Out of Bounds: Academic Freedom and the Question of Palestine
Academic freedom is a key element of the academic enterprise in the U.S. However, it does not seem to exist when scholars seek to advocate on behalf of Palestinian self-determination.
This unique work examines how the knowledge-power nexus is shaping the discourse around the Israel-Palestine conflict and restricting academic freedom. Beginning with a discussion of American Zionism, the work proceeds to explain why scholars working on the question of Palestine are often denied standard academic freedom. This is supported by prominent cases, such as Norman G. Finkelstein's denial of tenure, the Middle East Studies Department at Columbia University, and Mearsheimer and Walt's book, The Israel Lobby. The work of Edward Said and Noam Chomsky are also discussed and the book concludes with recommendations for protecting intellectual freedom to those seeking to critically pursue the question of Palestine.
This scholarly study will appeal to a broad audience of faculty, students, and readers who seek to understand the importance of academic freedom and the thorny debates surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Scholars and activists working on Palestine have been complaining about restrictive university governance for decades. Therefore, it is important that a study systematically assessing those restrictions has been published. Even better, the study is intelligent, rigorous, and meticulous. Abraham often deploys the specialized language of his field, but I doubt any educated reader will have difficulty understanding any of it. In this way, Abraham's work satisfies the imperatives of both academic complexity and activist urgency. I enthusiastically recommend it. -- Steven Salaita * Journal of Palestine Studies * For anyone who wants to understand just how difficult it is to discuss Israel on college campuses and why that is the case, read Out of Bounds. Matthew Abraham does an excellent job of showing how pro-Israel forces attempt to silence anyone who dares to criticize Israel, which seriously threatens academic freedom. * John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago, US * All knowledge is political but there is perhaps no academic or public discourse in the post-War West that is more politicized and, hence, more one-sided than the one about the Zionist colonial enterprise in Palestine. This discourse converted the Jewish settler-colonialism into a movement for Jewish national liberation; it represented Israel's persecution and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as the struggle for survival of the Jewish people; it demonized its Palestinian and Arab victims as anti-Semites, terrorists and worse. In Out of Bounds, Abraham documents the diverse methods that Zionists and their Western allies--liberals and Christian fundamentalists--have employed to police and structure this discourse in two critical arenas: the academia and media. Carefully and thoroughly, Abraham maps the strategies and tactics that a complex and well-endowed nexus of think tanks, media, politicians, academics, experts and hacks--all working in concert with Israel--employed to persecute and malign several leading Americans (a few of Palestinian origin) who were committed to uncovering the truth about the Zionist project: especially Norman Finkelstein, Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, El-Asmar, President Carter and Rachel Corrie. This is the first study of its kind --and it deserves the closest attention of all parties interested in a peaceful denouement to the Zionist project. * M. Shahid Alam, author of Israeli Exceptionalism * Matthew Abraham is Associate Professor of English at the University of Arizona, USA. He is the co-editor of The Making of Barack Obama: The Politics of Persuasion.
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