Hassan Nasrallah's latest tirade is his threat to send missiles against an ammonia plant in Haifa. He calls it his nuclear weapon, that would produce 800,000 casualties..
This in a context of Hezbollah deeply involved in Syria, and losing thousands of its fighters.
Nasrallah himself is in Iran for treatment of cancer. It can't be healthy spending almost all of the last 10 years deep underground on account of what Israel might do to him.
On another front, academic warfare is also warming up. It's hard to decide between expressing fury or ridicule against an American academic who says that Israel holds back the bodies of Palestinians killed by police and soldiers (i.e., summarily executed in her words) in order to harvest body parts. Jasbir K. Puar is active in behalf of BDS, writes and lectures on what she calls “gay and lesbian tourism, queer theory, theories of intersectionality, affect, homonationalism, and pinkwashing." She sees Israel's occupation and exploitation of Palestine as an archetypal case of what's wrong with western civilization. Sexual and political manipulation is somehow mixed in what she sells, with Israel's openness to people of various sexual orientations only a smokescreen to distract right-thinking observers from how it really treats Palestinians.
My own academic preferences begin with a commitment to language likely to be clear to students and others interested in my work. Over the years I've encountered colleagues who try heroically to coin new terms for phenomenon they cannot describe with conventional terms. Most of us pass over such stuff with a polite nod, and go on to what we can understand.
In Ms Puar's case, I won't claim to understand what she means by queer theory, theories of intersectionality, affect, homonationalism, or pinkwashing. I found her Youtubed lecture about a tour with lesbians through Palestine, so I have a sense of what she means by gay and lesbian tourism. In that lecture I did not hear any mention about Palestinian gays who fear for their lives, and seek refuge in Israel.
The nonsense of Israelis harvesting organs from Palestinians recalls classic blood libels, that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood to make Passover motzah. The lady shows no concern for the practice of holding back bodies until families agree to late night and limited funerals, for the purpose of minimizing the prospect of parades by thousands that will add to more violence.
Against Puar, as against medieval Christians who promoted their own blood libel, it is likely to be pointless to emphasize the respect by Jews of life, and bodies of the dead. Pictures of the religious squads at scenes of traffic accidents or terrorism, to collect and honor the smallest fragment of victims, or the lengthy pondering about donating organs would not make an impression on those both ignorant and committed to hatred..
It's been difficult enough for Israeli medical personnel to convince families of those killed to donate organs to save others, with organs going to those in need according to medical criteria, without reference to whether the recipients are Jews or Arabs. Should the IDF or the police harvest the organs of Palestinian murderers, the clamor from religious Jews would be heard here and elsewhere.
Jasbir Puar is currently an Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. Given the inflammatory and baseless claims that she makes, she is an appropriate target for colleagues who would limit her further rise up the professorial ladder, or subject her to disciplinary hearings. New Jersey residents, Jews and others, should be rethinking their donations to Rutgers, and steering the kids away from where they'd learn junk science. State legislators should take another look at the university's budget, at least for the wildest of its programs.
Academic freedom has its value, but it comes along with academic responsibility. Modernizing medieval fictions that were responsible for countless pogroms and the slaughter of innocent Jews .with no more evidence than her assertion, is reason enough to examine Ms Puar's work.
It may not be easy doing away with her nonsense. The audience at Ms Puar's lecture was attentive and supportive, and she has a prize for one of her publications. If higher education is out of control, with Know Nothings running parts of the academies, there may be little hope for accuracy or any other kind of responsibility.
Yet all is not bleak. Jews have been at even more threatening junctures many times in a long history.
Against Nasrallah and Hezbollah, we can rely for some time yet on the bloodletting in Syria, and whatever is the Sheikh's fate in an Iranian clinic. If he goes there'll be others to take his place. We hear about thousands of Hezbollah rockets capable of doing much more damage than in 2006.
The IDF does not boast of its capacities with the same hyperbole as Nasrallah. Its destruction a decade ago of Hezbollah's neighborhood in Beirut and several of its locations in the south of Lebanon should provide at least a bit of deterrent.
Countering academic aggression involves non-fatal weaponry. Here, too, Israel is not defenseless. A people that has been literate for 3,000 years has more than a few articulate defenders in modern academia. A significant number, including those who are not Jews, are already active countering the nonsense of Professor Puar and her fellow travelers with the tools of open and unrestrained criticism. Those are the weapons that academics employ against fools who are, or who aspire to be their colleagues.
To be sure, there is a crowd willing or passionate to absorb the bloodiest of stories against Jews. Most Christians are more civilized than those who rioted, whenever aroused against those said to have killed Christ, most often at Easter. Now it's Muslims in heat, along with cadres of western academics and students who know no better, including more than a few Jews.
We're still alive and kicking, and we know from that book written long ago, that there's nothing new under the sun.
מַה-שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה וּמַה-שֶּׁנַּעֲשָׂה הוּא שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה וְאֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 (קוהלת)
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem