Academic Lies! And This Passes For Scholarship!
In critiquing an academic paper that was published in the journal, International Relations and Diplomacy, I found a blatant lie that made my blood boil. In another post critiquing this same article, I showed how common myths demonizing Israel have found their way into scholarly writing published in academic journals. Here I want to contest one point only.
In the February 2017 issue of the journal, Prof Franke Wilmer published an article entitled, Victimization, Empathy, and Breaking the Cycles of Violence in Israel and Palestine. On page 75, in her conclusions, she makes the following statement:
Doubi Schwartz, former General Manager of the Parents Circle Families Forum, a group of 600 families from both sides who have lost loved ones to the violent conflict, explained that members of the organization visit high schools in teams of one Palestinian and one Israeli family member to tell their stories of loss and their plea for peace and nonviolence. “Some of the schools in Israel will not let us bring a Palestinian in, and for many who do, it is the first time they have encountered someone from the other side”. [emphasis mine]
The lie is shown in bold font. I explored the organization’s website looking for material regarding the high school project. Finding nothing but old news, I called the Israeli office of the Parents Circle Family Forum and spoke with Iris Meisler, the office manager, who asserted that they are working on the website to bring it up to date and she was willing to answer my questions.
Regarding the high school project, she said that they have not yet been given permission to bring an Israeli member of the team into schools in the Palestinian Authority. ALL the schools into which they are given permission to present their programme are Israeli schools, and any school that would refuse to have a resident of the PA co-present would simply not be approved by the organization for holding a session.
So perhaps one could say that Wilmer did not exactly lie — she just told the story in such a way as to give a totally unfounded impression. I have no doubt that SOME Israeli schools would not welcome a programme that features a resident of the PA. However, by not writing that NONE of the PA schools allowed an Israeli team member, she is leading the reader to believe that there is no problem conducting the high school programme in the PA.
To get further information, I spoke with Osama Abu Ayash, Project Coordinator for the organization in the PA. He clarified that there are a small number of programmes carried out in the PA — one could say that for every nine sessions held in Israel, one is held in the PA. Furthermore, the sessions held in the PA do not take place in the schools, but, rather, in a community center or other venue. This is because schools are not willing to take responsibility for the security of Israeli visitors. Furthermore, as opposed to the situation in Israel, sessions may be held with only the Palestinian Arab member of the team and not the bi-national team required for sessions to be held in Israel.
So — do you consider withholding part of the story as lying when the withholding leads to a false impression? I do.
Now, why would Wilmer want to give this false impression? Could it have anything to do with her possibly supporting academic BDS against Israel? Well, I did not find anything linking her to support for academic boycott of Israel, but I did find out that she is a board member of the Congregation Beth Shalom in Bozeman, Montana. Perhaps she just believes that by making Israel out to appear to be the evil party in our part of the world, she can help break what so many regard as the Israel “occupation”.
I guess she does not believe that the whole truth and nothing but the truth would do the trick! And I wonder what that says about her lofty goal of breaking the “occupation”. And I also wonder why she thinks this qualifies as scholarly writing.