Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not Raping = Rape ... If You Are an Israeli Soldier

Paper Proves Once Again that Academics Never Outgrow Their Need for Bullshit

Prize Winning Sociology Thesis at Hebrew U.: Lack of Rape Among Israeli Soldiers Achieves Same Aims as Rape

"A Hebrew University Sociology department M.A. thesis entitled "Controlled Occupation: The Lack of Military Rape in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict" notes that the relative absence of instances of rape by Israeli soldiers is an alternate method of achieving the same kind of degradation of Palestinian Arabs that would be achieved through a directed policy of raping Arab women."

Via Barbara Kay on the 'Lack of rape among Israeli soldiers' who notes, "This pinch-me item just crossed my desk and of course I assumed it was a spoof. But I Googled the names of the academics involved and to my astonishment they are real."

More from this steaming clod of manure:

"In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences - just as organized military rape would have done." -- Heb. U. Paper Finds: IDF Has Political Motives for Not Raping

I look forward to the Olmert government responding forcefully to the revelations of this research and issuing an apology to all unraped Palestinian women for not being raped. He should also note that until Israel can manage to train its soldiers own to the level of Hamas or United Nations troops that, sadly, the not-raping will continue.

** "I have now read the entire thesis (in Hebrew). [You can also, if you read Hebrew] It is not a serious piece of research. It is a disgrace and an embarrassment for all of Israeli academia." --- The complete text of an article by a man who has read the full-text of the Hebrew paper follows:

Thursday, January 3, 2008
Complete Story of “No Rape = Racism” Essay
Author: Steven Plaut in Israel
An abridged version of a longer article about the cover-up scandal at the Hebrew University, with relation to the “Abstaining From Rape of Arabs is Jewish Racism” thesis, came out this evening at the NY Jewish Press under the title Guilty By Reason Of Innocence: New Insanity From Israel’s Academic Leftists By: Steven Plaut and can be read there.

Below is the longer FULL version of the article, which has not yet been published in full length form, but is presented here.

By Steven Plaut

It began as just another exercise in political academic wackiness at the Hebrew University.

A graduate student claimed that the absence of any history of rapes of Arab women by Israeli Jewish soldiers proves that the Jews are racists and oppressors, people who do not even regard Arab women as sexually desirable. Such silliness is commonplace these days in academia, and ordinarily no one would have taken much notice. But the student at the Mount Scopus campus and her “research” were then awarded a university honor for her impressive “discoveries.” That drew media attention.

The matter has now become the worst recent scandal in Israeli academia because of the attempt by the heads of the Hebrew University to cover it up, in a manner a bit reminiscent of the worst days of Watergate. Maybe it should be dubbed Scopusgate. The scandal now rivals the “Toaff Affair” in Israel last year, in which a now-retired professor at Bar-Ilan University published “research” in which he claimed that medieval Jews used gentile blood for ceremonial purposes.

The very highest officials of the Hebrew University are themselves now implicated in a dishonest cover-up! The President of the Hebrew University, Professor Menachem Magidor, and the Rector Prof. Haim D. Rabinowitch jointly issued a deliberately false “spin” announcement regarding the MA thesis of the student, claiming that the media had incorrectly described what was in it. Instead of repudiating the student and her “academic advisors,” Magidor and Rabinowitch closed ranks with them and insisted that Nitzan’s “research” represents serious scholarship. The Nitzan Affair simply shows how completely devoid of serious academic standards and quality controls parts of Israeli academia are today.

Hebrew University apologists tried to defuse the cries of outrage over the “research” by claiming that reports about it were all part of some sort of vast right-wing conspiracy. The first two media reports appeared on web sites, Hebrew and one English, both associated with those on the Israeli Right. The apologists suggested that these were misrepresenting the thesis for political reasons. Then Magidor and Rabinovitch proclaimed that reading the entire thesis would show that it is a serious piece of scholarship. They obviously did not read it.

Well, I have now read the entire thesis (in Hebrew). [You can also, if you read Hebrew] It is not a serious piece of research. It is a disgrace and an embarrassment for all of Israeli academia. The descriptions of it on the two “rightwing” web sites were entirely accurate, and the heads of the Hebrew University simply lied about its contents, in a pathetic attempt at cover-up. While University apologists dismissed complaints about the thesis as tendentious misrepresentation of it by a vast rightwing conspiracy, the rallying in defense of the thesis by the Hebrew University administration and some professors looks a whole lot like a leftwing conspiracy to cover up.

