I am in New York, on my way back home from the annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, which was held this week (S-T) in Chicago. Overall, it was a very impressive and successful gathering of over 800 academics from around the world who met to discuss and engage a dizzying array of topics. I'd never really attended an AJS conference and I was very impressed and exhilarated by the new vistas and ideas which I encountered.
I tried to use the three days to immerse myself in scholarly pursuits (and catching up with old friends, while making new ones). I was determined to take a break from Israeli politics. No such luck. While I decided not to attend sessions on Israel:Palestine, I kept encountering it anyway. The most disturbing example was provided early on. One of the first sessions dealt with the challenge of teaching about Israel on the college campus. During the break afterward, I met a close friend who is by no means a Likudnik. (He still likes Barak.) He was beside himself. He reported that every single speaker did nothing but spew venom about Zionism and Israel. We're not talking about people who hate Sharon/settlers/Yesha etc. We're talking about academics who want to dismantle the State of Israel and lecture (viz. preach) against it's very right to exist. My friend told me that one presenter summed things up by saying that he views his job as being the destruction of the Zionist narrative, with which Jewish students enter his class. (sic[k]!)
Ihr hert a mayseh?
The self-appointed task of these Jewish academicians is to destroy the Jewish national identity of the unsuspecting student. In the 1930's 'progressive' College Professors saw their sacred task as being disabusing their students of their belief in God and their attachment to Judaism. Now it's the turn of Zionism and of the State of Israel. Someone should contact Sander Gilman and urge him to add a chapter to his classic work on judische selbst-hass, Jewish Self-Hatred.