Update: Israeli Ministry of Ed teacher is moderator of scholars’ listserv on anti-Semitism (with predictable results)

Israel/Palestine
on 25 Comments
Menache
Menashe, photo from H-Net site

I sent the following e-mail to Heather Hawley, Associate Director of H-Net, a major international academic listserv consortium boasting thousands of subscribers, three days ago.  The letter was also forwarded to H-Net’s executives and Executive Council.  As H-Net describes itself: “An international consortium of scholars and teachers, H-Net creates and coordinates Internet networks with the common objective of advancing teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.” The focus of my complaint, H-ANTISEMITISM editor Yocheved (“Yo”) Menashe, who works for the Israeli Ministry of Education, has written on her personal blog that “antizionism = antisemitism” and that “Antizionism [...], which seeks to eliminate the Jewish State, is [...] as much antisemitic as The Camps and Hitler’s Final Solution.”

January 21, 2013 UPDATE:  Shortly after I posted this blog on November 6, 2012, Yocheved Menashe agreed to post the message referred to in the e-mail below.  She then proceeded to censor two more of my messages–one to H-ANTISEMITISM responding to a list member’s criticism of my initial post, and one to H-HOLOCAUST (which Menashe also edits/moderates) containing my review of the recent Israeli Holocaust documentary, The Flat.  Shortly after I filed a formal complaint with Menashe and her listserv Advisory Boards protesting these actions, she removed me from both listservs without explanation while ignoring my complaint; I then re-filed my complaint with higher level administrators at H-Net, who rejected it.  During the course of the proceedings, Menashe, after 10 years of editorial/moderator service at H-Net, publicly clarified in a Nov. 9, 2012 e-mail to H-ANTISEMITISM, and shortly thereafter on her H-Net website, that her status at the Israel Ministry of Education (IME) is not that of an “official” or “bureaucrat,” as I had readily surmised from her description on the H-Net website and official H-Net documents [and as Weiss stated in headline on original post], but that of an English teacher employed by the Ministry: “I am an English teacher, licensed by said Ministry. When I teach English in the public school system, the Ministry pays my salary.” Menashe subsequently appointed Eunice G. Pollack, editor of the right-wing Antisemitism on the Campus: Past and Present (Academic Studies Press, 2011), and public endorser of Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch, to the Advisory Board of H-ANTISEMITISM.  

Dear Heather Hawley:

I am writing you in your capacity as Associate Director of the H-Net international listserv consortium to lodge a complaint against unfounded censorship and improper moderation practices by the editor of H-ANTISEMITISM, Yocheved (“Yo”) Menashe (https://www.h-net.org/people/person_view.php?id=125228).

Recently a discussion thread entitled “Islamophobia is Rational, Judeophobia is not!” has been circulating over H-ANTISEMITISM (see: http://www.h-net.org/~antis). This thread has more or less presented a series of anti-Muslim posts articulated within an entirely prejudicial, subjective and pro-Israel framework.  No perspectives representing Islam or Arabs, contemporary Middle East scholarship, or substantive critiques of western Middle East policy have yet been visible within the thread.

Indeed my own, perfectly reasonable contribution to the thread (see below) has been denied circulation by Ms. Menashe–who, as you may be aware, works for the Israel Ministry of Education, a decidedly, unabashedly Zionist agency with a documented record of animosity toward Palestinian, Arab and Muslim perspectives.  My post contains a link to an article I published recently in a special double-issue of the prestigious academic journal, Arab Studies Quarterly.  The article focuses specifically on the topics of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the contemporary U.S. academy.  Among other things it argues that criticism of Israel does not equate with antisemitism and that antisemitism and Islamophobia are politically overdetermined, historically interrelated phenomena, neither of which is rational.  In short, my post is entirely relevant and pertinent to the discussion thread in question and should by all right be permitted circulation to the listserv.

This is not the first time Ms. Menashe, who has been moderating H-ANTISEMITISM for nearly a decade, has refused to approve my posts, or posts professing views similar to mine, to that listserv (or in fact to H-HOLOCAUST, which she has also been moderating for the same period of time).  In past instances, moreover, when I and others have asked her to explain her negative actions, she has either failed to reply or offered perfunctory excuses.  Hence I am now contacting you directly.