Tal Nitzan was a graduate student in anthropology at the Hebrew University. Her thesis was supervised by anthropology Professor Eyal Ben Ari and by Dr. Edna Lomsky-Feder, from the Hebrew University’s school of education, a leftist with a history of denouncing Israel for its supposed “militarism.” The thesis was evidently also supported by anthropology Prof. Zali Gurevitch, the head of the Shaine Center (and himself an anti-Israel leftist radical), who defended it to the media and made the decision to award it a prize of honors.

Nitzan’s “thesis” is largely a collection of tiresome feminist rhetoric and postmodernist gibberish, not all of it related to rape. The thesis is 206 pages long and tries to appear scholarly by including many long “citations” taken from the fever swamps of radical anthropology and leftist sociology. One has to wade through it with suppressed nausea to get to its main points, and all of the main points are exactly as they were represented in the early media reports; they are at complete odds with the cover-up attempt by the Hebrew University.

Nitzan begins by noting that one should distinguish between organized military rape directly ordered by authorities as a matter of policy, such as in the Bosnian wars, and individual acts of rape by soldiers, which she labels with the nonsensical term “symptomatic rape.” She calls it that I guess because she wants us to think it is a symptom the “racist Zionist system” that is responsible for such crimes. She asserts that the first kind of rape is a form of political policy, whereas the latter kind (the “symptomatic”) is a “direct result of the blurring of social divisions and ethnic-gender barriers” (bear with me here! — SP). She confirms that the first form of organized rape has never been the policy of the Israeli army. She then says that the second form, individual “symptomatic rape,” has replaced the former as a method of humiliation and oppression of Arabs, even when - and especially when - Israeli Jewish soldiers do not do it at all! Hence, she concludes, NOT raping Arab women shows how racist the Jews are.

Nitzan cannot conceive of any rape that is not in and itself a form of establishing political control and defining political power. “Symptomatic rape” for Nitzan is a reflection of the intolerant distancing of the “dominant” group (Jewish men) from the “oppressed” group (Arab men and women). But she then completely turns this “thought” on its head by arguing that abstaining from rape is just as inhumane and oppressive as “symptomatically raping,” and in fact replaces it, because it just serves to reinforce the intolerant attitudes towards Arabs by Jewish soldiers, who think of Arabs as so inferior and horrid that they do not even feel a drive to rape them. Really. “Absence of rape is explained by the social condition in which there is blurring of attitudes towards gender power relations while at the same time social limits… are unambiguous and solid. (page 183)” While giving some shallow lip service to how the “question” of rape refusal is “very complex,” Nitzan’s own “answer” is quite simple and straightforward. And numbingly stupid.

Rape for Nitzan is not violent crime at all but rather is always a manifestation of political plotting by elites. She contradicts herself by noting that, come to think of it, Israeli soldiers do not rape Arab women as individuals either. She then contradicts her own contradictions and claims that the absence of rape by Israeli soldiers is “designed” to achieve the same goals as organized mass rape in other countries and in other wars.

Her “conclusions” are that Israel is so racist and intolerably anti-Arab that abstaining from rape is part and parcel of its way to enforce rigid “lines of division.” She asserts that individual soldiers abstaining from rape represent an intentional policy of oppression roughly similar to when governments order mass rape, because in both cases the “policy” serves to subordinate and dehumanize the oppressed victim population.

The main significance of the thesis as an academic work is in the fact that it illustrates the total collapse of any semblance of academic standards at the Hebrew University. The “thesis” is not worth the disk space on which it is printed. Yet it was not only accepted by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University, the department in which the late pro-terror anti-Zionist extremist Baruch Kimmerling spent his career fabricating “Palestinian history”, but was even awarded a prestigious award, one evidently financed with contributions from the Shaine family. (I doubt the Shaines have any idea how their generosity was misused by the university!) Atrociously written and constantly contradicting herself, Nitzan would have been laughed out of any university maintaining serious standards, EVEN if she had been writing about a valid and legitimate subject.

The thesis draws its “scientific” conclusions from open interviews with 25 reserve soldiers, ages 23-32, who served as combat troops in the “occupied territories” during the “intifada.” None of the comments by any of these soldiers support or provide any confirmation, even the most indirect, to any of the lunatic “conclusions” by Nitzan. Most of the interview comments concern the day-to-day tactics and experiences of the soldiers. Nitzan then asked the soldiers why no Arab women were raped by Israeli troops. Their responses varied, ranging from assertions of ethical awareness of soldiers to effective disciple. Some noted the presence of media reporters or of NGO groups in the areas of conflict.

Nitzan constantly disregards what the soldiers actually say and instead attributes to them irrational fears and feelings of disgust and snotty superiority when they interact with Arabs (for example, page 53 and following). Long segments of the thesis are rants about how Israel brutally exercises control and suppression of the poor Palestinians.

