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 presently based in Cairo. 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). Her book on Palestine solidarity cinema is forthcoming.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

    Leave a Reply