As a person of Jewish background very much concerned about free and open inquiry, dialogue, and debate over the problems facing Palestine/Israel, the Middle East, and the larger Arab and Muslim world, I am disturbed that an individual representing a particular government–especially one that has been condemned globally for persistent and pervasive human rights and international law violations–has been permitted to edit an open scholarly discussion forum such as H-ANTISEMITISM, an academic listserv hosted by a U.S. university (Michigan State) and therefore subject to U.S. laws and regulations.  It is clear that Ms. Menashe’s position within an Israeli government agency is preventing her from performing her moderator duties with the requisite objectivity.  Such a situation not only contradicts the First Amendment and numerous Federal court decisions which decry improper (not to mention foreign) government interference in academia, but travesties the collegial mission and ethos of academic freedom ostensibly upheld by the highly regarded H-Net, and should not be allowed.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Terri Ginsberg, Ph.D.
(International Council for Middle East Studies)
H-ANTISEMITISM subscriber since 14 June 1999

*******************************
To: [email protected]
From: Terri Ginsberg
Subject: Re: H-AS KAMINS (DAVIDIY): Islamophobia is Rational. Judeophobia is not!
Date: November 2, 2012, 9:32 AM EST

Dear Colleagues,

Kindly peruse a recent article of mine that discusses this issue while offering some corrective to the definitions supplied thus far on H-ANTISEMITISM:

http://www.academia.edu/1016830/The_Deployment_of_Anti-Semitism_Controversy_and_Neutrality_in_Ginsberg_v._NCSU.

Thanks in advance for your comments and critique,

Terri Ginsberg

About Terri Ginsberg

Terri Ginsberg is a film scholar and Palestine solidarity activist. She is co-author of Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema (2010), author of Holocaust Film: The Political Aesthetics of Ideology (2007), and co-editor of A Companion to German Cinema (2012).

Other posts by .


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25 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    November 6, 2012, 1:07 pm

    This Menashe person needs to be removed from this position and all zionists barred from that role. It’s like permitting the Alabama Klan’s Grand Kleagle to edit the Southern Poverty Law Center website.

  2. seafoid
    November 6, 2012, 1:11 pm

    I can’t get my head around the notion of a right wing Zionist moderator.

    • Annie Robbins
      November 6, 2012, 1:58 pm

      I can’t get my head around the notion of an israeli government employee from israel’s ministery of education moderating a U.S. state and federally funded university listserve. what is the university of michigan thinking?

      • seafoid
        November 7, 2012, 3:47 am

        In order to control the memes of a society you have to have people in the right places. You have to have a commanding view of the media and what goes on in the universities. You need to know what they are doing on TV. This used to be enough but sadly the internet has changed the game.

        So many millions of iterations online that are off message and slowly the official ideology is undermined and a gatekeeper like Menashe looks as credible as the Syrian foreign minister.

        It is very difficult for a religious minority to keep effective control going for 3 generations . Ask the Alawis. Or the Iraqi Sunnis.

  3. Annie Robbins
    November 6, 2012, 2:07 pm

    oh look, as of today ginsberg’s entry was approved on the listserve.

    ha! funny, i checked a few hrs ago and it wasn’t there. dated ..today not the 2nd.

    link to h-net.msu.edu

    • Terri Ginsberg
      November 6, 2012, 2:53 pm

      Happily, thanks to publicity on Mondoweiss and on Tony Greenberg’s Blog, Yocheved Menashe decided today to post my message to H-Antisemitism. This is probably one of the only times Menashe has caved in. For years she has been censoring my messages and those of other scholars critical of Israel and Zionism, and she has refused to post them to the listservs she moderates despite complaints. Important, however, is the fact that as an agent of a foreign (or any) government, Ms. Menashe has no business editing/moderating an N-Net listserv. Thanks in advance to everyone for helping get the word out about this travesty of academic freedom!

      • Annie Robbins
        November 6, 2012, 3:24 pm

        fantastic terry. i hope the responses to it are not censored.

