Language Association (MLA) whose brief is words, sentences, paragraphs, stories
and narratives, has a special responsibility to lead the way in examining the
effects of exposure to cradle-to-grave incitement –the abuse of words. Word
Pollution is pandemic in the Mideast.
Such incitement –the 6 D’s of
dehumanization, demonization, delegitimization, disinformation, double
standards, and denial of past genocides perpetuates the motifs of hate, revenge,
death and destruction. Such incitement is the most hazardous environmental
exposure in the Mid-East.
Ever since the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide,
there is strong circumstantial evidence for the cause-effect relationships
between constant exposure to words of incitement and hate – in the public
square, school texts, the printed media, radio and television,]and places of
worship -- and numbers of persons killed, maimed and injured in acts of terror.
Those who monitor Word Pollution report that Jihadist genocidal anti-semtiism,
recycling centuries old motifs of hate, and the motifs of Mein Kampf, are
increasing in the Palestinian Authority. It is noteworthy that such incitement
has increased since the release of Palestinian terrorists, and the resumption of
negotiations under the auspices of Secretary of State John Kerry.
Those who know
something about the history of such incitement know that such incitement
predates the establishment of the State of Israel, and bears no relationship
whatsoever to Israeli presence in the Administered Territories. And, in all
fairness, it is not confined to the Palestinians. It is worse in Iran, Iraq,
Syria and Egypt, and even Jordan. But the MLA, foolishly has decided to imitate
the hapless Association for American Studies and call for an academic boycott of
Israel. MLA should follow the recent example of the 200 member Executive Council
of the American Public Health Association which, in November, decisively
rejected—by a crushing 3 to 1 margin a resolution calling for disinvestment in
Israel--as Judy Siegel of the JP reported.
I was at the APHA convention, and saw
how the members of this Council, who one year earlier, voted 50-50 on an earlier
BDS resolution, changed their minds when a few of us hit back hard with massive
documentation of the falsehoods, lies and disinformation of its sponsors. Both
the defeated APHA draft resolution, which recommended censure of Israel, and the
MLA draft resolution contain fundamental errors of commission and omission.
are selective, biased and discriminatory. And both ignored the massive
population-wide impact of constant exposure to hate and incitement in promoting
a culture of revenge, hate, and violence—and habituating those who use these
motifs to a culture of revenge, hate and violence, as we now see in Syria.
the defeated APHA resolution, the MLA resolution ignores (1) the public health
impacts of war and refugees worldwide as well as the spillover from the chaos,
violence, brutality and mass atrocities in Syria and migrations from Sudan into
Israel via Sinai (2) the fact that all the universities in the West Bank and
many in Gaza were established with the encouragement and support of the Israeli
government after the Six Day War of 1967 (3) the long history of formal and
informal collaboration between many Israeli and Palestinian researchers and
their students in service, training and research (4) pressures, threats and
intimidation from the PA itself directed against such cooperation (5)
substantial Israeli-Palestinian collaborations and Israeli contributions to
progress in public health, preventive medicine, water and sanitation, nutrition,
agricultural irrigation, immunization -- notably polio, detection and prevention
of lead poisoning, and medical care and education and training (6) the scope and
consequences of the negative effects of a decade of missile attacks – over
13,000 since 2000, terror and incitement by Hamas, and elements in Fatah
--intentionally directed at Israeli civilians – Jews and Arabs alike.
most of all, the MLA draft resolution ignores (7) the crippling
intergenerational effects of Word Polluton--incitement to violence on mental
health and development, notably among the young, who are more vulnerable than
MLA‘s interest is in promotion of scholarship and research on
modern languages. MLA has a proud history of recognizing the right of all
individuals to celebrate their cultures through the study and dissemination of
their languages and literatures. But it has been silent on the use of words to
incite and foment hatred. In short, MLA’s silence on such incitement makes it a
complicit bystander to such evil.
This silence is disgraceful. MLA has a special
responsibility to promote the use of words sentences, paragraphs, stories and
narratives to celebrate respect for life and the human dignity of the other. MLA
should advocate a policy of Zero Tolerance for Incitement and promote
initiatives to translate this policy into practice. So far it has neglected to
do so. Its silence on Word Pollution is disgraceful. It should redefine Word
Pollution as an unacceptable, just as public health doctors and scientists have
done so with air and water pollution.
The proposed MLA Resolution, if adopted,
will destroy MLA’s creditibility. It will undermine any attempt to put substance
into any so-called peace process.