The content of a controversial lecture delivered last month at Dartmouth College by an infamous Rutgers professor was finally made public in a post on campus website Dartblog on Friday.
As was reported at the time byThe Algemeiner, Jasbir Puar — an associate professor of women and gender studies, with an emphasis on queer theory, feminism, globalization and diaspora studies — was accused by Dartmouth anthropology professor Sergei Kan of "academic antisemitism" during her address at the school, entitled "Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters."
The transcript of her remarks — made during an April 30 event related to feminism and the environment and sponsored by the Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth (GRID) — reads in part:
Several scholars have been tracing maiming as a deliberate biopolitical tactic on the part of Israel in the occupation of Palestine. Medical personnel in both Gaza and the West Bank reported mounting evidence of shoot to cripple practices of the IDF, more accurately called the Israeli Occupation Forces, noting an increasing shift from using traditional means such as tear gas and rubber bullets, rubber coated metal to disperse crowds to firing at knees, femurs or aiming for their vital organs. In Gaza, during the 51 days of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the illegal use of fleshettes and dumdum bullets that fragment and splinter, often causing crippling for life, the bombing of numerous hospitals and a disability center, the destruction of the main electric power plant in Gaza, the flattening of homes, schools and mosques, the targeting of youth and children, all have added greater dimension to the tactic of debilitating both bodies and infrastructure.
So for example the IDF policy of shooting to cripple or maim and not to kill is often misperceived as a preservation of life. In this version of attenuated life, neither living nor dying is the aim. Instead, will not let die and will not make die replaces the coordinates of make live or make die.
So maiming then functions not as an incomplete death or an accidental assault on life, rather the end goal of a dual production of permanent disability via the infliction of harm and the attrition of the life support systems that might allow populations to heal from the harm. Maiming is required. It is not a by-product of war or of collateral damage. It is used to achieve the tactical aims of settler colonialism.
In a rebuttal against Puar's claims, Dr. Alex Safian, associate director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), wrote, "Israel does not claim a right to maim, but it does claim a right to live and not to be killed, and this Puar apparently can't accept. If Israeli forces shoot to kill, she would condemn them for that. But if they shoot to injure rather than kill, including with less-than-lethal rounds like rubber bullets, she would condemn them for that. Puar rejects any Israeli effort at self-defense, because she fundamentally rejects Israel's legitimacy. So nothing that Israel does can ever be legitimate."
The Dartmouth lecture was not the first time that Puar has caused a stir over her accusations against Israel. In March, during a lecture at Vassar College, she accused the Jewish state of conducting medical experiments on Palestinians — involving the deliberate "stunting" of their growth — and of carrying out field executions.
Following the Dartmouth talk, Annabel Martin, the director of GRID, released a statement defending Puar's claims, calling them "uncomfortable truths."