        In effect, the critical objectivity I was working to display and practice enabled NCSU to perceive me as
        the wrong kind of Jew: one who does not declare fealty to the abstract “civility” of corporate management, who, apropos of Martin Buber (2000),an early binationalist and cultural Zionist, “others” herself through encounter with systemic “others” in an effort to recongure and rectify the asymmetrical power relations dividing margins and center. Under the rubric of NCSU’s corporate veil,such a self-understanding of “Jewishness” was unacceptable because considered, in the end, threatening to the alleged “best interests of the University”: it was deemed belligerent and uncooperative and thus “uncollegial”—a concept that in reality should pertain, when appropriate, to poor job performance, but that instead was deployed to (mis)characterize my intellectual engagement with my colleagues. Indeed at NCSU, it was considered improper and redundant for me to criticize a
        colleague of Arab background for not being sufciently considerate of the historical experiences and possible perceptions of Syrian and Iranian colleagues who, as Muslims, did not share his (Mormon) religious convictions, scholarly interests,or ensuing political views. By pointing that out in the context of prior e-mail dialogue about the proposed content and arrangement of the screening series, and by giving a favorable introduction to Ticket to Jerusalem at that series, I becamea “trouble-maker” whose “controversial” speech and actions regarding Zionismand Israel, Palestinians, Arabs, and Islam—in the classroom, in my scholarly writing, and in my community work—would spark administrative concerns that the university might be misperceived as supporting the cause of Palestinian liberation,as “pro-Palestinian” and therefore as guilty by association with a supposed illiberal,“self-hating” Jewish radicalism—a characterization which administrators may have found especially threatening for a university located in a bastion of Republican conservatism, a former Confederate state in which sexual orientation remainsconstitutionally unprotected, where segregation continues insidiously (and is in danger of being re-implemented, along with the teaching of pro-slavery and creationist arguments and narratives, in an increasingly defunded public school system) (see: Geary, 2011), where unions are banned from the public sector, and where Christian Zionism is a pervasive ideological current. Such contradictory fear of guilt-by-association in turn discouraged the American Association of UniversityProfessors (AAUP) from engaging my case substantively: after providing some early support regarding grievance procedure, it dragged its feet until public outcryin the form of a popular petition containing almost 600 signatories compelled it to issue a letter modestly supporting my ultimately unsuccessful request that the perfunctory decision by then-Chancellor James Oblinger to deny me a rightful campus grievance hearing be overturned—an eerie reminder of that organization’s historic compromise with McCarthyism.

        a good read too.

      • MRW
        November 6, 2012, 3:24 pm

        Terri, I concur completely about this foreign government intrusion into academia. What else can we do to help you?

        Have you tried contacting Grant Smith, irmep.org ?

      • Terri Ginsberg
        November 6, 2012, 6:29 pm

        You might e-mail the Vice President of H-Net Networks, Jonanthan Anuik , and demand that Yocheved Menashe be removed from her duties at H-Net.

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 6, 2012, 3:42 pm

        Congrats for the small victory. Menashe is still in place, which should be changed.

      • MRW
        November 6, 2012, 6:09 pm

        That’s one helluva paper, Terri. If your paper is indicative of the kind of stuff that’s getting censored, this has to stop. No wonder no one hears from the great mass of US Jews other than Israel-Firsters. You’re being censored up the ying-yang. I will now fully support an academic boycott of anything Israeli in retaliation. How could Menashe have lasted a decade on two controversial listservs? Who made this decision? How gutless are everyone else on the N-Net board?

  4. Annie Robbins
    November 6, 2012, 2:36 pm

    from her blog

    Saturday, March 13, 2010
    Jerusalem is not a settlement…
    Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the modern of State of Israel. Yet Jews are not allowed to live or build in East Jerusalem?

    And the so-called Israel-Palestinian Conflict is not about settlements anyway, it’s about the total destruction of the State of Israel and elimination of its Jewish population.

    Barak Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton: If the problems between the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews were about settlements, peace would have reigned in 4-1/2 years ago when Ariel Sharon forcibly extracted all the Jews from Gaza, eliminating all Jewish presence in the Gaza strip.

    I am constantly dumbfounded that the Palestinians are not reprimanded for their hostile behavior toward Jews.
    Posted by Yocheved Menashe, B.A.A.S., M.A. at 23:48 No comments:
    Labels: Israel, Israel-Palestinian conflict, Jerusalem

    bias anyone?

    • MRW
      November 6, 2012, 3:25 pm

      Bias and low intelligence.

      • Mooser
        November 7, 2012, 5:11 pm

        “Bias and low intelligence.”

        And not a single comment?

      • MRW
        November 7, 2012, 7:40 pm

        And not a single comment?

        Probably censored them. After all, she’s the moderator.

      • Terri Ginsberg
        November 12, 2012, 12:54 pm

        Not only has she censored them: In retaliation for my Mondoweiss article and formal complaints I lodged with and against her, Menashe unsubscribed me from both of the H-Net listservs she moderates, claiming that she had been attacked by an egregious anti-Zionist (me)! Unfortunately, none of the officers at H-Net have yet been willing to challenge her, despite my repeated complaints to them about her. “Bias and low intelligence” is apparently the rule at H-Net when it comes to serious scholarly discourse regarding the history of Zionism, Israel, and the Palestinian struggle.

      • MRW
        November 12, 2012, 1:16 pm

        Terri Ginsberg,

        Does she own H-Net? Who appointed her moderator?

