Noura Erakat. (Image source: New America/Flickr)
Israel must undergo "settler-decolonization" in which Jewish "settler-colonists . . . could leave as the French left Algeria or they could stay as they did in South Africa," declared George Mason University Professor Noura Erakat last month. Her presentation at Washington, DC's Middle East Institute (MEI) revealed that nothing is beneath such an inveterate Israel-hater, who masks her lies and propaganda with sophistry and a smiling face.
This niece of Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiator Saeb Erakat discussed her recent book, Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine, before the approximately eighty people filling MEI's lecture room. Her fellow panelist, Brookings Institution non-resident fellow Khaled Elgindy, examined his recent publication, Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump. Audience members included the Ilhan Omar supporter and member of the radically anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Alison Glick of Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.
Befitting her longstanding anti-Israel extremism, including praise for terrorist Rasmea Odeh and conspiracy-mongering Princeton law professor emeritus Richard Falk, Erakat spewed vitriolic falsehoods. She gushed over the "youth" and "courageous vision" of the "Father of Modern Terrorism," Yasser Arafat, upon his accession to Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leadership in 1968. She even claimed that the PLO "renounced violence" through its 1998 charter amendments, a cold comfort to Israeli victims of the PA's current "pay to slay" terrorist payment program.
In Erakat's remarks—a de facto legal brief for terrorists—she exulted in the PLO "legislating the right to fight" by creating a "new law during the 1970s in order to further their cause for liberation," the 1977 Geneva Protocol. American opposition to terrorism led to the rejection of this agreement precisely because, among other things, it sought to overturn the "narrative that Palestinian resort to armed violence is terroristic, rather than a legitimate form of warfare." She also lauded the PLO's obtainment of the ghastly 1975 United Nations General Assembly "Zionism is racism" resolution, ultimately rescinded in 1991.
Erakat simply lied about assaults against Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza. Repeating her past slanders about the Israeli military targeting civilians with a "shrinking civilian" policy, she claimed Israeli shrapnel killed a one-year old infant in Gaza in early May despite evidence indicating it was due to a misfired jihadist rocket.
Gazans' recent attempts to breach Israeli security barriers elicited her praise. A besieged Gazan population that has supposedly "been subject to near starvation" has, in fact, suffered from obesity amidst comparative luxury. Her whitewash presented the violent 2018 "Great March of Return" as a "resistance path to freedom, using nonviolent means, which should make us all celebrate" and "inspire the entire world."
Predictably, Erakat denounced (non-existent) Israeli "apartheid." As proof she cited Falk's notorious 2017 UN report, which even the anti-Israel UN disowned in embarrassment, and described Israel's lifesaving security barrier as an "apartheid wall." For good measure, she complained that the PA "has not even endorsed the very minimum of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" (BDS) in seeking Israel's destruction through economic warfare.
Without defining the term, Erakat claimed that "two-thirds of Palestinians do not live in Palestine at all" and invoked the Palestinian refugee farce, by which millions of descendants of perhaps 600,000 Arab refugees from Israel's 1948 War of Independence have a "right of return" to Israel. Even she acknowledged that what was once a refugee "family of ten is probably now an extended family of 150."
Concluding her remarks with yet another hackneyed accusation, Erakat described the Jewish state as a colonial implant whose demographic destruction would "help Israel become part of the Middle East." Jews "have not returned to their Arab Middle Eastern roots," she complained; "they have returned to basically achieve acceptance within Europe" and to "demonstrate their eligibility as part of a European civilizational project." Thus, she purely fabricated the claim: "Despite all Zionist claims of nativity and indigeneity," Israel "has been envisioned as a satellite state in the Middle East and a site of ingathering for a global Jewish population. It has never been envisioned as a part of the Middle East."
Erakat then appropriated the struggle of Mizrachi Jews, who emigrated to Israel from the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) diaspora, for her anti-Israel propaganda. Much like the antisemitic Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, who calls Mizrachi Jews "Palestinian," Erakat called them "Arab Jews," a term they reject. In fact, Mizrachi groups have denounced these distortions as anti-Zionist propaganda and celebrated their increasing prominence in Israel.
Decrying Israeli society as "basically mandating a process of self-devastation for Arab Jews," Erakat asserted the latter "don't learn Arabic, don't learn about their cultural history" in the MENA region. She claimed to want to "elevate the lives of Middle Eastern Jews who are also subject to an intense amount of racial violence by the Israeli state" in order to "rehabilitate Israel," despite defaming it in a recent interview as a "white supremacist project." In reality, Israel's Mizrachi, who lean politically conservative, have little love for a Muslim-majority Arab culture that has oppressed them throughout history and expelled them following Israel's creation in 1948.
Erakat's ahistorical, mendacious claims demonstrate the decadence of contemporary Middle East studies, where ethnic and religious bigotry masquerading as virtue has replaced the search for objective truth. Her presentation also revealed the depraved depths of an Israel-hatred that is increasingly accepted on American campuses. Defending both principled scholarship and practical politics demands Erakat's exposure and repudiation.
Andrew E. Harrod is a Campus Watch Fellow, freelance researcher, and writer who holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project. Follow him on Twitter at @AEHarrod.