UC Irvine Professor Mark LeVine is a regular writer for Qatar-based Al Jazeera, which is funded by the ruling family of Qatar.
And who is Mark LeVine, you ask?
You don't wanna know.
But, if you insist, he is a professor of Middle East studies at UC Irvine, where I also teach part-time. A few days ago, he got very angry at me at a campus event when I called him an "anti-Israel activist" and told me in no uncertain terms that if I ever called him "anti-Israel" again, I would have a problem!
Anyway, here is one of Mark's recent pieces for Al Jazeera in which he talks about the Open Hillel movement, an effort to get the national Jewish student support organization to admit members who are anti-Israel, folks like Jewish Voice for Peace, the most inappropriately-named organization since the LA Lakers.
"For many years, the powerful Israel lobby, a group of Jewish and (largely) conservative Christian and U.S.-national-security-related organizations whose main purpose is to ensure untrammeled U.S. support for Israel, regardless of its policies, has overshadowed American Jewish life. However, a convergence of factors, including the spread of alternative media, the rise of the anti-globalization and anti-war movements, the intensification of the occupation and deepening of violence in Israel and Palestine and the emergence of a highly educated and committed progressive activists, is increasingly challenging Israel's militarized policies and the brand of Jewish identity championed by right-wing Israeli leaders."
Boy! That's a mouthful.
"Open Hillel's rapid growth mirrors that of Jewish Voices for Peace, a grass-roots organization that advocates for a lasting peace that recognizes the security and self-determination of both Israelis and Palestinians. Israel's recent assault on Gaza has given the group another boost."
Jewish Voice for Peace, despite its name, is an anarchist bunch of misfits that is totally in line with the Palestinian movement. They hate Israel with a passion. Three of these characters came to UCI a couple of years ago, and guess what-one of them, Rachel Roberts, yelled at me. (What else is new?) Roberts is now a legal counsel for CAIR. Are you surprised? Another was Matan Cohen, a self-described student and anarchist, whose main claim to fame has been getting tuned up by Israel forces when he tries to put his anarchist tricks to use against them, He even lost an eye in the process. The third was a b-grade actress named Estee Chandler, who, in spite of her training, had to sit and read her presentation from her laptop!
To call JVP a grass roots group that advocates for a lasting peace that recognizes the security of Israel is laughable.
"This group, however, is coming into conflict with U.S. Jewish leadership. While average American Jews remain the most liberal group in U.S., the core leadership has moved to the far right on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Criticizing Israel remains taboo, and even the best-known American Jewish intellectuals (Tony Judt, Judith Butler, Tony Kushner and Noam Chomsky, among others) face vitriolic attacks for speaking out against the occupation."
Judith Butler? Noam Chomsky? When I was studying linguistics, I had to read Chomsky's book on Universal Grammar. Whatever his talents as a linguist, when it comes to anything else, the man is an idiot-in my humble view, of course. I don't know which he hates more, Israel or the US.
(At least I didn't call him a moral idiot. That would be vitriolic, wouldn't you say?)To close, I am no fan of Hillel-at least its chapter in Orange County. If they want to open up their organization-which claims to support Israel- to Jews who don't share that view, that's their business. But it must be pointed out that this Open Hillel movement is nothing more than trying to infiltrate Hillel with anti-Israel forces and change the very nature of the organization. In my view, it is all part of the grand scheme to totally deligitimize Israel.