PHILADELPHIA – January 19, 2023 – Below are the ten most frequently viewed MEForum.org articles of 2022 in ascending order. Traffic to the original sites of publication, where applicable, is not counted.
The selections reflect heightened reader concerns about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, higher education, and the activities of Islamists in the West. All are worth a (re)read.
10. Wasting Time on "Palestine" Studies (Summer 2022)
MEF Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow A.J. Caschetta reviews two new anti-Israel screeds from the university presses that "exemplify the privileging of style over substance and preconceived conclusions over evidence" common to much of what passes for academic research on the Jewish state. Waste Siege, the Life of Infrastructure in Palestine by Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins seeks to attribute the horrible problems that subjects of the Palestinian Authority have with waste disposal to Israel, completely "overlook[ing] Palestinians as the creators of their own waste," and as misspenders of billions of dollars in international aid. In Tolerance Is a Wasteland: Palestine and the Culture of Denial, Saree Makdisi seeks to explain why most Western liberals don't see Israel as the rapacious apartheid state that Palestinians claim it to be – and, like Stamatopoulou-Robbins, conspicuously ignores the obvious answer (that Israel isn't a rapacious apartheid state). "The hours spent reading these books amount to wasted time," writes Caschetta.
9. The Baby Jihad: 'We're Taking Over Your Country' (September 7)
MEF Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow Raymond Ibrahim notes that many Islamists make no secret of their aspiration to take over the West demographically, by flooding it with Muslim migrants who will outbreed their neighbors, seeing large families as "their contribution to the jihad." In Europe, "a moribund culture typified by nihilism, hedonism, cynicism, and, as such, dropping birth rates," is "giv[ing] way to a more zealous one."
8. Russia's New Way of War Unveiled and Tested in Ukraine (February 24)
In an article published within hours of Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine, MEF Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow Seth J. Frantzman accurately predicted – at a time when most observers still expected a rapid Ukrainian collapse – that Putin's war strategy will ultimately "lean on Russian historical expertise in artillery" and on "methods learned from successes in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria and elsewhere."
7. Twin Towers and Ivory Towers, 20 Years Later (Spring 2022)
Twenty years after writing his groundbreaking critique of Middle East studies in America, historian Martin Kramer takes stock of the troubled academic field. He finds that "the indoctrination in these places is as bad as ever" and that "black holes of research" in the field that "no one ventures to fill" – like the kind that left academia unaware of the threat posed by radical Islam prior to 9/11 – persist. Non-academics have increasingly filled the gap in explaining "what goes on in these black holes" to the larger public.
While the last two decades have made it clear that "we are not going to witness a revolution in Middle Eastern studies," Kramer finds some rays of hope. The record shows that "calling out error and bias in these settings—as Middle East Forum's Campus Watch does—has some value." Moreover, efforts to "create some space for alternative views and free debate on the Middle East" within the academic community have succeeded "to some extent," said Kramer, pointing to the establishment of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA) and MEF's flagship journal Middle East Quarterly as pioneers in this regard. "The challenge of the next twenty years is to enlarge that space and fill it."
This MEF press release recounts the saga of San Diego imam Uthman Ibn Farooq, who made a high-profile claim that he was victimized by a hate crime, that he reported it to the police, and that the perpetrator was convicted for it. But when MEF reported that that neither the San Diego Police Department nor the San Diego County District Attorney had any information about the attack and offered to pay Ibn Farooq $5,000 to provide supporting documentation, he clammed up.
5. Why Israel's Arabs Are Its Biggest Threat (Spring 2022)
Efraim Karsh, editor of Middle East Quarterly and emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London, argues that the biggest threat to Israel's security is not Iran or Palestinian terror groups, but the "systematic subversion of state sovereignty and governability" by its once-quiescent Arab minority. "Israeli Arabs' defiance of the state and their reversion to mass violence against their Jewish compatriots have reached [the] highest-ever point. ... To deny this reality is the height of folly."
This animosity cannot be "deflected by economic inducements or political appeasement," as many Israeli leaders hope. Israel must set "clear red lines and rules of the game to its Arab minority, "reasserting state sovereignty and governability and clarifying in no uncertain terms the permanence of Israel's Jewish nature."
4. How Arab Rulers Undermined a Palestinian State (Spring 2022)
BESA Center research associate Roie Yellinek and Assaf Malach, a scholar of nationalism and political philosophy at Shalem College, examine how key Arab states have "use[d] the Palestinians to their own ends ... to tarnish Israel's international standing and channel their oppressed subjects' anger outwards," while doing "practically nothing" to facilitate Palestinian attainment of statehood. Although "decades of staunch anti-Zionist propaganda have entrenched the 'Palestine question' in the collective regional psyche," giving the Palestinians some veto power over Arab relations with Israel, "consistent lack of recognition of a separate Palestinian nationality by the Arab states" remains the norm. Palestinian opposition is therefore "unlikely to derail the intensifying, multifaceted, and increasingly overt Arab-Israeli collaboration even in the event of severe deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian relations."
3. Eliezer Tauber on Deir Yassin: The Massacre That Never Was (November 21)
Eliezer Tauber, first chair of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar-Ilan University, discussed his new book, The Massacre That Never Was: The Myth of Deir Yassin and the Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, in a November 2022 webinar. Claims that Jewish fighters committed a "massacre" in the Arab village of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, have been used to "smear Israel" for the past seventy years. But Tauber's painstaking examination of archival records, survivor testimonies, and other sources leads him to conclude that "there was no massacre, but a battle and only a battle."
The massacre narrative was largely the invention of then-Secretary General of the Arab Higher Committee Hussein Fakhri al-Khalidi, who hoped it would stiffen Arab resolve. But the plan "boomeranged," said Tauber, because many Palestinians "believed the massacre narrative" and "started to run away."
MEF writing fellow Abdullah Bozkurt takes a deep dive into how a scheme by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his cronies to seize and redistribute a local company's assets bilked its European lender out of more than €400 million. The cost of doing business in a country without independent regulatory bodies and courts.
1. When Israel Destroyed Syria's Nuclear Reactor: The Inside Story (Spring 2022)
Should an Israeli prime minister order air strikes to eliminate a nuclear threat rather than accept American counsel to rely on the pursuit of a diplomatic solution? It's happened before. This in-depth look at Israel's destruction of a Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007 by Ori Wertman, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), naturally piqued the interest of anyone contemplating Israel's current Iran policy.
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