But since when is asking 25 random soldiers why no rapes take place a scientific way to go about answering the question? The soldiers are not social scientists and are not criminologists. How any MA degree could be awarded to anyone on the basis of having conducted 25 interviews is one of the mysteries that the Hebrew University authorities have yet to explain. The thesis is totally devoid of statistical analysis or empirical testing, even using the rather primitive methodologies popular among some sociologists. At no serious academic institution would such a superficial exercise in baseless long-winded verbiage be accepted as a “research thesis.”

Nitzan’s anti-Israel political bias is also evident throughout. On page 23 she declares that “Imposing control and instilling fear is a frequent practice (by Israel in the ‘Palestinian-Israeli’ conflict) and so it would be expected that military rape should be used as an efficient method for ensuring the security and survival of a Jewish Israel.” On page 53 she asserts that “de-humanization amidst avoiding demonization is one of the most blatant features of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” [She means by the Jews.] The words “terror” and “terrorist” do not appear even once in the entire thesis. Neither does “bomb,” “bomber,” or “suicide murderer.” No one reading the thesis would have any idea that Israeli military actions in the “territories” have anything to do with suicide bombers and terrorist murderers. The political bias and open political propagandizing should have been more than enough for the thesis to be rejected altogether as pseudo-research. Instead, it got a prize.

The possibility that Israeli soldiers do not rape Arab women because they are simply decent and honorable people, or under effective command by decent and honorable people, is automatically dismissed by Nitzan. After all, there are acts of criminal rape in Israeli civilian society, citing a radical feminist group claiming such sexual abuse is common in Israel, so this could not possibly explain the mystery. How the incidence of such civilian crimes rules out the obvious real explanation for the absence of rape by soldiers is not even the worst logical inconsistency by Nitzan and her supervisors.

Nitzan’s thesis contains the Arab “narrative” about just about everything, including such things as the battle of Deir Yassin. The claims of Bash-Israel “historians” are accepted at face value. Arab propaganda is accepted as “scholarship.” Nevertheless, even these confirm that virtually no rapes of Arab women by Jewish soldiers ever occurred. [One of the few people claiming that a few such rape cases did take place is anti-Israel propagandist Uri Avnery, who is not an academic and is hardly a credible source, although one Nitzan on which is willing to rely.]

Once reports about the Nitzan “research” claiming Jews were racist for NOT raping Arabs began to circulate, the heads of the Hebrew University (the President and Rector together) evidently heard outraged complaints and so issued their own statement concerning it, dated December 30, 2007. It reads, in part: “Thank you for your concern about the thesis of the student Ms. Tal Nitzan. In her thesis, Ms. Nitzan examined a number of explanations for the question why the Israeli army is not involved in rapes, as was so widely done by the Japanese in Korea and more recently by the Europeans in Kosovo and by the Americans in Iraq, just to name a few. IDF soldiers are not involved in raping and other atrocities common to other armies, and Ms. Nitzan examined a number of explanations for this proper behavior. It seems that the source, on which the media reports were based, either did not read the thesis or used sentences that were taken out of context (emphasis in original statement). Below please find excerpts from her work (both in the original Hebrew and the English translation, side by side), providing possible explanations for the question why the Israeli army is not involved in rapes.”

This was followed by three brief citations from the Nitzan thesis in Hebrew with English translation. Sure enough, nothing in the three selections, all taken out of context, is particularly outrageous or anti-Israel. But that is only because in 206 pages of babble, it is unsurprisingly possible to find a handful of sentences that are not offensive. Indeed, Nitzan did mention in passing the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo and Korea, but nearly the entire thesis is dedicated single-mindedly to proving that Jews are racists for NOT raping Arabs. The President and Rector of the Hebrew University did exactly what they disingenuously claimed the media had been doing, selecting non-representative sentences to misrepresent the thesis and make it appear harmless.

Meanwhile not a single feminist organization anywhere has spoken up about this thesis claiming that it is racist when Jews do not rape Arabs. This past spring a gang of Arabs terrorized the Galilee by raping Jewish women for political motives and was apprehended. Some of their victims were children. Nitzan and her professors have nothing to say about THAT wave of politically-motivated rapes. According to Nitzan’s own thesis logic, if a Jewish woman were to be raped by Hamas terrorists, this would pretty much prove that the Hamas are egalitarian and progressive seekers of peace and justice, not treating Jews as the inferior “Other.”

But the most outrageous aspect of this entire scandal is the behavior of the heads of the Hebrew University, defending and endorsing this “research” with a cover-up, and proving that the Hebrew University today, despite one of its retired professors having won a Nobel Prize, has jettisoned academic standards and has lost interest in seeking academic excellence.