruch College and Graduate Center, City University of New York; Co-Director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development, Northeastern University

Beth C. Weitzman, Vice Dean; Professor, Health and Public Policy, NYU Steinhardt

Beth S. Wenger, Professor of History; Chair, History Department, University of Pennsylvania

Jeff Weintraub, Social & Political Theorist and Political Sociologist, Most recently at the University of Pennsylvania and Bryn Mawr College

Kate Wittenstein, Professor in History and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies,  Adolfus College

Steven Zipperstein, Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History, Stanford University

This new network is for peace between Israel and Palestine, is against racism and antisemitism and argues that the academic boycott and other bans against scholars are counterproductive.

15 Responses to “The Third Narrative Academic Advisory Council – new pro peace, anti academic boycott network based in the US”

  1. Jacob Arnon Says:

    I Applaud the effort to organize and fight BDS by scholars.

    However as SPME has noted not all BDS activity confines itself to rhetoric and we need to be ready for that too.

    http://spme.org/spme-statements/scholars-peace-middle-east-spme-americans-peace-tolerance-apt-applaud-northeastern-universitys-decision-suspend-students-justice-palestine/17073/

  2. richardarmbach Says:

    yyyyaaaaaawwwwwnnnn

  3. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    The children of Palestine are raised in a culture of hatred and Palestinian intellectuals are not protesting against that.
    Most of them whip up the hatred, reinforced by the illusion of being capable of destroying Israel.
    Palestinian elite has demonstrated its lack of interest in a Palestinian state that would have to peacefully coexist with Israel.
    .
    The Third Narrative misses that one side – the Palestinian side – pushes an explicitly eliminationist “narrative.” That’s the problem here, which no amount of moral equivalency can mask.

    • Jacob Arnon Says:

      We need to make sure that an Israeli-Palestinian Arab debate doesn’t turn out like famous Jewish-German debate: a one sided conversation with Jewish intellectuals being on both sides do the debate.

      A debate means listening to what the other side says and not imagining “productive scenarios”?

    • allan siegel Says:

      Mr. Pfeifer’s remarks are unfortunately indicative of the kind of racist, myopia, that makes a productive scenario impossible; he seems naturally oblivious to the levels of racism prevalent amongst large numbers of Israelis who have no qualms about sharing their bigotry with their children.

      • Jacob Arnon Says:

        Where is your evidence that this is the case, Mr. Siegel?

        I know some Israelis intimately who are very conservative and I thought that their children would be equally conservative. It turns out that the reverse is the case, the children are very liberal and their parents have moderated their views also.

        When you are talking about Israelis Mr. Siegel you need to keep in mind that this is a country which has been threatened with extinction since its founding for reasons that have little to do with what they did. It’s who they are which is the cause of much hatred around the world towards that small country.

        Why you too seem disposed to think the worst of Israeli Jews is you own private affair. Still, when you accuse Israelis of racism you need to cite some credible evidence. You also need to tell us why Israeli “racism” is worse than the racism in many Arab and European countries?

        Why is Israel being targeted for extinction but not Syria, or Russia or Iran countries with a human rights record much worse than in Israel?

        • allan siegel Says:

          Ben and Aron must be living in some isolated world and are sadly misinformed, or willfully ignorant, about the levels of racism in Israeli society; the evidence is plentiful on YouTiube with various racial slurs hailed at Palestinians from residents of the settlements to the racist epithets hurled at African immigrants (Haaretz has ample stories); these are all plentifully documented so perhaps you need to open your eyes a bit; Are you so blinded by a false vision of reality as to think that somehow Israelis are incapable of racism or that they get a free pass because of Nazi atrocities? If so then shame on you.

      • Jacob Arnon Says:

        Allan:”Ben and Aron must be living in some isolated world and are sadly misinformed, or willfully ignorant, about the levels of racism in Israeli society; the evidence is plentiful on YouTiube with various racial slurs hailed at Palestinians from residents of the settlements to the racist epithets hurled at African immigrants (Haaretz has ample stories); these are all plentifully documented so perhaps you need to open your eyes a bit; Are you so blinded by a false vision of reality as to think that somehow Israelis are incapable of racism or that they get a free pass because of Nazi atrocities? If so then shame on you.”

        Excuse me, allan, my name is not Aron, it’s Jacob my last name is Arnon. Try to get the little details right before you start with your self righteous insults.

        I asked for evidence and you ;point to YouTube. Which You Tube videos do you have in mind? Are they in Hebrew or English? What percentage of all Hebrew videos are you talking about?. What percentage of videos produced in English and traceable to Israeli sources are you talking about? Who produced these videos? You need to answer all these little details before I will take what you say seriously.
        ou
        Of course there is racism in Israeli society. Sow me one society or even one leftist anti-Israel group without racism? If yu can’t than shame on you for presuming that Israeli society is more racist than England.or Ireland!

        What is it about racism in Israel that incenses you so much?

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          Equally importantly, Allan Siegel fails to produce any evidence of anything, something he has been doing since his first appearance here. On that first occasion, I challenged him to produce evidence…and was met with silence.

          So, as to widespread racism in Israeli society (that is, affecting all levels of society, and not just confined to small segments – as is the case elsewhere), prove it.

          And proof is not just assertions that we should look at You Tube. We need, quite literally, chapter and verse.

          Do you have it Allan Siegel? If so, enlighten us.

  4. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Allan Siegel, could you kindly give some evidence about my “racist myopia”?

    • Ben Says:

      Yes, you might blanche at his post because it’s scary or ugly or conflicts with your core beliefs–but the simple truth is that KP told the simple truth. Next time try dealing with it by doing something besides deflection.

  5. Paul M Says:

    A good initiative & I wish it well, but it’s hard to be optimistic when, as far as you can judge by the names, there don’t appear to be any Arab signatories to it.

    One other note: “… efforts by domestic or foreign interests that seek to diminish the academic freedom of those scholars who might propose, endorse, or promote academic boycotts, even if we strongly disagree with these tactics.” I’m not aware of any—only of efforts to remove certain funds from institutions that enact or facilitate a boycott. Academics can endorse or promote boycotts as much as they like; thought and speech are not diminished and they can act too, if their principles are firm enough to countenance paying a price.

  6. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Allan Siegel pretends to be infallible. He does not answer my polite question and does not relate to what I have written. He is not interested in a debate. His only aim is, to convince us, that he is morally superior. This way he is defeating himself.


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