In a January 10 article, Mairav Zonszein accuses Campus Watch of "market[ing] Israel's image," "assaulting and delegitimizing those who advocate for Palestinian rights," and having helped "write the handbook" on blacklisting.
It's difficult to suppress an eye roll when reading the many critics of Campus Watch. The song (very old) is always the same: Israel-loving Zionist haters collude to suppress free speech, attack professors who criticize Israel or defend Palestinians, and do other unspeakable things. But a brave few, a happy few, a band of others somehow manage to overcome the blackout imposed by Zionist censors to publish erroneous, misleading, hyperbolic, sanctimonious retorts (take that!) in high profile, globally-distributed publications read by millions. Yawn.
The latest champion of light to engage the forces of darkness -- er, I mean, the latest charlatan to play the victim and make laughably false charges against Campus Watch (and others) is one Mairav Zonszein, who, we are told, "wrote her MA thesis on the changing nature of what it means to be pro-Israel in the American Jewish community."
Changing indeed. Whereas the innocent might be forgiven for thinking that being "pro-Israel," or pro-anything, would involve defending said entity from unscrupulous persons given to smearing, misrepresenting, and otherwise working to weaken or even destroy the object of their attacks, the nature of these actions has changed, you see. And keeping up with these changes means turning nature on its head, so that words come to mean their opposite: pro- = anti-; affection = hostility; survival = extinction.
Get it? Clever, no? No?
Zonszein's screed appeared in the January 10, 2018 issue of The Forward. It begins
Even before BDS came onto the scene, primarily in the wake of the Second Intifada in 2000, a whole cadre of groups was founded whose mission is essentially to market Israel's image, which necessarily means assaulting and delegitimizing those who advocate for Palestinian rights, since that makes Israel look bad. These include StandWithUS, The David Project, Campus Watch, NGO Monitor, Honest Reporting, and more recently, The Canary Mission, and the AMCHA Initiative.
Alas, several corrections are in order: Campus Watch was founded in September, 2002, primarily in the wake of 9/11 (not the Second Intifada). We are not in the business of marketing "Israel's image," nor of "assaulting and delegitimizing those who advocate for Palestinian rights" -- although we do respond to attempts to smear and delegitimize us (modern life ain't beanball).
Middle East studies is among the most politicized and biased fields in all the humanities and social sciences.
Rather, CW critiques the entire field of Middle East studies (which includes but goes far beyond Israel) because this key discipline is among the most politicized and biased in all the humanities and social sciences. (See our mission statement here.)
Her next charge moves from the malicious to the bizarre: "By excluding all those who challenge Israeli government policies, these organizations have effectively assumed a monopoly over Jewish legitimacy vis-a-vis the state of Israel."
CW is unconcerned with "Jewish legitimacy," whatever that is, vis-a-vis Israel or anything else. Surely the writer knows that critics (or champions) of Israel or any other state come in all ethnicities, religions, nationalities, etc. Our sole concern is with the rigor and objectivity of a professor's scholarship and teaching.
The contemporary left reacts to criticism as if the boot heel of the state were being used to smash opponents.
Finally, Zonszein limps home with this: "Not only is it not surprising that Israel has created a blacklist; we know where it learned its tactics. The Jewish American community wrote the handbook on blacklisting Jewish dissent."
Please. CW staff, whatever their religion, are hardly in a position to blacklist anyone. It is a sad comment on the contemporary left that its adherents consistently react to criticism in articles, blog posts, and social media as if the boot heel of the state were being used to smash opponents and usher in a new age of despotism. (CW is a project of the Middle East Forum, a private think tank; we neither possess nor seek governmental powers.) Perhaps their intellectual vacuity spurs them to exaggerate their plight, especially in an age that champions false victimhood as virtue. Whatever the root of their maladies, however, CW continues to defend itself from attack -- time after time after time.
Winfield Myers is director of academic affairs at the Middle East Forum and director of Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.