      • Terri Ginsberg
        November 12, 2012, 3:19 pm

        I’ve been told that that Menashe volunteered to fill a vacuum when the prior moderators opted out. List members whose messages Menashe regularly approves for circulation include staunch pro-Zionist Eunice G. Pollack, who has publicly endorsed Campus Watch, written for Daniel Pipes’ neoconservative Middle East Quarterly, and recently published a book entitled Antisemitism on the Campus: Past and Present (Academic Studies Press, 2011), which in the spirit of Phyllis Chesler’s similarly themed book, is firm in its position that anti-Zionism equates with anti-Semitism. H-Net is structured as a corporate hierarchy with an executive council, president and vice presidents, executive and associate directors, advisory boards, editors, moderators, and so on down the line. As mentioned, the H-Net consortium is housed at Michigan State University.

      • marc b.
        November 12, 2012, 3:46 pm

        who were the prior moderators who opted out, if you know?

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 12, 2012, 4:41 pm

        That’s a shame. But the only solution is to never participate in anything that involves an israeli unless they denounce their state. They should be shunned utterly and completely, and make it known that you are doing so because they are a people who, by and large, are incapable of rational thought when it comes to their own abomination of a state and its official bigotry and crimes.

      • Terri Ginsberg
        November 13, 2012, 12:06 pm

        I don’t know which ones opted out. I can tell you that prior moderators included Jim Mott, a Senior Education Consultant at SPSS who teaches Statistical Analysis, modeling, Data Mining and Predictive Analytics. Mott is a self-described “experienced historian with expertise in the research and teaching of 20th Century United States Political history and Quantitative Methods. ” That was during the 1990s, when H-Net was a project of the History Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mott moderated H-HOLOCAUST. H-ANTISEMITISM came along a bit later. One of its moderators was Richard S. Levy, a history prof at the U of Illinois at Chicago and author of Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution. Later came David Meier, a history prof at Dickinson State University. To my recollection none of these people ever described themselves as representing a government agency, much less an Israeli government ministry. List discussion back then was comparatively diverse, and my (infrequent) posts were never rejected. The censorship my colleagues and I have experienced on H-Net has occurred under Menashe’s editorship, i.e., once the state of Israel effectively took over these particular lists in 2003.

      • Terri Ginsberg
        December 16, 2012, 5:36 pm

        Readers of this blog may be interested to know that Menashe has just appointed two new Advisory Board members to the H-Antisemitism listserv.

        One of them is the mentioned Eunice G. Pollack (see my comment above), a lecturer at the University of North Texas (see: https://faculty.unt.edu/editprofile.php?pid=2339&onlyview=1 ) who has publicly endorsed Campus Watch (see: link to campus-watch.org), commended Daniel Pipes for promoting “free speech” (see: link to campus-watch.org ), and written for Pipes’ Middle East Quarterly (see: link to meforum.org ). Her mentioned “scholarly” collection, Antisemitism on the Campus (see: link to academicstudiespress.com ), contains a chapter in which I am referred to as an “anti-Semite” because of my anti-Zionism.

        The other new Board member, Richard E. Sherwin, is a retired adjunct professor at Bar Ilan University in Israel (link to biu.ac.il ). According to his biography on the Bar Ilan website, Sherwin made “aliyah” to Israel many years ago; I assume he is a very committed Zionist.

  5. ritzl
    November 6, 2012, 3:30 pm

    So how does one directly express a thought or two to whomever selected her as a moderator? Who makes these decisions? Who’s funding her position there?

    Or… why is she still there?

    Have there been other complaints about her, maybe from Arab members of the listserve?

    Bizarre.

  6. pabelmont
    November 6, 2012, 5:00 pm

    Publishing this one essay is not enough. This person and others of her place-in-life (employee of the GOI) should not moderate or control ANY international listserv or other discussion (unless it be avowedly and unabashedly Zionist and probably hard-right Zionist) in its outlook. Imagine (for instance) J-Street or any other USA organization being run by a GOI employee! (AIPAC? Well * * *).

    Her presence in this job is a result of pro-Israel manipulation of the USA academy and it stinks to high heaven.

    Keep up the battle.

  7. examinator
    November 6, 2012, 6:22 pm

    Antizionism = antisemitism ???
    one is anti a philosophy ! and the other is anti a race!

    Well, to draw on Orwell’s observations his “1984” is alive it’s messages along with Machiavelli “the Prince”are her and the regime’s guiding texts . From his ‘Animal farm’ a bit, it seems the ‘pigs’ have taken over!
    Then again, no one really believes that Israel under this regime is a democracy. To the regime and its acolytes, ‘democracy’ is a mythical bird flying in ever decreasing circles …and they’re waiting for it to disappear up its own orifice.

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